Wednesday, July 29, 2015


Comedy spin-offs of popular franchises are a dime-a-dozen in Japan but we very rarely get them Stateside.  If this book is any indication, though, there's more than a few good reasons why we don't see them published very often.

FULL METAL PANIC! OVERLOAD (Ikkinari! Furumetaru Panikku!), based on the light novel series by Shouji Garou with story and art by Tomohiro Nagai and character designs by Shikidouji. First published in 2001 and first published in North America in 2005.


Kaname Chidori and Sosuke Sagara are back, and this time there are no serious plot elements to hamper them!  Yep, here you'll get nothing but wacky hijinks inside and outside of the classroom as Sosuke's military instincts turn even the most ordinary situation into an explosive one, leaving Kaname to try and keep the peace.


So, you do remember all the silly comedy bits from the original Full Metal Panic!?  Well, imagine if someone stretched those moments to fill out an entire manga volume and then halved the quality.  If you can picture that in your mind, then you have some notion of what reading Full Metal Panic! Overload is like.  There's really no point in describing the cast because it's composed almost entirely of Kaname and Sosuke, and if you have any familiarity with the franchise then you know precisely what you're going to get.  Kaname acts like a classic tsundere, Sosuke is deadpan and oblivious, repeat ad naseaum.  Hell, you don't even really need to be all that familiar with the Full Metal Panic! canon as the characters and set-up are briefly summed up in the beginning.  The chapters themselves are fairly formulaic, and everything seems to end with Sosuke breaking out a gun, a grenade, or even a landmine all in the name of protecting Kaname.  He's so dedicated to his cause that not even a brief bout of amnesia can't stop him from his duties. 

The only thing that breaks up the monotony are the occasional bits of fourth-wall humor.  The characters might mess with the captions labeling them or comment on how all this ridiculousness is 'like being in a manga or a light novel!'  Sadly, these moments are the only times that the jokes come anywhere near inspired.  The reason that the comedy bits in the original series work so well is that they come before or in between extended bouts of serious business.  The lightheartedness lets the reader come down a little from the main storyline before diving back into the next big plot turn, and most adaptations know how to get the most from the simple set-up.  This manga, on the other hand, does not.  It just cranks the comedy to 11 and never stops going, and the end result feels both watered-down and tedious.


It took me at least two tries to actually get through this manga because of the character designs.  I don't know who this Shikidouji guy is, but I'm pretty sure no one really needed his particular take on this cast.  They're not quite normal and they're not quite super-deformed, but they're bizarre and over the top and not appealing in the least.  Plus now there's a lot of awkward panty shots to go with it all!  I don't know why this series demanded a separate character designer, but neither he nor Nagai add all that much visually.  It's all just a bunch of heavily stylized nonsense presented as plainly as possible.


Not even Full Metal Panic! fans would get that much out of this version.  All it does is rehash old jokes in an ugly, goony artstyle.  In a world where we have Full Metal Panic! Fummofu, this manga is absolutely unnecessary.

This series was licensed by ADV.  This series is complete in Japan with 5 volumes available.  All 5 were published and all are currently out of print.

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