Manga Review: Fullmetal Alchemist Omnibus Volume One

The first volume of the Fullmetal Alchemist 3-in-1 releases combines the first three volumes of Fullmetal Alchemist manga into one edition. Like the Bleach omnibus edition, the physical height of the volume is not drastically different from the regular manga editions, and a lower quality paper stock is also used. The Fullmetal Alchemist manga series is written and illustrated by Hiromu Arakawa. The English adaptation was done by Jake Forbes and Egan Loo, and the translation was done by Akira Watanabe. Viz Media holds the North American rights to distribute this title in North America, and this omnibus edition was published in 2011. Fullmetal Alchemist is rated “T,” which means the series is being aimed at teenagers.

Fullmetal Alchemist Omnibus Volume 1
Written by: Hiromu Arakawa
Publisher: Square Enix
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: June 7, 2011

Edward and Alphonse Elric are the main characters of the series, and they are brothers who practice alchemy. After the death of their mother, they tried to bring her back to life by using alchemy. 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.

Over the course of the three volumes included in this omnibus, Ed and Al find themselves in several adventures. By the end of the omnibus, there are even times when Ed finds himself doing some serious soul searching; this is especially true in the story about Shou Tucker, the “Sewing-Life Alchemist,” and his daughter, Nina. In this volume, we also meet Scar, a man using alchemy to kill State Alchemists. The brothers also learn a very important secret concerning the Philosopher’s Stone. We also meet Winry Rockbell and Sheska, a bookworm with a photographic memory.

In Fullmetal Alchemist, Arakawa is able to find a good mixture of action and character development to tell a compelling story. One of my favorite sections in this omnibus is the Shou Tucker story; not only was I moved by the actual story, but I also appreciated how Arakawa handled the aftermath of the story with Ed. I also appreciate how Arakawa is able to incorporate comic relief in the series, and is able to make it feel natural in the story.

Arakawa uses the “busy” panel effects for the battle sequences, but the effects really don’t come across as being “over the top.” She also utilizes “sound effects” in a very effective manner. Even in regular scenes, Arakawa’s art style is visually stunning. Her characters all have very expressive, even Al as a suit of armor. The combination of the art and the storytelling makes Fullmetal Alchemist a compelling read, and I can’t wait until I can read more to find out what happens next.

I wrote this review after reading a copy of this manga volume that my husband and I purchased.

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