Manga Review: Fullmetal Alchemist Volume 26

Fullmetal Alchemist Volume 26 is a manga by Hiromu Arakawa, and it was published in North America by VIZ Media in 2011. 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 26
Written by: Hiromu Arakawa
Publisher: Square Enix
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: September 20, 2011

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 26 is the penultimate volume for the series, and a lot takes place over the course of it. The fight between Scar and King Bradley is decided, the five human sacrifices along with May and Greed/Lin take on both “Father” (or if you prefer, “Dwarf in the Flask”) and Pride, and the eclipse and its aftermath take place.

The action in this volume is constantly moving, and there’s really not a lot of downtime for the reader to catch their breath before the next event, revelation or plot twist happens. This pacing makes Volume 26 and intense and compelling read, and I found myself not wanting to put it down. Admittedly, I already know what’s going to happen since I’ve already seen the Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood anime, but I’m able to place myself in the shoes of a first-time reader by remembering my reactions when I saw this section of the story in the anime the first time I watched it. From that first viewing of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, I was completely blown away by the events and some of the plot twists threw me for a loop. Volume 26 also ends on a major cliffhanger, and readers who haven’t previously seen Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood may find themselves on the edge of their seat and wondering what happened to the characters that appear in that final scene.

I also have to mention that Arakawa included some great lines through the course of this volume, especially when it comes to some of the taunts and reaction dialogue. These lines included a little bit of some much needed humor during this very intense storyline.

Volume 26 also includes more action scenes than a typical volume of Fullmetal Alchemist does, so there were a lot more speed lines and sound effects included the panels, which helped to emphasize the intensity of the plot. It also emphasizes to the reader just how high the stakes are in this point in the story.

Even though I already know what’s going to be happening before I read each volume, I enjoy being able to see how these events were first depicted in the manga. I find myself just as riveted by the story, characters, events and plot twists now as I did when I first saw them when I watched the Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood anime. To me, it goes to show that Arakawa had a gift for crafting a story and characters that people want to come back to again and again even though they already know what’s already going to happen in the story.

If you’ve read and enjoyed the previous 25 volumes of Fullmetal Alchemist, then I believe you’ll really enjoy reading Volume 26.

I wrote this review after reading a copy of Fullmetal Alchemist Volume 26 that I checked out through the King County Library System.

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