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Full Metal Panic! - Volume 3 - Chapter Aft


Afterword 
Sorry for the long wait. Sousuke’s mortal enemy returns and puts the thumbscrews to Mithril once again. This time, we’re at sea! It’s a military thriller out on the ocean... kind of thing? Maybe not? Anyway, FMP’s third long-form story, Trembling Into the Blue, is officially here. 
These books are getting pretty thick. It’s not good. Not googoogood. Gogood. My sentences are turning weird, huh? Sounds like a Whispered, huh? I think I’m going crazy. 
There’s a lot of weird military jargon and abbreviations showing up this time, but it’s okay if you don’t understand them all. I doubt I understand them, either. It’s all about atmosphere. It’s like when the Yamato takes “Damage to the third bridge!” or Bright says “Fire on the port side is waning, what are you doing?” Not an issue. To be even more precise, I guess, it’s like when Doraemon shouts “Go, Bamboo Copter!” Imagine an AS squadron deploying from their amphibious assault submarine equipped with bamboo copters. Dodging bullets, capes billowing in the breeze... “Al, prepare the Earth Destruction Bomb.” “Roger, EDB ready.” 
Flying through the sky, through the sky. 
I think I was slacking a little bit on ONS (One Night Stand) so I decided to go back to the more hard-boiled stuff of BMG (Boy Meets Girl). But the ocean makes things feel very sticky. Sticky. Slicky. I can’t get picky. Japanese rap? Yeah, it’s icky. That’s what Tre says too. Who’s that? 
I’m flying through the sky! 
I never know how to fill these long afterwords. Anyway, say goodbye. You’ll fall to pieces and go dry. See ya. 
...That’s only a page and a half, huh? Maybe I should bring in another guest. This is someone to whom I owe an appreciable amount of appreciation (wow, what an awful sentence). It’s Shinjo Kazuma, who writes the Kuro Densho series also for Fujimi Fantasia Bunko! He’s very imposing and has a fancy beard, plus he’s a Keio Boy and a bilingual nice guy (bi-ni-guy for short?). Let’s give him a round of applause! Clap, clap. Drumroll. Pop. 
Shin: “Ah, hello there, I’m Shinjo. I just did an interview for the afterword of my own book, and I’m already doing this again. Are you sure this is what you want?” 
—It’s fine. I’ve wanted to do this again for a while. 
Shin: “Ah, I see. ...You mean we’ve done it before?” 
—Yes. Readers who know me from FMP probably don’t know that we used to do conversations like this for old Hourai Gakuen books and such. 
Shin: “Hmm, I do think I remember. That takes me back... (gazing into the distance) But you young’uns should be looking towards the future. Anyway, this latest novel of yours... it’s an ocean thing, right?” 
—That’s right. A love story set in Shonan, in the summer. Just kidding. 
Shin: “............” 
—It’s the story of a real-life luxury liner that went down. It’s going to sweep the Oscars. Just kidding. 
Shin: “............ (with a gentle smile) Well, I don’t mind continuing with this. But if you try to fill your last pages like this, your supervising editor, ‘Three Months’ Sato, will probably scold you again.” 
—About that, actually. You always call Sato-san ‘three months, three months,’ so apparently a lot of people have misunderstood and assumed she’s three months pregnant. 
Shin: “Oh, this again? (turning back to Kudanshita, where Fujimi Shobo is) That interpretation has caused you a lot of trouble, and I’m sorry for that. Attention, readers. That’s not what I meant, so make no mistake. Ms. Sato is a truly excellent and competent editor, and she’s also (fill in fawning platitudes here). Ahem.” 
—Oh, honestly. Sato-san is one gutsy lady, and (fill in fawning platitudes here). That’s why I’m sure she won’t criticize me. Hah hah hah. ...So, I must admit, this story takes place at sea, on a submarine, but we never see the beautiful captain in a swimsuit. This might be a problem. 
Shin: “What, really?!” 
The Masses: “For real?!” 
American President: “Are you kidding me, Gatou-kun?!” 
—It’s true, Mr. President. I only realized it after I finished writing, and then I didn’t have time to add in a scene like that. Ugh... 
