Full Metal Panic!
Full Metal Panic! ( FMP!) is a series of light novels written by Shoji Gatoh and illustrated by Shikidouji. The series follows Sousuke Sagara, a member of the covert anti-terrorist mercenary group Mithril, tasked with protecting Kaname Chidori, a spirited Japanese high school girl.
Individual chapters are published on Monthly Dragon Magazine, followed by a paperback compilation released by Kadokawa Shoten's Fujimi Fantasia Bunko. The novels are split between stories focusing on Sousuke's mission as a soldier of Mithril and comedic side stories centered on his life at Jindai High School.
Full Metal Panic! has been adapted to other media a number of times, including an animated television series by GONZO in 2002.
The main story develops its characters carefully, and is the shadow or "unusual" events of the protagonist's life. These stories feature the mercenary group Mithril, their mobile base/submarine, called the TDD-1 Tuatha De Danaan, giant humanoid powered suits called Arm Slaves, and the various missions to which Sousuke Sagara is assigned. A highlight of the series is a serious and semi-realistic view of humanoid robotic weapons on the battlefield. The Arm Slave has significant consideration in its portrayal, with explanations given for its power source, operations, maintenance and pilot user interface. The existence of such advanced weaponry and equipment is explained through Black Technology.
The comedic segments are the contrasting "normal life" portrayal of a high school student in Tokyo. These segments are in stark contrast to the more serious main story; explosions are symbolic and humorous, and no death results from these visual gags, while in the main story characters are heavily injured and/or perish when hit by a bullet.
This has led to two discrete series of books within the narrative: the collected short stories, and the full novels. As of April 2007, there have been nine novels and ten short story collections published. There is also a significant number of short stories that have not yet been published in a collection, making the stories difficult to find outside back issues of the magazine. The main storyline is still continuing, with the latest novel, "Approaching Nick of Time" released on February 2008. Shoji Gatoh has recently stated in his blog that the next novel will be the 'climax' of the series, meaning it could possibly be the final novel of the series. However, there is no specific details, release date or name for the moment. It will probably begin production next year.
The author's handling and balance between the serious character-driven plot of the full plot arcs, contrasted with the caricature portrayal of the same characters in the comedy arcs, is one of the most lauded aspects of the series.
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