Manga Review: Fullmetal Alchemist Volume 19

Fullmetal Alchemist Volume 19 is a manga by Hiromu Arakawa, and it was published in North America by Viz Media in 2009. 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 19
Written by: Hiromu Arakawa
Publisher: Square Enix
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: July 21, 2009

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 19 sees Olivier Mira Armstrong arriving at Central City and being questioned by King Bradley about the disappearance of Lieutenant General Raven. She reveals what Raven told her about an immortal army, and then she asks for Raven’s position. Bradley agrees, with the condition that one of Bradley’s men is put in charge of Ft. Briggs; Armstrong agrees to the condition.

Mustang runs into Hawkeye at the mess hall, and through their conversation, she relays a coded message that reveals the identity of the Homunculus Pride.

Volume 19 also provides backstory for Van Hohenheim, the First Homunculus and the ruins of Xerxes through a dream Hohenheim has. Hohenheim also meets Izumi Curtis and her huband, and he reveals something rather shocking to them. Later, we see Hohenheim visiting Liore and making an important discovery in the church that was used as the headquarters for the Leto cult. It really was nice to get to see Rose again and to see how far she’s come since Ed and Al left Liore earlier in the series.

The majority of the rest of Volume 19 takes place in the north and follows two groups of characters. We see what happens with Miles, Ed, and their group as they try to take on Kimblee. We also see what happens to Scar, May, Winry, Yoki, and the rest of their group as they head back to Briggs.

I really enjoyed getting the backstory that appeared in Volume 19, because it really provides some information to help the reader understand Hohenheim as a character. I also liked getting to learn about the city that existed at Xerxes before it became ruins by something that happens in the flashback. This is all important information that starts tying individual elements together more.

The two storylines taking place in the north are also rather important. Scar’s group is finally able to read Scar’s brother’s research notes and figure out the hidden message in the notes. The group now has to figure out how to apply what they’ve learned to their situation.

Ed’s storyline, meanwhile, leads to a life and death situation for Ed. The end result is that two chimera who were serving Kimblee decide to defect. Volume 19 ends with Drachma forces, being directed by Kimblee, poised to attack Briggs. This serves as the cliffhanger to set the stage for the beginning of Volume 20.

Even though I already know what’s going to happen in the manga from watching the Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, I still enjoy reading the depiction of these events in the manga. I really enjoy Arakawa’s sense of storytelling in Fullmetal Alchemist, and I find I can still be just as interested in the story no matter how many times I may see the same events in different mediums.

If you’ve read and enjoyed the previous 18 volumes of Fullmetal Alchemist, then I believe you’ll also enjoy reading Volume 19 of the series.

I wrote this review after reading a copy of Fullmetal Alchemist Volume 19 that I checked out through the King County Library System.

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