Full Metal Panic? FUMOFFU Vol. #4 - Mania.com

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: TV PG
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Full Metal Panic? FUMOFFU

Full Metal Panic? FUMOFFU Vol. #4

By Chris Beveridge     October 08, 2005
Release Date: October 18, 2005

Full Metal Panic? FUMOFFU Vol. #4
© ADV Films

What They Say
First, a laugh-out-loud yakuza war brings gangster stereotypes to life, risks the lives of Kaname and Sousuke, and enlists an unlikely army of Bonta-kuns to save the day! Next, there's a turf war on the school campus, and it's nerd against nerd, in an ill-inspired contest to see which group of misfits can seduce the most girls! And finally, it's scandal, scare, skin, and screamin' hilarity – as a whole classroom of students discards common sense... just before they unwittingly discard their clothes! It’s a fitting finish to a frenzied frolic in full-metal frivolity!

The Review!
The series draws to a close and while it plays just as differently with these episodes as every previous volume did, the laughs most certainly continue.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. Having followed the first season of the show in this format it only felt right to continue with the cast we've known. The stereo mix for the show is fairly standard for this kind of series in that it does have some good action sequences where things do stand out and a good bit of directionality, but a lot of the show is also just dialogue, though with plenty of varying levels as characters go from whispering to yelling, and it's all coming across very well here. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Originally airing in 2003, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The first volume of the series was extremely frustrating in its quality level since much of it looks great but it was so heavily afflicted with cross coloration that it was highly distracting. The rest of the presentation looked spot on though and with great looking fluid animation and a very colorful palette it was definitely pleasing in a number of regards. The fourth volume is like the previous two volumes in that it manages to eliminate a lot of the cross coloration issue but it's still visible in a number of scenes as is the dot crawl. It is not anywhere as prominent as the first volume which is a real boon and made this one far easier to watch but it does retain elements from how that transfer looked. The bulk of what's there is still related to mid-range characters and hairlines but it doesn't feel like it's in every scene anymore as it is highly minimized.

I had to look at this a few times to make out what's there since the colors are so dark and shadowed but once you settle on the image of a number of heavily armed Bonta-kun's standing against a darkened sky with lightning all over while Kaname seemingly is their leader, it's surprisingly serious and laughable at the same time. The back cover plays with a particular character in terms of layout design and has a few shots from the show laid around the other areas such as the summary, the discs features and the technical/production section. While there's little here that's actually set horizontal, it's all easy to read and easy to find the key technical information. The foldout insert is rather amusing and detailed as it's four panels that has a shot of the school from the outside and dozens of Bonta-kun's and other characters and you have to play where's Bonta-Kun as well as finding some other things. The border is filled with small shots from the show itself which is really nice.

The menu layout is pretty similar in design and feel to the original series though again it feels like it's a bit lighter in color and tone as well as the addition of a small super-deformed Sousuke or Kaname walking around once in awhile as the music plays along. The angular listings of the selections makes reading some of it a bit awkward at times but otherwise it's pretty well designed and I like the consistency of it from the first series. Access times are nice and fast and it's easy to navigate. The disc also correctly read our players' language presets and played properly.

The extras continue on as expected and are essentially the same as the previous volumes. The main unique piece is entitled Mysteries of Fumoffu. This goes into brief detail about the way the show was made in regards to these particular episodes with a sense of Japanese humor to them that's evident. In addition to the text section, we get the standard clean opening and closing sequences, some commercials from before the show aired and a round of characters sketches. These are decent and solid extras but nothing that's really out of this world.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Fumoffu hit something of a real high point with the previous volume in that while the first two were plenty enjoyable and had a good amount of humor to them, what the third volume brought to the table was the rest of what makes Full Metal Panic itself enjoyable – the rest of the cast. That's a tough act to follow and while the fourth volume doesn't have them in it they do manage to provide for a good deal of humor and fun.

The trio of episodes are setup as we've gotten used to it in that each full episode has a storyline that runs all the way through it unlike the first volume. The stories are pretty much all over the map and there's no real continuity between them but events do influence each other as it progresses. For example, when the amusement park episode played out there were a couple of yakuza types that got kicked hard by Bonta-kun. As it turns out, Ren is the daughter of a yakuza leader and those were his guys and now they need the help of Bonta-kun to maintain their territory. The idea that Sousuke goes in with is to teach theme enough so that things can be brought to a stalemate but the guys he's training as Bonta-kun with Kaname translating are standard punk types who just want to rumble. There's a lot of good fun here with Bonta-speak and the moves he pulls off but there's always a serious twist at the end that causes some real hilarity as a Bonta-kun Force emerges to save the day. It's hard to call that a spoiler though when you see the front cover featuring the force.

Probably my favorite of this volume is the last episode though where Sousuke's usual nature causes the trouble. It's all something that starts simply enough when a part he's ordered for his gun comes in by his supplier sends him the wrong thing instead. The steel container looks no different than a slightly elaborate water bottle but with the big biohazard warning on it you know it's not what it seems. He warns everyone to stay away from it as he's dragged off to account for something else he's done, so you know the obvious is going to happen and they come up with an amusing bit to cause the container to open and the bacteria to emerge from it. When Sousuke returns and finds out what happens he quarantines the room and informs them about their impending doom and the class goes through a wide range of emotions and Sousuke of course finds himself in a real pinch. The gags throughout it work great and the ending is just perfect.

The animation for this episode in particularly great as they look like they went all out as it's very smooth and fluid. The previous episodes looked really good as well and overall I think Kyoto Animation did fantastic job with this show. While thoughts vary on the quality of the original by Gonzo, following up someone else's production is never the easiest thing in the world to do and there's a ton of pressure with it. I think they managed to not only match but exceed what Gonzo did but gave a new life and twist to the designs.

In Summary:
With the kinds of stories that Fumoffu was telling, there's obviously no real closure to the series and it's something that they can easily pick up with again – and I hope they do. Humor was abound in the original but having a series that sort of steps to the side of the more serious presentation and storyline to just have fun and really make you smile works great. It may not work with a lot of shows but it just meshed perfectly here. Fumoffu came and went far too fast but it has a good replay value to it and certainly eases the wait for the next installment of the franchise whenever that finally makes an appearance.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Character artwork,Mysteries of FUMOFFU,Clean opening animation,Clean closing animation

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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