Image Source: TVアニメ「フルメタル・パニック!IV」 on Twitter

Full Metal Panic! Director’s Cut: Boy Meets Girl takes the first arc of the 2001 TV anime and turns it into a two hour feature film. But that doesn’t mean that it has nothing new in it.

The obvious addition is the beginning of the film itself. In a completely new scene (that replaces the scene at the end of episode 7 continuity-wise), Sagara and Chidori infiltrate their high school’s teacher’s room in the hopes of stealing a couple reams of brand new copy paper. While Chidori distracts the sole teacher in the room, it’s up to Sagara to stealthily perform the theft.

Image Source: TVアニメ「フルメタル・パニック!IV」 on Twitter

Of course, predictably, it doesn’t go well. And thanks to Chidori’s order that they cannot be seen in the act, Sagara sets off a smoke bomb—not only making it obvious that he’s the culprit (because who else would do that) but also ruining the copy paper in the process. The scene ends with Chidori wondering how she got caught up in the whole mess and time rewinds back to the start of the story as seen in episode 1.

Now, as the original series is around 19 minutes an episode (without the opening and ending) and the film covers seven full episodes, the film has to trim a good 12 minutes of footage to hit its 118 minute runtime—more, actually, when you consider the new scene at the beginning and several minutes of credits at the end. This is done in several ways.

Image Source: TVアニメ「フルメタル・パニック!IV」 on Twitter

A scant few scenes are cut in their entirety. These include any scenes that show hints of Chidori being a “Whispered” before the reveal at the climax of the film. Also omitted are most of the scenes showing what the villain, Gauron, is doing—be that leaving his KGB allies out to dry or hijacking an airplane.

These cuts actually add to the mystery of the overall film. First-time viewers have no idea if Chidori really is a Whispered or not (much less any hint as to what a Whispered is) and are likewise in the dark about Gauron’s plans until they become apparent to Sagara and the rest of our heroes.

In addition to those cuts, many scenes are truncated—either started partway through or partially cut in the middle—but in a way to keep the narrative intact. But these don’t stand out too much. What does stand out, however, is the final trick to get the runtime down under two hours.

Perhaps it’s only noticeable by a person who watched the first seven episodes of the TV series immediately before walking into the theater—like, say, me—but some scenes have portions of animation that have simply been sped up. While it’s not much (most of the time), it is noticeable. In fact, while I’d need to run the film and TV series side-by-side to be sure, it feels like entire scenes—especially those with lots of dialogue—are sped up to around 1.2x as well.

Now, while all these cuts may be noticeable on one level or another, they’re far from the most obvious cuts: that would be the literal cutting of the frame size. The original Full Metal Panic! TV show was aired back in the days where TV screens had a 4:3 ratio. However, this film is in the (now standard) 16:9 format.

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The recent Eureka Seven recap movie solved this aspect ration dilemma by adding black bars to the sides of the original footage, but Full Metal Panic! Director’s Cut goes the other route: it simply cuts the top and/or bottom off of every frame in the film. A lot of the time, you probably wouldn’t notice this. However, on closeups of the characters, the tops of their heads and their chins are obviously cut off. Also, in wider shots where the characters are on different levels—e.g., one person standing while the other is sitting—one character appears eyeless and the other mouthless.

Simply put, as the original anime was designed to make maximum use of its 4:3 space, the new aspect ratio leaves a lot of visual information on the cutting room floor.

Image Source: TVアニメ「フルメタル・パニック!IV」 on Twitter

If you’re a fan of the Full Metal Panic! franchise, Full Metal Panic! Director’s Cut: Boy Meets Girl is probably worth watching just for the new scene at the beginning. It’s a tantalizing hint of what we can expect when the new series, Full Metal Panic! IV, debuts next year. However, beyond that, it’s probably better to just break out the old DVDs or boot up a streaming service to get your fix.

Image Source: TVアニメ「フルメタル・パニック!IV」 on Twitter

Full Metal Panic! Director’s Cut: Boy Meets Girl was released in Japanese theaters on November 25, 2017. There is currently no word on an official release.

The original Full Metal Panic! can be seen in English on Crunchyroll and Hulu.
The comedy-based sequel, Full Metal Panic! Fumoffu, can be seen on Crunchyroll and Hulu.
The serious sequel, Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid, can be seen on Hulu.

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