Fullmetal Alchemist #1 ★★★✬☆

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Title: Fullmetal Alchemist #1
Series: Fullmetal Alchemist
Author: Hiromu Arakawa
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 184
Words: 9K

I read the first volume of this back in 2007 but had just watched the original anime and it was so similar that I didn’t want to go over the same territory again. Of course, 15 years later the anime is a vague memory and I’d rather read the manga now than watch either the original or Brotherhood.

Ok, basic premise is a world with Alchemists who have “powers” and it’s all based on the laws of alchemy and equivalent exchange. We follow the adventures of the Elric brothers. Edward, who is the elder and the State Certified alchemist is known as the fullmetal alchemist because one of his legs and one of his arms is made up entirely of metal. His younger brother is Alphonse and he is nothing but a big empty suit of animated armor. Their condition came about when they tried to resurrect their dead mother and in the process almost died. They brought something back, but it wasn’t their mother and it doesn’t seem like it came back alive. So their goal now is to restore their bodies back to the way they were.

Within this world, some unnamed country has a very strong army and most of that strength is based on it’s cadre of Alchemists and their varying abilities. They seem to be in the middle of either building an Empire or consolidating one. But either way, nobody likes the Alchemists and the slang nickname for them is Dogs of the Army.

This volume had several standalone adventures about Ed & Al and introduces us to the idea of the Philosopher’s Stone. Said stone is able to bypass the natural laws and the Elrics hope to find it to restore their bodies. They find one, only it turns out to be fake and the guy who used it is being used by some inhuman appearing alchemists who go by the name Lust and Gluttony.

This was a very mixed volume of humor and super serious. It was odd but at the same time it worked for me. I think the following pix showcases that dichotomy rather well.

Ed has just knocked out a terrorist on a train and the two train drivers use the distraction to beat the everliving daylights out of the other terrorist with shovels. They they all give each other the thumbs up and the air is filled with “we are so awesome” symbols (the little stars). It’s ridiculous. But it is funny too.

I know some of my familiarity and non-confusion is because I watched the anime. I don’t know how the world building and character development would appear to someone reading this with no knowledge. I tried to view things through a lens of ignorance, and while I felt I did a pretty good job of that, some things were just impossible to not remember.

Overall, I had a much better impression this time around than I did in ‘07 and that gives me hope the rest of the series will turn out well too. I’m looking forward to diving into more of this as the months roll on.


28 thoughts on “Fullmetal Alchemist #1 ★★★✬☆

    1. Alchemists wear white gloves. I don’t remember why though. Also, I might be getting things mixed up in my head with a fantasy series by Brian McClellan where sorcerers have to wear white gloves.
      I’ll let you know if any prostate exams happen though. Good to see young people taking an interest in medicine….


        1. Hang on….
          * elevator music *

          Shaman King
          Neon Genesys Evangelion
          Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicles
          One Piece
          Death Note (another highly recommended one)
          Hunter X Hunter
          Fruits Basket

          And a bunch of others. Looking at my calibre library, I’ve read a bit over 800 volumes of manga since 2000.

          Liked by 1 person

  1. I know that the Fullmetal Alchemist anime gets a huge amount of praise. I watched a few episodes a while back but it didn’t really pull me in. What do you think of the art style in the manga? It looks a bit *kawaii* to me. I thought it would be more of a serious style.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Did you watch the original or Brotherhood? Not that it matters for the first couple of episodes, as they’re carbon copies at that point. They diverge later I hear. From what I remember, if you didn’t like the first couple of episodes, the rest of the show probably won’t do any better at drawing you in.

      Yeah, the picture I show is definitely kawaii, but it’s done for that specific panel, and throughout the volume, for specific purposes. It is not like that all the time. Ed is a very serious looking guy usually. It’s a weird mix of humor and the serious and the almost gory.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, it was the original one that I started. I’m starting to think I’m the wrong age for getting into anime series. Or it’s just too much of a time investment? Maybe a mixture of both. I do enjoy anime movies though.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m super happy you’re giving FMA a second chance! 😀 It gets better with time, less choppy and more cohesive, emotionally and story-wise.
    I haven’t watched the anime and was pretty comfortable with how the manga story was unfolding – but then, I don’t like when authors explain things in minute detail 😉 One thing that was throwing me off at the beginning was the stylistic dissonance between panels that you mention. I didn’t really like the kawaii style initially but grew to appreciate it more with time as a way to lighten up the generally serious mood.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not usually a fan of reading the manga AND watching the anime. I read Death Note several times but never made it past the first couple of episodes for the anime.

      Does the kawaii stay for the whole series then?

      Liked by 1 person

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