Full Metal Panic! Make me a Sandwich!

Matt Brown (Editor in Chief) — October 19th, 2011
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Unusually for me, my first experience with Full Metal Panic! was in manga form: Newtype USA ran it in their first few issues. Its premise is a bit of a yawn fest, to be honest. Child soldier extraordinaire Sosuke Sagara faces the biggest challenge of his professional career: high school. DUN DUN DUN~! After storied acts of badassery, his job is to babysit a teenager named Kaname Chidori, who is supposed to have powers of some sort, that is, other than being total jailbait. His ultra-serious approach to the task lands him in trouble with just about everyone — he's scolded by the teacher repeatedly for having a "toy weapon" on school grounds, and beaten and bruised by Chidori herself. He jokes that he might be killed by his charge before any of the bad guys show up.

Despite all the good things I've heard about the series, and even with the comic clips having left a good enough impression, I wasn't feeling it at the beginning of the show. Then something strange happened: the episodes flew by, one after another. The show is exceedingly careful about its pacing, and the right amount of ambitious in its writing, and it Just Works (TM). Kaname's annoyance at all the coincidental (as he says) attention from Sosuke is matched in kind with a morbid interest in the weirdo [stalker?]. Being a romantic comedy, the other characters and situations exist to nudge the two closer, but the show does its part in keeping us entertained in the process, instead of doing something stupid like making it all about the romance.

The plot barely gets going by the fourth episode, where a commercial jet carrying Chidori, Sagara, and a few hundred others gets hijacked and routed north. The episode provides a glimpse of what Full Metal Panic! is capable of — a ticking time bomb scenario, clear combat objectives, and yet, Kaname is taken and Sagara thinks of little but getting her back. This series is nothing I haven't seen before, and yet, I can think of little but seeing more.