Full Metal Panic? FUMOFFU Vol. #2 (of 4) (Mania.com)

By:Bryan Morton
Review Date: Friday, March 24, 2006
Release Date: Monday, March 20, 2006



What They Say
A simple art assignment turns deadly as the entire class gangs up on the mercenary-turned-model.

Then, he has to defend Kaname against Yakuza thugs, battle karate masters, escape a chainsaw-wielding janitor, and rein in a super-creepy stalker.

And just when you thought it couldn't get crazier, Kaname and Sousuke head to a haunted hospital, where blood-spattered ghosts teach the pair a frightening lesson in deception.

The combat and comedy never let up in the second volume of Full Metal Panic? FUMOFFU! Hold onto your seats (and your sides), because this disc packs a full metal punch!

Episodes Comprise
4 - The Hamburger Hill of Art / Single-Minded Stakeout
5 - The Pure Yet Impure Grappler / Trespassing on Good Faith
6 - The Hard Sell Fetish / The Patient of Darkness

The Review!
Another three episodes of mayhem from Kaname and Sousuke " what's not to like?

Audio:
Audio is presented in English 5.1 and Japanese 2.0 " I listened to the Japanese track for this review. The soundtrack is nice a clear, with good use made of the left & right channels to position what's happening on-screen. While FUMOFFU doesn't do "action" in quite the same way as the original FMP! Series, there are some scenes where the show gets the chance to use the soundtrack to full effect. Dialogue is easy to pick out, and there were no apparent problems.

Video:
FUMOFFU is presented in its original 1.33:1 full-frame format, with heavy use made of bright colours to bring a really lively feel to show that's perfectly in keeping with the style of the series. The animation itself is very smooth and a decent amount of detail is used in the backgrounds. There's still a noticeable amount of cross-colouration on fine lines, but it's not quite on the level of volume one & is less of a distraction this time around. It's still a disappointment that it's there at all, though.

Packaging:
Kaname and Sousuke feature on the front of this disc, with Kana jumping on a serious-looking Sousuke from behind. The rear cover has the usual promotional blurb, screenshots and technical information. The back cover has a few shots from the show along with the usual blurb & technical information. Inside is another Bonta-flavoured extra, this time a small 2006 calendar featuring a series of screenshots from the show.

Menu:
The disc menus are the same as volume one's " a high-tech, serious affair until mini-Sousuke begins his patrol. FUMOFFU's "A-Team"-style theme plays in the background, with menu options provided for direct access to each episode, a preview clip for volume three, and for the language and extras submenus. Selecting an episode triggers a transition animation featuring Bonta-kun, but other than that working through the menus is quick and easy.

Extras:
There's a fairly typical set of extras on this disc, beginning the creditless opening and closing sequences, an original Japanese promotional clip and a 2-minute slideshow of character artwork. The text-only "Mysteries of FUMOFFU" feature also makes a return, this time looking at some fringe characters & the frustrations of programmes over-running when you've set the VCR. A decent enough selection, but nothing spectacular.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
FUMOFFU carries on pretty much as it started, with another 6 stories that invariably involve some sort of Sousuke-linked destruction. First up is the school art project, where the class need to draw a picture of a classmate surrounded by nature " sounds simple enough, but Sousuke misunderstands the art teacher's ramblings and takes to the bushes to become one with nature. The race is on to track Sousuke down while there's still time to complete the assignment - but Sousuke's determined not to be caught. Similarly over-the-top is Sousuke's pursuit of a local stalker, who's been attacking girls from the school and forcing them to wear ponytails " the horror!

These two stories take care of the outright comedy on this disc, and are both great fun to watch as the mayhem is unleashed. There's a nice touch in the stalker story where the cop trying to catch the stalker is the same one featured in last episode's bike-chase scene " and boy, is she pissed at Sousuke for that one, forcing him to resort to disguise when he's helping her out.

Episode 5 is something of a two-parter and introduces someone who sees himself as a rival for Kana's affections " Tsubaki, head of the school Karate Club and more than a little short sighted. The Karate Club's dojo is due to be demolished, but the members are refusing to move " so Sousuke is sent in to force them out, by beating the club members in combat. His inability to grasp that this really means "unarmed" is entirely to be expected. Tsubaki, meanwhile, is determined to prove himself to Kaname, and that leads to an unhealthy rivalry with Sousuke.

I couldn't quite warm to Tsubaki. In his own way he's just as unhinged and clueless as Sousuke is, just without the heavy weaponry, and he doesn't quite have the same appeal as a character. The real fun here is in the way Sousuke deals with the Karate Club members, which would make Indiana Jones proud. Look out also for the school caretaker, whose reaction when Tsubaki's and Sousuke's antics finally push him over the edge is priceless.

On a very slightly more serious note, the return of Kaname's old flame Fuwa gives Sousuke a more believable rival on the romance front, as having to deal with his cluelessness is beginning to bug Kana to the point where even Sousuke notices there's something wrong. On Kyoko's prompting he follows Kana and Fuwa on their date to Fumo-Fumo Land, and when Kana attracts the attention of some undesirable characters, Sousuke's read to stand in - but first he has to find a way to do it without it being obvious it's him. The solution? FUMOFFU!

This is the first appearance of Bonta-kun, who quickly becomes Sousuke's disguise of choice " and in case you hadn't worked it out is where the FUMOFFU! Tag comes from, as that's all Bonta-kun can say. There's just something inherently not right about a man-sized cuddly bear packing Sousuke's heavy weaponry that you can't help but laugh every time he appears, and if anything he makes the serious even more ridiculous than it already is " in a good way. The way Bonta's used here is also a way of Sousuke showing that he's beginning to take notice of Kaname and her feelings, as well. That's quite touching in its own way, and Kana's smart enough to figure out what's going on. Add it all up, and you have the best story on the disc.

In Summary:
This volume of FUMOFFU doesn't really serve up anything that's going to surprise or shock " it's all very much in the same tone as the first volume, with the same style of humour throughout, but for me at least that's just fine as it means I'm pretty much guaranteed 75 minutes of fun. Sure it's as about as mindless as anime can be, but it does what it sets out to do "bring a smile to the face " with ease.

Features
Japanese Language 2.0,English Language 5.1,English Subtitles,Bonta-kun 2006 calendar,The Mysteries of FUMOFFU,Creditless Opening & Closing,Original Japanese TV Spots,Character Artwork

Review Equipment
Panasonic TX-W28R30P 28" widescreen TV; Pioneer DV-626D player; Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.



Mania Grade: A-
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 12 & Up
Region: 2 - Europe
Released By: ADV Films UK
MSRP: 19.99
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Full Metal Panic? FUMOFFU