Full Metal Panic? FUMOFFU: Full Metal Pandemonium! Review
Full Metal Panic! had an awful lot to deal with back in 2002 for its 24 episode run. Combining action, comedy and drama it offered up plenty of excitement, although it could be contested that its comedy was its shining light. Indeed I found myself laughing along several times while much of the story just whizzed by, but the further it went the more serious it tended to gear toward. For 2003’s FMP: Fumoffu Kyoto Animation take over the reigns from GONZO Digimation and dispenses with the Arm Slaves and mysterious plotting in order to provide a series that focuses entirely on comedy – with a hint of romance. The storylines here are taken from plotlines that featured in the original manga and deviated from some of the more serious aspects, which explains why FMP: Fumoffu should in no way be compared to its predecessor, but rather should be taken as being a fun little ride that achieves what the manga intended. As for “Fumoffu”? Well anyone who is familiar with Bonta-kun should have an idea of what that means. So for all intents there is no plotting here at all; set at Jindai High each episode focuses on Sousuke’s ongoing mission to protect Kaname from all known dangers – only he might just end up taking down the entire school in the process.
You can totally forget about Full Metal Panic because aside from the central characters there is very little relation to the events of that series. Here we have an assortment of episodes, most of which are approximately ten minutes in length and a couple taking up a full twenty two minutes. These are simple, situational pieces that with each new episode seem to become more outlandish than the last one. The main gag here is that Sousuke still hasn’t learned how to interact properly with people and always places his military mentality before anything else. This results in him taking everything too far, and most of the time it’s by force and with high-end explosives. The trouble with Sousuke blowing everything up is that it’s all done on school property, which soon draws the attention of several disgruntled staff members. With the bills piling up Principal Tsuboi is all too quickly reminded by the Vice Principal that Sousuke is a public menace. However, Tsuboi has something of a soft spot for the young militant, sympathising with his upbringing and defending him because he really doesn’t know much better. Likewise Council President Atsunobu Hayashimizu is fully supportive of Sousuke’s actions, finding everything he does to be completely rational and without fault. With these two heads backing him all the way Sousuke should thank his lucky stars. And of course there’s Kaname, who for better or worse is permanently stuck with this unusual character by her side.
So naturally this sets up all kinds of crazy situations for our protagonists, and true to form they are indeed very funny. As with Full Metal Panic it’s required to take things as they are because quite frankly everything that happens on screen is far too ludicrous to be taken any other way. Part of FMP: Fumoffu’s charm is its exuberant amount of energy which sees each episode race by without a care in the world. In terms of pacing not only do the gags fly fast but the style of animation is equally as vivacious, so much so that there are some wonderful examples of discreet CG and fluid transitions (the mad bicycle chase during “A Fruitless Lunchtime” being one). Kyoto Animation has done a solid job in continuing GONZO’s work.
Which leaves me to say little else, not because the series isn’t worthy of any praise but because it’s just so basic. To put it in as simple a term as possible FMP: Fumoffu is good, light fun. The episodes are bright and breezy, with no convoluted elements and in all it’s very undemanding entertainment.
In The Man from the South Sousuke receives a love letter from a secret admirer. Thinking it’s a terrorist he rigs the school lockers with explosives, which results in mass damage, upsetting Kaname and having himself called to the Council President. Despite Kaname trying to reason with him, Sousuke is all too adamant in catching this mysterious terrorist. A Hostage with no Comparisons sees Sousuke being banned from an arcade centre for using a real gun on a ‘shoot ‘em up’. While Kaname argues with him a gang of thugs who he encountered previously turn up and threaten to beat him up. Naturally Sousuke is unphased, and after dealing with them they go back to their boss who then devises a plan to kidnap Kaname in an attempt to lure Sousuke to their hideout for a good kicking.
In Hostility Passing By Kaname goes about her usual lunch time by racing to the bread stand so that she can get her favourite bread before the plain old rolls are left behind. When she informs Sousuke that his best chance to catch the good bread is by using force he takes it the wrong way and proceeds to fire off his gun. He is soon called to the head office again and is informed that he injured several people, including the caterers who refuse to return until they’re feeling better. This leaves Sousuke, Kaname and her friends to run the bread stand temporarily, but they’ll face a little trouble when the head P.E. teacher decides to interfere. In A Fruitless Lunchtime Sousuke is having a hard time in translating some Japanese literature. A kind-hearted Kaname offers to lend him her notes and that night Sousuke completes his homework. However the next day he forgets to bring her notes to class, which infuriates her. Now they have less than an hour to get back home, pick up the notes and return before the next lesson starts. A stolen bike, police officers and a mistaken train ride is going to be more than enough for the hapless duo to contend with.
Summer Illusion of Steel. It’s time for a trip to the beach; Kaname has bought a new bikini and Sousuke is about to learn some new games. It doesn’t take long before Sousuke manages to upset Kaname once more, and she soon storms off, upset that Sousuke failed to compliment her on her new bikini. Soon she is driven to a mansion by a fellow named Washio, who informs her that she has been specially invited by a young boy named Hugo. Upon arriving she has tea with the boy and finds her surrounding to be quite pleasant. Meanwhile Sousuke learns that Kaname was upset with him. He decides to look for her and comes across the mansion, but when he’s turned away at the gate he assumes that Kaname is being mistreated. Donning his military gear he heads to the mansion in a daring rescue attempt, where he must first thwart Hugo’s guards.
ADV goes with an eye catching front cover for their first volume, which does away with robots and introduces some light bikini action. Unlike Full Metal Panic the sleeve doesn’t feature a reversible image. Included in the amaray case is a fold out Bonta-kun board game with no die or pieces – ADV make us work for our entertainment.
FMP: Fumoffu is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1. It’s something of a shame that this series doesn’t look quite as good as the first did, harbouring some noticeable cross colourisation and Edge Enhancement, along with the usual banding, hint of aliasing and slight brightness boosting. With that said it’s certainly as colourful as ever and detail is generally good. Fans may want to note that as per usual with anime in the UK this is an NTSC-PAL transfer.
Sound wise we’re given the original Japanese 2.0 Stereo track and a newly recorded English 5.1 Surround mix. I opted to go with the former, which although is far more dialogue based than it is action it still manages to offer plenty of strong effects. Dialogue then remains clear and has a decent range, while some of the heavier action scenes that lend themselves more to comedy have a decent amount of rear coverage.
In addition there are optional English subtitles. These are of the bold and yellow variety, with white being used for sign translations. The subs are well timed and pose no difficulties.
First up “The Mysteries of Fumoffu” serves as a brief explanation behind the new series, in particular some of the content that wasn’t shown on Japanese television, which can be seen here in full. “Clean Opening” and “Clean Closing” credits follow, along with three original Japanese TV Spots. Two minutes worth of character art is also present, along with ADV Previews for Chrono Crusade, D.N. Angel, Get Backers and Peace Maker.
FMP: Fumoffu is a solid companion piece to Full Metal Panic. If you enjoyed the original series’ madcap antics then you should feel right at home with this new offering as long as you really don’t expect anything more than silly heroics.
Last updated: 19/04/2018 06:10:43