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Full Metal Panic Fumoffu - Full Metal Fervor

ADV Films // Unrated // September 13, 2005
List Price: $29.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Don Houston | posted September 19, 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 and Second 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 four volume series, Full Metal Panic?: Fumoffu: Full Metal Fevor!, 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 7) The War Cry of Excessiveness, 8) A Goddess Comes To Japan (Volume 1: The Suffering), and 9) A Goddess Comes To Japan (Volume 2: The Hot Spring). The first episode dealt with Sousuke and Kaname being put in charge of saving the school soccer team. Apparently, they are a bunch of wimps and will lose their clubhouse if they don't win a game (they haven't won a match in years due to their pacifist ways). Needless to say, when Sousuke starts drilling the men military style (borrowing a page from his favorite trainer's handbook in fact), they soon find out he's as tough a man as they ever met, and wish to never meet again. Thankfully, the opposing team manage to piss off Kaname to the point where she takes an active role too, making me know in advance that they never had a chance.

The second and third episodes were all part of a single tale about Captain Tessa going on vacation while her ship is in dry dock getting some upgrades. Taking some time to pursue the man of her dreams (much to the chagrin of Kaname), Sousuke, she fits right in as an exchange student that drives all the men wild with desire. In the first part of the tale, her first in command makes Sousuke quite aware that he'll be ripped to pieces if he does anything inappropriate and in the second part of the story, the gals all go to the traditional hot spring to soak their naked bones while Mao and Kurz try to sneak a peek of them in their birthday suits. Sousuke ends up protecting their virtue by any means necessary, including some of the most powerful weapons at his disposal.

I like the characters of the original show and seeing more of them in action here was cool but the inclusion of just three episodes (the last two of which could've been edited down to a single one) made me lower the rating to a Rent It. In short, it was fun but getting a bit over an hour of show for the same retail price as some of the series with four or even five episodes was a drag to this reviewer. I hope the upcoming (rumored at least) second series of the original show goes back to the basics with lots of action and quality but I have to admit I'm hesitant to see how many volumes it'll last given this tendency towards 3 to a DVD.

Picture: Full Metal Panic?: Fumoffu: Full Metal Fevor! 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 as solid as I remembered Volume 2 being, so I wasn't disappointed this time either. I've heard a variety of comments from those participating in anime forums about the picture quality being poor yet I can only assume they haven't seen the official release (bootlegs are notorious for poor quality) as it looked nice here. If you liked the original television series this one was based upon, you'll like this (visually at least) too, although it was more brightly lit than the original in most cases.

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 again. In large part though, fans of dubs will have something to appreciate given the manner in which the domestic voice actors seem to have come into their own here. 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: The most interesting extra this time was the inclusion of a paper fold out eye exam called, appropriately enough, Bonta Kun's eye exam chart. It was silly and cute at the same time, showing that ADV Films is not without some creative staff these days. 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 Fevor! had some solid technical values and light hearted entertainment qualities as the first two in this four part limited series had to offer. I think it was worth a Rent It or maybe even a bit more if you like the premise of the show but half the cast's exploits this time were so similar to their earlier exploits that I'd be lying if I said that the replay value was high or that the sheer "sameness" factor didn't come into play. Give it a look first and decide what's best for you but I'll just hope that the last volume takes a different path or offers something more for the money.

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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