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Full Metal Panic! [Light Novel] 1: Fighting Boy Meets Girl (1998)

by Shouji Gatoh

Other authors: Shikidouji (Illustrator)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Full Metal Panic! [Light Novels] (1)

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933233,341 (3.79)None
Jindai High School was a relatively safe place, right up until Sousuke Sagaka transferred there. A total nut, he wreaks havoc on the school's student body and gets into a world of trouble with the teachers. But there's more to Sousuke than meets the eye--not just a hell-raising student, he's actually a member of an elite military unit, on an undercover mission to protect the beautiful schoolgirl Kaname Chidori from the KGB.… (more)
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One of the best combinations of comedy, action, and romance I have ever read, though the romance is admittedly the lesser of the three in this volume. The "fish out of water" comedy of Sousuke Sagara, a boy trained to be an assassin, then raised in a war zone after he failed to assassinate the general he was sent to kill trying to adapt to living as a normal high school student in Tokyo is very funny. The extremes to which he goes to guard Kaname Chidori, the beautiful girl who is being targeted by terrorists, without letting her know that she is being targeted or that he is guarding her, make for good humor as well.

The fact that the humor is as good as it is only makes the fantastic action sequences better. The descriptions of the Arm Slaves, humanoid mecha that are the product of "Black Technology" that changed the world in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and the detailed combat sequences are second to none.

The villain, Gouran, who has a history with Sousuke, is extremely effective, if a little over the top in terms of his level of "evil". However, the story makes it clear that the mercenaries who work for Mithril, the private anti-terrorism organization that Sousuke works for, are not necessarily that much better than the "bad guys", they just work for a better employer. Other than his sneering enjoyment of his work, Sousuke and the other mercenaries are not that different from Gouran when it comes to being willing to kill in order to carry out their mission. In fact, it is heavily hinted that Sousuke has a long history that most likely includes questionable acts that would shock most normal people.

The world building is also exemplary. Gatou-sensei paints a world close to our own, but twisted by the introduction of advanced technology at least a generation or more earlier than it should logically occur, including some that shouldn't logically occur at all. The result is a world with as much, if not more conflict between nations and terrorist organizations bent on achieving their goals by trampling on the lives of innocents as our own, but with tools that lead to far greater devastation, but also allow those that want to end the madness to fight them effectively.

The confusion brought about as young Sousuke deals with unfamiliar feelings as he begins to fall head over heals in love with Kaname is precious. His inexperience with the emotion of love in any form is restricted to the camaraderie he shares with his fellow mercenaries and it is made perfectly clear that the current group of comrades is one of a select few groups he has felt even that level of friendship with. That pit-of-the-stomach feeling when Kaname is angry with him, the longing to see her, and other feelings are completely foreign to him. At one point his fellow mercenary Kurz Weber tells him he is feeling this way because he's in love and "has it bad". His reaction is that it can't be true, because he has heard that love is a wonderful feeling and he feels awful. It makes the commonly used trope of the completely oblivious male protagonist not only funny, but believable, which makes the FMP! series a unique creature in the Japanese manga/anime/light novel world.

A fine and complete story, Full Metal Panic! Fighting Boy Meets Girl ( )
  Zensunni42 | Nov 15, 2016 |
Not the best manga story ever, but enjoyable. I think I'd read book 2 to see how the story goes. ( )
  scote23 | Mar 30, 2013 |
This light novel series was the inspiration for the popular anime of the same name. "Fighting Boy Meets Girl" was the basis for the first seven episodes. As the author says in his afterword, it's difficult to put the novel into a specific genre. It's an action-packed story with bursts of comedy; it's a budding teen romance; it's a fish-out-of-water tale with plenty of high school hijinks. Basically, this novel could appeal to anyone and everyone, which is what makes it such a highly enjoyable read.

Sousuke Sagara is a teenage soldier working for a mercenary organization known as Mithril. The organization's goal is to prevent world conflicts, and there's currently one brewing when the KGB sets its sights on the Whispered, a special group of individuals who (often unknowingly) possess access to Black Technology that can be used to create unbelievably advanced machines and devices. Sixteen-year-old Kaname Chidori is one of those Whispered and Sousuke is assigned to go undercover as her protective detail. Because Sousuke has had no prior experience leading a civilian life, he makes many errors in judgement, perceiving threats where there are none and making a scene. This prompts Kaname to think he's a creep and provides much of the story's comedic moments.

Despite Kaname's harsh assessment of Sousuke, the two inevitably develop a mutual interest in each other. It is interesting to see their relationship develop throughout the novel -- especially from Kaname's end, where her suspicion of Sousuke slowly evolves into trust. The story overall is engaging and exciting. It's hard to stop reading once you get started.

There is only one fault with this novel, and it's a minor one. The original novel was in Japanese and the English translation could use improvement. Some sentences are awkwardly constructed with words that would have been better left out and frequent instances of adjectives modifying adjectives. However, as previously stated, these are minor inconveniences in what is otherwise a fantastic introduction to a very entertaining light novel series. ( )
  danceofdays | Feb 7, 2011 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Gatoh, ShoujiAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
ShikidoujiIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ellis, ElizabethTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Jindai High School was a relatively safe place, right up until Sousuke Sagaka transferred there. A total nut, he wreaks havoc on the school's student body and gets into a world of trouble with the teachers. But there's more to Sousuke than meets the eye--not just a hell-raising student, he's actually a member of an elite military unit, on an undercover mission to protect the beautiful schoolgirl Kaname Chidori from the KGB.

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Jindai High School was a relatively safe place, right up until Sousuke Sagara transferred there.  A total nut, he wreaks havoc on the school's student body and gets into a world of trouble with the teachers!  But there's more to Sousuke than meets the eye -- not just a hell-raising student, he's actually a member of an elite military unit, on an undercover mission to protect the beautiful schoolgirl Kaname Chidori from the KGB.
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