Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu Episode 01-02

Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu

"The Man Who Came From the South"
"Lunch Time That Runs Idle"

Full Metal Panic!, much to my surprise, became one of my favorite shows last year. Giant mechs, military drama, mixed with a high school romantic comedy? It seemed too weird to appeal to me. Somehow, Gonzo pulled it off though. With high expectations, I was excited to hear that there was going to be a second season of Full Metal Panic! aired. And here it is!

The first episode of the show is actually two episodes (each about ten minutes in length). From what I've read in NewType USA, the show appears to be following the plot of the manga. Mostly, this involves Sagara's comedic inability to assimilate himself into the life of a normal, Japanese high school student.

The art takes a little hit in this series, character designs and locations not looking quite as sharp as they did last season. Also, the animation quality is definitely down from the high production values of the previous season (as the show has been passed on from Gonzo).

What we do still have, though, is a very good continuation of the romantic comedy portions of Full Metal Panic! We get two fun stories about the suitably bizarre romantic misadventures of Sosuke and Chidori. The first follows Sosuke as he deals with an anonymous love letter in his own hyper-paranoid way. The other episode gives the relationship between the two main characters a chance to come through, as they rush through the city trying to retrieve Chidori's literature homework. A storyline worthy of Full Metal Panic!

The drop in animation and art has me a little bummed about this series, but it still feels right. I'm hoping that in future episodes, more of the military aspects of the show pop up, but I'm not holding out hope. Still, the high school drama parts of the first season really helped make Full Metal Panic! a great show, so I'd say it's still a winner.

Rating: A-

Posted by Kei at 12:19 PM | Comments (0)

Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu Episode 03

Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu

"Steel Summer Illusion"

I've watched some pretty bad anime the last few times I sat down, so I'm putting a lot of faith in Full Metal Panic? to make me feel better about this whole hobby thing I have.

I should take this opportunity to mention that I really like the intro to this series. As with the intro sequence for the first season, it sets the stage and feels just right for the type of series it is.

I am a little surprised by the sheer amount of CG that this show uses, three-dimensional environments appearing all over the place. They don't blend perfectly with the hand-drawn parts, but it's good enough to get by.

The show continues to be entertaining, and as it takes place at the beach, it's an opportunity for the animators to trot out all the female characters in their swimsuits, as well as show Sousuke dealing with a different set of situations in his own ridiculous way.

This episode keeps the Kaname/Sousuke relationship moving right along, which is nice, since this show is all about them. Kaname is troubled by the fact that Sousuke doesn't seem to be able to acknowledge the fact that she a) is a girl, b) is attractive, and c) has feelings for him (though you'd think she'd be used to it by now!). Anyways, her new swimsuit not attracting his attention (maybe she should have gotten a camo suit instead, I'm thinking), she ends up as the object of another boy's attentions.

A resident of the area, he invites her to the mansion he is staying at, and proceeds to offer Kaname all the praise and sweet talk that she really wants from Sousuke. When Sousuke goes to get her (thinking she may have been kidnapped), he is turned away, which of course puts him into full-on rescue mode. We get some good scenes of Sousuke beating the pants out of the boy's relatives, before finding Kaname.

This is one of those episodes where one of the character helps a "weak" character (the boy who is infatuated with Kaname) better himself through a loud, cutting monologue. After setting him on the right track, Sousuke and Kaname escape (in rather outrageous fashion), and share a nice moment where Kaname seems to be able to reconcile herself with the fact that, though he doesn't express it, at some level, Sousuke cares for her.

Full Metal Panic? doesn't let me down!

Rating: A-

Posted by Kei at 06:27 PM | Comments (1)

Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu Episode 04-05

Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu

"Artistic Hamburger Hill"
"Stake Out With All of One's Heart"

We're back to two shorter episodes for today. I'm a little surprised that this season of Full Metal Panic is following this sort of haphazard schedule, but so far it's worked pretty well, so I can't really complain (except for the part of me that wants more episodes!).

Well, I was hoping this wouldn't happen. I really like Full Metal Panic, so I want to give this show the benefit of the doubt. However, the first episode was terrible. The class goes on an art field trip to draw people in nature. The class decides to use Sousuke as their model, but Sousuke (of course) misinterprets the assignment, and tries to elude capture by the other students led by Chidori, who want him to stay still so they can draw him. Let's just say I'm pretty glad for the ten minute episode format for this one.

There's some stupid gags and the usual twists you'd expect from this generic sort of episode that explores Sousuke's military brainwashedness, you might call it. Nothing really special, nothing very interesting, and not very funny.

On to the second episode. I think this is the first time in the second season we've really heard Chidori's maniacal laugh (Full Metal Panic veterans know it well), but maybe I just wasn't paying attention. This episode is a lot better than the last one. (And Chidori looks absolutely adorable with her non-school, casual look!)

