Manga Review: Fullmetal Alchemist Volume 17

Fullmetal Alchemist Volume 17 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 17
Written by: Hiromu Arakawa
Publisher: Square Enix
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: October 21, 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.

Quite a bit of Volume 17 takes place at Briggs. At the beginning of the volume, we are introduced to a Homunculus named Sloth. True to his name, he’s talks slowly and really doesn’t want to do much. However, he was given a job to dig holes, and that’s what he’s doing when he stumbles into Briggs. Most of the first chapter of Volume 17 focuses on the attempts to destroy Sloth; when they discover they can’t kill him, the objective changes to getting him out of the base.

After refusing to tell Major General Armstrong anything about Sloth, Ed and Al are taken into custody. After spending some time in the brig, Armstrong takes the brothers down the hole that Sloth had made and makes the brothers tell her everything. After putting various pieces together, they make some startling realizations.

Solf J. Kimblee is in the hospital after a fight with Scar in Volume 16. Word is sent to Briggs that Kimblee is in the hospital nearby, and they have been asked to assist him in any way possible. After Lieutenant General Raven arrives with a doctor who can use alchemy, Kimblee is discharged and goes to Briggs; he is accompanied by Raven. Raven meets with Armstrong, and he approaches her with a surprising offer.

There’s also a section that focuses on Hohenheim, and we’re able to see a little bit of the time that he lived with Trisha, Ed, and Al. It also includes the time when the infamous family photo was taken. There are also a couple of scenes of Dr. Marcoh and May trying to decipher Scar’s brother’s research notes.

Volume 17 really progresses the storyline that takes place at Briggs, and we get to see that Major General Armstrong isn’t quite the ice queen that was portrayed as being back in Volume 16. Also, the revelation that Ed, Al, Armstrong, and the others make will have some major repercussions as the series continues.

Even though I already knew all of what was going to happen 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 16 volumes of Fullmetal Alchemist, then I believe you’ll also enjoy reading Volume 17 of the series.

I wrote this review after reading a copy of Fullmetal Alchemist Volume 17 that I checked out through the King County Library System.

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