President: “Hmm, I see. I don’t know much about writing, but it sounds like a challenging field.” 
—Yes, indeed. You have people like Monica-san at your office, so you can enjoy the day-in day-out, but all I have at my workplace are Gundam models. Of course, I enjoy those in my own way. 
Shin: “Are you sure about this? Weren’t you going to avoid current affairs jokes? It’ll be Clinton when the book is released, but next year it’ll be some other guy. Incidentally, readers, this afterword discussion was written in January 2000.” 
—Ah, crap. The FMP world is set in the 20th century, of course, but we’ll be entering the 21st very soon... That’s the flow of time for you. 
Shin: “Hmm. Yeah, it won’t be the 1900s anymore. A long time ago, we assumed that the years 2000 and 2001 would bring us flying cars and colonies on Mars and undersea bases where we talk to dolphins... that’s how magazines depicted it, anyway. I wonder, what ever happened to flying cars and Mars? (wistful gaze)” 
—Mars. Flying cars. They have that futuristic ring to them, yeah. And subways that run through clear plastic tubes. 
Shin: “And humanoid robots and such. Well, those we might just be on the brink of... That Honda P3 is really impressive. ...Anyway, we’re getting off the subject. We were talking about the captain in a swimsuit.” 
—Right. I thought I could fit it into the epilogue, but we had to keep things serious. I’ll make it happen if I get the chance, so I ask for patience and mercy from the readers. This time around, she’s definitely more in “badass” mode. 
Shin: “I see. You want to show many of the character’s facets while saving some fun for later. Very clever.” 
—Why, thank you. Tee-hee. ...Anyway. (looking at watch) Oh, I think we’re out of time. Goodbye, everyone! 
Shin: “That’s pretty abrupt! (pulls out a paper fan from nowhere and hits him) Oh, right, I was asked to tell you to read this before it was over. Here. (pulls scrap of paper from pocket and hands it over)” 
—Um, please read that yourself. ...Ah, he’s gone. Just like the aoi senpuu. Blue gale. Wipe away your tears. 
Whew. Writing dialogues like these are easier for me, and they sure eat up the word count. What a big help. Thanks so much. By the way, I’m back to sanity. I have a note that says “Introduce Kuro Densho PBM.” 
You see, he might be a weird old man, but Shinjo-san is a genuinely impressive person. When creating a fictional world for his work, he gives it such depth and makes it cool and keeps things scientific, and that’s rare. (That’s not flattery. I mean it.) After all, not only does he craft his world’s history and customs, but its language structure too, so skillfully. (Is that literature?!) In creating the world of FMP, I took a bit of (rather, a lot of) influence from Shinjo-san. 
...So anyway, from June through next March of this year (2000), a play-by-mail game will let you mess around in the vast and detailed world of Shinjo-sensei’s Kuro Densho. We’ll use postcards and letters to let thousands of people across the country make their own characters and act. I participated in a game like this once, and it taught me a lot. Ah, nostalgia. 
Anyway, if you’re interested in the game, send a business card with your name and address with a 90 yen stamp for the return in a sealed envelope to the following address: 2-1-16-220, Miyamae, Suginami Ward, Tokyo,?168-0081 c/o Elseware, “Blue Gale, Power of Heart.” Those participating by internet can visit the Elseware homepage (http://elseware.co.jp) to receive a pamphlet. 
Now, I feel like I’ve imposed on you all for too long. I apologize profusely to Shikidouji-sensei. I’m really sorry for not being able to send you proper reference materials. Nevertheless, you created your usual amazing, soulful illustrations, and I can’t thank you enough. Seriously, it makes me realize the limitations of text. 
And a big thanks to Masayuki Takano for giving me an amazingly cool design for the TDD. 
Thanks as well to Ms. Sato my editor, and a big thank you to all people involved in the process whose names I haven’t learned yet. This will go on sale in January, so a big thank you to all the store owners who will stock it. And a big thanks and apology for the people who went looking for my release on the January Fantasia Bunko release day. I’m really sorry and also grateful. 
Anyway. This has become a pretty long afterword, but I think we’re done here. See you next time for another round of Sousuke in hell. 
 


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