Colin's Reviews > Fullmetal Alchemist, Vol. 1

Fullmetal Alchemist, Vol. 1 by Hiromu Arakawa
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Feb 21, 12

Read from February 19 to 21, 2012

I bought this first volume as a gift for my brother when I visited New York last year, as we'd both recently watched the Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood anime series in its entirety, and we're now big fans. I've never read a manga before, and despite at first finding the reversed pages kind of jarring, I'm enjoying it almost as much as the TV show.

Fullmetal Alchemist is about two brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric; long-time students of alchemy, which is an ability somewhere between magic and science, that allows the deconstruction and reconstruction of physical matter. Ed and Al are punished severely when they break alchemy's ultimate taboo; Ed loses his right arm and his left leg, and Al has lost his entire body, his soul now bonded to a gigantic suit of armour.

Ed (now fitted with automail, a kind of metal prosthetic (hence the name 'Fullmetal')), is currently a certified state alchemist working for the military. He and Al look to use this new position to track down the legendary Philosopher's Stone, which they hope will allow them to regain their bodies in full.

Having watched the anime, I think I'm already aware of how this series ends, as so far, the two are very alike. I've read that the anime follows the manga quite closely, so I'm expecting a similar outcome. I'd like to be wrong, as it would make future volumes a happily new experience. That being said, the familiarity doesn't make the read any less enjoyable.

One of the most appealing aspects of this series is its perfect balance between light and dark. The subject matter is serious; often intertwining science and religion, and the result of Ed and Al's rule-breaking is legitimately haunting. At the same time, it's constantly funny. Certain illustrations are downright hilarious (Ed's fury at being constantly belittled for his height will never not amuse me), and every character has a unique and often contagiously intriguing personality.

If you've never read a manga before, I highly recommend Fullmetal Alchemist. It's a thought-provoking read, but highly accessible and just plain fun.

Can't wait to get a hold of volume two!
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02/19/2012 page 58
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