By Shouji Gatou and Shikidouji. Released in Japan by Fujimi Fantasia Bunko. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Elizabeth Ellis.
This is also quite a short book, though not as short as the first part, and it might have flowed better as one long volume. But light novels were shorter in general back when FMP! came out. What’s more, it might have simply been too exhausting: the events in this book are designed to grind our hero and heroine down to the point where they’re both mentally broken, and succeed in doing so, though thankfully no permanent harm is done. Having this as the entire second half of one book might have demoralized the reader. As it is, be prepared for Sousuke to get more and more depressed and distracted, to the point where he’s zoning out and thinking of Kaname during an actual mission, leading to an accident and Mao having to try to clean up after him. (One weakness of the book is that we don’t see him meeting Mao after this occurs and he stalks off, possibly as she’d break his jaw and he needs that jaw.)
After spending most of the last few books seemingly getting killed and then coming back like Richard Nixon, Gauron finally bows out here, though not before making Sousuke’s life even more miserable than it already is. His new squad commander shows he doesn’t trust the Arbalest, which Sousuke agrees with – this despite talking with “Al” and finding the AI a lot more human than he had imagined. Unfortunately, he does not have the opportunity to work this out off-duty, as Hing Kong is about to descend into civil war thanks to Amalgam, whose leader turns out to be Tessa’s brother Leonard, who is there to give us a new bad guy to hate now that Gauron (finally) dies. Gauron was after Sousuke – Leonard is after Kaname. Kaname is possibly helping out, as after finding that Sousuke has removed himself from her life, she goes on a rampage in an effort to get her new “watcher” to take action… something that has almost lethal consequences.
It has to be said, a number of Kaname’s actions in this book beggar belief, and are the very definition of “don’t try this at home”. In particular, if you are being watched and want your tail to make themselves known, don’t take some stranger to a love hotel so he can try to assault you. However, Kaname gets a number of good (if fanservicey) scenes in this book, none more so than her reappearance and thrashing of Sousuke after he had been told she was dead, which is one of the best moments in the entire series. Unfortunately, it also highlights the pacing problems – this book is all backloaded, meaning the front part drags. Clouseau wipes the floor with Sousuke, but then seems to mostly vanish, with only a brief suggestion that his trashing of their late commander was entirely an act. Oh yes, and Tessa’s apology to Sousuke was cute, but reminds us again that she’s a very, very distant second in this love comedy race for Sousuke’s heart.
The next volume promises to be a longer one, and also lighter in tone, likely with more of the “wacky” comedy parts of FMP that sometimes work and sometimes read like the author read too many shonen manga with tsunderes. This is a flawed but readable angst-and-action book in the meantime.