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Full Metal Panic! – The Complete Series (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 17, 2010 by  



“Full Metal Panic!” is one of the more popular anime series to be released in the US post-2000 and its a series that has been re-released many times as well.  But this is the first time the series has been released on Blu-ray and although this is an older series, this Blu-ray release is for those who want to upgrade to Blu-ray or are simply fans of FMP and want it on HD.  Otherwise, for those looking for a true anime on Blu-ray HD experience, this release may not be for you.

Images courtesy of © Gatoh Shoji/Shikidouji/Jinda High School Student Committee. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Full Metal Panic! – The Complete Series

DURATION: Episodes 1-24 (600 Minutes)

 

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition 4:3, Dolby TrueHD English 5.1 and Dolby TrueHD Japanese 2.0, Subtitles: English

 

RATED: 13+

 

COMPANY: FUNimation Entertainment

 

RELEASE DATE: September 7, 2010

 

Originally Created by Shoji Gatoh

Directed by Koichi Chigira

Script by Fumihiko Shimo, Koichi Chigira, Masashi Sogo

Music by Toshihiko Sahashi

Original Character Design by Shikidouji

Character Designs by Osamu Horiuchi

Art Direction by Masaru Ohta

Mecha Design by Kanetake Ebikawa, Toshiaki Ihara

Anime Production by GONZO

 

 

Featuring the voices of:

Satsuki Yukino/Luci Christian as Kaname Chidori

Tomokazu Seki/Chris Patton as Sousuke Sagara

Yukana/Hilary Haag as Teletha “Tessa” Testarossa

Akio Ohtsuka/Mike Kleinhenz as Lt. Cmdr. Andrey Kalinin

Ikue Kimura/Monica Rial as Kyoko Tokiwa

Mamiko Noto/Greg Ayres as Shinji Kazama

Masahiko Tanaka/Mike Macrae as Gauln (Gauron)

Michiko Neya/Allison Keith as Melissa Mao

Shinichiro Miki/Vic Mignogna as Kurz Weber

Tomomichi Nishimura/Andy McAvin as Cmdr. Richard Mardukas

Kaname Chidori’s one of the most popular girls at her high school – unfortunately, it’s her growing popularity off campus she should be worrying about. Unbeknownst to Kaname, terrorists are plotting her abduction, believing she possesses the rare and coveted abilities of “the Whispered.”

That’s where Sousuke Sagara enters the picture. He’s a hotshot soldier from the clandestine counter-terrorist organization known as Mithril – and he’s going undercover at Kaname’s school to try and keep her safe. He may be an ace in the cockpit of an Arm Slave mech, but there’s no training in the world that could prepare him for the warzone of high school.

 

In 1998, Shoji Gatoh along with illustrator Shiki Douji began work on the “Full Metal Panic!” light novels.  The individual chapters were then published on Monthly Dragon Magazine and then were released via paperback compilation.

By 2006, three anime TV series were created “Full Metal Panic!”, “Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu” and “Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid” by Kyoto Animation and a total of five different manga series.  With FUNimation Entertainment releasing the third TV series “Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid” on Blu-ray, FUNimation is now releasing the first two series on Blu-ray (as well as re-releasing the series on DVD) in Sept. 2010.

The first “Full Metal Panic!” first aired on television back in 2002 and was directed by Koichi Chigira (“Gate Keepers”, “Kimagure Orange Road”, “Tokyo Babylon”, “Vandread”), the screenplay adaptation was co-written by Chigira, Fumihiko Shimo (“Burst Angel”, “Gravion”, “Kanon”, “Prince of Tennis”) and Masashi Sogo (“Bleach”, “RurouniKenshin”, “Shadow Skill”).  Music for the series is by Toshihiko Sahashi (“Fatal Fury” OVA’s, “Ghost Sweeper Mikami”, “Gunslinger Girl”), character design is by Osamu Horiuchi (“New Cutey Honey”, “Burst Angel”, “Last Exile”, “New Cutey Honey”) and art direction by Masaru Ohta (“The Big O”, “Golden Boy”, “Neon Genesis Evangelion”, “Queen Esmereldas”).

