Full Genre Mash-Up

Animation Magazine - - Anime -

Wblends fa­mil­iar tropes with new twists and wildly shifts moods over three en­gag­ing sea­sons.

Re­view by Charles Solomon.

riter Shouji Ga­tou and di­rec­tor Koichi Chi­gira some­how blend the dis­parate el­e­ments of mecha bat­tles, mag­i­cal girls, slap­stick com­edy and a teenage rom­com in the en­ter­tain­ing se­ries Full Me­tal Panic! (2002). Although the win­ning com­edy-ad­ven­ture scored a hit in both Ja­pan and Amer­ica, it zigzags wildly in tone and con­tent. The first and third sea­sons are more dra­matic and vi­o­lent, while the sec­ond “Fu­moffu” seg­ment is just plain silly.

High school stu­dent and class rep­re­sen­ta­tive Kaname Chi­dori may be a “Whis­pered,” an in­di­vid­ual who pos­sesses for­mi­da­ble psy­chic pow­ers. The KGB and even more sin­is­ter or­ga­ni­za­tions want to ex­ploit those pow­ers, so the anti-ter­ror­ist mer­ce­nary corps Mithril dis­patches a mis­matched trio of of­fi­cers to pro­tect her: Melissa Mao, Sousuke Sa­gara and Kurz We­ber.

Sousuke tries to blend in at Jindai High, but his ef­forts to pass as just another kid make a fish out of wa­ter look calm. Raised by Mithril in wartorn Hel­ma­jis­tan, Sousuke has been trained in guerilla com­bat since he was eight. He’s a skilled, deadly fighter when he needs to be. But his mil­i­tary bear­ing, hair-trig­ger re­flexes and ter­mi­nal lit­eral-mind­ed­ness in­vari­ably land him in trou­ble with Kaname.

As­sertive, in­de­pen­dent and ca­pa­ble of ini­ti­at­ing ac­tion, Kaname rep­re­sents a new breed of mag­i­cal girl. She doesn’t whine like Hit­omi in Es­caflowne or bum­ble like Ser­ena in Sailor Moon. A scream seems to be her nor­mal tone of voice, and she’s quite ca­pa­ble of giv­ing Sou- suke a hit up­side the head when he com­mits his umpteenth faux pas.

Sea­son one builds to a deadly con­fronta­tion when the Hel­ma­jis­tani ter­ror­ist Gau­ron com­man­deers the Mithril sub­ma­rine Tuatha de Danaan. The tele­pathic bond be­tween Com­man­der Teletha “Tess” Tes­tarossa and Kaname en­ables them to re­cap­ture con­trol of the pow­er­ful ves­sel. Sousuke leads the coun­ter­at­tack, which builds to a mano-a-mano duel with Gau­ron. In the cli­mac­tic mecha knife fight, Sousuke also draws on Kaname’s psi pow­ers. Chi­gira jux­ta­poses that duel with im­pres­sive CG scenes of the Danaan breach­ing like a hump­back whale.

From Ham­ster to Hero For the sec­ond sea­son, Fu­moffu (2003), the film­mak­ers dropped the mecha and mag­i­cal girl el­e­ments to fo­cus on the mis­matched ro­mance be­tween Kaname and Sousuke, with hi­lar­i­ous re­sults. Sousuke in­fil­trates a lo­cal amuse­ment park by dis­guis­ing him­self in a plush walk-around suit of their mas­cot Bonta-kun, who looks like a gi­ant ham­ster. His hard-hit­ting mar­tial arts at­tacks make a won­der­fully ab­surd foil for the char­ac­ter’s su­per-cute­ness: Imag­ine Pikachu play­ing Rambo. When near­sighted karate cham­pion Issei quar­rels with Sousuke, they ac­ci­den­tally punch out the jan­i­tor dur­ing their fight. Or­dered by the school pres­i­dent to as­sist their vic­tim while he re­cov­ers, they nearly de­stroy the school in a bout of com­pet­i­tive nur­tur­ing.

The darker third sea­son, Full Me­tal Panic! Sec­ond Raid (2005), picks up about two months af­ter the first ad­ven­ture and ig­nores the far­ci­cal com­edy of Fu­moffu. Gau­ron, the mur­der­ous ter­ror­ist Sousuke bat­tled aboard the Danaan, reap­pears in China. Di­rec­tor Ya­suhiro Take­moto sets a ma­jor mecha bat­tle in a tun­nel be­neath the Yangtze River to cre­ate a se­quence that is si­mul­ta­ne­ously dy­namic and claus­tro­pho­bic. As the threat from Gau­ron grows more dire, the Mithril com­man­ders or­der Sousuke to pi­lot the su­per- mecha Ar­balest; the sin­is­ter-sound­ing Wraith will take over pro­tect­ing Kaname.

