Thursday, October 04, 2007

Full Metal Panic!, vol. 1: Fighting Boy Meets Girl

Written by Shouji Gatou with Art by Shikidouji
Released in the US by TokyoPop

Slugline: The original comedy-drama-high school-military-mecha and the kitchen sink story!

We have already reviewed Full Metal Panic!, the manga, vol.2, which also tells part of the story of this novel.

I am always surprised by just how much of Japanese manga comes from their light novels, something that is only now becoming obvious with the translations of them. The story of this book has been seen before in the manga and anime. Kaname is annoyed that a recently transferred student Sousuke is a gun nut who seems to be following her around. That doesn't seem to bother her too much, at least until she catches him on her balcony with her panties. She then proceeds to ignore him to the best of her ability, but when their plane is hijacked on a school trip to Okinawa Sousuke turns out to be really a military specialist, capable of killing with everything from knives to giant mecha. Which is useful, since Kaname is one of the Whispered, who all have technical secrets locked into their subconscious. The book is split between high school wackiness as Sousuke is not mentally equipped to handle it to high stakes military action, with the majority of this story leaning towards the military action end of things.

Perhaps I am jaded by the fact that I have already seen the anime episodes that make up this story, along with reading the manga volumes, but despite the additional perspective that a novel can give, allowing you to get inside the characters' heads in ways that neither anime or manga can manage, this volume did not give me any additional insight into the characters or their motivations. Some of the wordplay and the verbal humor comes through better here, but it is not a major improvement over the other venues that this material has already been presented in. That all being said, if this is the first time you have encountered the material (which is possible) it is a solid story though you may have to withstand whiplash as the story shifts gears, but if you have already read or seen Full Metal Panic!, this does not add anything new to your understanding.

As one can imagine, there is a lot of Full Metal Panic material. Here is some of it.

Full Metal Panic, vol. 1: Fighting Boy Meets Girl is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.


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