Sunday, June 29, 2008

Full Metal Panic Volume 7 by Shouji Gatou and Retsu Tateo

Kaname Chidori looks like a normal high school girl, but looks can be decieving. Kaname is actually one of a group of people called "The Whispered", who are born with information coded into their DNA that makes them superior at math, engineering and other sciences. They are called Whispered because it is as if they literally had a voice in their heads, whispering the information to them. And actually, it is someone whispering to them. Aliens from the future, apparently.

Anyhow, after an assassination attempt on Kaname, a bodyguard is assigned to her by an organization called Mithril, Which, unknown to Kaname at the time, is the sanctuary of other "Whispereds". Her bodyguard is to be Sosuke Sagara, a former Japanese soldier raised in Afghanistan by several military and terrorist organizations. He's young enough to be able to pass as a high school student and is assigned to protect Kaname... with his own life, if necessary. When it comes to the military, Sosuke is top-notch, but he is completely out of his depth when it comes to the life of a typical high-schooler in Japan. He can speak the language and he is Japanese by birth, but his understanding of things from a military perspective makes life for Kaname rather... difficult. This is played for humor and when things happen, that usually means it's time for Kaname to bring out the giant white comedy fan and smack Sosuke one.

This volume is a series of short stories that take place at school: from Sosuke's new pet, which just happens to be a mouse that escaped from a laboratory and has the power to eat and eat through just about anything, including girl's panties, apparently; to a story with Sosuke acting strangely and Kaname following him, which leads to a revelation regarding a secret vice of Sosuke's; to the arrival of a new teacher who wants to teach the class synchronized swimming... but with Sosuke trained to hold his breath longer than most people, who in the class can keep up with him?

Also, when Kaname is abducted by a street gang, Sosuke must negotiate with the leader to get her back. But does he even know the meaning of the word? And when the principal of the school asks Kaname and Sosuke to check out a Fantasy Hotel because several of the staff and students have been seen going there, can Kaname resist using the place to fulfill a fantasy of her own, and keep Sosuke hopping? Finally, when Sosuke notices someone following them home, he immediately pulls her into a general store and has her pretend to buy a home pregnancy test to give them a reason for being there. Humiliated, Kaname stomps away and Sosuke is told off by an old man, who enlists his help in finding the man's lost granddaughter.

This was a great collection of short stories and foretells the growing closeness between Sosuke and Kaname. She is falling in love with him, but Sosuke appears to have lead between his ears and doesn't realize this at all. The stories are all funny and charming, and while Sosuke's general cluelessness is played for laughs, some of the stories still manage to be touching as well as funny.

I like this series, and while there is a related series called "Full Metal Panic: Overload", where Sosuke's cluelessness and inability to understand things in anything other than military terms is turned up to 11, I prefer this series more. Here, the reader can understand why Kaname is falling for Sosuke. He's a strict military guy, but he has courage and honor, too. And yeah, he's cute/handsome as well. That certainly doesn't hurt.

I have tried to find this series in bookstores, but I was unable to find it. Maybe I have to try a bigger bookstore. In any case, I would buy this series... if I could find it!

No comments: