Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa

details
Title: Fullmetal Alchemist.
Writer(s): Hiromu Arakawa.
Artist(S): HIROmu Arakawa.
Publisher: Viz Media/Yen Press.
Format: Digital.
Release Date: July 12, 2001 – June 11, 2010.
Volumes: 27.
Genre(s): Adventure, Dark Fantasy, Steampunk.
My Overall Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

thoughts

Grief has a way to gnaw into your rationality, slowly breaking the thin fiber holding it together, and protecting the most sane individuals from falling into an abyss of emotions and feelings. Without experience, it is through raw and life-changing events that they can ever be able to understand the terrifying consequences that could arise from decisions made under such intense pretenses. For two young alchemist brothers, one tragedy will bring them to commit a terrifying act that will lead them on a journey of enlightenment and understanding. Written and illustrated by mangaka Hiromu Arakawa, this seminal and popular shōnen manga Fullmetal Alchemist has garnered countless fans over the years and gave way to two anime adaptations and one live-action movie.

What is Fullmetal Alchemist about? Set in a fictionalized world based on the European Industrial Revolution, the story follows two young alchemist brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric, off looking for the philosopher’s stone in hopes to utilize its inherent powers to restore their bodies to their original state following a botched alchemy experiment conducted to bring back their dead mother. As they venture off into the country of Amestris, promising themselves to see their quest to the end, they are confronted by various obstacles, from the vengeful Ishbalan killer Scar motivated by the genocide of his people during a civil war to the artificially-created humans known as homunculi who have their own secret and deadly agenda regarding the philosopher stone.

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood - Anime Photo: Edward and Alphonse Elric | Fullmetal  alchemist brotherhood, Fullmetal alchemist, Anime

The impressive pacing of this manga series makes for an incredibly captivating read that continuously develops its minor and major characters and meticulously progresses through its overarching story without faltering. On top of this quest for the philosopher’s stone, readers will also be introduced to the mystery behind the homunculus, the enigmatic identity of each homunculi named after the seven deadly sins, and their own secret plans regarding the philosopher’s stone. The story occasionally explores the history of the two Elric brothers, the infamous Ishbalan civil war, and the background of various secondary characters to further depict the unique motivations that drive these individuals to do the things they do. As the pieces of the puzzle come together with each volume, it is only in the final stretch that everything is delivered in an action-packed and tightly-knit ending.

Beyond its core narrative, the story does see its various characters go through different stretches of land, bringing them to confront the vision and lives of an ensemble of colourful individuals, and challenging them into becoming better versions of themselves. As they progress their way towards their goal, making new allies and foes along the way, a dominant focus on human empathy, the pursuit of knowledge, the innocence and purity of friendship, and the notion of sacrifice can be found throughout the myriad of experiences obtained. Sometimes the most mundane of encounters could turn out to be the most important and life-changing event in their lives but it is only through these experiences that they ultimately realize the importance of one another to bring about a universal notion of peace, humility, and altruism.

Semifinal - Hunter x Hunter vs. Fullmetal Alchemist | MangaHelpers

Mangaka Hiromu Arakawa’s artistic style for this series is also fantastic, consistent, and lively through and through. With sharp character designs, an impressive attention to emotional climate, and a crucial exploration of individual experiences of life expressed through demeanour, she does a phenomenal job in keeping this relatively dark series human at heart and delivers fantastic sequences that capture the intimate journey of these characters. Her action sequences are also beyond reproach, dealing with some truly creative battles and characters (e.g. chimeras, homunculi). This series is also infused with an incredibly well-balanced dose of humour, which often also comes with a dramatic caricatured style of drawing that effortlessly enlightens the mood, often times mocking Ed’s size. But who wouldn’t want to call the kid a pipsqueak though? That being said, there is little chance that mangaka Hiromu Arakawa’s artwork could deter you from this excellent shōnen.

Fullmetal Alchemist is a fantastic adventure centered around humanity’s greatest virtues and worse vices while authentically exploring themes of friendship and sacrifice.


EXHIBITA
This is the second anime adaptation that sticks much more closely to the manga than the first one.

exhibitb
The live-action movie adaptation of the movie now available on Netflix.