This episode is better than the first (which isn't all that much of a stretch) and follows Chidori around as she goes on a date with an old flame. Sousuke follows her around secretly (of course), and ends up saving her (of course). Argh, well this episode was kind of fun... but it's really nothing we haven't seen in Full Metal Panic before, or in other anime series, so it was a bit disappointing. Also, when the relationship building stuff between Sousuke and Chidori happen, Sousuke is wearing a ridiculous Fumoffu costume which, while funny, totally ruins the emotional impact of the moment.

This series doesn't hold up to the first season. The problem is that while the first season was this crazy mix of genres that meshed into an extremely entertaining whole, the second season is really pretty generic. Still fairly entertaining, even though these two episodes were downers.

Rating: B-

Posted by Kei at 11:30 PM | Comments (0)

Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu Episode 06-07

Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu

"Fetish That Has Been Touted"
"Patient of the Darkness"

I am just absolutely unable to acclimate myself to this show. Maybe it's because I'm watching Full Metal Panic! (season one) currently. The two shows take polar opposite approaches to their subject matter, with the original series taking the wild concept in total seriousness, dealing with subject matter like plane hijackings, terrorists, hostage situations, etc.

The second season... well, we've got a guy with a pony tail fetish, that wears a horse mask, and only says "pony".

Oh yeah, and where Sousuke got suited up in his Arbalest mech in the first season, this time around, we've got him dressed up as Fumoffu (Chidori's stuffed animal from the first season).

The second episode is about Sousuke's complete inability to be scared. They try ghost stories (the one about the shumai that I personally first read in GTO), and finally take him to a weird abandoned hospital one city away. Needless to say, Sousuke's a little harder to scare than all that. The ending is a little disappointing, but watching Chidori go crazy with fright, while Sousuke remains cool as a cucumber is still pretty entertaining.

Different pace, subject, tone, or not, I still find that I enjoy this series very much. The situations are so extremely bizarre, you can't help but smile as you watch. They do a good job of not letting Chidori and Sousuke's relationship not show up as a factor during the episode, and there's another cute moment with them.

Rating: B

Posted by Kei at 08:07 PM | Comments (0)

Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu Episode 08-09

Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu

"Pure and Impure Grappler"
"Trespass With Good Intentions"

The first of the two episodes was pretty weak. The animation wasn't so hot, and there was a lot of art reuse that really cheapens the show, especially considering the first season's extremely high production values. Looking past that, the story is suitably wacky for this series (Chidori and Sousuke must evict the school's karate club, who of course won't give up without a fight), but ultimately kind of flat.

The primary bad guy is basically a stupid joke, and of course Sousuke wins. We get the requisite amount of Chidori spazzing out... In other words, another standard episode of Fumoffu.

The second episode sort of carries on the first episode's story, which marks the first time we've had a carryover theme this series. There's some more action, and some general weirdness. The story is pretty stupid and far-fetched. I know this is based off of the manga, but seriously, this isn't even in the same ballpark as the first season, different subject matter/genre or no. It's just not very good.

One thing that I thought of while watching these two episodes is that the show really doesn't provide you with sufficient exposition. If you don't know anything about Full Metal Panic, there's a very very high probability that you won't have any idea what's going on, or why you should be entertained.

If you are familiar with the story, however, you'll probably still wonder why you should be entertained.

Rating: C

Posted by Kei at 12:28 AM | Comments (0)

Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu Episode 10

Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu

"War Cry That Has Gone Too Far"

I think that Fumoffu has been much better when all thirty minutes are dedicated to one episode. The two short episode format hasn't really produced stories that have stuck in my mind.

In this episode, Jindai High's rugby club is going to be shut down because they have not won a game for years. Chidori is made the new club manager, and Sousuke is added to their lineup. All the insanity that you'd expect from Sousuke playing a sport like rugby does indeed manifest itself.

The reason the club is so bad though, is because its team is made up of a bunch of big, scared guys who sit around drinking tea, arranging flowers, and being afraid of spiders. Leave it to Sousuke and Mao's training manual (her first "cameo" on the show this season), to train the guys into a bunch of killing machines.

Chidori's appearance seems to vary a lot from shot to shot, sometimes moving away from the way she looked in the first season. I only mention this because the rest of the cast doesn't seem to share this varying art quality.

This episode is pretty funny though, starting off with Chidori's comment about sports dramas (which this episode is parodying), and Sousuke's crazy, drill-sergeant training routine.

More thirty minute episodes, please.

Rating: A-

Posted by Kei at 08:22 AM | Comments (0)

Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu Episode 11

Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu

"The Goddess Visits Japan (The Ordeal Chapter)"

This is the first episode of the second season of Full Metal Panic that actually really put me back into the mindset I was in for the first season. Much of that has to do with the fact that familiar characters are introduced (even if they are just brief cameos), all in all, I find this storyline (not a one-shot, yay!) with Tessa versus Chidori for Sousuke's affections, is much more interesting than all the extremely fluffy things that have come before.

