Sousuke Sagara (相良宗介 Sagara Sōsuke?) is a fictional character and the main protagonist in the light novel, manga, and anime series Full Metal Panic!. He was portrayed by Tomokazu Seki in the original anime and by Chris Patton in the English dub.
Sousuke Sagara is approximately seventeen years old. A Sergeant within the paramilitary counter-terrorist force Mithril, he serves as a member of the SRT (Special Response Team) of the Western Pacific Battle Group "Tuatha de Danaan" and is assigned to the assault submarine of the same name. His commander is Captain Teletha Tessa Testarossa. His call sign is Urzu-7 and his ID number is B-3128. Serious and dedicated, he operates as team pointman as an Arm Slave specialist.
Sousuke is of Japanese descent. His exact date of birth is also unknown. He has black hair and grey eyes, as well as a small, visible cross-shaped scar on the left side of his chin. He is literate and fluent in both English and Japanese. He can also speak some Russian and Persian as well as several local Afghan dialects fluently. As a child, he was raised as a Muslim and soldier in Afghanistan, but, as a teenager, does not follow strict interpretations of Sharia law like the people who raised him. In the 6th book, he is shown worrying more about Ramadan than Christmas, but his consideration is depicted on a pure combat basis ("It was a time when Soviet soldiers would lower their guard"). In his daily life, Sousuke is depicted as quite secular. He is shown eating pork and his refusal of alcohol is made, again, on a pure combat efficiency basis, and he clearly shows a genuine distaste for it [The Second Raid]. He is capable of reciting the Qur'an from memory, probably due to his childhood in a Muslim country, but finds classical Japanese literature, poetry and history extremely difficult to comprehend.
In addition to being a capable Arm Slave pilot, Sousuke is a specialist in Arm Slave operations and maintenance, improvised explosives, small arms, survival training, anti-armor combat, trap setting and camouflage. Additionally, he is proficient in logistics, demolitions, breach and forced entry, covert intrusion, and hand to hand combat. His background and experience as a guerrilla fighter, and later a mercenary soldier has made him much more sensitive and knowledgeable about tactics and methods more commonly used by guerrillas than government trained regulars.
While Sousuke is an excellent soldier, his military career is the only life he has ever known. He has no social skills and sees nearly every situation in a military light. This causes many problems for Kaname Chidori, the woman he is assigned to protect. Even in school he carries a gun with him, although it is loaded with non-lethal rounds. He is known to say as an axiom "a peaceful solution is always best". However, to him this simply means a solution where no one is physically injured. He once says this axiom after threatening someone by firing a gun next to their head. His total lack of experience with normal life outside of the military gives him no readily available "civil" concepts about life, like entertainment or anything recreational, and tends to horribly misinterpret the actions of people around him. This is shown throughout the main series when Sousuke is guarding Chidori at Jindai High, and Fumoffu! focuses mainly on this aspect. This part of his personality is indeed one of the main sources of the series' humor.
As a teenage guerilla and trained operative, Sousuke has been known by many various identities, such as Sousuke Seagal, Isegar Sousuke, and during his time in Afghanistan (Helmajistan in the anime), Kashim. Two characters refer to him as Kashim, one being Gauron and the other Zaied, a former comrade from his Afghan days.
Sousuke Sagara was a child when he was saved from a crashed Boeing 747 jetliner in the North Pacific by then Spetznaz officer, Andrei Kalinin, but both his parents died. His mother was shown to die before his eyes, telling him to "live. Fight." This incident is later the source of some of his nightmares, and is one of the few aspects of his mother that he is shown to remember. His age at this time was approximately 2 or 3 years old. The Soviet nuclear submarine's rescue action was unauthorized, and later officially denied. Officially there was no Soviet involvement, and thus no rescue operation and no other survivors. Kalinin's efforts to locate living relatives of the child also failed, as no record of a passenger named "Sagara" existed. It remains unknown if Sagara is the maiden name of Sousuke's mother, or the name written upon the child's clothing is the child's real name. According to the Full Metal Panic! anime's first season, his birthday is 07/07/1984. Though since his exact date of birth is unknown, this is likely an approximate guess by either Sousuke himself, or the people whom he has lived with over the course of his life which he has adapted for his work in his mission to protect Kaname.
From there, Sousuke was taken into the Soviet state child care system as an orphan. He was later taken into a KGB training program for child soldiers. At (approximately) age 8, Sousuke was trained as an assassin and deployed into Afghanistan (Helmajistan in the anime) to assassinate a local leader of the local resistance army. He failed to assassinate his target, and instead was adopted by the man he was sent to kill, General Majhid, who named him Kashim. He became part of the resistance army, fighting against the invading Soviet forces. He learned the use of small arms and basic survival techniques during this time as a guerrilla fighter. It was during this time that Sousuke first met Gauron. At the time, Gauron was a mercenary AS instructor at a nearby camp, and they were neither enemies nor allies. Although their meeting at the time seemed inconsequential, it is later revealed to have served as an important event that spurred Gauron's obsession with Sousuke, whom he deemed an "Assassin Saint."
