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: 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

Full Metal Panic? FUMOFFU Vol. #4

By Bryan Morton     July 19, 2006
Release Date: July 17, 2006

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

What They Say
Here it is, the full-on, all-out-crazy finale to Full Metal Panic? FUMOFFU! And it seems that EVERYONE has gone completely mad!

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 - and you definitely don't want to miss it!

Episodes Comprise
10 - A Fancy Without Honor or Humanity
11 - Uncontrollable Bluebird
12 - 5th Period Hot Spot

The Review!
As Full Metal Panic? FUMOFFU comes to an end, I can't help but wish there were more of it. Lots more.

Audio is presented in English 5.1, Japanese 2.0 and German 5.1 " I listened to the Japanese track for this review. The soundtrack is nice and 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.

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, while the cross-colouration issues that were present on previous volumes are greatly reduced this time around.

Taking a darker approach than we've had so far, this volume's cover features Kaname at the head of her army of Bonta-kun's in a suitably menacing image. The rear cover has the usual promotional blurb, screenshots and technical information. Inside is another Bonta-flavoured extra, this time a "Where is Bonta-kun?" board game.

Menus are available in English and German, selectable when the disc loads. I used the English version. The disc menus are the same as previous volumes " 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. There are no transition animations, so working through the menus is quick and easy.

Along with the usual clean versions of the opening and closing sequences, this disc has more Mysteries of FUMOFFU, the original Japanese DVD promo video and a short artwork slideshow " this time, mostly featuring Sousuke's weaponry collection.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
More mayhem from Sousuke, as expected, with his more destructive tendencies ably kept in check by Kaname. The first episode of this release sees the return of Bonta-kun, newly-upgraded to full military spec " although with an unfortunate bug in the PA system that means he still can't say anything other than "Fumoffu!". When the Yakuza family led by Ren's father begins to have some trouble with a rival grouping, the cuddly-yet-violent one is called in to give the family's thugs some extra training. The test of how much they've learnt comes when Kana and Ren are kidnapped, and an army of newly-trained Bontas take to the streets.

There's just something completely surreal about a squad of cuddly mascots running down the street in full tactical gear. What Sousuke and his new students lose in stealth, they certainly make up for in surprise. While there's a lot of fun to be had from watching them in action, some of the best scenes in this episode are just short, 5-second asides that refer to events (such as Sousuke trying to get his Bonta-kun suit to speak in a normal voice, or seeing the policewoman who tangled with Sousuke lose the rag again after seeing a TV new report on the Bonta raid).

Episode 11 brings Tsubaki and his rivalry with Sousuke back into the mix, thanks to a contest being run to see which of the school's club can lay claim to a clubroom that's become available. With the psychology club running the contest, they settle on an unusual idea for which club will win " the one who can pick up the most girls. Tsubaki's good looks quickly prove to be an advantage, while Sousuke seems to have missed the point when he heads out on a trap-and-release mission.

Obviously someone forgot to explain there are rules to this flirting game, which Sousuke being Sousuke simply hasn't a clue about. Most of the comedy here comes from seeing the 1,001 ways that the clubs try and fail to persuade the town's girls to come back to the gathering point " and how they explain what's going on to the few that do agree " as Sousuke just does exactly what you would expect him to do. Faced with defeat, Kaname comes to his rescue in a scene that Kana fans will simply love.

The final episode is also probably the best on the disc, as Kana and her classmates come face-to-face with the prospect of a horrible death after a canister of an experimental biochemical weapon is opened in the classroom. Why does Sousuke bring these things to school? It's probably best not to ask. With a class full of pupils sealed into the room and only one vial of antidote available, to say that things soon get tense would be an understatement, with Sousuke looking likely to be the first to die " at the hands of his classmates, and not because of the weapon. But the problem with experimental weapons is that they never work quite how you expect them to.

Once again Sousuke shows how he's much happier dealing with weapons than with people, but it is fun seeing how the rest of the class react to his efforts to calm the situation " not an easy thing to do when everyone is thinking they're going to die. I do sometimes wonder what he'd be like if he ever learnt to behave like a normal person " but that really wouldn't be as much fun to watch. It's his general cluelessness and Kana's mostly-patient efforts to keep him on the right track that have made FUMOFFU as good as it is and for my money, a better show than the original Full Metal Panic! series.

In Summary:
This volume was always going to have a hard time living up to the standards set by volume three's outstanding episodes, and while these stories are definitely funny, they're not quite up there with some of the earlier episodes. Needs more rubber duckies. If you're looking for a comedy series that's almost guaranteed to make to laugh and takes little or no effort to get in to, then look no further.

Japanese Language 2.0,English Language 5.1,German Language 5.1,English Subtitles,German Subtitles,Where's Bonta-kun Game,Mysteries of FUMOFFU,Clean opening & closing sequences,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.


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