“Fullmetal Panic!” revolves around a covert anti-terrorist private military organization known as Mithril who must protect Kaname Chidori, a teenage girl that happens to have special “Whispered” abilities (abilities that allow these special individuals have knowledge of advanced mathematics, engineering and physics beyond human comprehension) and now the terrorist are after her for her abilities.

But Mithril must keep their identities private and so they assign Sgt. Sousuke Sagara, Melissa Mao and Kurz Weber to watch over her.  But the primary duty will be for Sousuke to disguise himself as a school student and to be close to her.  The problem is that Sousuke doesn’t have any social experience and didn’t grow up like most people and has been fighting in wars since the age of 8.  So, he does find it a bit difficult to fit in at the high school and everyone thinks he is a bit weird.

But somehow, through their time together, Kaname begins to trust Sousuke and starts to become attracted to him but since Sosuke is not a normal guy, he is unaware of her feelings towards him and most of the time, his mind is on battle.

“Full Metal Panic! features the following characters:

  • Sousuke Sagara – A young man who grew up in a war setting.  At the age of 8, he has been involved in fighting in a guerrilla movement and is now a member of Mithril, the covert anti-terrorist private military organization.  He is the main member assigned to protecting Kaname Chidori’s life.
  • Kaname Chidori – A popular girl in high school and a girl who speaks her mind.  She is also a teen who has “Whispered” abilities and while being protected by Sousuke, starts to become attracted to him.
  • Teletha “Tessa” Testarosa – Although a 16-year-old, Tessa is the Captain of the Tuatha da Danaan.  Because of her young age and bubbly personality, many have a hard time believing she is only 16.
  • Melissa Mao – She is the superior officer of both Sousuke and Kurz and is also a woman who likes to have fun by drinking and smoking a lot.
  • Kurz Webber – A lady’s man (who tends to fail in getting close to his superior officer Melissa) and an excellent sniper for Mithril.  Kurz tends to give Sousuke love advice since Sousuke has no clue about romance or social activities.
  • Gauron – The main antagonist of “Full Metal Panic!” who can command the lambda driver and pilots the Venom.  He has bought or blackmailed his way to the top.

“Full Metal Panic! – The Complete Series” features episodes 1-24 on three Blu-ray discs. Here is a basic, spoiler-less summary of each episode:

DISC 1:

  • EPISODE 1 – “The Guy I Kinda Like is a Sergeant” – Mithril sends Sousuke Sagara, Kurz Weber and Melissa Mao to protect Kaname Chidori from terrorists.
  • EPISODE 2 – “I Want to Protect You” – Sousuke has a hard time fitting in high school and begins to irritate Kaname.
  • EPISODE 3 – “Lingerie Panic” – Sousuke finds some guy sneaking into Kaname’s apartment.  Who can he be?
  • EPISODE 4 – “Kidnap” – Kaname’s class goes on a field trip to Okinawa but a terrorist named Gauron hijacks their plane.
  • EPISODE 5 – “Whispered” – Sousuke tries to save Kaname, while Mithril launches a rescue operation to save everyone.
  • EPISODE 6 – “Still Alive” – Sousuke and Kaname survive and are in the woods and they find Kurz who has been inured by Gauron
  • EPISODE 7 – “Boy Meets Girl” – Sousuke takes on Gauron but has a hard time with the Arbalest’s Lama Driver and Kaname’s Whispered abilities appear.
  • EPISODE 8 – “Part Time Steady” – A jealous Mizuki Inaba is upset that her boyfriend Shirai has asked Kaname out on a date, now Mizuki wants revenge by pretending to get closer to Sousuke.

