ANIME & MANGA - Review
10:08 - 7th January 2016, by NEO Staff

Full Metal Panic – Ultimate Edition

Navigating the perils and pressures of high school life isn’t easy for anyone – but for Sousuke Sagara and Kaname Chidori, things are just a little bit trickier than they might be for your usual student. You see, Sousuke has spent the greater part of his life serving as part of Mithril, a private military organisation dedicated to upholding justice and combating terrorist organisations the world over. And while Kaname seems, even to herself, to be nothing more than an ordinary schoolgirl, there are rumblings in the underground intelligence community that she is actually one of the fabled ‘Whispered’, making her a target for all kinds of nefarious ne’er-do-wells. When Sousuke is assigned to be her secret bodyguard, he needs to learn how to be a normal teenager for the first time – but if he can’t succeed in his mission, Kaname might just have to say goodbye to her ordinary life forever...

First released in 2002, the Full Metal Panic! anime was based on both a series of light novels and their manga adaptation, and this slow percolation definitely shows in the feel of the series. Full Metal Panic! is chock-full of themes that have now become staples of the genre – you’ve got your romantically-intertwined teens who somehow manage to juggle the rigours of high school and an action-packed double life (as either a child soldier or a psychic target for international terrorists) with a big helping of awesome mecha battles on the side for good measure as well. But although most viewers will have seen most of these elements in other series, Full Metal Panic! feels less like it’s stomping the same old ground, and more like the originator of a lot of these tropes, in their most recent incarnations at least. And whether you love or hate this kind of story, you won’t be able to deny the effect the series has had on anime’s landscape.

While it’s certainly had a huge influence on more current series, Full Metal Panic! definitely lacks some flair in its storyline when compared to recent classics. Though the plot and pacing are both very solid, managing to balance the action, romance and comic hijinks well, the writing doesn’t take very many risks, and it’s pretty likely that you’ll be able to chart the course of the plot from beginning to end of each series without many twists or turns getting in the way. That said, the Ultimate Edition collection still comprises three enjoyable romps, none of which overstay their welcome.

New viewers who get used to the political elements and mecha battles might find the second series, Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu, slightly jarring, as it does away with the more serious elements for a collection of light-hearted shorts, before bringing them back again for The Second Raid – the final arc in the bundle.

Much like the writing, the art isn’t likely to shake the earth too much by today’s standards, but it still looks great, especially in this new Blu-ray collection (the first time any of the three seasons have been released in a high-definition format).

This new collection, too, is packed full of extras and special features, as well as a hardback artbook, and is a great bundle for those who want the entire collection of one of their favourite series in one completed set. While these added extras and great-quality boxset do come with a hefty price tag, it’s definitely worth it for this well-put-together set. Act fast, as the Ultimate Edition is a limited run, with only 1000 units released to all retailers!

The Ultimate Edition might end up being a slightly mixed bag for newcomers to the series, but for the many long-time fans, this is a must-buy.

A great collection that still holds its own against modern contenders, even after more than a decade.
SCORE: 3.5/5
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