Welcome to yet another episode of Lyfeblerd, where we talk about manga, manhwa, light novels and other types of comic books. I’m your host, Cryptte, and today we’re checking out one of my all-time favourites. I’m talking about Hiromu Arakawa’s steampunk, dark fantasy, adventure manga, Fullmetal Alchemist. So, grab a beverage, settle in, and let’s get the show rolling!
We join the Elric brothers, Edward and Alphonse in a world in which alchemy is a practised science, influencing even their technology and governed by one rule — equivalent exchange.
The tale begins with the siblings trying to bring their mother back to life using alchemy, but it goes horribly wrong, leaving their bodies ravaged. The practice was forbidden for a reason, and the boys are considered lucky with Edward losing a few limbs while Alphonse’s body disappears. It sounds like a lot but this is literally just the beginning.
The duo then go off on an epic quest to become State Alchemists and restore their bodies. The manga covers so many themes, like brotherhood and family, redemption, war, morality and more. Along their journey, they meet many fun characters and interesting villains across a backdrop of sinister plots and political intrigue that will have you binge-reading in no time.
The art of Hiromu Arakawa gives FMA a unique look, lending the manga an aesthetic, environment and character design that makes it hard not to spot it immediately in any promotional materials that cross your path. It portrays beauty and darkness simultaneously, and a lot of scenes will catch you off guard with how deep and complex the character’s situations are.
With a ton of well-defined characters, you might think it would be difficult to tell them all apart, but they’re so distinct with fleshed-out personalities that even if you can’t remember names, you will remember faces. You find yourself developing relationships with them and many aspects of the story are relatable.
Many great comic books have suffered from poor pacing but not FMA. The plot is masterfully set up, with a generous amount of action scenes, heartfelt moments, and thought-provoking themes that don’t feel rushed or out of place. There’s also no filler content either. At least, not in the original manga. Every scene shows growth, provides insight or moves the story along, and that’s all we ask for in a series as long as this one.
I love FMA to bits but certain plot elements are a tad predictable. Especially if you’ve read a lot of manga and watched loads of anime. It might or might not be a problem for you, but it’s best you know.
The next one isn’t necessarily a con in my book, but I know a lot of people that are wary of this and tend to ask when I recommend things to them. Be prepared for a lot of tragedy, because it’s coming. FMA can be emotionally heavy, but it’s this depth that gives a unique touch to the narrative.
The equivalent exchange you get from reading FMA is hardcore entertainment, and you don’t even need a transmutation circle for it. Watching the anime and playing the games are just extra icing on an already magnificent cake. Nothing is ever perfect, but I can say FMA comes really close.
If 27 volumes is too much for you to read, then you can’t go wrong with Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (2009 – 2010). It’s the better of the two manga adaptations as it closely follows the source material. There’s also a light novel written by Makoto Inoue (2003 – 2010) you could read instead — it’s only 10 volumes.
Speaking of which, follow this link to get a free trial of Amazon Prime Video to watch FMA: Brotherhood now – https://amzn.to/45d3zbu
In conclusion, Fullmetal Alchemist is brilliant on whatever platform or medium you find it on. Hiromu Arakawa created a series filled with great characters in an interesting world that continues to touch the lives of many. It will remain in this fan’s heart and mind, reminding me of the human condition and the price of ambition.
If you like what you heard and want to get your own copies of FMA, here’s where you can find them;
- Fullmetal Alchemist Complete Box Set (manga), written and illustrated by Hiromu Arakawa – https://amzn.to/3YJ5fqH
- Fullmetal Alchemist: The Land of Sand (novel, Volume 1), written by Makoto Inoue and illustrated by Hiromu Arakawa – https://amzn.to/3QO5HlS
For fans of Hiromu Arakawa looking for more manga, pick up her coming-of-age, slice-of-life manga titled “Silver Spoon” (Gin no Saji). Arakawa-san shifts gears by introducing us to Yuugo Hachiken, a young teenager that enrols at Ooezo Agricultural High School in Hokkaido. It’s a look at his daily life and the rigours of agriculture.
- Silver Spoon, Volume 1 (manga), written and illustrated by Hiromu Arakawa – https://amzn.to/45Btj1e
If FMA was a bit too dark and you prefer your shonen with no seinen in it at all, try Eiichiro Oda’s global hit, “One Piece.” It’s the tale of a young boy called Luffy who dreams of becoming a pirate and goes off in search of infamy and adventure.
- One Piece, Volume 1: Romance Dawn (manga), written and illustrated by Eiichiro Oda – https://amzn.to/3E5SFby
The links above are affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases, so thank you for helping me keep the lights on.
And there you have it, my pseudo-review of Fullmetal Alchemist. If you enjoyed the episode, then please like, share and subscribe to the show on your favourite podcast platform. Sadly, this marks the end of Lyfeblerd season two, but don’t worry because we’ll be back in no time with a revamped show once more. I do hope you enjoyed the season and look forward to the podcast’s return.
Please support your local comic book scene and keep reading the books you love. The theme song is Dreams by Rewayde.
See you around!