Life has settled down (for the most part) after the high stakes of the De Dunaan hijacking. Kaname is preparing for exams, and Sousuke is trying to adapt to a normal life for the first time since Gauron’s defeat. But not all things are calm, and Sousuke soon finds himself at odds with his new orders!
Full Metal Panic! Ending Day by Day (Part One) is the fourth volume in the series, written by Shouji Gatou and illustrated by Shikidouji. The English release comes from J-Novel Club, with translation by Elizabeth Ellis. The digital book has a October 2019 release.
You may notice that this particular FMP volume has ‘part one’ in the title, and indeed this book feels like a transition from the previous book and the buildup to something larger. Rather than having a full plot introduced and resolved here we have multiple events introduced without a conclusion—understandable considering the usual style for these types of multi-book story arcs. It allows for a thorough ‘setting of the scene’ without confining it all to one larger volume. If you dislike having to wait to see the resolution, I would recommend postponing your read of this book til after volume five is available.
But just because this is only the first half doesn’t mean we don’t get some action and excitement along with it. Yes, the book opens with somewhat mundane day-to-day shenanigans with exam, car and haircut comedy at the expense of Sousuke, but the infiltration mission was exciting and granted us some fun interactions between, and dimension to, the supporting cast. Both also worked well as examinations on Sousuke’s shifting mentality—his self-doubt and fear of failure, still ever-present even during peace.
Although this series has never shied away from these themes, they’re brought front and center here—the actual psychological impact being an elite soldier has at such a young age (especially for a kid as responsible as Sagara). Sousuke is becoming acutely aware that he isn’t well-adjusted, and that always being ready for a fight is far too often a detriment in normal life. We also get the introduction of the shadowy Wraith, an intelligence officer who has also been assigned to Kaname’s safety from afar.
Wraith as of now is just one big question—we, like Sousuke, don’t know anything about them; not even their motivations. After the various dangers the teen girl has been subjected to thus far, it’s not unreasonable to question whether this mysterious new player is invested in her safety at all. Sousuke doesn’t have much time to question it though, as immediately afterwards he’s being called to the field. There are forces within and outside of Mithril conspiring against them, and it calls to question how prepared they are to fight Amalgam.
As mentioned, this book feels like a chance for the audience to catch their breath after the intensity of the previous novel. This part one both resolves some hanging plot threads, as well as opens up new avenues to explore. Many may want to wait for the second half to be released before jumping in to this book, but I have to commend Gatou’s cliffhanger here! It definitely makes me want to read more. With Gauron’s chapter completed in the previous book, Ending Day by Day (Part One) feels like a natural continuation, leading into new beginnings for these characters. A mix of high-octane action and quiet character introspection that Full Metal Panic! has perfected.
Gee’s Rating: Recommended
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