Light Novels: The Best Way to Enjoy ‘Full Metal Panic!’

No, this is not the same as Full Metal Jacket or Fullmetal Alchemist. Full Metal Panic! is one of the well-known mecha anime titles you may have come across. Perhaps you recognize the girl with the long green hair? If you hadn’t already guessed, her hair wasn’t originally green! The light novels, which is what the anime was based off of, describe Kaname Chidori as having black hair, like an ordinary Japanese student. Surprised?

Light Novels are commonly adapted into anime, in the same way novels get translated to movies. Full Metal Panic, by Shoji Gatou went for a lot longer than the anime series would have you believe. Twelve volumes were released, between December 1998 and August 2010. From there, short stories and a sequel were written. The anime by GONZO and Kyoto Animation only reached volume 5 – that’s a whole 7 books that didn’t get made for TV! For those who don’t know, FMP! is about a young girl named Kaname Chidori who unknowingly gets assigned a soldier as a bodyguard, for reasons she has yet to find out! You can see a trailer, here.

The first 5 Light Novels were released in English by Tokyopop. Unfortunately, they went out of business and never completed the series either! It seems the only way to get copies of it now are Amazon and Ebay. In comparison to the anime adaptions which are altogether inconsistent in quality, and the manga drawings often change styles, the Light Novels are where you can get the full story, with as little filler as possible, and with a unique experience you only get from the magic of writing (understanding the characters’ thoughts for example). Once the english versions run out, the manga Full Metal Panic! Sigma, continues from where The Second Raid starts, and has overlap with the following novels. If you’re unwilling to cash in some bucks for a light novel, that manga series is another way to go.

To date, this series presents one of the most epic love stories I have come across in anime (paralleled only by Rahxephon, perhaps), but it combines action, comedy and drama, to the point where it has something for everyone. Sousuke Sagara is my favorite male character in an anime thus far! While the plot is quite repetitive, it is decent – the characters are what make it special. The writing isn’t Stephen King standards, but it is better than others of its type. It accurately conveys the moods and atmosphere it intends to.

Highly recommended, no matter who you are.


What do you think? Leave a comment.

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  1. WillStocks

    I really need to read this….

  2. OhBless

    Will I like this if Im not the biggest manga reader? Im reading Katekyo Hitman Reborn as we speak.

    • Jordan

      Technically it is more closely to a “young adult” novel than a manga, even though it has pictures in it.
      Hitman! sounds like mostly a comedy, although since it is Shounen, I imagine you may enjoy it. 🙂

  3. I only watched the anime. I definitely want to read this now to get more plot.

    • Jordan

      It’s definitely worth it to get a sense of the full over arching story about the “Whispered”

  4. GSun103

    Hey! I watched the anime a very long time ago (when I was in 8th grade lol) and recently finished watching it again. I’m so in love with this series!

    Would you recommend reading the novels or the manga (Sigma) first? It seems they’ve both been fully translated now but I’m not sure which one has the better quality translations/would be the better experience.


    • Jordan

      They’re both pretty much the same, all the way down to the script. Stigma has pictures, the light novels don’t. The light novels give more insight into the characters thoughts, unlike the manga.
      It comes down to whether you like manga or reading actual books more.

  5. Sgt. Sagara

    It’s been so long since I first watched this anime and up until now, this is still my all-time favorite. I can’t even remember when was the year I first saw it. Nevertheless, this served as my inspiration on finding the ‘Kaname’ of my life. And now I found her!
    If any of you know the complete list of light novels that is already translated in english, kindly send me a message on my email. Also, I’d like to know the plot order of the manga because I’m a little bit confused as there are many of them released. Any updates or news would be of a big help. Just please email me because I’m only a visitor in this site. Here is my email: Thank you in advance! Full Metal Panic forever!

    • Jordan

      You can just google translations…. its not too hard. XD Thanks for the comment. I love this franchise as well.

      • Sgt. Sagara

        Thank you for the reply hihi I have already downloaded chapter 4-12. Do you know any english fan site or groups of people that also loves FMP? I’d like to be a part of it.

  6. I had a hard time keeping up with the anime, so I was glad to read this and see that the light novels are worth picking up!

    • Jordan

      Great to hear it, Spayne! Good luck trying to find them, though! 🙂 What didn’t you like about the anime? Maybe FMP isn’t for you?

  7. Tatijana

    Aww man. I have to shell out bucks!!!! Haha… I guess I’ll just have to prioritize. And since I know you are still checking your comments, can you give me some more info on the full metal stuff. Is there a watching order? Are they unrelated? I think I read some compare and contrast in a different article. And also, are they at least all subtitle translated? I’d hate to start these and not be able to finish them…

    • Jordan

      I have a Full Metal Panic season four article pending for the site at the moment, although it doesn’t cover a “watching” order. Only the first four light novels have been officially released into English and the company disappeared, sadly. Personally, if it is possible to read the first two light novels, do that. Otherwise, I recommend watching Full Metal Panic Fumoffu first then the Second Raid. GONZO bugs me so I try to distance myself from the first season as much as possible, but it still has important information in it. I hope this answers your question.

  8. Sounds like the anime suffered from company insolvability.

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