This story is set in the present, but in a world with a more questionable outlook. Sousuke Sagara, who is part of Mithril (the world's mightiest high-tech mercenary force), accepts a new mission: to infiltrate a Tokyo high school and guard a certain girl. However, Sergeant Sagara has spent his life on the battlefield since he was young, so peaceful Japan is mostly a mystery to him. After a series of fruitless, berserk episodes, the high school girl he's supposed to protect ends up hating him.
That's how Full Metal Panic! begins.
If I had to put this story into a genre, it would be difficult. Its pages are a real melting pot. It would not be reasonable to call it a high school romantic comedy nor to label it a robot thing, and it isn't serious enough to be a military thriller. If I were forced to choose, perhaps I would call it an action adventure. I intended it to be seen as an action B movie, so please enjoy it at your own pace.
By the way, currently, in August of 1998, Dragon Magazine publishes the FMP short stories. These are utter campus comedies, set after the events in this book. They are laidback, slapstick stories that fully exhibit Sousuke's many acts of spaciness that cause Kaname to worry. In other words, they are more about everyday life. Thanks to your responses to the OM surveys, they seem pretty popular. For those who have not read them, 1 highly recommend that you do.
Of course, those of you who already are into the short stories might be surprised by the hard developments in this novel. I would be happy to know if you ever thought: "Sousuke's not an idiot, he's awesome!"
While I'm at it, I would like to comment on a few things.
1) The author harbors no ill will against a certain country that is integral to the plot. I was limited to choosing a dictatorship reachable by domestic flight. So, to those from that country, please do not abduct me. On the other hand, if I disappear or die in an accident-or if there's a mysterious fire at Fujimi Books-you readers know where to start the investigation.
2) At times, the story necessitates artifices intentionally be added to existing weapons, machines, organizations, and geography. Also, for all the common weapons introduced in the story, please assume they have been more or less influenced by AS core technology. I'd be put to shame if I actually had to give specs.
3) At times, the story necessitates artifices intentionally be added to the mentality and private lives of actual girls. The high school girls in this story are more or less influenced by romantic-comedy core technology. 1'd be put to shame if you took me seriously.
Now, I plan for Sousuke and crew to face many more troubles-don't worry, they'll probably get through it all, they'll just be out of breath. They are, after all, tough and tenacious.
That said, look forward to the future exploits of Sousuke and Kaname.
This marks the end of my tedious comments and the beginning of the part where I offer thanks:
To Takuzou Suganuma, editor-in-chief at Dragon Magazine, for funky advice and soulful cultivation of the story;
To Kazuma Shinjou, the novelist who had groovy advice and powerful resources;
To Tomoyuki Sano, the manga artist who provided cool images and dope ideas;
To Katou, Koyama, Watanabe, and Second Lieutenant Y.A., who offered beneficial data;
To all of you involved with the Chuo University SF club, which was the impetus for me choosing this line of work;
To Takahara Masaki; I offer a deep apology along with my thanks- I never thought ** would ** this far. I really am sorry. Someday, ** will **;
To Shikidouji, who, despite other work pressures, fitted the book with charming illustrations;
To Kumiko Satou, the editor who helped me finally complete the book;
And to Cassie: If this young girl hadn't spilled chocolate milk all over the manuscript, the ending might have been totally different (kidding).
Well, I'll see you next time when, once again, Sousuke flirts with hell.
- Shoji Gatoh, August 1998