Manga Review: Fullmetal Alchemist Volume 16

Fullmetal Alchemist Volume 16 is a manga by Hiromu Arakawa, and it was published in North America by Viz Media in 2008. 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 16
Written by: Hiromu Arakawa
Publisher: Square Enix
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: March 18, 2008

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 16 sees Scar help Marcoh to escape from the Homunculi after deciding that Marcoh could potentially be of use to him to help decipher his brother’s notes concerning alchemy. They join up with Yoki and May, and together the four of them head north to where Scar has hidden his brother’s notes.

Meanwhile, after Mustang’s subordinates have been separated, Roy seeks out the help of Lieutenant General Graman to try to figure out why the eastern troops that were sent to Liore to stop the rioting were replaced by the central troops. By the end of their conversation, it’s obvious that Graman will become an important ally for Mustang.

Ed and Al are now trying to find May in order to get information from her regarding the alchemy from the country of Xing. After some asking around, they learn through Mustang that she has gone north. Armstrong learns from Mustang about the brothers planning to go after her, and Armstrong gives them a letter of introduction for someone he believes can help them in their search. When they reach Briggs, they find that it is commanded by Armstrong’s older sister, Major General Olivier Mira Armstrong.

Solf Kimblee, an alchemist who had been arrested after the Ishbalan War, is unexpectedly released. The reader quickly learns his release was coordinated by the Homunculi, so he can track down and deal with Scar and Dr. Marcoh.

Volume 16 sees the main action of the story shifting to taking place in the north; in fact, all of the major storylines converge in that region by the end of the volume.

Olivier Armstrong is a really interesting character, and from what we see of her in Volume 16, she’s already adding an interesting element to the series. And it’s not only her; it’s also some of the soldiers that we meet at Briggs that add something as well. There’s a definite “no nonsense” atmosphere at Briggs, and it’s something that Ed and Al are going to have to adapt to. Fortunately for them, it turns out that they know someone who is there, because Warrant Officer Falman was transferred from northern headquarters to Briggs; at least they have an ally already there with them.

After Ed and Al get to Briggs, there’s a conversation that really stands out to me. It takes place when Ed and Al are talking with Miles, Olivier Armstrong’s assistant. They learn that while he may have Ishbalan features due to his grandfather being Ishbalan, he isn’t actually from Ishbal. At one point in their conversation, Ed says, “When ethnicity is all you think about, there’s bound to be confrontation. But, if we deal with one another as individuals, then it’s possible to treat others as equals.” It’s a sentiment that is true not only in the story of Fullmetal Alchemist, it’s also true for the real world as well. I like it when I can find poignant dialogue such as this in a manga that I’m reading.

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’s storytelling is compelling, and the story is just as interesting if you see or read it multiple times through different mediums.

If you’ve read and enjoyed the previous 15 volumes of Fullmetal Alchemist, then I believe you’ll also enjoy reading Volume 16 of the series.

I wrote this review after reading a copy of Fullmetal Alchemist Volume 16 that I checked out through the King County Library System.

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