Final Fantasy Unlimited – It’s A-Me! Fungus!

ffu-2018-02-24-01h16m53s154Episode 2 – Magun: Man of the Black Wind

Episode 2 opens by repeating parts of Episode 1’s ending, as it continues directly from the previous episode. I suppose this makes sense, but this is followed by Fabula recapping the events on the previous episode, like she will in every episode to come, meaning we get the same information twice? That’s Fabula on the left, by the way.

Oh, footnote: from this point on, I largely won’t be mentioning Fabula’s intros and outros, since she doesn’t really add to the experience. Bye Fabula! So glad I introduced you!

We don’t actually start the events of Episode 2 until we’ve gone through three minutes of recap and credits, where we return to the cliff side from the end of Episode 1, where Kaze’s Magun has closed back into a cylinder. Seeing this, he turns directly away from the trio, and walks away. I’m so glad we went to the trouble of picking up where we left off!

Lisa and the kids get back to the top of the cliff, where Lisa prevents the kids from following Kaze. Yu obeys, but starts shouting at Kaze that they’re all looking for someone, so why not team up? This provokes a memory in Kaze of a white-haired man, which shocks him so much that he stops dead, giving Ai an excuse to say “Oh now you’ve done it, Yu. He stopped and he’ll probably come back and shoot us!” Okay, that makes up for the recap a little.

ffu-2018-02-24-01h17m45s484Not far from here, we return to the strange harlequin figure from the end of the last episode, Oscha. Oscha is nursing a strange pink… growth, coming out of his chest, and a moment later, he expels a pink-clad, wooden-like puppet to the ground. This is just as disgusting as it sounds. Oscha and addresses the puppet as “Crux.” Having received a name, the puppet takes on smooth, living features, including a pair of fairy wings, and flies off to follow the children at a distance. Crux’s few vocalizations (not so much “words”) are provided by Samantha Inoue-Harte, the actress who also gave us the chocobo sounds. Unfortunately for Crux, her name isn’t often used, and like most of the muttered dialogue in this show, Kyle and I missed Oscha’s naming her, so we took to calling her “the Samurai Pizza Cat.” Just take a look at the screenshot. I don’t think you can blame us for that one.

The strange mushroom ship from Episode 1 flies off into the air, and arrives at sort of flying fortress, which is protected by a barrier projected by at least four giant human hearts suspended from machines in mid-air. You can’t fault this show’s creativity with setting, that’s for sure. Sitting on one branch of the spiky fortress is what appears to be the boy from Kaze’s flashback, though he’s now grown up and wearing a heavy metal face mask over his mouth and nose. This is Makenshi, meaning “Magic Knight,” though he won’t be named quite yet. Fun fact, “Makenshi” was the Japanese name for the “Magic Knight” class in the Famicom FFIII, which was changed to Dark Knights in the remake.

ffu-2018-02-24-01h18m27s837Inside the fortress, it’s time to introduce our central villain, such as he is. Meet Earl Tyrant, a small child who claims to rule all of Wonderland. He’s introduced to us as a gourmand by commenting on his meal at length, but I can’t catch what he’s saying in this instance (Ed. checking some subtitles I found online, he’s describes something as “shilkiss,” which doesn’t appear anywhere online except in reference to FFU, so it’s probably a mistranslation). The Earl here seems to have taken more than a few cues from Emperor Pilaf of Dragon Ball fame: he’s short, he has aspirations of glory that seem to outstrip his capabilities… but bear in mind that the Earl is supposed to be taken at least semi-seriously, quite the opposite of Pilaf. Honestly, these connections to a fun-hearted, mostly-comedy series like early Dragon Ball put the Earl’s weird balance of seriousness and absurdity at risk. He’s probably more interesting to someone who has never seen Dragon Ball! The Earl is voiced by writer and actress Elena Carrillo, who showed up in Moeyo Ken as Byak Ko and Gen Bu, and wrote on the English translation of Zone of Enders: Dolores,i. She also wrote on Mazinkaizer’s English translation, which featured not only Samantha Inoue Harte, but one of the actors I’m going to introduce in the very next paragraph!

(Ed. Not long after putting this up, I also discovered that Elena Carrillo was a writer on this very show’s localization!)