DISC 2:

  • EPISODE 9 – “Dangerous Safe House” – Mimiko and Kelly try to look for Jiro (who is looking for Kotaro). Meanwhile, Kelly’s true identity is revealed.
  • EPISODE 10 – “Run, Running, Ran” – Tessa checks to see who Takuma Kugayama is and Mithril suspects he pilots a Lamba driver for the terrorists.
  • EPISODE 11 – “Behemoth Awakening” – The terrorists manage to rescue Takuma and kidnap both Tess and Kaname.
  • EPISODE 12 – “One Night Stand” – Takuma pilots the Behemoth and takes on Sousuke (inside the Arbalest)
  • EPISODE 13 – “A Cat and a Kitten’s Rock & Roll” – Melissa challenges Tessa in an AS duel.  Tessa goes to Sousuke for assistance.
  • EPISODE 14 – “Is Narashino Burning?” – Sousuke, Kaname and friends visit the Narashino military festival and learn that Shinji and his father don’t get along too well.
  • EPISODE 15 – “The Wind Blows at Home, Part 1” – Sousuke is sent to Helmajistan after news comes to Mithril that Gauron is still alive.
  • EPISODE 16 – “The Wind Blows at Home, Part 2” – Sousuke finds out that his old childhood friend is now working with the terrorists and he must fight him.

DISC 3:

  • EPISODE 17 – “The Wind Blows at Home, Part 3 – Sousuke vs. his childhood friend Zaied.  Meanwhile, Gauron takes on the Mithril team.
  • EPISODE 18 – “Deep Sea Party” – Kaname is shocked when Sousuke invites her to a secluded island with him.  Does that mean that Sousuke is attracted to Kaname too?
  • EPISODE 19 – “Dangerous Safe House” – Melissa talks about how she recruited Kurz and Sousuke into the SRT (Special Response Team).
  • EPISODE 20 – “Venom’s Flame” – Tessa explains the nature of resonance of the Whispered to Kaname.  Meanwhile, Gauron is captured in battle.
  • EPISODE 21 – “Deep Trap” – Sousuke takes things hard when Melissa is injured in battle and lashes out on Kaname.
  • EPISODE 22 – “Jack in the Box” – Gauron manages to escape custody inside Mithril’s Tuatha de Danaan and he and his men have captured Kaname and Tessa and are in control of the submarine.
  • EPISODE 23 – “Field of Giants” – Sousuke tries to rescue Tessa and the crew from Gauron.
  • EPISODE 24 – “Is Narashino Burning?” – Sousuke vs. Gauron to the death.

VIDEO:

“Full Metal Panic!” is presented in 1:33:1 1080p High Definition.  It’s important to note that FUNimation Entertainment is releasing the three series on Blu-ray and while “Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid” was an awesome looking upconvert, because “Full Metal Panic!” was released on television back in 2002, with that being said, one should not expect spectacular, vibrant animation.  You are going to see edge enhancement, the PQ is a step up from the previous released DVD series.  It’s important to note that the initial opening theme is picture boxed.

For those looking for the true anime HD experience, this title is not one of them.  But are for those who are considering upgrading their series to Blu-ray and getting away from the DVD format.

AUDIO:

“Full Metal Panic! – The Complete Series” is presented in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and in Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0.  And like the video, this is an older series and while you do get a Dolby Digital TrueHD 5.1 lossless soundtrack, for those looking for an immersive lossless audio experience will not find it in “Full Metal Panic!”.  It’s an older series and if anything, the soundtrack was good but not fantastic.    But with that being said, it’s still a major improvement from the original DVD release.  I detected no hissing or anything audio problems.

I did watch the series both in English and Japanese and both are well-done but it’s all subjective to the user.  I preferred watching the series in Japanese and setting my receiver on stereo on all channels for a more immersive soundtrack.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Full Metal Panic! – The Complete Series” comes with the following special features on Disc 3:

  • Koichi Chigira x Shouji Gatou Special Interview – (23:22) A 2008 interview (for the original Japanese Blu-ray release) as director Koichi Chigira and FMP creator Shouji Gatou reminisce of the past of when the two worked on the “Full Metal Panic!”, first impressions and also working together once again for “Tower of Druaga”.
  • Japanese Piracy Warnings – (8:23) Featuring 12 Japanese piracy warnings from a different character that are from “Full Metal Panic!”.
  • Original TV Spots – (:34) Featuring the original Japanese commercials promoting the series on television.
  • Textless Opening Song – Featuring “SIN” by Mikuni Shimokawa
  • Textless Closing Song – Featuring “Natsumi Kobayashi” by Mikuni Shimokawa
  • Trailers – Upcoming FUNimation Entertainment Trailers.

