Struggling to get back in line! FMP Fumoffu, KuroKami, Kieli

As I expected, things got rather hectic once college picked up again, but I can still find moments to talk about my anime watching and manga reading. By the way, I finally got around to reading Hayate the Combat Butler and I AM LOVING IT!!! A total nerd fest that I imagine I'll be enjoying for quite some time now.

I've been kind of keeping an eye on the upcoming Fall Season of anime and I have to admit that I'm only really interested in Fairy Tail. I don't think that it's going to rewrite any rules of anime or anything, but it should be fun. To be honest, I'm surprised no one has jumped on it yet for an American lisence. I don't think it's the next Naruto, but I think it would still do well.

Ah, well, time to get started!

Full Metal Panic! Fumoffu (12 Episodes)
Animation: *****
Story: ****
Music: ***
Overall: ****

As I had explained before, a friend of mine insisted that I watch this and The Second Raid, so I rewatched the first series to hype myself up for them, which I have since reviewed. Now I've finished the comedy/romance side note of the series and I have to admit that it was straight-up hilarious. Taking Sousuke Sagara's hyper-military perspective on even the most mundane things makes for some very funny stuff, and it takes a lead role for this short but sweet series.

Drawing more from the funnier pieces of the manga and light novel series, there really isn't main plot so much as it is a sitcom, taking our familiar cast and watching them muck about the high school. Kaname and Sagara generally go about solving high school level problems with the expected mixed results. Tessa comes back for a stint as a high school student, effortlessly driving up Sagara's blood pressure and stress.

Of the new characters never before seen in animation, we have the Student Body President, who may not even have a name (not that he needs one) and his assistant. Let me just say that I consider the SBP to be one of the best characters in the series. Totally on board with whole Sousuke's-here-to-protect-Kaname-mission thing, he doles out assignments to Kaname (as she is the Class President for her class) and her bodyguard-cum-assistant Sousuke, ranging from helping serve rolls at lunch to resolving issues with the Martial Arts club, and the SBP does it with such style and command you can't not respect the man for all that he can do.

Despite being comedy-driven and not focused on a major plot, the animation is spectacular. Even if it's just Kaname hitting Sousuke with her paper fan yet again, it seems to be done so well that it is impossible not to get caught up in all that goes on. The well animated slapstick and antics really keep the show moving at a ridiculous pace, proving that Full Metal Panic can be just as awesome when it's telling jokes as when it was telling an intense action/thriller.

The music is the same set of pieces heard from Full Metal Panic: standard and adequate, with a few memorable tunes that excited you before. At this point, I would also like to add that the ending animation is contagiously cute. The song itself is decently punchy, but seeing chibi versions of the cast marching to it for no reason is one of my favorite parts of this series.

This series, while still relying on its source material, is a very different show from the first series. Sure, it had its moments of slapstick but they were merely bookends to get viewers into the characters and circumstances before launching into the real storyline. There really isn't any kind of major villain or even Mecha action, leaving the robots in the shop for TSR.

Fumoffu has great moments, from Sousuke training a rubgy team filled with pansies to the SBP speaking street slang to get the right message across, to Kaname voluntarily being kidnapped just to see if Sousuke will really come to her rescue. While I don't know if this will properly set me up for the latest series, it is great material that allows the viewers to sit back and relax before the next string of explosions and plot twists.

KuroKami: The Animation (23 Episodes)
Animation: *****
Story: ***
Music: ****
Overall: ****

You have to admit: Bandai had some real guts trying to pull this off. Trying to one-up the fansubbers, they helped produce the series so that it could be broadcast in three different languages within 24 hours of each other. I remember reading that the voice actors were dubbing over line-art and sketches of the show, before the color was put in and stuff. However, I'm afraid KuroKami will only be remembered as a massively ambitious and experimental because, as an anime, it comes across as rather corny.

