[Editor's Note: This recommendation was posted earlier with images from season 2 -- the images have been updated appropriately. Please note that this Blu-ray box set does not include The Second Raid, our apologies for any confusion this may have caused. -- Tim]
Full Metal Panic! follows 17 year old Sousuke as he is assigned to protect a young high school girl named Kaname from dangers. This danger, specifically, involves terrorists! These terrorists are after secret knowledge buried deep within Kaname's subconscious. As the series develops further and further, we start to realize if the real danger is from the terrorists, or perhaps at Sousuke's attempts at saving the day and protecting her.
What the series does best of all is its devotion to building up the relationship between Kaname and Sousuke. In addition to the on screen relationship, the combat scenes include some interesting atmospheric settings, apparently based on real-life Afghanistan. The story arcs are excellently put out, the character work, though a bit sketchy, is enjoyable enough to where the dialogue isn't bothersome. So, in short summary, there is plenty of fan service, and a storyline that makes you want to watch just one more episode every single time. What more could you ask for? Hit the jump for a full breakdown on why this should be in your collection of Blu-Ray anime.
Full Metal Panic! The Complete Series
Created By: Gonzo & Kyoto
Blu-Ray release date: September 7th, 2010
Firstly, before I dive straight into storyline and mechanic territory, I would like to point out that this review covers the Blu-Ray release. In terms of the Blu-Ray, this release is an upscale of a standard def release as the studio that animated it (Gonzo), was only animating in standard def at the time. This might appear disappointing to some, but keep in mind that the opening, while wide screen, isn't anamorphic and wasn't actually animated in HD. Still it is a terrific transfer that boasts great visuals and carries a lush color palette.
Unlike Inuyasha, Bleach, or other long winded series such as Naruto, it only boasts 24 episodes. However, the Second Raid ends with a clear implication that the story could go on, so I wouldn't be entirely surprised to see another anime adaptation come out of Japan sometime. Aside from that, you also get a whole bunch of extra goodies that can be found on the Blu-Ray, including an extra interview segment with the show's producers and original author of the novels, all in 1080 glory!
The manga it is based on has been going on for a very long time, and to date, it has no sign of ending. The final plot arc is riveting and terrifying, and at the end I felt wrung out. Still, anyone who hasn't seen this yet, check it out. It is a lot of fun that has a great mix of drama and comedy that somehow manages to all come together into a cohesive show. While viewing the show, I did come across one small roadblock that didn't affect the outcome of my enjoyment but still needs to be said. I tried watching this show in English for an episode and then gave up switched to subs, which was much better. Sousuke's voice actor in particular did a very good job, but the rest of the cast were throwaway talents.
Technical issues aside, I have already given the general introduction to the first several episodes, but what makes the series really stand out, is Kaname and the second mission, which begins from ep. 8-12. The comedy end is much stronger in this half -- in part because the drama is left entirely unexplained or has yet to conclude -- which makes for some fun and wacky scenes. Lastly, the character Tessa was the only black sheep I could find in the series. Everyone did a great job adapting to their surroundings but she ended up being childish, prudish, and lacked confidence.
In conclusion, Full Metal Panic! is an addictive series that you won't be able to get enough of. Having seen quite a bit of anime on Blu-Ray, this title quickly went to the top tier of what the medium has to offer. However, I would not recommend it to anyone who is 12 years of age or under as it contains violence, profanity, and some brief nudity. You have 8 episodes per disc, on a total of 3 discs. Upon receiving of my copies I was worried there would be audio or video issues trying to cram so many episodes on a disc, however I am happy to report that the bit rates are high throughout and it really looks quite amazing. If you own the series already and you are on the fence on if you should upgrade or not, I can confirm this high def edition should offer a substantial upgrade over the DVD version. The end result is anything but lackluster. A fine addition to any otaku's collection, regardless of whether you're a newcomer or veteran to the series.