Before I get into my review, I just want to say that I loved “Full Metal Panic!” when it first came out and I purchased the DVD when it first came out.  I loved the series, its characters and that it was a series that provided us with humor and also mecha action.  And when I first reviewed the DVD a long time ago, I scored it pretty high.

Here we are in 2010 and I’m reviewing “Full Metal Panic!” on Blu-ray but at the same time, knowing that those who are purchasing anime via HD are wanting the best video and audio presentation of the anime series but most of all series that take advantage of the technology.  And I have always felt that anime TV series released post-2008 are series that benefit in Blu-ray as there are a good number of series created for HD.

With that being said, “Full Metal Panic!” is a 2002 anime TV series.  It’s an older anime series that is being re-released once again in the US but for the first time on Blu-ray.  But the series is more of an upconvert and simply for those who are wanting to focus on anime on Blu-ray and getting rid of their DVD’s.  With FUNimation Entertainment having released the third TV series “Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid” on Blu-ray, now we are going to get both “Full Metal Panic!” and “Full Metal Panic! Fumoffu” on Blu-ray in Sept. 2010.

As I do feel this series is still quite enjoyable, this Blu-ray release is for the fans who want to upgrade to a Blu-ray release and for those fans who have the third series and want to complete their release by having the first two TV series on Blu-ray.  This is NOT a release for those who are picky about PQ and AQ and the fact that this is an older TV series, is going to push those hardcore video and audiophiles away from “Full Metal Panic!”.

The series is an upconvert and its going to look and sound a lot better than your original DVD series but it’s not going to be an enormous difference that you want to show it off to all your friends of anime on HD.  This is not one of those titles.

But what “Full Metal Panic!” does bring to the table is a series with cool characters, a lot of humor and a lot of action.  It’s not as bloody or violent as “Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid” but it is an enjoyable series.  I enjoyed the interesting chemistry that both Kaname and Sousuke have and in some ways, it’s kind of reminiscent of the “Ranma 1/2” Ranma/Akane relationship.   Sousuke is a guy who was geared for war but his introduction to Kaname has brought out emotions he never felt he had.  Kaname is a strong-willed individual and despite how she dislikes Sousuke, she grows to appreciate him and even like him.  But the problem is, he’s not a normal guy.  He never grew up with love and his whole life was about fighting in wars, so its a bit hard for him to comprehend these social activities that Kaname and her friends experience.

The series does have its share of violence, especially towards the end of the series where things get a little bloody and violent but for the most part, much more tamer than “Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid”.  And just to warn people, the second series “Full Metal Panic! Fumoffu” is a complete 180 from this series as it focuses less on the battles and more on the high school teenage life between Sousuke, Kaname and friends.  If anything, the second series is more of a comedy but it does stay within the canon of the FMP series.

Needless to say, if you want to complete your FMP collection on Blu-ray, now is the time.  Otherwise, if you are in it because you have heard that this series is awesome, then that’s great.  But it is important to know that “Full Metal Panic!” is an upconvert and its an upconvert of an older 2002 TV anime series and so it’s not going to look as vibrant as previously released FUNimation Entertainment anime TV series on Blu-ray.  And although I scored the series high when it was released on DVD years ago, it’s hard for me to give this a high rating on Blu-ray.  Great series but not a series that takes advantage of Blu-ray technology, but it is a much better version than its DVD counterparts, so if you never owned the DVD, then this is definitely the way to go.  And for fans, at least you do get newer special features including the interview with series director Koichi Chigira and creator Shouji Gatou which was cool to watch.

Overall, “Full Metal Panic! – The Complete Series” is an awesome series but if you are in it strictly interested in having an anime series that looks fantastic and has awesome, immersive lossless audio, then this release is not for you.  But if you are a hardcore “Full Metal Panic!” fan and you are ready to kiss your old DVD’s goodbye or you enjoyed “Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid” and now want to watch the previous two series, then “Full Metal Panic! – The Complete Series” on Blu-ray is definitely for you.






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