KuroKami is about a boy named Keita whose mother died in a traffic accident. Due to this and other events, he lives alone and generally doesn't try to make friends, afraid that anyone he makes friends with will get killed. However, as he attends high school, he suddenly hears about the idea that if people meet another person who looks just like them, they will die. Putting together some of the things he remembers about his mother's accident and wonders if it's true. As if answering his question, a little girl he knows from his neighborhood happens to mention that she saw a girl just like her then crossed the road too soon and gets hit by a huge truck.

At the same time, Keita befriends a girl by the name of Kuro by giving her ramen at a ramen shop. While she's grateful, she also explains that she is on a quest to kill her older brother. She also explains that she is a Terra Guardian in charge of the Doppleliner system. Every person starts with two dopplegangers of themselves throughout the world and their terra, or life force, is divided between them. If one should die, the other two gain the dead one's terra. However it has come to the Terra Guardians' attention that someone is abusing this system, with Kuro's brother at the head.

While Keita doesn't seem to show much interest, he gets wrapped up with Kuro's battle for revenge and dies. Kuro leaps to save him the only way she knows how: by forcing Keita into a contract with her. Now as a Terra Guardian's Contractee, his concentration has an impact on Kuro's ability to battle. Before long, other evidence arrives to show that perhaps Keita's mother was caught up in this mess as well. Keita finally comes on board and Kuro takes him on a quest for the fate of the world.

There are a lot of great ideas presented here, but before long it declines into the massive rut of generic shonen-style action. People seem to battle for little to no reason and by the end, the dialogue and motivation for the characters, as they rally to fight a common evil, grows cheesier by the episode. As a result, I found myself not really trying to raise my expectations anymore. Instead, I focused on the animation.

Which was CRAZY!! While the character designs take some time to get used to, the action is unbelievable. If I had to describe it, then imagine you were watching Dragon Ball Z with a massive subwoofer and EVERYTIME some landed a punch, the whole house shook. Despite all of the attack-name shouting and superhero-like powers, everything seems to hit with great weight. You feel every crack and crunch, and quite often, I felt myself wincing. Perhaps I should be giving credit to the special effects guys. In any case, the action is the real star of this series and is worth seeing just for that.

The music may seem tacky at times, but I rather liked the whole rock/metal motif they had. It got the blood pumping as characters crashed into each other. I particularly like the second opening theme, "Trance".

Overall, it was a fun show, despite the characters being almost forgettable and the plot getting shallower as it went along. Perhaps it was a safe series for their multi-dub experiment, but I think the ride was worth it.

Kieli (2 Volumes)
Rating: **

It's really hard to review a manga series that is so short, especially with one as dynamic as Kieli where there certainly was more room to explore within its distinct world.

Taking place in some far future where people have since colonized other planets, Kieli is teenage girl going to a church school in what looks like a recreation of 1930s Europe. Supposedly several years ago, there was a horrible war where super soldiers called [immortal] were created to end the war, only to have their creators turn on them when they were no longer needed. Now, they are used as a kind of boogeyman and generally considered as a myth.

Meanwhile, Kieli goes to class, continually isolating herself because she is the only person she knows that can see ghosts, that is until she meets Harvey, a strange man who doesn't seem to want to hang around much, especially. After a small adventure in helping Kieli's ghost-roommate finally move on, she becomes infatuated with Harvey, thinking that me just might be an [immortal], decides to use her school vacation to travel with him and his companion, a ghost called Colonel with a harsh tone of voice possessing a radio. Their quest: to help the Colonel find peace.

The story doesn't have much to tell, mostly showing how this adventure helps Harvey become human again by letting this girl fall in love with him. Perhaps the light novels have more to share, I don't know, but it's hard to really get into the series when it ends so quickly. The pacing is fine and the art is nice, pleasant when it needs to be, haunting when it calls for it. But the series seems mostly content with not having much of an impact. It might make a nice movie someday, but I would have really liked to see more of the setting and scenario.

Once again, I can't promise when I'll be able to write up a new article, not that I have any decent excuse: I've recently watched the Karin anime and I'm still just a few episodes short of finishing Utena. However, I've also got a set of classes that may not seem like a lot, but they're very demanding in their own ways. I'll get back to writing as soon as I feel I can.