It seems the Earl is already aware of Kaze’s actions, and complains about him disrupting “my perfect harmony [in Wonderland].” This soon escalates to a tantrum (I wasn’t kidding when I called him a child, it’s deliberate!), but he’s comforted by two of his lieutenants: Lord Fungus and Lady Herba, who look exactly like their names imply. Fungus is voiced by Grant James, actor and voice actor, who appears as “Scar’s Master” in Fullmetal Alchemist and FMA Brotherhood, and he was also Pagaya from One Piece. Herba is voiced by Jessica Smolins, who voiced Sakura on Eden’s Bowy and yup, she was in Mazinkaizer. She seems to have quickly disappeared after FFU, with only one credit to her name nine years later. Herba and Fungus bicker, and from said bickering, we learn that Fungus was the one flying the ship that dropped the mushroom monster in the previous episode. Fungus offers to kill Kaze personally to make up for the failure of his underling.

ffu-2018-02-24-01h19m26s930

Oscha’s overdue for a full screenshot, so here’s one from the previous scene.

Oscha arrives to tell the Earl about Crux, and after a few words of unabashed praise between him and the Earl, Oscha suddenly reverses the Earl’s order to Fungus without the Earl seeming to notice, telling Fungus to kill Lisa and the kids instead of Kaze. Again: the Earl doesn’t seem to care. Interesting.

Returning to Kaze, he looks up at the sky and starts musing about something or someone he calls “White Cloud,” and he begins to remember a great catastrophe of white light, including the destruction of some or all of the spiral staircase we saw when the party first got off the train. It seems fine in the present, but Kaze’s memory suggests part of it was destroyed nevertheless.

We return to the trio, where we learn they’re walking through the desert, trying to find a place “with people and no monsters.” An impeccable strategy. After some general-purpose recapping and minor clarification of established points, Lisa once again dodges personal questions and is saved by the arrival of the chocobo from episode 1, who is for some reason now wearing a disc on a collar. The mystery of the collar and disc is deliberate, but is never actually resolved by the show! I do actually know the answer from outside sources, but we’ll get to that much later on.

At this point, we get a brief cutaway to Kaze spotting Fungus’ ship in the sky, and then return immediately to the trio. Be thankful for this, because it’s all the episode is going to do to explain Kaze showing up on the scene later, and it’s still more than you’re going to get in later episodes. Kaze just weaves in and out of plot holes. You get used to it, even if it never feels any less of a Magun ex machina.

ffu-2018-02-24-01h20m07s729Returning to the kids, we learn that Yu chased him into a strange, deep forest, where they meet an old woman riding an especially large chocobo. The woman introduces herself as “Chocobaba,” which is apparently such a shocking revelation that FFU cuts to commercial! I will never understand this show, and I don’t intend to try. Chocobaba is voiced by Lainie Frasier, who voiced on Metroid Prime 3 as the benign Aurora Unit 242. She’s also a onetime voice of Tails in Sonic the Hedgehog, specifically in Sonic the Hedgehog: The Movie, though she did reprise the role recently in – get this – ScrewAttack’s murder-fest, Death Battle. She was also in New Fist of the North Star with Elena Carrillo!

The kids have trouble getting a solid word out of Chocobaba, who insists everything is just “a rumour.” If you read between the lines you might pick up that she’s not from “the real world” but isn’t from Wonderland either, which is a peculiar thing to say. By “real world” she means our world, so what she’s trying to say is that she’s from another world adjacent to Wonderland. But wouldn’t that make her world just as “real” as ours? I imagine the line is just misleading, but since FFU was cancelled mid-run, can we really say anything about its lore for certain? Just then, her chocobo takes off without a word from her, and she shouts that something bad is coming. Not that anyone listens to her. They just dawdle, Yu finding a chocobo feather in the ground, before another Fungus’ crystals smashes down nearby and spawns a new, blue, fungal monster.

ffu-2018-02-24-01h20m52s378The monster launches quick-growing spores to attack the trio with a small force of mushrooms, and Lisa is soon half-swallowed by one. At one point, Yu’s new feather starts glowing and the chocobo with the collar arrives and kicks a mushroom… but then the chocobo immediately runs off and leaves them in the same predicament. Yeah, we’re doing okay for jokes so far, the show’s still funnier than it’s unfunny. The trio is only saved when someone starts opening fire on the mushrooms, and we discover that Kaze has arrived and that he has another, more traditional gun he can use in situations like this (called a “shotgun” on the DVD extras. It’s not a shotgun, but I have no better label for it). It is rarely this helpful again.

