Full Metal Panic! Vol. #05 - Mania.com

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  • Art Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: ADV Manga
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 166
  • ISBN: 1-4139-0051-8
  • Size: A5
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Full Metal Panic! Vol. #05

By Eduardo M. Chavez     October 26, 2004
Release Date: June 01, 2004

Full Metal Panic! Vol.#05
© ADV Manga

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Gatou Shouji/Tateo Retsu
Translated by:Amy Forsyth
Adapted by:

What They Say
Kaname and Tessa have been captured! The terrorist group A-21 is desperate for information, and it's attempting to use the girls to get data out of Kalinin. The girls' only hope is escape, but success seems bleak, unless they can destroy a massive weapon held by the terrorists. If A-21 can manage to activate it, the result could prove to be catastrophic, but only one man has the power to get the massive machine moving.

Kaname and Tessa must fight this battle without the strong-arm of Sosuke to keep danger at bay, but stopping the worldwide destruction might be more than this high school senior can handle! Kaname and Tessa will have to toughen up and attempt to save the world in the gripping conclusion of Full Metal Panic!

The Review
Once again, ADV uses the same cover art as the original. This cover features an image with Tessa and Sosuke. The original logo is kept on the back cover and it has an English subtitle, unfortunately ADV passed on it for the front cover and gave use the logo they use on their DVD's. ADV's logo is okay. Some people on these boards say they like it but I would rather keep the original. Its got English on it, come on! For some reason they changed the font on the volume header (the first colored page). It was just like the font on the contents page which has a military look and works better in my opinion than the stylish font they replaced it with (yup, the title was in English even in the Japanese header page).

Colored pages are a nice touch that I wish were more common with other studios. The black and white printing is a little too heavy for my taste. You cannot see the detail in most uniforms as well as expressions of characters when they are in toned shadows. The screen tone turns to black when it was gray, so I found a few instances where some fine detailing was missed. This volume features a long ato-gaki from Tateo, detailing her recent Kadokawa Shoten sponsored trip to Taiwan, followed by an ad for the Anime Network.

Tateo's art is solid. Character designs are cute and stylish. Personally, I enjoy these designs a lot more than the anime version. While I enjoy Horinobu Osamu (Gonzo's character designer) works, the faces are not quite as detailed as Tateo's designs and her detailed expressions really help a comedy like this. Backgrounds are pretty detailed and the layout is very nice. So far, action scenes are very fun (sometimes darn right hilarious) and the perspective used in the layout really makes for a fast read with a good flow.

The SFX are still translated a little weird (they still mix onomatopoeias and actions here and there) but at least they are translating all of them. SFX are often subbed (many of them are shadowed), the size is good and they do not distract too much. Unfortunately, the aside dialogue is also translated with subs. This is a really bad idea as it is distracting and covers up too much art. The translation for this volume is very good. I did not notice any problems with context at all, which is impressive from ADV. I was impressed by how they translated the ato-gaki and with the few translator notes they typed up at the end of the GN.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Poor decision-making and lack of experience has put Kaname, Tessa and Sosuke in deep trouble. A small terrorist group that was essentially defeated in the previous volume was able to re-collect a vital component for their version of a WMD. In the process, the enemy was able to take Tessa and Kaname hostage. Initial reports had Sosuke not surviving and Kalinin was seriously wounded in a previous attack. Now roles have been reversed and Tessa is the captive being questioned as she stresses over how to escape. Kaname's role has changed as well. Instead of being the focus of attention, she is just another face. In these new roles, these two will have to learn to get past their fears, fight their own battles, and believe in each other.

Believing in someone dependable like Sagara Sosuke is easy. He would fight to the end; protecting others all along the way. How would Sosuke get out of something like this? He would likely try to take advantage of a moment when he is interrogated. When his captors have their guard down, he would strike and then quickly improvise a way out hopefully armed. Sosuke is not here though, so the women’s plan does not go as well as planned (guess it helps to have a rigid military freak around). Plan B wait for Sosuke and see the sparks fly always works, though. Nevertheless, know they all have to work together to make it out alive.

Once back at home, Sosuke, Kaname and Tessa try to go back their normal lives. For Sosuke and Tessa normal is quite different from Kaname's life. Tessa leaves for a short trip on her own to make her own memories that do not involve the crew of the Danaan. The rest of the world is full of experiences and memories. At times, it will seem to be overwhelming but the good times might remain fresh in memory much longer. Sosuke and Kaname will try to make some more memories themselves by taking another trip with some classmates. For them memories from a year ago at the beach come back to test their relationship again. The results are the same but this time there is no doubt in either of them of what they mean to each other.

So far Full Metal Panic! has been at its best during the terrorist action scenes. What has distinguished these moments from the rest has been the interaction between the characters. While readers would expect relationships to naturally build in a romance-comedy scene, which covers around half of the series so far, what they get is slap-stick. In those moments there is plenty of fun and lots of humor but the worlds that Kaname and Sosuke come from are so far apart there is little to bridge that gap. There may be tender moments here and there but its often forced, especially on the part of Kaname. The action scenes tend to breakdown whatever barriers these two characters have. For survival they need to depend on each other, and that brings them closer. Their bond is often very subtle, with each other occasionally just relying on the other for comfort when they realize how free they can feel together. This technique is nothing new. Fear and adversity can bring people together under all sorts of circumstances, but what makes FMP! unique is how Kaname keeps on downplaying that closeness. I have gotten accustomed to that part of her personality, as I can see Gatou-sensei is purposely doing this, but for a while Kaname’s violent nature was extremely frustrating (almost stereotypical and a polar opposite of Sosuke’s gentle and efficient nature).

This volume tries to expand that by bringing Kaname and Tessa together. Unfortunately, it really does not have the same results. While they do try to work together, instead they seem to try to outdo each other. Their motives are selfish and shallow, and I can see this becoming something to work on in regards to potential romances in the future but in this volume it just felt flat. Gatou seemed to try to fix that by giving Tessa a chapter to herself. It was full of surreal imagery but was completely out of place in this sci-fi action comedy. And to top if off Gatou basically repeated a chapter from volume three, with the only change being this time Kaname had to find Sosuke and their time alone together was expanded.

This volume of FMP! really showed how close this title is from being a good title to being a great title. The character play is vital to this story but so is the suspense and when they are not working together there are some basic flaws - the characteristics of the lead females. Unfortunately, with Sosuke reduced to third or fourth fiddle in this volume both of this series strong points were weakened drastically. There is no doubt that FMP! is not entertaining, but it just does not consistently take advantage of what makes it different from a majority of comedies out there. But if there is one ADV sci-fi title you want in your collection this is it.


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