Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Full Metal Panic Volume 8 by Shouji Gatou and Retsu Tateo

Like most volumes of this series, This volume is a series of short stories. Unlike the other volumes, however, all the stories are linked together and occur within a few days of one another.

In this volume, Kaname Chidori and Sosuke Sagara join up together to take a vacation to the south seas. Kaname has the idea that it will be a romantic getaway to a south seas island, but in actuality, it is to meet the Mithril submarine Tuatha De Danaan. Because of Kaname's courage under fire, the Mithril troops want to throw her a party, and the commander of the submarine, and fellow Whispered Tessaril (Tessa) Testarossa, agrees and invites her.

Kaname didn't count on having to skydive from a cargo plane to get to the sub, though, or to swim once they got there. She is embarrassed by the party, not sure that her actions deserve notice or recognition. She does enjoy the party, which has her friend Kurz and Sosuke among the attendees. But the merriment isn't to last, because Sosuke and the rest of the Mithril troops must deal with a battle on an American island base that has been taken over by terrorists. Kaname is anxious for Sosuke, and takes up a position helping in the galley to deal with her anxieties. She doesn't even get a chance to say goodbye to Sosuke before he goes.

The raid goes well, but one of the mecha drivers with Sosuke is injured, and Sosuke is upset that someone was hurt. When Kaname tries to express sympathy for what happened, Sosuke, still angry, lashes out at her, saying she cannot know what it is like to be a soldier, and that protecting her has been a burden to him that he would rather not have taken up.

Kaname is crushed by Sosuke's fierce tongue lashing and flees from him, crying. Kurz, seeing Kaname's reaction, yells at Sosuke for his unrealistic attitude about the mission, which was an unqualified success. Yes, someone got hurt, but the soldier signed up for the military, and knew it was a possibility. Furthermore, he hurt Kaname, and that Kurz cannot forgive. He punctuates his feelings with a punch that sends Sosuke reeling, and the even greater punch that he made Chidori cry.

Kaname retreats to the galley and sits in a corner with her arms around her legs, depressed and hurting. One of the men gives her an apple and tells her she should eat something, but she can't. She asks him if she is a burden, and he says, of course not, but she flees anyway.

On the way back to her room, she is taken captive by the leader of the invading force on the island, who has been freed by a traitor on the ship. To be continued...

I liked the continuity of the stories in this volume, and Kaname's continuing relationship with Sosuke. Though he hurts her terribly, it was because he was hurting as well, even if it was from reasons that were pretty unreasonable. At some point he will have to apologize, but I can't wait to read the story in the last volume of the series.

As I have said before, the best part of this series is the relationship with Kaname and Sosuke. There is a lot less humor from Sosuke's cluelessness in this volume, just a small bit at the beginning. After that, the story becomes a bit darker and more serious, but I didn't mind the serious turn. In fact, I welcomed it. I still really enjoy this series, and I do plan to collect it if I ever find it in the stores. "If" being the operative word, of course.

I also hope the longer novels of this series are published, and not just the short stories and humor bits.

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