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I fell in love with the series when I watched Fumoffu, one of its spin-offs. I considered it to be the funniest comedy ever with it's fast-paced, over-the-top jokes that were just brilliant. After which, I gave a chance with the sequel, The Second Raid, and I loved it, but felt sad that it only had at least 13 episodes. Those two series were so brilliant that I bought the first three volumes of the Full Metal Panic series, the original novels. Speaking of which, why haven't Toykopop released anymore? Those guys haven't even released Volume 4 yet and the series is on it's 10th volume! Those fiends!
Anyway, I kind of burnt out on Full Metal Panic after Second Raid, but I thought that I give the first series a chance, since it pretty much introduced all the key characters. I heard from many sources that it's good, but not as strong as the other two series. When I finally watched this series, I couldn't agree more.
The story goes is that it's the early 21st century where modern warfare got an upgrade: highly advanced A.I., stealth technology, and giant robots, since it wouldn't be anime or originate from Japan without giant robots stomping around the place. The reason for it is what is known as Black Technology, developed by highly intelligent human beings, known as the Whispered. However, one of them is considered a really special Whispered and the thing is, she doesn't know it.
This character is Kaname Chidori, who is an ordinary, Japanese schoolgirl, not realizing what her destiny will be. Because of her special abilities, she's become the target of terrorists. To protect her, an anti-terrorist organization called Mithril, send in there top soldier, Sousuke Sagara, to protect her from those who want to use her for absolute evil. While doing that, he must adapt into the Japanese society and become a high school student in order to keep watching her. The only problem, Sousuke doesn't have social skills or common sense.
From there, it switches from being an action-packed robot warfare to a high-school comedy, which I thought was an interesting concept. The one thing you need is some great action and some hilarious jokes. However, that's where the problem is with the series. Not many of the jokes are funny and some of the action is the typical kind where we see action mixed in with chunks of dialog, as if as though nobody ever told these soldiers that action speaks louder than words, but every time there's some action, people just talk and talk and talk. It's very boring action and that's mixed in with only decent animation. It's not as lively as say the later two series, where it's a bit more fast-pacing and more well-drawn.
The jokes are a mixed bag to. Some have really funny jokes, like Chidori throwing a paper fan at Sousuke from a great distance, with him falling to the ground, to where they have perverted jokes, like Sousuke accidentally grabbing one of Chidori's breasts. I'm familiar with those kind of jokes, but it never seems funny to me. I didn't laugh, but merely chuckled a bit. Also, there are some things that seem slow-paced, especially near the end, where I thought the final battle was a complete bore and didn't have me at the edge of my seat.
I thought the music is also a mixed bag. The opening and ending themes are okay, but the incidental music for the rest of the series is also a mixed bag. There are some areas in the music that just didn't fit well with the action is taking place. At one point, the music is quiet and slow during some of the action sequences, which I thought required a little more oomph to the music. It can be good at times, though, but just not as memorable.
The characters are great, but they develop a lot better in the later series. Sousuke and Chidori are a really great duo and should have some good emphasis on them. There are other great characters, too, like Kurz, Mao, Tessa, Kalinin, and so on. Gauron is an interesting character, but the same character I've seen before. You know, the guy who enjoys killing people without remorse and teasing his main rival by calling him 'honey'. A nice villain, but can be predictable with his unpredictability. There are some characters that develop that help make them a lot more likable characters like Kurz and Tessa's emotions are well-handled, too.
I've mentioned the animation being decent at times. I'm not saying it's bad, just usual animation that I've seen countless times. What's amazing about the two series after this one is that the animation seems more fast-paced and have more stuff going on. There are times where we see people in poses for a few seconds and I just felt they would've cut some of it out. Oh yeah, and there are panty shots here. That gives the other two series much better praise than this one.
In the end, I thought the series was good, but not as great or as strong as the later series. I might have overpraised Fumoffu and The Second Raid a bit, but I just felt that the writing was better and the animation was top-notch. That doesn't mean, however, that this should be overlooked. It's a nice little treat if you want to go into the series, but it's highly recommended that you watch this series in order to get the others. I wonder what the animation studio that did this one is doing right now?
*Looks up the company information. Sees Rosario + Vampire.*