Manga Review: Fullmetal Alchemist Volume 15

Fullmetal Alchemist Volume 15 is a manga by Hiromu Arakawa, and it was published in North America by Viz Media in 2007. 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 15
Written by: Hiromu Arakawa
Publisher: Square Enix
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: December 18, 2007

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.

Volume 15 opens with a flashback for Riza Hawkeye, when Mustang was with her father; Hawkeye’s father had been Mustang’s teacher for alchemy. Riza walks in as her father’s dying, and then the scene changes to Riza in the present, and she sees Ed at her door.

Ed has come to return a gun that she had loaned him earlier in the series, and the discussion leads into a flashback, which runs for the remainder of the volume.

Volume 15 focuses on what happened during the Ishbalan War. During this volume, we see what happens to Scar and his brother, Winry’s parents, Dr. Marcoh, Armstrong, Kimblee, Mustang, Hughes, Hawkeye, Dr. Knox, Basque Gran, and King Bradley.

As I read through the events from the Ishbalan War, I really couldn’t help but draw parallels between World War II and Nazi Germany. According to Arakawa’s author’s note at the beginning of the volume, she had interviewed veterans who had been at the front during World War II, read books, and examined film footage. After reading this volume, I believe that Arakawa’s research paid off, and that she convincingly captured the emotions of soliders serving on the front lines in a war situation.

This flashback in this volume also redeems Mustang as a character quite a bit. While he was an interesting character, you weren’t entirely sure what kind of place his motivations were coming from. After seeing Mustang in these flashbacks, it makes the reader realize that Mustang really is a good guy and has good intentions for what he’s doing. And these flashbacks also make clear why Mustang and Hawkeye have the kind of character interactions that they do. Mustang becomes a much more likable character by the end of Volume 15.

Even though I already knew all of this from watching Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, I was still riveted and interested in what was going on as I read this volume of the manga. Arakawa tells such a compelling story that it isn’t boring if you see what’s going on multiple times in multiple mediums.

If you’ve read and enjoyed the previous 14 volumes of Fullmetal Alchemist, then I believe you’ll also enjoy reading Volume 15 of the series.

I wrote this review after reading a copy of Fullmetal Alchemist Volume 15 that I checked out through the King County Library System.

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