16 CommentsAnime Analysis / By Scamp /

Revisiting Full Metal Panic: Fumoffu

Full Metal Panic Fumoffu 01.mkv_snapshot_13.54_[2013.01.28_18.43.32]

Rewatching the first season of Full Metal Panic for my 2002 retrospective list gave me the bug. I was only supposed to watch the first season for now, but I had those next two seasons there looking at me. Just there, asking to be watched. There would be more Tessa in them. I couldn’t resist. So, unscheduled, here’s a review of Fumoffu.

For a lot of people, their favourite parts of Full Metal Panic were the goofy side stories involving Sagara blowing stuff up in a school environment and Kaname getting mad at him for doing so. To appease that fanbase, and to keep the main storyline more serious and consistent in tone, they took a whole bunch of those stories and compiled them into season 1.5: Full Metal Panic Fumoffu. While it helps to have the experience of the main story to know the characters, Fumoffu works perfectly fine as a stand alone dumb comedy, such is the disconnect between it and FMP regular.

The issue is about 75% of the joke of Fumoffu is Sagara shooting something and then Kaname getting angry and hitting him for doing that. That joke wasn’t particularly funny in FMP regular, and repeating it 100 times does little to improve it. If anything, it also starts to degrade the joke of Sagara’s military fetishism, because the jokes become so predictable. I wouldn’t have thought that solving every problem by shooting someone in the face would ever lose its charm, but I’m sure even an avalanche of kittens would eventually grow tiresome.

The new characters don’t add much to the story either. The nature of Fumoffu means the jokes have little in the way of depth or weight, and what’s there comes as baggage from the main series. Even when they bring over characters from the main FMP, they lose a lot in transition to goofy comedy. Tessa in particular is pathetic in Fumoffu. There’s no real satire on display here, when almost all the jokes are slapstick of someone applying military logic to real life situations. It’s the lazy webcomic artist method of humour. Apply video game logic to real life situations with hilarious consequences.

So, repetitive jokes and bland characters. “But I heard Fumoffu was really good” I pretend to hear you say. “And you really like Full Metal Panic, so what’s going on here”? Well, my theory here is that it comes down to selective memory. What I described above is about 75-80% of Fumoffu. The remaining part of Fumoffu is a bit more diverse and a touch insane.

Full Metal Panic Fumoffu 05.mkv_snapshot_21.22_[2013.01.28_22.47.22]

My current running theory is the guys tasked with writing and storyboarding Fumoffu were locked in a room together and told they couldn’t leave until the entire show had been planned out. For the most part they just made a generic romcom with a military nerd lead. However, as they were forced to spend so much time together, slowly they started to go mad. When the producers finally opened the door to let them out, they were a shrivelled gang of deranged lunatics, talking about trapping prostitutes in cages, repeatedly shouting quotes from Full Metal Jacket at each other, and with one guy huddled in a corner muttering the word ‘pony’ under his breath over and over again.

When you start breaking down the themes and layers behind these jokes, this side of Fumoffu does not have nice things to say about humanity, nor the people who made this show. Humans will crawl over each others dead bodies, whether fuelled by hunger, lust or simple self-preservation instinct. Practically every episode involves someone threatening to sexually assault Kaname, and in the case of things like the Pony episode, you get the feeling the sympathy lies with the Pony man. The tone frequently swaps into slasher horror-mode, and the results are as frightening as they are funny. It’s hugely imaginative, laugh out loud funny, and the kind of humour that definitely sticks with you. But insane in a slightly worrying way.

If Fumoffu was a person, they would be the kind of guy who you heard ‘stories’ about, but seemed like a perfectly nice guy in person until you went on a night out with them. Fumoffu is the kind of person who would suggest re-creating scenes from The Wicker Man, and be deadly serious about it. Fumoffu is the kind of person who would tie an old man to a cross and do tribal dances around him while yelling “this is so much fun”! Fumoffu is the kind of person you wouldn’t remember what happened on this night out with them, except that the next morning you found yourself in an unfamiliar bedroom with only a decapitated gorilla for company.

Full Metal Panic Fumoffu 05.mkv_snapshot_15.45_[2013.01.28_22.41.14]Fumoffu is a strange show man.

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16 Comments

  1. Posted February 9, 2013 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

    I had never thought about Fumoffu in such a deep manner. To me, it was always a comedy that was really quite funny…

    Is that first screencap from the carp episode? That episode was hilarious but at the same time, so depressing. Poor carp, poor old man.

    • Scamp
      Posted February 10, 2013 at 11:16 pm | Permalink

      I always over-analyse my comedy. I find it generally works out for me, as I get more out of them. Although reviewing Fumoffu did cause me to rethink my reviewing comedy ideas, because it made me realise you can say truly horrible things and that be the thing that makes you hilarious

  2. SQA
    Posted February 9, 2013 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

    Both screencaps are from the Carp episode.

