Foreign Friday: Fullmetal Alchemist

“In order to obtain, something of equal value must be lost. That is the principle of equivalent exchange.”

– Fullmetal Alchemist

Welcome to my first Foreign Friday, where I will be reviewing Japanese manga. For this first installment, I have chosen the series Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa.

 The Story

In an alchemical ritual gone wrong, Edward Elric lost his arm and his leg, and his brother Alphonse became nothing but a soul in a suit of armor. Equipped with mechanical “auto mail” limbs, Edward becomes a state alchemist, seeking the one thing that can restore his and his brother’s bodies…the legendary philospher’s stone.

The Characters

Edward Elric is a alchemic prodigy with a short temper, short height, and incredibly tacky taste. He is also a devoted brother who refuses to give up his dream of fixing his younger brother’s body. He’s very enthusiastic  and stubborn and will have you cheering him on from the first volume. His brother Alphonse (the suite of armor) is cheerful, thoughtful and spends a lot of time apologizing for his brother. While his alchemy is not on par with Edwards, his ability nothing to take lightly. Together, the two face a world where alchemy is used for many different purposes and must strive to follow their own beliefs.

What I Thought

I confess I started with this series because it is one of my all time favorites. In terms of the plot, Arakawa has taken great pains to create a world where alchemy is approached as a legitimate “science,” fueling a fascinating plot that ranges from the treasure hunt of the philosopher stone to the very real sorrows of war. The characters are engaging and feel well-developed. The English volumes also contain bonus comics at the end of each one with either silly ‘what ifs’ or bonus stories that the author added in for the reader’s enjoyment. The intended audience for this series is rated “T” for older teens, and was originally featured in a shonen magazine. The emphasis in this series is action/drama, but there is a good balance of humor as well. The art is fabulous; the action sequences are easy to decipher and the colored covers are very well done. An excellent series!

The series has reached completion in Japan, but the final three volumes have yet to be released in the US (the current count is 24, and so the series will end at volume 27, which will be released this December). Fullmetal Alchemist is rated as one of the most popular manga titles of it’s time, with two separate anime adaptations made. The first anime series only follows the manga plot until volume 7, and then branches off as an original story; the series ends with a full-length movie. The second series, which is currently being released in the US, follows the manga plotline pretty faithfully. Both series are definitely worth watching, and both have been dubbed into English. There are also four spin-off novels written by Makoto Inoue which have been translated into English and are available in the US, as well as several art books.

Stay tune for the next series!

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. The Elric Brothers
    May 24, 2011 @ 17:17:38

    This is so good! You have the same opinion as me! I love fullmetal Alchemist, both TV series and the manga! It is my number one anime and I also started anime with this! I dedicated a blog to them, please check it out and comment, support me and FMA! thanx!


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