For those who like to look at the afterword first, beware - there are spoilers.
I had kept you waiting for far, far too long. Please forgive me.
Why did it become such a long road... I won’t even start explaining, because it would become a torrent of complaints. Anyhow, this three-year journey had somehow come to a close. I bought two bottles of wine (“Chateau Latour” - the price was... considerable9) of the year FMP! started, 1998. Left one for myself, and gave Shiki-san the other, with the message: “Please open when you finish the illustration work”. It’s kind of out-of-character for me, but sometimes, why not indulge yourself.
9 Well he does like his wine, doesn't he *jealous*. Chateau Latour is a Bordeaux Premier Cru Classé, and a bottle of that of 1998 can be found nowadays at upwards of 150 Euros a bottle, probably more considering it's Japan.
After all, it’s been twelve years, and we were working together on the series all this time. Only we two have the right to enjoy this exquisite taste (hehe). There are a lot of people who helped me over the years, but there are only two bottles!
So, my book has just returned from the final proofreading, and I’m writing this afterword while enjoying this excellent wine, and a gloriously delicious cheese that Shiki-san sent me in return. So, yep, I’m a drunken writer.
...just a moment, some guy from express post delivery came. Looks like it’s the sample copy of the first book.
Oh... it’s bound by a sash that reads “The grand finale of the explosive school military action is finally here!”
Grand finale..? I don’t know about that, but it’s good to have these things a little exaggerated sometimes. Thank you, whoever’s in charge.
By the way, if you get the two volumes together, it’d make a very impressive final book, but apart they look like... collections of short stories. This is pretty hard...
Anyway, I had decided from the very beginning that this story’s theme would be, well, “Boy meets girl”. Then I always hope that this main theme wouldn’t slide out of focus because of all those secrets of the world, battles between organizations, and the like. This is a story about him and her, and I always tried hard to make that clear. Did I succeed or... well, I thought I’d leave it to the readers’ judgment, and so right now I am trembling in fear that it won’t be so.
Anyhow, this long series is now at an end. But that’s a bit too sad, isn’t it? So I thought that maybe in the near future I should publish some short stories that have been piling up. I thought maybe it would be a sort of sequel to this book... but I don’t really know if I should do it or not. “Some things are best left unsaid” - or so the saying goes, but it’s not like I wanted there to remain a feeling that some things shouldn’t be said... mmm, I don’t really know. I’ll think about it more when I calm down.
I’m preparing a new series now, too. I would like it to reach the readers as soon as possible; but for now, there’s another action series I’m working on “Cop Craft” (in the GaGaGa collection published by Shogakukan). The illustrations are made by Range Murata, and the spine is blue. If that sells, well, I’ll also think “Right! I’ll do my best!” So! Please! Read it..!.
...that was for a bit of self-advertising.
[note: the rest of the afterword is basically a list of names and thanks, including the full cast of the anime, mangakas, mecha designers, editors, etc.]
And finally you, dear reader.
It has been twelve books. Counting short story collections, twenty-two. I feel privileged that you have stuck with me on this long journey.
I thank you from the bottom of my heart.