Kaze announces in his detached tone that he came back to ask the trio something, implying that he didn’t save them for the sake of it. Unfortunately, Mr. Anti-Hero is interrupted by the arrival of Lord Fungus, who’s decided to go back to his original orders and kill him instead of the twins and Lisa. Here, he addresses Kaze as “Black Wind” for the first time. Kaze replies to Fungus’ opening speech by immediately opening fire, making him my personal hero. Unfortunately, Fungus manages to catch every bullet in his mouth, though as we’ll later learn, he wouldn’t have been much hurt by them all that much if they had hit him. Boss monsters, you know.

ffu-2018-02-24-01h21m11s024Fungus announces that he’s one of the four lords of “Gaudium,” though the show doesn’t make it clear exactly what Guadium is for the vast majority of its run. To cut to the chase, it’s the Earl’s giant flying fortress. Unfortunately for Fungus, that’s as far as he gets before the Magun decides to “thaw.” To our surprise, Fungus seems rather cocky to see this, and even seems eager to be shot! You won’t find out why until next episode. But hell, if even the villains are ready to enjoy the fireworks, I don’t see why we can’t.

The soil triad for you has been decided!
An infinity that surpasses the heavens: Sky Blue.
A completeness that goes through solid ground: Earth Brown.

Wait, you have a “soil” charge called “Earth Brown?”

And finally, the deception to hollow out a dimension: Magic Violet.

If you ask me, half the fun of FFU’s summons is trying to guess exactly what Kaze is going to summon, based on context and the colours he’s using. I’m tempted to say “Ifrit,” given that that’s what I’d use against a fungal monster, but there’s no red in the mix and you just can’t have a fire summon without red! Also, we saw Phoenix just last episode so that would be redundant. Hm… okay, I don’t know about the blue, but the brown makes me think… “Titan.”

Come out, I summon you! Typhon!

Oh, well I guess that works too.

ffu-2018-02-24-01h21m33s446Once again, the Magun’s projectile tries to penetrate Fungus like it did the mushroom in episode 1, but he seems invulnerable. Unfortunately for him, a strange mechanical object appears in front of him, bearing an unmistakable resemblance to Ultros’ gassy best buddy. Much to my delight, Typhon crushes Fungus inside a magical cube of space, but as we’re going to learn, major bosses like Fungus don’t die that easily, even if that wasn’t an easy way to die to begin with. Actually, the whole scene is almost horrific for a kid’s show, but I guess if he walks away okay, it’s all fine?

We skip ahead a bit, and learn that Kaze came back to ask the trio about someone or something called “White Cloud,” which he’s now looking for. Unfortunately they don’t know anything, and Kaze immediately turns to leave. With Kaze gone, Yu puts the chocobo feather in his hair for fun, only to have the chocobo with the collar show up again and start to squawk. To the confusion of the others, Yu announces that the subway train is about to leave, implying that he’s somehow able to understand chocobo-speak now that he’s wearing the feather. Why the chocobo knows this isn’t questioned… at least not by our main trio.

ffu-2018-02-24-01h21m59s068Despite having shown no interest in the subway train since they left it, the trio are suddenly panicked about getting back on board, and the chocobo leads them to a secret passage under the forest leading back to the spiral staircase. And so we’ve got our formula for the next few episodes, even if it’s not clear why anyone involved is following it: the trio wander an unknown land, Kaze will trip out of a plot hole to save them, and then the trio will race back to the subway train, often having accomplished nothing whatsoever.

Better get used to it.

Prev: Final Fantasy Unlimited – The Man with the Summon Gun
Next: Final Fantasy Unlimited – Bag of Devouring

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2 comments

  1. Was wondering if you had any thoughts on Hikaru Uteda’s new song for KH 3 “DOn’t think Twice” or as it is called in Japan “Oath”. Here’s a translation of the japanese version of the song, but I’m not sure how accurate it is.

    “I don’t know anything about fate
    But at this moment, I can’t help but acknowledge its existence
    Are you really happy with me just the way I am? Hey, are you?
    I’d rather you not get my hopes up too much
    This day is free of lies and falsehoods
    The perfect day to take an eternal oath
    I don’t need pretty flowers or anyone’s blessing
    Let’s wear rings of the same color”

    Since hearing your thoughts on what thematically each of the games are about, how do you think this song relates to what you think 3’s themes are going to be. AN interesting note that people have pointed out is that the song seems to describe a wedding.

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