Manga Review: Fullmetal Alchemist Volume 22

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.

Fullmetal Alchemist Volume 22
Written by: Hiromu Arakawa
Publisher: Square Enix
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: January 19, 2010

Volume 22 continues with the chaos that started unfolding in Volume 21, with battles being waged on several fronts. First, there’s the fight with Pride on the outskirts of a village. Al comes up with a plan to trap Pride with Hohenheim’s help in order to prevent Pride from being able to use his shadows. This was an incredibly brilliant plan, but unfortunately, something happens that causes the plan to go awry. Even though I already knew what was going to happen from watching Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, I still felt disappointed when I saw that Al’s plan had failed.

Meanwhile, in Central, Roy Mustang’s plan causes chaos and injuries, but no deaths. I really enjoyed seeing Mustang baffling the higher-ups at Central headquarters when they constantly receive reports that there are no fatalities. The higher-ups are so egotistical that they think he’s doing that simply to mock them. With the way the higher-ups have been acting over the past couple of volumes, I thought they really deserved what they were getting.

While there’s fighting and important things going, Arakawa is still able to infuse some humor that doesn’t come across as inappropriate. In fact, it helps to lighten the tone of the manga just enough that the reader doesn’t feel bogged down by all the action and drama that’s taking place. Volume 22 sees the surprising return of a character who had disappeared earlier in the series, as well as unexpected help from another character who hadn’t been seen for a little while.

In Central’s military headquarters, Major General Armstrong gets in on the action, and it’s revealed that her men from Briggs have been smuggled in to help Mustang and his group. In a panic, the military decides to launch its new weapons, which are dolls with Philosopher’s Stones put into them to create souls. Unfortunately, the military can’t control the dolls, so they begin wreaking havoc. Near the end of the volume, Ed, Scar, and the chimera traveling with them are forced to fight the dolls. But this is going to be continuing into the next volume.

May also learns that Envy had tricked her, and Envy takes advantage of the dolls that are running amok in order to return to his monstrous form.

This volume does a great job of covering the various battlegrounds that are taking place in and around Central. The series had been building up to this point, and now that the series has gotten here, Arakawa isn’t holding back. Even if you don’t watch Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood before reading this manga, you can still tell just how high the stakes are at this point and that the story has to be getting closer to its breaking point. From seeing the second anime series, I know exactly where this story is headed. Without providing any “spoilers,” I will say that there are some more surprises and twists still to come before this series reaches its conclusion. There shouldn’t be any boring volumes in the remainder of the series.

Even though I already know what’s going to be happening before I read each volume, I still enjoy reading these events in the manga. To me, being able to still enjoy the story even though I already know it from an anime adaptation helps to prove just how strong Arakawa’s storytelling and character development is in the Fullmetal Alchemist series.

If you’ve read and enjoyed the previous 21 volumes of Fullmetal Alchemist, then I believe you’ll also enjoy reading Volume 22 of the series.

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