Full Metal Panic!: Rampaging One Night Stand

By Shouji Gatou and Shikidouji. Released in Japan by Fujimi Shobo. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Elizabeth Ellis.

The FMP! novels mostly seem to have the same conceit for their titles: a Japanese word, followed by an English phrase. (OK, I think “Fighting Boy Meets Girl” was all English.) This is translated for the benefit of the English-speaking reader, and can, of course, lead to thwarted expectations. There are no one night stands as the word is commonly used in this book. The title refers to the fact that the main action in the book takes place over the course of one evening. And there certainly is a lot of rampaging, as the premise involves a huge, skyscraper-sized AS called the “Behemoth”, which is awkward but unstoppable, especially when piloted by Takuma, a troubled young man who is also somewhat mentally unbalanced. Things aren’t helped by the fact that, due to various attacks by Takuma’s terrorist friends, Sousuke’s commanding officer, Tessa, is forced to hide out in his apartment. And much as the action is interesting, it was Tessa meeting Kaname that provided the best part of this book.

Last time I mentioned that Kaname is a rare “angry girl heroine” who fans actually love, and Tessa is along the same lines, the “nice girl” rival character who, while not disliked by fans, has almost no one shipping her and Sousuke instead of Kaname. This book helps to show why, as I had forgotten how much it contrasts Tessa’s excellent command skills (and her abilities as a Whispered, something only hinted at in this book) and Tessa’s mediocre-to-poor skills as a girl falling in love. Indeed, the “nice girl” part of her is absent a lot of the time, as her pretending not to be Sousuke’s commanding officer in order to piss Kaname off is rather mean (and she has to apologize for it later), and she and Kaname have far more of an antagonist stance with each other than I’d remembered from when I first experienced this years ago. Heck, Tessa even declares her rivalry to Kaname at the end. Add to this her feelings about her brother Leonard, and she’s a fascinatingly complex character.

As for Kaname, use of her Whispered abilities are kept to a minimum here, meaning she spends most of the time as the bright, refreshing normal girl. As with the first book, she’s alternating between being attracted to Sousuke and finding him the most aggravating person in the world. This is not helped by his attempting to apologize to her by offering her heroin, so she can sell it for money. Yes, this is an actual thing that he does, and I’m pretty positive the anime cut that. Sousuke, while still doing things like this, has at least developed a finely-honed “Kaname is about to get really angry” sense, though most of the time – like when Tessa comes out of his shower while Kaname is there – there is nothing whatsoever he can do about it. That said, the “which of the two ladies do you like better?” choice offered by the villains doesn’t even register with him, as he makes the choice based solely on combat reasons.

Unlike a lot of action series with a romantic sideplot, most people read or watch FMP! for the romance. They won’t be disappointed with this one, a solid second volume that establishes a love triangle but also makes it clear who the winner will be.

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