Full Metal Panic Fumoffu DVD #1
High school is tough enough when you’re a regular old teenager, but it’s even more difficult when you’re a highly trained mercenary seeing danger behind every corner. Welcome to Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu, where a girl leaving a love note in your locker might just be a terrorist planting some devious destructive device. The only thing to do is blow up your locker with C4, just to be sure, and then track down the girl who left the note, just in case she was an enemy trying to kill you.
Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu is the sequel to Full Metal Panic, though it stands on its own very well even if you haven’t seen the previous series. While the mercenary in high school conceit might be completely absurd or melodramatic, Fumoffu parks its tongue firmly in its cheek and charges forward.
Sergeant Sosuke Sagara is our mercenary in question, protecting Miss Chidori from all threats, from love notes to kidnapping. Sosuke is written deliciously straight, an island of calm assurance spawning hurricanes of absurdity all around him. He is a “chronic property wrecker and a class nuisance” with a tendency to shoot first and justify his actions later. Everything makes perfect sense from his point of view, though drawing one’s Glock and shooting up an arcade machine when your lightgun runs out of ammunition may not seem as wise when you get tossed out of the arcade.
Sergeant Sagara is introduced in style, with complaints to the principal about his habits of wrecking incredible amounts of property. This is a school where blowing up your foot locker is perfectly acceptable, so long as you have a good explanation for it (and a large donation to the school around the time of your entry). Is that innocent schoolgirl planting love notes or a terrorist out to wreak havoc?
Episode Two-A Hostage With No Compromises
The goons Sagara roughed up in the first episode take offense to his roughing them up again when they try to get their revenge. They decide to take Miss Chidori hostage so they can get revenge on Sagara again, and it’s going to work this time! Sagara, naturally, has to win her back, and the elaborate scheme he undertakes to save her from the kidnappers is horrifyingly hilarious. And the senior student Sagara reports to has astounding language skills.
Sagara continues to not-exactly-blend-in by using his pistol to clear away a line at the lunch counter. The bakers’ boycott in the aftermath triggers a food crisis and the dire prospect of “riots and pillaging” if the students get too hungry. Sagara and Miss Chidori wind up taking over the food and drink sales until the bakers come back. The health teacher sets himself against Sagara, which doesn’t turn out well for the health teacher, but his schemes to undermine our would-be merchants prove endlessly amusing.
Episode Four-A Fruitless Lunchtime
Miss Chidori lends Sagara her notes for his homework and he forgets to bring them back, earning himself a suplex. A frantic car ride back to his place, lots of running, a bike chase, and other dramatic action and yelling sequences highlight this episode as the two of them race against time to get her notes and return before fifth period.
Summer and a trip to the beach provide an excuse for anime babes in bikinis. And, also, plot. Sagara keeps finding ways to get clobbered, while Miss Chidori wanders off and finds she has a creepy man after her. However, the creepy guy is just a servant and it turns out that frail rich boys really do exist. Sagara is convinced she’s been captured and decides to stage a rescue mission, fighting a series of James Bond-style minions to save her.
While Fumoffu is a little heavy on the shouting and hitting-style of humor, the hilarity of the various overblown situations cannot be denied. Sagara is lovably clueless and the series plays to that perfectly, switching to dramatic, military-sounding themes and serious-style animation when he’s off in his own little world of landmines and guerillas out to get him. This just makes it funnier when the plot collapses into a sea of silliness.
It may be a very, very funny series, but there’s also a lot of action. An extended bike chase in Episode Four is a fantastically animated action movie of near misses, collisions, and shouting and screaming. The animation in silly anime isn’t always treated with the same care as more serious ventures, but thankfully this is not the case here. Faces are tremendously expressive, going from placid to rage to frustrated in mere seconds, and all very smoothly and organically. The sunlight and effects are beautiful, too, a real treat for the eyes. Also, anime babes in bikinis.
The voice acting is superb (I’m talking about the dubbed version here). Sagara’s voice is everything a serious anime mercenary hero should be. Miss Chirdori is the real star, however, managing to pull off the cute/hellion routine without getting screechy or irritating, a real feat considering she has to flip out and start yelling every few seconds.
You’re going to be hard-pressed to find a more likable anime than FMP? Fumoffu! If you like your fare more serious, then you might not care for it, but this is a truly hilarious anime with an engaging plot, likable characters, crisp animation, and good music. It may take a turn in the later episodes, as many do, but those first five are some of the funniest anime I’ve ever seen.