Full Metal Panic? FUMOFFU: Full Metal Mania! Review
I’ve found myself not being able to say a great deal about FMP: Fumoffu, because in essence it’s little more than a sketch show that takes delight in providing pastiches of everything and anything in modern society, and how they’re usually portrayed on film and TV - only here at break-neck speed. This was a show designed to be a filler until the arrival of Full Metal Panic’s second series, and as such the intent is to place our favourite characters in awkward situations: up the action quota to insane levels, ram up the comedy and have the girls show a bit of skin from time to time. And on that front FMP: Fumoffu has done its job admirably well. The final volume does little to change the established format and it doesn’t take pains to offer any big conclusion to the series, but it does cater for the fans and goes out on a successful high.
Three stand-alone episodes make up the final volume of FMP: Fumoffu. The first brings back Bonta-kun, which should be enough to ensure a fun episode. However the writers take things an extra step by placing him in the world of the Yakuza once more. As the name so rightly implies A Fancy Without Honour or Humility is a rather fun send up (the name taking direct inspiration from Kinji Fukasaku’s seventies gangster series) of traditionally portrayed Yakuza lifestyles. Add an oversized cuddly toy however and you have all the makings of an oddball set-up which culminates in a glorified cuddly toy violence.
One of the main focal points of Full Metal Panic, and indeed this quirky follow up, is the relationship shared between Kaname and Sousuke; usually it coasts along with will they/won’t they scenarios, which is a little naïve because we all know it’s inevitable that at some point they will fall into each other’s arms. But part of the fun is seeing the couple draw closer and then finding themselves being abruptly separated again because of Sousuke’s tendency to solve problems through violent means. Uncontrollable Bluebird is about the closest that FMP: Fumoffu allows its leads to become, but only after shamelessly embarrassing them first. The episode sees various clubs from the school campus take part in a social science contest, with the winning club earning themselves a brand new room to study in. But the episode is little more than an excuse to put Sousuke through his paces and deal with situations that are totally foreign to him. Here the goal is to rally as many girls as possible, which of course means that the weapons enthusiast has to skilfully flirt and charm his way to success. It’s all very funny, with Sousuke luring his victims into traps because he doesn’t know any better, and of course he doesn’t come out of it all too well, but it’s Kaname’s respect and feelings for Sousuke that pushes her toward taking those first steps. In the end the series offers another glimmer of hope for the hopeless duo, who each in their own way, and despite neither one outwardly admitting it, provide a much needed support for one another.
And then the series falls back into farce for its final episode: one giant piss-take of just about all the biochemical outbreak movies ever made. When Sousuke is accidentally sent a biological weapon in place of a firearm accessory he locks down one of the campus rooms, due to one of the students mistakenly drinking it. He proceeds to inform the students that they face imminent death, which results in mass panic and everyone trying to think of how they’d like to spend their final moments. Predictably, though amusingly, half the female students are desperate to experience first love: cue a series of groping from the girls and worried guys who have other things on their mind - mainly Tsubaki, who still insists that he needs to pummel Sousuke’s face into the ground. A later moment involving Sousuke and Kaname sets up another effective joke, as the episode continues to make fools of everyone in the school. And the pay off is quite the riot; a gag I won’t entirely spoil, suffice to say that yet again there’s more than a little fan service to please the keen followers.
A Fancy Without Honour or Humility
When the lowly Mikihara gang - belonging to Ren’s (friend of Kaname) father, amusingly dubbed “Kanji the Killer” - has trouble securing their home turf against the Ryujinkai, Sousuke naturally leaps into action in full cuddly toy get-up, and with the aid of Kaname he puts the Mikihara gangsters through the toughest exercise regime of their lives. Not that they’ve ever exercised before, ‘cause they’re pork-eating lazy mobsters who let their knives do all the talking. Enter Bonta-kun!
When the gym club report to Sousuke that the shed they’re using is locked he immediately checks it out. Suspecting that students are using drugs inside, he gases the place and finds Kazama and his friends developing photos. It turns out that the photography club has no study room, which is why they’ve sought out the small shed. But this situation is echoed throughout the school: the karate club are fighting in the science lab, the biology club are imposing on the kitchen staff and the music club has resorted to performing in the geology room. The school quickly needs to make room and Sousuke has an idea to build an extension on the roof. However, there is only a small amount of space on which to construct, so the social science club decides to run a contest. The winning club will receive the new room, but first they must prove their wooing skills by successfully inviting girls to specific location. Not an easy task, though Sousuke seems awfully confident that he’ll win. If he doesn’t he’s gonna have to swim naked across a lake in front of everyone.
5th Period Hot Spot
Sousuke mistakenly receives a canister containing a dangerous chemical, in place of a weapon accessory he’s been expecting. He tells Kaname and her friends not to touch it, but when a boy starts gagging for water after eating a chilli donut he accidentally drinks some and spills the rest on the floor. Kaname cleans it up, but by then it’s too late. Sousuke tells everyone in the room that he must lock it down in order to save the lives of those outside. Panic sets in and the room becomes hostile. Soon Sousuke reveals that he has the antidote, but only enough for one person. Kaname decides that they’ll place a list of words in a hat and whoever picks “Atari” will receive the antidote. For those who lose, they may have to live out their hopes and dreams a little earlier than expected.
The final volume of FMP: Fumoffu contains a “Where’s Bonta-kun” poster.
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, compression artefacts 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 most 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.
I should also point out that the volume features a 2.0 German dub and German menu options, which isn’t advertised on the packaging and was never available on previous volumes. It really makes no sense. A bizarre inclusion indeed.
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.
The usual lot with this. We have “The Mysteries of FUMOFFU” piece, along with clean open and close credit sequences. There’s a short gallery featuring character artwork and ADV previews for Full metal Panic, Kino’s Journey, Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi and King of Bandit Jing.
Well, there you go. FMP: Fumoffu has been a fun little series and a nice companion to the more arc-driven Full Metal Panic. And with that said, series two is just around the corner and I suspect we’ll be seeing it in the UK soon.
8 out of 10
7 out of 10
8 out of 10
2 out of 10