It’s been two months since the skirmish in North Korea, and Kaname Chidori doesn’t think she needs a body guard any more. That hasn’t stopped seasoned soldier and socially-stunted Sousuke Sagara from his protection orders though, and the two now share a relaxed, if somewhat reactionary and volatile, school life. But out of the blue problems bubble up from a brand-new threat when a strange teen is arrested at border security, and the captain of the Tuatha De Denaan, Tessa, appears at Sousuke’s apartment with him in cuffs. Thus begins the craziest, longest night for the teens yet—this is Full Metal Panic: Rampaging One Night Stand.
This second volume of Shouji Gatou’s Full Metal Panic! was released digitally by J-Novel Club in July 2019 and is once again translated by Elizabeth Ellis. Shikidouji contributes illustrations to the book, and this volume is slated for a print release within the first of the series’s 3-in-1 omnibuses.
Although this novel grows from the events of the previous, Kaname is not the focus. Instead, she and Sousuke are caught in the crossfire of a larger Mithril fight, which has left many of the senior officers out of commission. This time the starring character is Teletha Testarossa, as she recaptures and transports an irate boy called Takuma, who was arrested after attacking airport security. He has ties to a small terrorist group with unusually large firepower and plans to attack Japan. His arrest alerted Mithril to the group and their plans, and the mercenary team took a risk to get him in their custody. Takuma is, unsurprisingly, uncooperative to his capture—insisting his sister will be coming for him, and actively sabotaging Tessa and Sousuke’s plans.
The reason of his importance, it’s revealed, is that Takuma is the only one who can pilot the group’s massive AS, the Behemoth, through induced Whisper powers. He’s the only member the terrorists can’t abandon or eradicate, and so a perilous game of cat-and-mouse starts between the group of four teens and an increasingly-violent group of terrorists. The book has quite a few action set pieces that naturally flow from each other, and the writing is incredibly effective at making the audience feel the fatigue of this crazy night. We also get hints that the antagonist of the previous novel is not quite as dead as everyone has assumed, and his plotting is still focused on Kaname and her boy soldier.
In saying all that, this book feels more like a proper introduction to the beautiful teenage submarine captain Teletha more than anything else. This is the first time Kaname has had time to interact with the other girl, and they have an initially prickly relationship. Tessa is romantically interested in Sousuke, and sees Kaname as a personal rival for the young Sargent’s feelings; although the Japanese girl totally denies she’s got a crush on the stern, oblivious boy. The love rivalry between the two girls is very ‘of its time’, and honestly bores me. I hate that jealousy and catty behavior is the default for teen girls in this era of media, and especially so when Tessa is supposed to be an accomplished and otherwise level-headed young woman. Her teasing of Sousuke and willingness to perpetuate the misunderstanding Kaname has of their relationship actively hurts the operation dealing with Takuma, and feels out of place throughout the book. Whilst Gatou does ensure that she gets into ‘superior officer mode’ once things really start to go pear-shaped, it does make it feel like her position and decision making is too-easily threatened by her emotions. Maybe it’s meant to humanize her (and I don’t deny that sixteen year olds do dumb things in the name of love), but it makes her an unnecessary villain for the audience who are invested in Sousuke and Kaname’s relationship (and vice versa). It was the standard trope when this novel was released, but it’s unfortunate that Tessa ultimately has her character cheapened to ‘the rival’ in her first proper appearance.
This book was a quick-paced romp of car chases and gunfire. Although there was a lot of violence and death in the previous book, it seems like it was stepped up in this one. We get the injuries and deaths of multiple named characters as well as the faceless supporting crowd, and there’s a tension to the action when our protagonists (plus one) don’t have the protection of an AS. Although I have my problems with Tessa’s characterization (and her relationship with Kaname), it is very easy to get caught up in the plot and action. This is a solid follow up to the first book, and now with our other main character now having been introduced there’s a lot of possibility going forward—plus it’s very engaging: you want to keep following the crazy few hours of action.
Gee’s Rating: Recommended, especially for pre-existing fans
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