Rachel's Reviews > Fullmetal Alchemist, Vol. 6

Fullmetal Alchemist, Vol. 6 by Hiromu Arakawa
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Sep 07, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: bildungsroman, comic, fantasy, graphic, schizotech

Volume six character love: Izumi Curtis.

When Edward and Alphonse were looking into how to revive their mother, they concluded that they needed a teacher. Circumstances delivered a traveling alchemist who, unlike any other alchemist, didn't need to draw an array to perform alchemy. Instead, she merely clapped her hands and shored up the dyke about to break and flood the boys' hometown. She collapsed shortly thereafter, vomiting blood all over the place.

The boys cornered her in the hospital and demanded that she teach them. Then begged and pleaded and generally made a nuisance of themselves until she caved in and offered them a trial month.

Kind-hearted soul that she is, Izumi left them on a deserted island for that month with the instruction that they must survive, and answer the riddle that she posed before leaving. (As her own training regimen involved being dropped, alone and with only a knife, into a frigid wilderness populated with vicious animals, she was going easy on them.)

Challenge passed, she then shaped the brothers into what they become. She trained them, body and mind, taught them to fight, to think, to steer away from the military, and to stay away from forbidden transmutations. Needless to say, when they show up years later having corrupted her training, performed human transmutation, and joined the military, she was less than pleased. Murderously so. She knew right away, because she knew how array-free transmutations were acquired: when she had tried to revive her stillborn child she lost a number of internal organs, getting off rather lighter than Ed and Al managed, but still rendered incapable of having another child.

All of this are things she did. What she is is even more interesting. She and her husband (a massive man of Major Armstrong proportions) run a butcher shop, and are sickeningly sweet in their affections to each other. Izumi invariably claims to be "just a housewife," usually when terrified people cowering in corners ask what she is after she kicks down walls, strolls in, removes obstacles between herself and her goal by blowing them up (inanimate objects) or throwing them aside (living ones). Amazingly strong—physically and otherwise—fiercely protective of her loved ones (even when she wants to kill them, herself), and unflappably stolid, Izumi makes me squeal with glee every time I catch a glimpse of her dreadlocks, because I know that awesome will encompass the next scene.
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