Manga Review: Fullmetal Alchemist Volume One

Fullmetal Alchemist Volume 1 is a manga with the story and art done by Hiromu Arakawa. Viz Media holds the North American rights to distribute the manga in the United States, and this manga volume was published in 2005. This English adaptation, which is presented as an “unflipped” release, was adapted by Egan Loo; the translation was done by Akira Watanabe. Fullmetal Alchemist is rated “T” for Teen.

Fullmetal Alchemist Volume 1
Written by: Hiromu Arakawa
Publisher: Square Enix
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: May 3, 2005

Fullmetal Alchemist tells the story about a set of brothers who practice alchemy. After their mother died, the boys tried to use alchemy to bring her back to life. In alchemy, there is a law of equal exchange; in the process of trying to bring their mother back, Alphonse Elric lost his body. His brother, Edward, attached Alphonse’s soul to a suit of armor; but to do this, Edward had to sacrifice one his arms and one of his legs. Their friend, Winry Rockbell, and her grandmother create prosthetics for Edward that are known as “auto-mail.” Edward is now known as the “Fullmetal Alchemist,” and he has become the youngest State Alchemist in history. The series follows Edward and Alphonse as they search for the Philosopher’s Stone, a legendary artifact that the brothers believe will allow them to recover their bodies. During this volume, the brothers help a town with a man who claims to be a priest of the Sun God Leto, they help out a small mining town that is being extorted by a lieutenant from the state military, and they also help out with a hostage situation on a train.

Fullmetal Alchemist has a good mixture of character development and action. When it comes to the action in the manga, there are some fights that take place, but Arakawa does not overuse the “busy” panel effects to illustrate the fights. She also knows how to use the “sound effects” in her panels very effectively, whether it’s in a fight sequence or when the characters are doing something ordinary (such as when Edward is asleep on a train).

Fullmetal Alchemist also has a very interesting story to tell, and the manga grabs you right from the first volume. Arakawa’s art style is visually stunning, and it really enhances the story that she’s telling with these characters. The character of Edward Elric is especially expressive, and this expressiveness helps the reader to feel genuine empathy for him. And even though Alphonse may be a suit of armor, Arakawa still manages to find a way to draw the head of the armor in a way that it almost looks like it’s trying to show emotion. She especially uses the positioning of the suit of armor’s head to express what Alphonse is feeling. Fullmetal Alchemist is a manga series that I would strongly recommend this manga series to older teens and adults.

I wrote this review after reading a copy of this manga volume that I checked out through the King County Library System.

Additional post about Fullmetal Alchemist:

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