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Why do we need more goofy Cold War thrillers? The answer: Full Metal Panic

dr strangelove tessa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I miss the Cold War sometimes. Not that I have ever lived through it, mind you, but man did some entertaining stories come out of it. The satire of Dr. Strangelove would never have struck so close to home if it didn’t come out of the paranoid political climate of the 1960s. There’s a kind of charm to those Cold War-era relics, in that peculiar mix of optimism (“We are the good guys!”) and pessimism (“A nuclear explosion will kill us all tomorrow!”).

As time has passed, however, the villains in your average trashy thriller have ceased to be members of the diabolical, all-encompassing Soviet Union, and the heroes are no longer unambiguously good guy Americans. Your average American action flick these days is more likely to be bogged down with cynicism and snark. I’m not a good guy, so let me take delight in being a sarcastic prick! (P.S. fuck Deadpool.)

Well, perhaps it is only with the passing of time and a change of perspective that one can appreciate the apparent “naive charm” of Cold War fiction without swallowing wholesale the assumptions of the time. Full Metal Panic wasn’t written during the Cold War, but its setting clearly harks back to it, and it is only made more ridiculous by the inclusion of moe girls and giant robots. While the series does go to some lengths to include some moral ambiguity and grittiness in the narrative, the goofiness never quite goes away, even in the most serious moments.

For me, Full Metal Panic is one of those rare types of stories that succeeds on multiple levels: as a spoof, critique and a straight example of its genre.

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