For the first time in his life, Sousuke has to make a choice: obey or­ders, as he al­ways has; or fol­low the first gen­uine emo­tions he’s ex­pe­ri­enced. Kaname uses ev­ery trick she knows — in­clud­ing a few she learned from Sousuke — to out­wit Wraith and ex­pose the as­sas­sin who’s stalk­ing her. Sousuke con­fronts the sadis­tic Gau­ron and his own twisted past as a child soldier in a largely de­serted Hong Kong. Af­ter Kaname knocks some sense into his head (lit­er­ally and fig­u­ra­tively), Sousuke emerges as the hero the cri­sis de­mands. He rides to the res­cue in a nick of time, pi­lot­ing a mecha that lev­els ev­ery­thing in its path.

As the voice of Sousuke, Chris Pat­ton shifts from de­spair to right­eous fury to hi­lar­i­ous con­fu­sion; as Kaname, Luci Chris­tian matches him mood swing for mood swing. They rank as the most frac­tious anime cou­ple since Ranma Sao­tome met Akane Tendo in Ranma ½ — and the most fun. [

The House of Mouse is of­fer­ing a de­light­ful smor­gas­bord of shorts this month with this new high-def col­lec­tion. The twodisc set con­tains an as­sort­ment of Os­car win­ners and fan fa­vorites from the last 15 years, as well as brand new ex­tras in­clud­ing an in­side look at Dis­ney shorts pro­duc­tion, plus film­maker in­tros and in­ter­views. The @ Dis­neyAn­i­ma­tion: A Short Story on Shorts be­hind-the-scenes fea­turette is hosted by ac­tor T.J. Miller ( Big Hero 6’ s Fred) and in­cludes a round­table with the bril­liant cre­atives be­hind the shorts on this re­lease.

The films — and film­mak­ers ap­pear­ing in their in­tros — are: 2015’s Frozen Fever (Chris Buck, Jen­nifer Lee, Peter Del Ve­cho, Aimee Scrib­ner), 2014’s Os­car-win­ning Feast (Pa­trick Os­borne, Kristina Reed), 2013’s Os­car-nom­i­nated Get a Horse! (Dorothy McKim, Eric Gold­berg, Adam Green), 2012’s Os­car-win­ning Paper­man (Reed, John Kahrs), 2012’s Tan­gled Ever Af­ter (Nathan Greno, Scrib­ner, Men­del­son and Bill Melendez, the twodisc set con­tains 11 Emmy win­ners and nom­i­nees re­mas­tered in bril­liant Ul­tra HD trans­fers.

The col­lec­tion in­cludes You’re the Great­est, Char­lie Brown; She’s a Good Skate, Char­lie Brown; It’s Magic, Char­lie Brown; Some­day You’ll Find Her, Char­lie Brown; Is this Good­bye, Char- bies Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck — while Foghorn Leghorn, Elmer Fudd, Yosemite Sam and Marvin the Mar­tian are in pur­suit, with de­signs on the per­fume-slash-in­vis­i­bil­ity spray.

Pro­duced and di­rected by Jeff Siergey ( Mike Tyson Mys­ter­ies, The Looney Tunes Show), the movie fea­tures the voices of Fred Ar­misen, Jeff Bergman, find them­selves lost in a strange for­est. With the help of a talk­ing blue­bird named Beatrice and an as­sort­ment of bizarre char­ac­ters, the duo try to find their way home while evad­ing a mys­te­ri­ous men­ace known as the Beast.

In ad­di­tion to the 10-episode ad­ven­ture — which fea­tures the voices of Eli­jah Wood, Me­lanie Lynskey, Chris Isaak, Christo­pher Lloyd, John Cleese and oth­ers — the DVD comes with an as­sort­ment of spe­cial fea­tures. Delve fur­ther into Greg and Wirt’s jour­ney through the Un­known with Be­hind Over the Gar­den Wall, deleted an­i­mat­ics, com­men­taries, com­poser’s cut, al­ter­nate ti­tle cards and, of course, McHale’s award-win­ning Tome of the Un­known. [Re­lease date: Sept. 8]

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