Raised as a guerrilla fighter, Sousuke became a skilled AS pilot and soldier. During this time, the Soviet offensive grew in magnitude with the fresh success of the new Arm Slaves. In the early stages of the war, Kalinin's forces capture Sousuke. Sousuke and Kalinin are reunited for the first time, eventually leading to Kalinin's decision to desert the Soviet army. Kalinin gives specialized Spetznaz training to Sousuke, from which Sousuke learns Japanese and some Russian.
Following the defeat against the Soviet army, Sousuke becomes a mercenary, eventually escaping the country with Kalinin. However, they were separated afterwards in Cambodia. Sousuke has since been involved with most of the wars in the Middle East, collectively called the Fifth Middle East War. He built a solid reputation as a soldier during this period, gaining a group of friends. He spent five years as a soldier for hire, further building his combat and survival skills.
Sousuke was eventually scouted and invited to become a private military contractor for the military junta corporation known as Mithril. While showing unspectacular skills at the training camp, his actions in the line of fire with an Rk-92 Savage convinced Melissa Mao to include him in the elite SRT unit. It is at Mithril that he is reunited for the second time with Kalinin, this time his commanding officer. As an SRT member he is trained to operate the M9 Gernsback Arm Slave, serving as pointman.
The story of Full Metal Panic! follows Sousuke's active duty with Mithril. In the Siberian tundra, an extraction operation of personnel from a secured research facility was detected and attacked by a mixed force of a Hind Gunship Helicopter and Rk-92 Savages. Sousuke’s performance in an M-9E was directly responsible for securing the survivor for extraction, as this was seen as the first episode of the anime.
As the first person to operate it, Sousuke becomes the only Mithril pilot able to use the ARX-7 Arbalest. This increases his importance within the organization from a mere sergeant to the only soldier who can pilot an Arm Slave equipped with a Lambda Driver. His current mission to protect Chidori forces him to cope with an unfamiliar and peaceful lifestyle, forcing many awkward and comical situations. His over-protectiveness usually annoys Chidori to no end but later in the story, they grow fond of each other and express their feelings for each other.
Initially, Sousuke was confused with the Lambda Driver-equipped ARX-7 Arbalest and its quirky A.I., nicknamed "AL". Because of its unreliability in the field and his own internal conflicts, he came to despise the AS. However, Sousuke later resolved his own issues and came to accept the Arbalest and put up with Al. Since then, he has been able to utilize the Lambda Driver at will by concentrating. However, this could not save him from the power of the Belial arm slave piloted by Leonard Testarossa and the Arbalest has since been destroyed. Following the kidnapping of Kaname Chidori and the destruction of Mithril he has become very unstable and will stop at nothing to rescue Chidori.
In the novel, Continuing On My Own, Sousuke tells Chidori that he likes her, but he's afraid because he fears the gulf that exists between them, since she is a Whispered. At the end of the novel, Chidori is kidnapped by Leonard Testarossa, and Sousuke embarks on a mission to save her. In the novel, Get Together and Make My Day, Sousuke fails to rescue Chidori, but manages to speak with her over a radio as she is being taken away on a helicopter. In this conversation they finally express their feelings of love towards each other. Sousuke promises to save her no matter what and Chidori promises to wait "for years, even hundreds of years" for Sousuke - they both promise to kiss the moment they are reunited.
In the novel, Approaching Nick of Time, he travels to a top secret base in the USSR, codenamed Yamsk 11, with Tessa to uncover more information about the Whispered's origins. Leonard and Kaname also go to the same facility, where her mind is taken over by a personality named Sophia, who appears to be a "Whisperer" who imparts the Black Technology knowledge to the Whispereds. Under Sophia's control Chidori, Sousuke, and Tessa are shown an illusion of Chidori shooting and killing the other two. Leonard and Sophia/Kaname return to Merida Island, where Amalgam has built a device to utilize a final ability of the Whispereds.
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- Sousuke bears a resemblance, both in temperament and appearance, to Heero Yuy from Mobile Suit Gundam Wing. The two finally met in the video game Super Robot Wars W, and became comfortable enough with one another to share fruit-flavored rations. Heero himself comments on their similarities ("to think another human being like me would be here..."), and eventually becomes something of a senpai to Sousuke, helping him to overcome his uneasiness and insecurities to continue fighting to protect the things important to him.
- This name is a homage to Steven Seagal
- Sousuke's age is under considerable debate from fans and sources alike. Japanese sources note his canon age as 17, while North American sources place it as 16. The actual age (17) was shown in the Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid MITHRIL Report, which was included in the DVD releases of The Second Raid. The novels maintain his exact age as being unknown.
- Shouji Gatou. "Full Metal Panic! Fighting Boy Meets Girl".Los Angeles: TOKYOPOP Inc., 2007 (Novel, Chapter 1, page 41-42). ISBN 1-4278-0243-2
- "Burning One Man Force" Novel.
- Voice from the North, November 2004 Issue of Dragon Magazine
- "Owaru Day By Day" Novel, chapter 5.