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Full Metal Panic Fumoffu - Full Metal Fracas

ADV Films // Unrated // July 12, 2005
List Price: $29.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Don Houston | posted July 23, 2005 | E-mail the Author
Movie: One of my favorite anime series on DVD a year or two ago was Full Metal Panic, a show I described as: "The show centers on young Sergeant Sousuke, a man assigned to an anti-terrorist organization, Mithral. Mithral was designed to combat well-funded terrorists that pilot various mech-robots against targets protected by friendly governments. Recently, there has been an advance in the design of such robots and both sides lay claim to the technology behind the advance and use it for their missions. The series has Sousuke on a long term protection mission of a high school girl, Kaname, and this being anime, the two fall for one another (yet won't openly admit to this fact). Apparently, she has a gift (being one of an elite genetic group known as "The Whispered") that relates to the new technology and is considered too precious to go unprotected. As the cast goes on a number of missions, we learn a bit more about them and the near-future technology behind the show." While there has been the ongoing Manga to enjoy, in terms of DVD the series has been over for some time with little word of later seasons. Unlike most shows where the series continued on for another round of similar action, this one tried something decidedly different with Full Metal Panic?: Fumoffu. I enjoyed the First Volume of the series as a silly diversion that used two of my favorite characters in the more mundane high school setting and the next in the three volume series, Full Metal Panic?: Fumoffu: Full Metal Fracas, was just as cute, even though it bothered me that it only had three episodes too.

Okay, one of the elements that worked so well in the original series was how Sousuke would react to anything as a military threat, regardless of the context of the event. Anything out of place would immediately draw his suspicion and he would overreact in the civilian world whereas his military instincts worked fine in the field. The mech-robot action of the original series was great but I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that the material centered in his high school exploits (when he was protecting Kaname) adding the right touch of comedy. Well, with the military threat erased for the moment, this new series (whatever Fumoffu stands for will hopefully be explained in the future) takes the focus back to the school hijinks where Sousuke is literally out of touch with reality to the point where he becomes a danger to everyone around him. The romance element was downplayed this time and Kaname would almost always end up embarrassed by Sousuke's actions but the overall show was often hilarious as the couple interacted with one another and began getting interested in one another by the end of the three episodes.

The episodes on this volume included 4) The Hamburger Hill of Art/Single-Minded Stakeout!, 5) The Pure Yet Impure Grappler/Trespassing on Good Faith, and 6) The Hard Sell Fetish/The Patient of Darkness. From a karate school bully just as single minded as Sousuke (and nearly as skilled in hand to hand combat), to a pervert stalker in need of capture, to a ghostly tale with a surprise ending, the episodes carried on the tradition started in the initial volume of the series of showing the couple engaged in various goofy situations that they approached as only they could. The secondary characters weren't utilized as much as I would've liked but I appreciated the manner in which the humor kept true to form. In all, the show managed to give yet another look at the couple although I liked the original series enough that I would've really got into another full season of action like the first (complete with the giant robots, international intrigue, and complex relationships I enjoyed back then). I still think the series merits a rating of Recommended, although this was due as much to the exceptionally entertaining extras as the content of the three episodes themselves.

Picture: Full Metal Panic?: Fumoffu: Full Metal Fracas! was presented in 1.33:1 ratio full screen, as expected with a modern day television released anime. It looked clear and crisp with a solid DVD transfer to enjoy. The colors were somewhat clearer than I remembered volume four being, perhaps due to the settings. The images were crisp in most cases and I saw no compression artifacts while watching the DVD.

Sound: The audio was presented in a few choices: English 5.1 or 2.0 (with optional song subtitles) or the original Japanese stereo track with English subtitles. Like the picture, the sound was exceptionally clear and well planned but I preferred the original language track. There was some dynamic range to the vocals and music but most of the time; the center speaker was where the audio action was at. Like the original series though, I think an audio CD would work really well given the quality of the music from the series.

Extras: My favorite extra was a glossy bit called a "Bonta-Kun 2005-2006 calendar" that had various small screen captures from the show. Paper inserts seem rare these days so a good one like this merits attention. There was also another short text feature called The Mysteries of FUMOFFU that described a bit about the series. Lastly, there was the usual clean opening, closing, Japanese television spots, and some trailers with some artwork sketches.

Final Thoughts: Full Metal Panic?: Fumoffu: Full Metal Fracas! was a cute way to revisit the cast of characters that I had originally appreciated in the first season series by ADV Films. While I would've preferred they meet a new foe under similar circumstances as the original show in the original season, I have to give the show's producers credit from trying something new, and cute, with the two leads that I wouldn't have thought of if given the chance. If you're in the mood for something a bit lighter than average with a humorous look at a serious military man protecting a high school gal with a horribly female temper, you'd be hard pressed to find a title as worthy of you time as this one. Give it a look if you get the chance, I doubt you'll be disappointed.

If you enjoy anime, take a look at some of the recommendations by DVDTalk's twisted cast of reviewers in their Best Of Anime 2003 and Best Of Anime 2004 article or regular column Anime Talk

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