Manga Review: Fullmetal Alchemist

Manga Review: Fullmetal AlchemistFullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa
Published by VIZ Media on December 20, 2011
Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, Steampunk
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
five-stars

Alchemy: the mystical power to alter the natural world, somewhere between magic, art and science. When two brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric, dabbled in these powers to grant their dearest wish, one of them lost an arm and a leg...and the other became nothing but a soul locked into a body of living iron. Now they are agents of the government, slaves of the military-alchemical complex, using their unique powers to obey their orders... even to kill. But their powers aren't unique. The world crawls with evil alcheminsts. And in pursuit of the ultimate alchemical treasure, the Philosopher's Stone, their enemies are even more ruthless than they are...

Fullmetal Alchemist starts off pretty lighthearted and comedic, giving the reader time to familiarize themselves with the characters and the world it’s set in before breaking out the serious drama. Part of what makes this series so completely marvelous and one of the best mangas ever is that vein of humor running through even the darkest parts.

Of course, comedy alone does not make a good story. The darkness too makes the tale compelling. Aspects of this story, especially one in particular which comes not too far into the story, will undoubtedly haunt me forever. Actually, this same instance continues to haunt Ed and Alphonse all the way through their lives, as well. When you read it, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Add to the above a completely amazing cast of characters. Seriously. Ed and Alphonse’s love and care of one another are completely charming. Their grandmother is hilarious with her tiny little pointy bun. Winry, the stubborn female automail mechanic, will always be my favorite. Then again, I also adore Colonel Mustang with his odd combination of jadedness and hope, and Lieutenant Hawkeye, who is seriously badass but also surprisingly sweet underneath. All of the human characters are just so vibrant and human, complete with foibles and hangups. I love it.

Plus the alchemy in a freaking amazing steampunk setting! Who doesn’t like steampunk? Okay, lots of people probably, but they are lame and don’t count (just kidding…mostly). Honestly, though, the alchemy in here is astounding. No wonder so many people spent their lives trying to figure out its secrets. I would too if I thought I could have powers like the Alric brothers.

If you have any interest at all in manga, Fullmetal Alchemist is a good one. Although aimed at a male audience, it has universal appeal. Unlike some shounen manga, you will not have lots of baloon boobs thrust at you for fan service, likely because the series was written by a woman. This manga has one of the best stories out there and I just cannot recommend it highly enough.

Note: I have not yet watched the anime version, either one. I do know, though, that you should not just the manga off of the original anime series. After the first few episodes they seriously part ways (or so I’ve heard), because the anime was made before the series had been completed. A couple years before. What a bad plan.

6 responses to “Manga Review: Fullmetal Alchemist”

  1. Terrell says:

    The first anime titled FullMetal Alchemist, does part ways with the manga after the first few episodes. However, FullMetal Alchemist:Brotherhood is a complete retelling and basically follows the manga plot. I recommend watching it :-).

  2. lexiechan says:

    Full Metal Alchemist’s Author is B-R-I-L-L-I-A-N-T! I love the anime actually. LOL. I haven’t read the whole manga yet. BUT, I watched the anime. The first time they release it (my brother and some friends said that it doesn’t matched with the manga, the ending and all) BUT the second anime entitled FullMetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is the completely the same with the manga (Just like Terrell said).

    Authors who can come up with the alchemy, comedy and all is sooooo genius for me! I love it when Ed gets irritated when someone calls him ‘chibi’ (meaning small). And people always assume that Al is the State Alchemist and the older brother. LOL. 😀

    • Christina says:

      I know! It’s the greatest. Even in the darkest moments, she has little bits of humor. That is how I like my dark moments!

      The characters are all so great. I love how touchy Ed is about his height. And how Al looks all intimidating, but is like the sweetest guy ever.

      And Winry is AWESOME.

  3. i love the story line in this series! your review makes me want to watch/read some more! your review is awesome!

  4. Isa says:

    Fullmetal Alchemist is my favourite manga and anime series, I love the characters and the plot was so well written. I agree the darkness in the manga is unforgettable but I love the homour that sort balances out those dark moments. Reading your review makes me want to rewatch/reread the series even though I’ve done so too many times. xD

    Have you watched the anime as yet? Brotherhood follows the storyline exactly and though I loved the original anime as well the ending was disappointing.

    • Christina says:

      The balance of darkness and humor is the very best aspect. Most of my favorite books and series do that same thing. The incredibly dark subject matter is even more meaningful when juxtaposed with humor. Besides, that’s how the heroes cope with all of the pain and destruction in their lives.

      No, I haven’t. Should I just watch Brotherhood?

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