    And the series is hilarious. Tessa isn’t well used (she’s a really clingy ditzy, here), but most of the characters are fun. And insane. Have I mentioned insane?

    Exposition fanning Student Council President, Yakuza boss daughter secretary. Sousuke threatening to kill a child with a bomb. Sarin gas used a defensive weapon for bread. Bunta-kun saves the day (and Miami). PONY!

    And, the single best episode: Sousuke coaches Rugby. You will love your ball.

    • Blargh
      Posted February 9, 2013 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

      This pretty much exactly. I salute you!!

    • Scamp
      Posted February 10, 2013 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

      The student council president added next to nothing and the Yakuza daughter had no personality. The bits you mentioned are indeed fantastic, but they come after 10-12 minutes of incredibly bland repetitive romcom trash.

      The rugby episode is probably the best though. I love it for the ending and how the team is basically yelling “KILL KILL KILL” at the opposition. That, in a way, sums up Fumoffu. This rugby team going from the kindest people to horrible machines through intensive training is what happens when you devote yourself to anything properly. Harsh lesson man

    • sqa
      Posted February 11, 2013 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

      “Mao Onee-san’s Guide to Swearing” I believe is the book? Yeah, some of the rom-com stuff is boring (though the Car-Bicycle chase was a good one), but damn is that Rugby episode great. Plus Sousuke being Sousuke is a lot of fun.

  3. Shikamaru
    Posted February 10, 2013 at 12:00 am | Permalink

    Fumoffu is one of the funniest anime I have seen yet I hate it. FMP has good drama, romance and action, why ruin that with even more slapstick?
    When I want to watch a horror movie, I watch a horror movie. When I want to watch slapstick, I watch slapstick. That’s why Evil Dead 2 and 3 are horrible IMO, that’s not what I wanted to see. Fumoffu was HUGE disappointment for me. I will probably never watch it again. It’s funny slapstick, nothing else.

    • Scamp
      Posted February 10, 2013 at 11:21 pm | Permalink

      That’s a dumb reason to dislike it. It very deliberately sets itself aside from the main story and says “this is a nonsense comedy, expect no more”. If you went into it expecting more serious action, then that’s your fault, not Fumoffu’s

      • Shikamaru
        Posted February 11, 2013 at 2:27 am | Permalink

        I don’t watch that much comedy in general. I like comedy, who doesn’t, but most of the time I prefer other genres. The reason why I still haven’t watched Detroit Metal City is because I won’t probably like it. Even if it is funny, I would rather watch action or romance series that I haven’t seen yet. It’s my fault yes, but I really can’t help it.

  4. Posted February 10, 2013 at 4:43 am | Permalink

    I don’t know. . . I mean slapstick is a fairly low type of comedy but I still can’t deny that Full Metal Panic Fumoffu is the most hilarious series that I’ve watched.

    • Scamp
      Posted February 10, 2013 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

      Detroit Metal City, Daily Lives of Highschool Boys and Cromartie are all far funnier and cleverer pure comedies than Fumoffu

  5. Posted February 10, 2013 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    I attempted to watch the original Full Metal Panic series many years ago and just couldn’t due to how horrendously dumb it is (pervert misunderstandings in the first or second ep, for chirssakes). I may go back and try again some time, but I’m not sure it’ll go any better.

    I just started watching Fumoffu recently and I have to say I’m actually enjoying it. I tend to prefer comedy shows when they just go all out with the comedy and don’t even to try for drama or depth, and besides a few uninspired attempts at romance, Fumoffu seems to be doing exactly this (thus far, anyway). Sure, there’s a fair bit of miss, to go with the hit, joke wise, but things seem to be pretty consistently funny at 6 or so eps in, and that series of scenes in the second ep where Sousuke and Chidori make a mad dash for Sagara’s house to retrieve Chidori’s notes is one of the fastest paced, tightest directed pieces of visual humour I’ve ever seen.

    So in short, Fumoffu is making FMP watchable, nay enjoyable, for me. For that I give KyoAni credit, and wish they’d drop their current shitty slice-of-life fest for some good comedy again.

  6. lmm
    Posted February 10, 2013 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    Glad to see someone willing to be negative about Fumoffu in public, I always hated it. (And TSR too – the whole joy of the original series was how the serious military story and the goofy comedy worked with each other. Split up into two separate series, neither works well).

    • Scamp
      Posted February 10, 2013 at 11:56 pm | Permalink

      Ummmm, I do quite like Fumoffu. The inspired portion of it makes up somewhat for the boring parts.

  7. Posted February 11, 2013 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    Claims to dislike repetitive slapstick humor > likes My Bride Is a Mermaid

  8. Wonderbread-kun
    Posted February 11, 2013 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

    The oddball episode where Tessa sleepwalks and encounters Sousuke running computer simulations and the all-action-sequence where Sousuke and Chidori race to pick up the book he borrowed from her are other high points. The irate cops chasing Sousuke&Chidori remind me of the You’re Under Arrest crew in a nice way.

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