Full Metal Panic! Vol. #01 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, April 05, 2004
Release Date: Monday, September 01, 2003
Writer/Artist:Author: Shouji Gatou
Illustrator: Retsu Tateo
Translated by:Jack Wiedrick
What They Say
On the surface, Kaname Chidori appears to be leading a normal life as a popular high school student. She's cute, and quite a social butterfly. Kaname's life is anything but ordinary. Unbeknownst to her, a group of terrorists believes she possesses the special power of "the whispered." MISSION: KIDNAP KANAME.
Enter overzealous hero, Sosuke Sagara ? former resident of a war zone and member of the stealth anti-terrorist organization, MITHRIL. Sosuke is gung-ho, war crazed and obnoxiously conspicuous. Will he drive Kaname insane by watching her every move and detonating bombs in her social life? Get ready for fully-loaded action and full-throttle fun! Once you get into a Full Metal Panic!, there's no turning back!
Mixing school hijinks with big robots isn't anything new, but Full Metal Panic! takes that standard formula to create its own unique vision. While the anime toyed with the comedy and pulled out all the stops for the military drama, the manga takes its time to develop the comedy. While following the same basic story, Full Metal Panic the manga creates its own charm.
ADV has matched the original format of the original Japanese release, except for the dust cover. As I always take those off while reading, it being gone from this release is no big deal. The book is wrapped in a nice glossy cover, and bears ADV's English logo for the series. For those matching up the original book to ADV's version, you'll also notice the colors lean more towards red than the original orange. The cover itself features Kaname with her paper fan and Sousuke in the background with his standard side arm. It's obvious from the cover shot that the emphasis is more on the school comedy rather than the mecha that the anime seems to push.
Fans of the anime will notice that the artwork seems a bit off from what they are used to. The art is handled Retsu Tateo and has quite a different feel from the anime designs. The action flows well from frame to frame keeping the story clear. There is a lot of detail when it comes to the military items at Sousuke's disposal, which should keep the military fans of this series happy. The art does a good job of keeping it all together, without these things seeming out of place.
Right to left. The original Japanese sound effects are left intact within the art. Some of the sound effects get a subtitle for translation, and a few are replaced with English text. It's a bit inconsistent through the first few chapters, but becomes more consistent in the later chapters. The addition of the English text next to the sound effects is not that intrusive to the art.
The translation is smooth and clear, and picks up a lot of the original dialogue quite well. The text reads well and is never really awkward. Fonts are well used to help get a lot of the emotions across of the text, as well as to liven up the subtitles for the sound effects.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Full Metal Panic is an action packed tale, mixing military action and school comedy. First you start off with the damsel who doesn't know she's in distress: Kaname. Throw in an overzealous hero with no social skills, Sosuke, and let the comedy commence. Fans of the anime series need to understand that the manga is a completely different monster from what they are used to. Most of what is seen in the first volume wasn't in the anime. There is more focus on Sosuke and Kaname working with each other at the school, than on Sosuke protecting Kaname. It's here were the true charm of the series shines.
With the focus on school life for most of this volume, Kaname and Sosuke's relationship comes into a better light. The manga also features characters not yet seen in the anime. More teachers and the school class president are introduced. In these early stages, they help make Sosuke's stay at the school more believable and interesting. The class president is quite eccentric and often approves of Sosuke's actions, often making Kaname look like the insane one.
These new characters, and focus on characters introduced in the anime help boost the comic adventures that were really only hinted at in the anime. The whole romantic tension between Sosuke and Kaname is also well founded with these early stories. Of course, every time they become a bit closer, Sosuke does something wrong and Kaname stomps off mad. Fans of military action of the anime will get what they want though, as the final few chapters swing back towards the darker back story of the whole series.
Full Metal Panic! is a different kind of school comedy. Just when you think you see where this series is going, it pulls something new out of its bag of tricks. Fans of the anime should realize they are getting a different story from what they've seen on the screen, and hopefully can enjoy this twist to the tale. There is a lot more fun to be had in these pages, as Full Metal Panic! the manga tells the story in its own way.
Mania Grade: A
Art Rating: B
Packaging Rating: A
Text/Translatin Rating: A
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Released By: ADV Manga
Orientation: Right to Left