Full Metal Panic! Collector’s Edition Omnibus Volume One is a hardcover release that includes the first three Full Metal Panic! light novels.

Full Metal Panic! Collector’s Edition Omnibus Volume One
Written by: Shouji Gatou
Publisher: Kadokawa Corporation
English Publisher: J-Novel Club
Release Date: February 4, 2020

I’m coming into these light novels after watching the Full Metal Panic! anime, and it turns out the three volumes included in this release line up with the 24 episodes that comprise the first season of the anime.

The first novel, Fighting Boy Meets Girl, sets up the premise of the series. Sousuke Sagara, a member of an anti-terrorist private military organization called Mithril, is assigned to protect a high school girl named Kaname Chidori because she is a target for kidnappers. Sousuke has to go undercover as a high school student and transfers into Kaname’s class. Sousuke is backed up by his comrades, Kurz Weber and Melissa Mao. Unfortunately, due to not having experienced social interactions, Sousuke comes across as a military geek to his new classmates. He also has a tendency to interpret everyday situations from a combat perspective, which is an integral part of some of the comedy included in this volume.

Even though Kaname comes to realize that Sousuke is protecting her, he doesn’t reveal the reason to her due to his orders. But everything comes to a head when a terrorist organization hijacks the plane that Kaname and Sousuke’s class is in on for their class field trip and they take Kaname hostage. This volume also sees Kaname starting to develop feelings for Sousuke, but she keeps trying to deny this fact to herself.

The second novel, One Night Stand, introduces a potential love triangle. Sousuke’s commanding officer, Teletha (Tessa) Testarossa, is a 16-year-old girl who develops feelings for Sousuke after she gets dragged into a mission concerning a young man that has heavy connections to “black technology.” Tessa has a secret concerning how she knows about black technology, and it turns out Tessa and Kaname have more of a connection to each other than Kaname realizes. But even with this connection, Tessa declares herself a rival for Sousuke’s affection. During this novel, Kaname and Tessa are both kidnapped and held hostage, and it’s up to Sousuke to save them. Unfortunately, the young man connected to “black technology” that they had been guarding gets into a mech and uses his abilities to wreak havoc. Again, it’s up to Sousuke to climb into his own mech and save the day.

The third novel, Into The Blue, sees Sousuke taking Kaname on a surprise trip to Mithril’s base, but the trip doesn’t go as planned. They end up having to board the Tuatha de Danaan, Mithril’s submarine, because they have to leave the base to go on an assignment. It turns out that Sousuke’s adversary Gauron, who is an enemy from Sousuke’s past who has been wreaking havoc over the course of the previous two novels, is launching a new scheme. The story sees Gauron getting on board the sub, taking prisoners, and taking over command. Thanks to Tessa and Kaname’s shared secret, Tessa can communicate important information to her that allows her to get what she needs in order to help Tessa regain control of the sub. Of course, Kaname gets help from Sousuke to achieve the goal. While Kaname and Tessa don’t truly become friends by the end of this volume, they can at least better tolerate each other even though they’re both interested in Sousuke.

Sousouke is an interesting character, and we just start seeing him evolve as a character by the end of the third novel included in this release. He and Kaname do have a good chemistry together when all is said and done, even if Kaname keeps losing her temper with him.

Since I went into this light novel with knowledge of the Full Metal Panic! franchise through watching the anime, it was an interesting experience to see how the story was told in its original prose form. The translation that’s presented in this release seemed to capture the characters and the story as I knew them from the anime. The character portrayals, both in the light novels and the anime, felt realistic for the characters as their personalities were designed. The character motivations didn’t feel “off” at all.

My only real complaint about the text is the fact that I did catch about three or four typos or grammatical errors in this release. Unfortunately, they stood out just enough that they did take me out of the story briefly. I was surprised that these errors weren’t caught by an editor of a proofreader. Hopefully future omnibus releases for Full Metal! Panic will be able to avoid letting these errors slip through.

Shikidouji provided the art for the three Full Metal Panic! light novels included in this release. They did a great job capturing action scenes, as well as some of the poignant moments that appear in the series. When the character designs were done for the anime, you can see that the character designer tried to capture Shikidouji’s designs for the characters as closely as they possibly could.

I think that Full Metal Panic! Collector’s Edition Omnibus Volume One can be enjoyed both by readers who already know the franchise from the anime, as well as by readers encountering the franchise for the first time. Gatou has done a great job of developing the characters, as well as providing explanations for the technology that appears in the series, so someone entering the franchise for the first time through this medium can still understand the story.

Previous to this release, the only other light novels I have read have been ones in the Haruhi Suzumiya series. Full Metal Panic! has a “denser” feel to it in comparison, and I think this is due to the fact that this is a story that has a more serious science fiction feel to it, as well as the fact that Gatou is taking the time to explain the technology and the military angles. While the Haruhi Suzumiya series is on the whimsical side, Full Metal Panic! is a more serious sci-fi series that includes comedic elements. While Full Metal Panic! is a good series, it’s not necessarily going to be quick read for everyone who reads it.

But if you’re a fan of the Full Metal Panic! anime or are a fan of mecha and science fiction, then I think you might enjoy reading Full Metal Panic! Collector’s Edition Omnibus Volume One.

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