Full Metal Panic! - Volume 6 - Chapter Aft

Forgive me. It’s taken two years, but I present to you the new Full Metal Panic long novel, “A Dancing Very Merry Christmas”. 
Before, I said, “Next time, it will be a lighthearted story”, but... it didn’t end up being a happy Christmas for all of the main characters. So again, I apologize. Well... it’s not as if there are people who don’t want to see the protagonist in a normal love comedy like Sousuke going back and forth, confused between multiple heroines. Yes, I have times when I feel that way, too. 
Around the time I was writing this story, I tried to collect information about the so-called luxury liner. I took the cheapest two-day, one-night cruise because I was paying my own way, but wearing a suit, that night I was awed by the extravagant cuisine and concerts. I had wanted to do stuff like drink in the lounge, but I ignored that and took pictures of everything with my digital camera to give to Mr. Shiki to use as material. 
I wanted to see the engine room, crew quarters, etc; more than the showy stuff, so I asked the front people (although, to be accurate, they are called something else), “Can I look around?” But I was very politely rejected with a smile and told, “On the one week cruises, we give tours of those facilities, so please apply there”. Or, in short, “Come back again”. 
But it was costing me almost 40,000 yen*1 for just one night, so there was no way I could do seven nights. Since I had no other choice, I had to take desperate measures. Late that night, and without permission, I tried infiltrating the crew quarters. It was a one-man sneaking mission. I was wearing my suit with my small camera in hand. I felt almost like James Bond. 
So, while I was tiptoeing around taking pictures, I spotted the engine room. I then heard the footsteps of a crewman approaching from around the corner. I was really in a hurry then. 
This is bad, they’ll find me. What’ll I do? 
Should I run away? No, I should surprise attack him, break his neck, and steal his uniform and ID card... those kinds of thoughts ran through my mind for just a moment. 
Well, in the end I was found, reprimanded and made to go back. 
Unfortunately, I wasn’t caught and strapped to some weird torture device, or thrown into a pool filled with man-eating sharks. 
All of that aside... 
The series will soon be rushing into the second half. Right now, there are probably three or four long novels left until it’s finished- that’s what I’m estimating, but we’ll see how it goes. I’ve been thinking things like I want to raise it up to a full-blown pace soon, how should I raise it (but I’m always thinking things like that...) 
I think this is the last time an incident will be wrapped up in one book. As far as the short stories go, not writing about the juicy material after January- Valentine’s, skiing, hanami*2 and such was not totally unrelated to the plans for the long story. 
...and if I give various tales of the mind, I’ll strangle myself much like this time. I wonder if that’s alright. Yes. 
Now, some other stuff related to Full Metal Panic. 
Because of your support and encouragement, the Full Metal Panic anime was a huge success (Mr. Chigira and everyone involved, thank you). Because of all of this, the decision has been made to produce the next anime series. This time it will be based 
on the short stories, and will have a good comedic tempo. The director will be the up-and-coming Yasuhira Takemoto, a nice guy who knows about art. While it is audacious of me, I will also be working on the script. Yay.  
In comics, the fifth volume of Tomohiro Nagai’s “Ikinari! Full Metal Panic!”*3 will be coming out at the same time as this book. You’ll laugh yourself to death reading this series. Unexpectedly, it seems that there are readers of the original works who haven’t read it, so I’m taking this chance and strongly urging you to do so. 
I wonder if the tankoubons*4 of the comic version of “Full Metal Panic!” by Retsu Tateo will be a little longer? I of course am looking forward to them. It is popular enough to be released in South Korea and Taiwan. 
The “Full Metal Panic! Card Mission” trading card game by ORG is popular enough to keep the booster packs coming out. While people certainly like it for the game, there are also illustrations by Douji Shiki that no one’s seen. Well, onto the next thing. 
...there’s a lot of advertisements? 
Yes, well. As I’ve said before, I can never think of what to write in the afterword. Nooo, oh, well. 
Now then, there were a lot of people who gave their support this time, too. They have my undying gratitude for very patiently putting up with the likes of an idiot like me. Really, thank you very much. 
Till next time, then, when we follow Sousuke into hell once again. 
Shouji Gatou 
February, 2003 
Translator’s Notes: 
1. About $400 US 
2. Hanami is when the Japanese go out during the cherry blossom season to view the flowers. 
3. “Full Metal Panic: OVERLOAD!” 
4. Tankoubons are the volumes with the chapters collected together. 
Translator’s Afterword: 
Wow, I almost can’t believe that I’m actually done with this book. It feels like I’ve been working on it forever... 
Anyway, I just wanted to talk a little about the series and this project. As I’m writing right now, the third FMP anime series, “The Second Raid” is set to come out this year. I can’t tell you how excited I am... not only for the chance to watch this awesome story animated, but also for the fact that people were actually able to read the novels first. It’s a great feeling to know that you’ve contributed, however small, in some way. 
I won’t disagree that this particular novel was fraught with difficulty, though, what with all the life-changing events that have taken place since I started working on it. But I want to thank everyone for sticking through it, not complaining (too much), and keeping your interest up. I think the biggest setback with this novel was the hard drive crash, causing me to lose a month’s work. I was more mad at myself than anything for not backing it up properly, and redoing what I had lost was actually really grating, and I was worried that I might lose interest in it before I ever finished it. But I can say that it’s quite a feeling of relief to be done. 
A little more about the series: the next novel is entitled “Tsuzuku On My Own” (Continuing On My Own), and it is the first novel in the second part of the series. As stated by the author, the story’s starting to change, and it’s going to be full of surprises, so I hope everyone will look forward to the next translation. 
Again, thanks everyone, for all your support and dedication. We here at Boku-tachi are always glad to hear from you, so stop in the channel sometime if 
you want or need anything (check the website for the current channel address). 
So until next time, when I follow Sousuke into hell first, then try to drag everyone else along with me :) 
March, 2005 

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