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24 comments

  • I watched the first anime before anything, so that was my introduction. When the released Brotherhood right on its heels, I didn’t even bother. I might try the manga sometime but I liked the anime so much that I wonder if the differences in the storyline would bug me.

    Liked by 3 people

    • All I can say following what my girlfriend confirms is that Brotherhood is much more loyal to the manga than the original anime was. I heard about the ending of the original anime, which probably came before the ending of the manga itself, and I’m quite surprised it even went where it did hahah Glad to hear your interest in the manga though. I’ll be curious to read about your thoughts on it as you work through the volumes whenever you decide to add it to your rotation! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    • The live-action is actually already out since 2017, Icky! You can find it on Netflix whenever you feel like you want to give it a shot. 😉 Really happy to hear you’re a fan of this franchise though. Shouldn’t have surprised me since (I think…) you’re a huge steampunk fan??? 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  • I thoroughly enjoyed the first anime series, though I’m not sure I caught it all. It was on broadcast TV and I’m sure I might have missed an episode here or there, or even entire stretches. I’d love to revisit it one day. And the movie was pretty good, too, though of course being as short as it was could only focus on a much smaller part of the world. I’d certainly be up for trying the manga, or even rewatching the anime, and maybe trying the later Brotherhood reboot. Glad to see you enjoyed this one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I sort of missed the hype train around this one when it was originally released and got lost in my own sea of shonens that were even bigger and more popular back in those days (high school). I did always look forward to trying it out someday and can now firmly confirm how wonderful it is! And you’re right. The movie could only do so much, which is usually the downfall of most manga adaptations. I’m glad that this gave you a bit of a desire to try the franchise again, Todd! Thanks for reading. 😀

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  • Amazing review Lashaan! I’m sure you already know the story about how me and my sister watched Fullmetal Alchemist the first time so I won’t repeat it ahah but to this day I can still sing the whole opening by heart 😂 I am actually reading the manags from the beginning since my boyfriend has all of them, and I can’t wait to go to some parts that I have completely forgotten!

    Liked by 2 people

  • Great review, Lashaan!
    I’m still halfway through (lockdown!) but I agree with your assessment here: it’s a manga with a lot of heart and while it has its slower moments it’s very consistent and while the worldbuilding is impressively complex, the story at heart is simple and sweet, even if quite dark.

    Liked by 2 people

  • LOVE this series! And I’m glad you enjoyed it too. Love that it’s light and funny while touching on some emotional moments too. I thought both animes were entertaining, and I attempted the live action one but couldn’t get with it.

    Liked by 2 people

  • I liked Brotherhood a lot, live action – not at all, that seems to be the rule with live action adaptations of anime, hope Cowboy Bebop will be an exception. I wonder, if I should also read the manga now… after your review, I think that perhaps I should 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hahah I’m glad to put this manga on your radar, Piotrek! I do hope the live-action Cowboy Bebop will turn out as good as fans hope it will be. I’ll definitely keep a close eye out on what critics and fans have to say about it. 😀

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  • Back when it first came out, I didn’t so much as glance at it. It got lost in the sea of other shounen anime at that time. Though, when the book club I’m in selected it as one of their manga of the month last year, I gave it a go and ended up loving the entire series. Brilliant review btw! Glad you enjoyed FMA as well 😊

    Liked by 2 people

    • Just like you, back in high school, it got lost among all the popular shonens that I was already invested in and I never took the time to look into it to really know what it was about but I knew it was among the top tier manga/anime at the time! I’m glad we both got around to checking it out though. Now we know why it’s so good and why everyone should give it a try if they’re even remotely curious about the premise! 😀 Thanks for reading, Aria!

      Liked by 1 person

  • What an amazing review. Fullmetal Alchemist has been on my read/watchlist for years now and while it sounds like they’re packing so many different elements into the story, it doesn’t sound like it overwhelms the core human elements. I’ve been told Brotherhood is the more faithful anime adaptation, so I’ll be sure to keep my eye out for that one. I don’t know how well the live-action movie will translate on-screen, but I hope it does justice to the material.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for your kind words, Lois! It is indeed so brilliantly balanced and delivered, I can only whole-heartedly recommend checking out Brotherhood when you get the chance! As for live-action movies, I haven’t yet seen this one but I doubt it could cover the whole story in around 2 hours too hahah

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