It is always fun to watch Sousuke's absolute inability to deal with Tessa, and Tessa's generic anime female naivete. Of course, Sousuke isn't just incapable of dealing with Tessa, he doesn't know how to handle Chidori either, and the miscues add up to a very entertaining episode.

I hope that after almost a dozen "episodes", the show will hit its stride and focus on more substantial story arcs. This episode was much better, but we'll see how this plays out.

Rating: A-

Posted by Kei at 05:47 PM | Comments (0)

Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu Episode 12

Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu

"The Goddess Visits Japan (The Hot Springs Chapter)"

Blah! Well, right back to the general level of crap that Fumoffu has been, compared to season one of Full Metal Panic.

See, in the first season, stuff happens for a reason, and characters develop because of things that make sense. The writers for this particular group of episodes, decides that it'll be Tessa who will grow as a character (though who knows why a cameo character needs this), and through some bizarre set of events a face is given to the people that she knows she must protect. I guess it makes her mission more personal or something. Sure.

There are three storylines in this episode. The first, is the girls enjoying the hot springs. They bathe around, being strategically covered by whatever objects might be handy (rubber ducks, railings, towels, etc.). Fanservice! Yay! The second storyline is the men (minus Sousuke), trying to peep on them. Yeah, that hasn't been done before. Oh, and it's never done over the top. Sorry, try again. The final story is Sousuke entertaining himself on the vacation. This is probably the funniest of them all, and it manages to do so in the minute and thirty seconds devoted to it. (Uh oh, I think this episode might be in trouble.)

Add to the disturbing pile gratuitous shots of Kurz's ass (more cameos!), and Kazama crashing into Sousuke's naked crotch (strategically placed ping pong paddle)... which fades into a shot of Sousuke eating a banana...

I thought there was hope for this show, but there isn't. Maybe if this show could figure out what type of show it is, and what it's actually about, it might be okay, but as it is, it's a pretty sorry excuse for all the sort of archetypes it's trying to fill.

Rating: C

Posted by Kei at 11:05 PM | Comments (2)

Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu Episode 13

Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu

"Fancy With No Moral Codes"

Fumoffu is coming off as something of a formulaic show. Sure, it bounces from one weird theme to the next, but now we've got two consecutive episodes where we start with Chidori making fun of a genre of television show, and then the episode follows with it happening in real life. I suppose it works as a frame, and the things Chidori says is usually pretty funny, so I'll accept it. Just don't make it three episodes in a row (maybe she can parody anime next).

In this one, we are shown what would happen in the unlikely (or maybe likely, for this particular universe) situation where Sagara is recruited to help a gang toughen up, and reassert themselves on their turf. As that story is clearly not bizarre enough, the twist that is thrown in is that Sagara disguises himself in his Bonta-kun outfit. Unfortunately, I feel like the whole Bonta-kun gag really throws this show too far into the comedy/bizarre category, especially given the groundedness of the first season.

So, another disjointed episode that is too silly for my tastes, and on the whole, comes off only a little better than average.

Rating: B-

Posted by Kei at 12:52 AM | Comments (1)

Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu Episode 14

Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu

"Blue Bird Who Cannot Be Controlled"

Been busy lately, so let's play some catchup, shall we?

Carrying over from the club madness that featured in earlier episodes, it seems that there just aren't enough rooms for the various clubs to meet in. Luckily, the sociology club is willing to give up theirs (as they only have two members), but has decided that the people who get the room must win their challenge: pick up on as many girls as possible in one day.

Kind of weird, being that you'd think there were girls in some of these clubs, but oh well.

Anyways, you can bet that this is yet another opportunity to check out Sousuke completely missing the point of the exercise. Flirting is described as a "girl hunt" to him, so inevitably he takes the idea to inappropriate extremes.

This episode isn't completely a wash though, as the last few minutes move along the Sousuke/Chidori relationship. It's those few moments that are actually carrying me through this predictable comedy show, and makes me wish they had focused more on this, than the insanity that seems to follow Sousuke around in his everyday life.

Rating: B-

Posted by Kei at 08:40 PM | Comments (0)

Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu Episode 15

Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu

"Fifth Period's Hot Spot"

So let's see what trouble Sousuke's gotten himself into this time. Ah, the biological kind!

Sousuke places an order for a new sight for one of his guns, but receives a mysterious biological agent. Of course, for some reason he's decided to take this biological agent to school (despite the fact he knows what it is)--ahh narrative!--where it proceeds to be opened and released into the air.

Finding out that the class is doomed to die brings out some funny moments in Sousuke's assorted classmates, and we find out that Oren apparently has feelings of some sort for the student council president.

In the end, everything's fine of course, though it is kind of funny (and fanservicey), when the details of the biological weapon are exposed, and Sousuke reacts to his fate.

Ultimately, the best I can say is that at least the series was reasonably amusing, but it really pains me that this was the successor to the fantastic first season.

Rating: B

Posted by Kei at 08:48 PM | Comments (4)