War. Good God, y'all, what is it good for? Well, after watching the original Full Metal Panic! I'd say the answer is "Absolutely nothing." But, after having witnessed the genius comedy that is Full Metal Panic! Fumoffu?, I'd have to say that war is probably good for making great character driven, funny, animated TV shows. I'll now explain.
A while ago the online fan community was jizzing their collective pants over Studio Gonzo's newest comedy/action/drama/military show, FMP. I was intrigued. At the time though, Gonzo didn't have a winning track record good enough for me to trust them blindly. I knew that they were capable of incredible production values, but the storylines that they chose to animate mostly left me wanting more (this of course was well before Kiddy Grade and Last Exile). But, since I liked pretty-looking stuff, I decided to give the Panic a try. The first two or three episodes had me. The characters were fresh, fun and very likeable. I especially liked Kaname Chidori, Sousuke Sagara, and Melissa Mao. And none of the supporting cast from either the mercenary team, Mithril, or the high school annoyed me to any major degree (which is amazing in this day and age of overly-hyper or underly-boring sidekick characters which plague our society like that horrible locust/ebola crossbreed that Dr. Dave is working on shortly will). Good start. But then FMP got kind of bogged down in its own attempt to get serious. See, the opening episodes were basically comedy driven. They were all about (mercenary-raised) Sagara's attempt to blend into a normal Japanese high school in order to protect the "Whispered" candidate, Chidori, from some evil Soviet terrorists or some such. My point is that the comedy quotient was good. However, once the main kidnapping occurred the show went all serious and never really looked back. A bad bad move by the writers and director.
There were about 4-5 storylines that ran through the show (as opposed to one 24 episode-long plot), and it felt discombobulated as a whole. Kind of piecemeal. Some of the stories were okay (the giant robot one and the final Gauron/Toy Box one), but the others were just "blah". The desert episodes, where a bit of Sagara's background is revealed to us, were just so overly dramatic that I originally stopped watching the show because of them. I only really came back to finish it up after seeing Fumoffu... But I'll get to that in a bit. The only saving grace of FMP was the few and far between comedy stand alone eps. The one where Sagara has to take that dumped girl out to pretend to be her boyfriend for her old grade school friends had me giggling, and the Mao vs. Captain Testarossa one had me laughing out loud on occasion. I just wished that the whole series could have been like that.
Apparently a lot of people thought like me. They said, "You know, we have some incredible characters here who work best in silly situations... Hmmmmmm, what to do?.... *ACK!* Dammit, Akira! You got your chocolate in my peanut butter! You little Japanese intern piece of sh-... Waaaait a minute! I have the PERFECT idea!" And thus, Full Metal Panic! Fumoffu? was born.
What is FMP Fumoffu, you ask? It is FMP on laughing gas. Fumoffu took ALL of the seriousness and blandness of its predecessor and dropped them like a sack of bowling balls on starving kittens. Then, it completely maxed out the hilarity quotient and made room for some almost slapstick situations. In other words it became what the original SHOULD have been. And Buddha bless it for doing so.
Fumoffu (don't ask what that means, just laugh [or groan] when you figure it out while watching the series) is perhaps the most consistently funny show I've ever seen. Every episode had me laughing out loud joke after joke (and a few had me snorting and guffawing too). There was only one kinda lame episode (i.e. the "ponytail" one), but even that one had me kicking my sofa in fits of titters with the whole psycho cop thread. Best psycho cop EVER, by the way.
After watching all of Fumoffu in about 2 days (it's only half the length of FMP) I was really amazed that they didn't just repeat the same lame punchlines time and again. No joke was ever really echoed (which is very rare for a "fish out of military water" show). Also, the characters stay completely true to themselves all the way through (Sagara never lightens up to become a generic high school hero-type, and Chidori never becomes an army otaku or anything of the like), and later on some very fun special guests arrive for a few episodes to let us know what's going on in the whole Mithril, merc-y world. Not that Fumoffu dwells on the militaristic side of things in the least, but it actually takes all the Mithril characters and all the high school characters and puts them into an obligatory onsen (hot springs) episode. The onsen episode is arguably the funniest 24 minutes of anything I've ever peed my pants over... Well, it's probably tied with the final episode in all out zani-kookiness. How great is Fumoffu? One thing sums it up perfectly: "Full Monty Bacteria."
New train of thought. The opening themes to both FMP and Fumoffu are really fun J-Pop ditties, the Fumoffu op is so melancholic (in a good, longing, hopeful, non-sad way... does that make any sense?) and fulfilling, it's become one of my all time non-English, non-understandable favorite songs (along with anything from Nirvana's first album). The "A-Team" theme music from FMP was also good for a grin whenever that popped up, though too bad the rest of the series couldn't have had that A-Team feel to it (campy, fun mercenary show where the plan always comes together).
Now, I'm not all about that whole Jap cartoon scene that the Rossman gets a massive boner over all the time, but this here Full Metal Jacket Foosball thing was downright heeeeee-larious! I only really caught a few of those episodes, but man did I ever laugh my pee out! Hooo-wee! But after the laughter and urine left me I got to thinkin', this Foosball show wasn't really very realistic-like. Seriously, I had TONS of guys in my high school class who dressed in camouflage all the time, and none of them was as cool as that Sapporo dude. Though none of my classmates was ever packin' a live grenade before, or able to kill a man with his or her bare hands. Though all of my classmates DID have shotguns and plenty of alcohol... So I guess they were all kinda MORE dangerous than some trained army guy with a dirty bomb in his backpack and a canister of chem warfare shit in his pocket. Shee-it! If anybody I knew had that kinda crap in their possession I doubt I'd still have the sexual drive of a mule on speed right now... Speakin' of which I think the ROTC classes just got out down the street. So if y'all will excuse me now.
What is happening, my crazy friends? This show of the Full Metal is very, very nice. The colors!.... All the colors that flow into my Kuni head are just so amazing! Then the submarine with the small girl in the captain's chair came around. Wait, was that girl eighteen? Who cares! Those robots were weird, but I liked them anyway. I liked how they made the laws of time and space their bitches. Yes, FUCK time and space! As for the blue haired school girl... I'd hit it. Even that military boy... Yeah, I'd probably hit him too. I am not ashamed. Though, I would be if Kim Chi caught me... Though she would probably join me too! So let's get busy! Then I'd fight the kung fu fighting boy and then date the horny girl with the orange hair. Full Metal is the life for me!!