Fullmetal Alchemist (Manga) - Warrior 4 Jesus' Review

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Fullmetal Alchemist (Manga) - Warrior 4 Jesus' Review

Postby Warrior 4 Jesus » Sun Mar 10, 2013 10:23 pm

"Fullmetal Alchemist" by Hiromu Arakawa is a highly enjoyable and innovative manga series comprising of 27 volumes (over 5,000 pages in total). It's both character and plot-driven and could be classed as a 'philosophical/action/science fantasy/thriller' but includes elements belonging to the horror and humour genres. I'll be reviewing the English translation.


TRANSLATION:
There are two English translations, one by VIZ (an American publisher) and the other by CY Manga (a Singaporean publisher). I read all but three of the CY translations and found them superior to the VIZ translations (the former were more polished, had less mistakes). The CY Manga translations weren't without errors, they still had spelling and grammar mistakes and the occasional doubled up or missing word but on the whole they were better.

ART:
Simple but eye-catching. Ranged from manga 'realism' to heavily stylised eccentricities. I found some of the action scenes to be far too busy. They quickly became confusing (one of the disadvantages of a still medium). Also, some of the drawings in the last few volumes seemed rushed.

CHARACTERS:
There's a huge and varied cast of characters. Alchemists, state alchemists, citizens, criminals, soldiers, homonculi and a god, amongst many others - all very human (both good and bad to some degree). Edward and Alphonse Elric are the protagonists but for much of the story they are separated from each other. They take different journeys and accomplish various feats, accompanied by friends and foes. Several characters are given more time in the limelight than they deserve (eg. Sloth) and other more interesting characters (eg. Envy, Lust) don't get enough time.

STORY:
"Humankind cannot gain anything without first giving in return.
To obtain, something of equal value must be lost.
That is alchemy's first law of Equivalent Exchange.
In those days, we really believed that to be the world's one, and only, truth".

The series appears to be set in an eastern European-type country, where an ethnic cleansing akin to the Holocaust has taken place. In this world, a pseudo science (known as alchemy) is is used by the learned, skilled and sometimes desperate for good and evil purposes. The story takes place in an undefined era but much of the fashions, architecture and transport etc. suggest it's possible during the 1920's. The series begins with two brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric, when their father leaves home and their mother grows sick and dies. They try to resurrect her using forbidden alchemy but it goes terribly wrong. They leave home to start anew in search of the Philosopher's Stone, which is reputed to have great power. The philosophy of alchemy is a governing focus for "FMA" but the story also draws on some Judeo-Christian beliefs and values (particularly the Seven Deadly Sins), the seriousness of sin and guilt, the redemption found in forgiveness, the foolishness in playing God, and the idea that there is one God being Truth (though the latter isn't viewed in a particularly orthodox manner). There's also a touch of Eastern mysticism. While the series is action-packed, philosophical, unpredictable and disturbing, it manages to incorporate much broad humour that works (mostly) to great affect.

FINAL THOUGHTS:
In general, I found the first half of "FMA" more interesting than the latter half, which, while enjoyable, played out differently to what I expected. Still, considering this series took us on a 9-year journey, the story is incredibly consistent and cohesive. Towards the end of book 27, there's a final battle between the heroes and the main villain. This battle suffers from what I like to call 'Dragon Ball Z Syndrome' - the action's great for awhile - there's lots of crazy, intense fighting and powers being thrown around but then the action becomes rather confusing and ultimately a little over-blown. The aforementioned battle covers almost two volumes of the manga - that's exhausting and not necessary. Thankfully, the story has a well-deserved conclusion that doesn't serve to wrap every character's story up in a neat bow but allows for developments beyond the pages. All in all, a very enjoyable manga series.

Not for children. "Fullmetal Alchemist": Contains strong fantasy violence, disturbing imagery and some language.

8/10


Anyone care to explain what happened in the final battle? I understood the gist of it, but not everything. Thanks!
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Re: Fullmetal Alchemist (Manga) - Warrior 4 Jesus' Review

Postby SierraLea » Tue Mar 12, 2013 11:43 am

Where do you want me to start?
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Re: Fullmetal Alchemist (Manga) - Warrior 4 Jesus' Review

Postby Warrior 4 Jesus » Tue Mar 12, 2013 4:34 pm

At the beginning of the final battle with the Big Bad. It was very detailed but confusing. Seemed rather psychological and long but it probably only lasted a short time (in real time). I guess I expected a more philosophical ending to the battle, it was more like a cerebral Dragon Ball Z fight. Still confused though. I don't require a blow-by-blow of the fighting etc. but an understanding of what was REALLY going on (the purpose, point, goal), would be helpful. Cheers.
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Re: Fullmetal Alchemist (Manga) - Warrior 4 Jesus' Review

Postby SierraLea » Wed Mar 13, 2013 8:18 am

basically, after the humunculi activated their transmutation circle, Hoenheim used his to reverse the damage. After that, Father had trouble containing "God" with only the stones he had before he tried the transmutation. So the purpose of the whole big battle was to make him use his philosopher's stone to defend himself so he didn't have enough power to contain "God". They succeeded, which is why, after the second big explosion, father tries o create a new stone using Edward, and Alphonse tries to help. Then, it's just Ed beating up Father both out of anger about Al and to beat him fully. They only do that with Greed's help.
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Re: Fullmetal Alchemist (Manga) - Warrior 4 Jesus' Review

Postby Warrior 4 Jesus » Thu Mar 14, 2013 1:00 am

Ah, cheers, Sierra. That clears things up. Thanks again.
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Re: Fullmetal Alchemist (Manga) - Warrior 4 Jesus' Review

Postby the_wolfs_howl » Fri Mar 15, 2013 11:41 am

Interesting. I always found it perfectly easy to follow the action in this manga - much easier than any other manga I've read (if you've ever tried to follow the fight scenes in Tsubasa Chronicle, I don't know how you can complain about this). I can see it all happening in motion, as though I was watching an animation rather than looking at still pictures. I love Arakawa-san's sharp, bold, clear lines that make it clear and obvious what direction things are moving and such. I can only think of a couple instances where I didn't understand what was going on at first.

I also disagree with your assessment of the final battle - I saw it as epic rather than overblown, but I suppose that's a matter of taste. Everything had been building up so high for so long, it could only end in a conflagration that enormous and chaotic.
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Re: Fullmetal Alchemist (Manga) - Warrior 4 Jesus' Review

Postby Warrior 4 Jesus » Fri Mar 15, 2013 10:25 pm

Look here, I've never read Tsubasa Chronicle and I typically don't read action manga, so yes, I found SOME, not MOST of the action hard to follow. That said, the action in something like NGE, is more difficult to follow. By the way, I wasn't complaining, I thought I was fairly constructive and balanced in my assessment of things I disliked about the manga. All in all, I really enjoyed it.
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Re: Fullmetal Alchemist (Manga) - Warrior 4 Jesus' Review

Postby the_wolfs_howl » Thu Mar 21, 2013 4:27 am

Sorry if I seemed...accusatory or something. I didn't mean it that way, I was just explaining my perspective.
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Re: Fullmetal Alchemist (Manga) - Warrior 4 Jesus' Review

Postby Rzerox21xx » