The perfect soldier, Souske Sagara' motto for any situation is "Not a Problem". Covertly protecting a young highschool girl while saving the world is anything, but "Not a Problem".
What They Say
The secret stealth organization Mithril assigns an elite team of agents to protect high school girl Kaname Chidori. But Kaname must not know she is under guard, so Mithril team member Sosuke Sugara must go undercover as her classmate and keep her safe.
For this viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese and in English. The Japanese cast is a hard act to follow in the case of Full Metal Panic. However, the English cast was very good. It’s really hard to make a preference as I had favorites from both casts. The timing for the comedy aspects by the English is great in this series. The show is definitely worth a second viewing in the other language. The Japanese 2.0 stereo track is adequate, but pales in comparison to the English Dolby 5.1 mode. The action scenes have more vibrancy and life to them in the Dolby 5.1 mode. The 5.1 makes the show all that much better as there is a lot of action and dialogue sequences throughout the series.
The transfer for this collection is in a standard 4:3 format. The video is clean and clear. Very little artifacting or color anomalies are present. However, some aliasing is present, especially in close-ups. The animation is smooth throughout the series. The sequences that involve the de Danaan will reveal where CGI the CGI is integrated into the more traditional looking animation.
The packaging for this collection follows the standard ADV thinpack format. The box is colored in an eye-catching red background. This box is definitely designed to grab attention as red is not a commonly used box color. The front of the box features Kaname along with one of the standard Mithril Arm Slaves while the back features Souske and the Arbalest. The box face displays only the series title in English. The spine features Kaname again, in her shorts and tank top, along with the series title and an Arm Slave in her with a shot of the main cast and the Arbalest on the spine. The ThinPak cases inside contain the same cover-art as the original single releases, with portraits of the various mecha from the series.
The menu layout is easy and simple to navigate. The menu background applies an animation sequence of overlapping metallic panels when a menu is selected. The main menu also uses a small viewer that plays clips from the series using a night-vision perspective. Music from the series appropriately loops in the background with no sudden cutoffs. The scenes menu reveals each of the episodes on the disc. Each episode is broken into five parts, the opening, part 1 & 2, the closing and a preview of the next episode. On each episode’s scene selection menu there are small view screens that play a clip from each portion of the episode.
The extras in this collection are pretty much bare-bones and appear to contain everything that the single DVD releases have. Each disc provides a Clean Opening, Clean Ending, Production Sketches, Japanese Copyright Warnings, and some (now out-of-date) ADV Previews. The typical opening and closing features are found on the discs along with various different production sketches. The one fun aspect to this series is the copyright warnings. You’ll definitely want to listen to those as they inject a bit of humor into the evils of video piracy. They definitely fit in with the humor that is found throughout the series. My favorite quote is from Souske, who reminds you to not use the discs as weapons.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers).
Cold winter wind rushing past the windows of the truck as it races down the snow covered path. An explosion throws the passenger clear of the truck and crushes the driver. A helicopter suddenly appears and drenches what remains of the truck in a rain of bullets. The stunned passenger watches in shock as that same helicopter is then destroyed by an Arm Slave. Emerging into the freezing terrain to take her to paths unknown is a soldier with a dutiful expression as cold as the snow covered fields surrounding them. This is our introduction to Souske Sagura, the perfect soldier.
Full Metal Panic swings open with an introduction to the military organization, Mithril. Mithril is a peace-keeping force that does not have any affiliation with any national government. It’s basically what the UN should really be like. In the first episode, we meet some of their personnel and get a feel for their operations by witnessing their strategy and advanced technology. After a jam-packed opening, the series then begins to swing in a very different direction, towards comedy. Thus begins the pattern that characterizes this entire series. It vacillates between intense action scenes and over-the-top comedy, but comes out with a blended balance that pleases most any palate.
The perfect soldier and his team find themselves assigned to locate and guard yet another Whispered, Kaname. Souske, being the youngest member, finds himself as the personal guard to Kaname. He is enrolled in her class, but in this case, the man that is the perfect soldier is a perfect flake in this cultural and social environment. Here enters the comedy. Souske wants to do a good job. He really, really does. But he is struggling with this assignment. He brings firearms to school, walks into the girl’s locker room, and gets dubbed a panty thief. School is all good fun until the school’s class trip to Osaka. The antagonist of the series, Gauron, makes his move. Kaname gets a taste of Souske’s world, and now she is the fish out of water.
In the fray, the class is saved, but Souske and Kaname stay behind with another Mithril team member, Kurtz. They are on the run from the imposing shadow of Gauron. Gauron’s Arm Slave, the Venom, is equipped with a lambda driver, and he is very competent in its use. To survive, Kaname draws knowledge from the Whispered and shares it with Souske. The battle is won, but now Souske enters a new battle of memories from his past as Kashime.
The team returns to guarding Kaname at her school, but now they are more alert to potential danger. Mithril’s captain, Tessa, unfortunately doesn’t heed caution. She decides to visit and finds herself in the middle of yet another battle to obtain the Whispered. Souske and the team find themselves having to now save Kaname as well as several Mithril officers. In the mix they face fighting fellow mercenaries and a Whispered using an extra beefy Arm Slave with a lambda driver. Souske has to save the day …again with Kaname’s help. This time Kaname gets help from Tessa through telepathy.
From this point, the series swings again back to a lighter note. After some fun on Mithril’s secret base, Kaname goes to the beach and Souske goes through hell while confronting his past. He participates in a mission within the confines of his homeland. The series slides a heavy dose of realistic battle scenarios as well as character depth. It is here where Gauron is revealed to have been a father figure to Souske. Souske has a lot of repressed junk in the trunk. In the end, almost the entire mission team is killed, except Souske. He now has to deal with overcoming PTSD and how to unlock the secrets of the lambda driver that are housed within his Arm Slave, the Arbalest.
As the series builds up steam, Mithril begins to close in on Gauron, but soon discover that they are actually ensnared in his trap. Gauron always seems to be five strategic steps ahead of Mithril. This guy is flat-out, pure evil. As the series comes to a close, Gauron succeeds in seizing control of Souske’s Arbalest, and capturing Kaname. Will this diabolical mastermind win over the Mithril team and his protégé, Souske, or will the perfect soldier find this to be ‘Not a Problem’ with Kaname’s help once again?
This series is a great blend of action and comedy with enough character depth to make seamless and successful jumps between the two approaches. The character development gives generous insight into the psychological profiles of both the hero and his nemesis. For an addictive viewing experience, immersing yourself into Full Metal Panic is ‘Not a Problem.’ Highly recommended.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles
Hitachi 62VS69 62" UltraVision LCD Projection HDTV, Samsung BDP-1000 Blu-ray Player with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound.