Recent Purchases: Full Metal Panic, The Magnificent Butcher

Full Metal Panic
Full Metal Panic

It’s been awhile since I’ve bought any CDs or DVDs, mainly because I was getting ready to move. It didn’t seem like the wisest thing in the world to add to all of the crap I was getting ready to move right before I started moving all of it. Last night, I decided to spend some hard-earned cash, so I picked up a couple of DVDs to watch while enjoying the glory that was my new chair.

The first DVD I picked up was the second volume of Full Metal Panic, one of the more enjoyable anime series I’ve watched in the past few months. Basically, it’s your typical story about a normal high school girl named Kaname Chidori who is wanted by a secret organization because of some hidden knowledge that she possesses in her repressed memory, and the highly-trained operative (a high school boy named Sagara Sousuke) sent to protect her.

Despite being the same age as Kaname, Sousuke is not your typical teenager (obviously). He’s a deadly commando (the type that can only exist in anime, it seems) and reacts to the most trivial of situations with deadly force. It’s a fairly action-oriented show, but there’s also quite a bit of comedy as Sousuke, who is completely unprepared for the life of a normal high schooler, tries to protect Kaname without blowing his cover.

The second volume picks right up where the first volume left off (with a cliffhanger involving a hijacking and a mad terrorist), and has some pretty awesome mech battles. However, I found myself enjoying the last episode on Volume 2 the most. Thanks to Sousuke’s intervention/overreaction when one of Kaname’s schoolmates hits on her, he unwittingly causes a messy breakup between the guy and his real girlfriend. In order to make amends, the jilted gal, Mizuki, insists Sousuke pretend to be her boyfriend so she can save face when she meets her friends.

Of course, Sousuke knows nothing about dating, which makes for some hysterical scenes as he tries to understand romance from a tactical and logistical standpoint. (The scene where he plays the dating videogame is priceless.) It’s easily one of the funniest anime episodes I’ve seen in a long time; there were times when I was laughing so hard that I almost fell out my chair.

The only downside to the series is the fan service that pops up now and then. For those unfamiliar with the term, “fan service” refers to those occasional scenes where one of the female characters, um, reveals a bit more than she probably intended, usually in the form of panty shots, awkward poses, and extra cleavage. In other words, it’s a service for all of the (horny teenaged male) fans who are watching.

I suppose it’s all meant in good fun, and it’s really no different than those slow-mo scenes in Baywatch, but in the case of Full Metal Panic, it feels far too gratuitous and completely unnecessary. The series is already enjoyable enough as it is; it doesn’t need any “spicing up.” I was hoping that, as the series continued, it might move beyond the need for such things, but it was still there, and the preview for the next volume implies it’ll be in upcoming episodes as well.

The second disc I got was The Magnificent Butcher, an old school kung fu film starring Sammo Hung and directed by Yuen Woo-Ping. It was enjoyable enough, though a bit dated. However, I always get a kick out of watching Hung, a rather portly fellow, move with a speed and grace that would put guys half his size to shame. While he’s often forgotten about (the spotlight usually focuses on his more famous classmate from the Peking Opera School, Jackie Chan), his films are pretty enjoyable and definitely underrated.

The only problem with this disc is that I think the movie was edited. That doesn’t surprise me, since I’ve watched many a mangled kung fu movie on DVD (usually thanks to the kind folks at Miramax). Still, it was somewhat irritating to read the plot summary on the DVD and read about scenes that I don’t recall seeing, scenes that would’ve helped out the storyline quite a good deal.

However, I must confess that towards the end of the film, I was nodding off (it was getting pretty late), so I might have missed a few things here and there. I’ll need to watch the movie again when I’m completely alert, just so I don’t jump to conclusions.

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