Manga Review: Fullmetal Alchemist Volume Nine

Fullmetal Alchemist Volume Nine is a manga by Hiromu Arakawa, and it was published in North America by Viz Media in 2006. Fullmetal Alchemist is rated “T” for teens; from what I’ve read of the manga and from seeing both of the anime series, I would agree with this rating.

Fullmetal Alchemist Volume 9
Written by: Hiromu Arakawa
Publisher: Square Enix
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: September 19, 2006

Brothers Edward and Alphonse Elric know how to perform alchemy, and tried performing a forbidden alchemy technique to bring their mother back to life. In the process, Alphonse lost his body and Ed lost one of his legs. In order to attach Al’s soul to a suit of armor, Ed ends up losing one of his arms. Ed now has “auto-mail” prosthetics, which are designed by his childhood friend, Winry Rockbell.

Ed has become the youngest State Alchemist in history, and has been given the name “Fullmetal Alchemist.” The series follows Ed and Al as they search for the Philosopher’s Stone, a legendary artifact that they believe will help them to recover their bodies.

At the beginning of this volume sees Ed, Al, Winry and Lin Yao leaving Rush Valley and heading on their way to Central. Meanwhile, in Central, Colonel Mustang is doing some research to see if he can find any clues toward who murdered Maes Hughes. A major plot point takes place in Central: 2nd Lieutenant Maria Ross is named a prime suspect in Hughes’ death. The plot involving Ross takes place as Ed and the others arrive; unfortunately, Hughes’ murder took place after they left Central previously, so they have no idea that Hughes has died. Unfortunately, they find out about the murder and arrest later in the volume, and they find out in one of the worst possible ways. Lin also ends up getting separated from the others, and by the end of the volume he is in the same group as Falman and Barry the Chopper.

Mustang has a couple of major plot points in this volume as well. The first involves him getting involved after Ross escapes from prison with the help of Barry the Chopper. The second plot point sees Mustang commanding his men as they find themselves fighting against Barry the Chopper’s real body which has had the soul of a lab animal put into it. The volume ends in the middle of the battle with Barry’s real body.

For me, the best and most memorable portion of Volume Nine is when Winry, Ed and Al visit with Gracia Hughes, Maes’ widow, after learning of his death. One of the poignant moments in this section is when Winrey first arrives and knocks on the door; Elicia answers the door and exclaims, “Daddy!” When she sees Winry, her happy expression crumbles over the course of three panels. It was a rather heartbreaking page for me to read.

Another compelling section takes place after Ed and Al arrive at the Hughes’ home, and Ed tells Gracia about Maes was helping them learn more about the Philosopher’s Stone, and that he was probably killed for learning too much. There is such a mix of emotions that appears in this scene that this becomes a powerful scene.

Overall, I thought this was a rather powerful volume of Fullmetal Alchemist. While there was the expected action sequences, there was also quite a focus on drama and emotions throughout this volume. Even though I already knew what was coming from seeing the Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood television anime series, it didn’t really soften the blow of the emotional scenes very much. I thought I was affected by these scenes in the manga as I was when I first saw them in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. I had a hard time putting Volume Nine down as I read it.

If you’ve read and enjoyed the previous eight volumes of Fullmetal Alchemist, then honestly I believe you’ll really enjoy reading Volume Nine of the series.

I wrote this review after reading a copy of Fullmetal Alchemist Volume Nine that I checked out through the King County Library System.

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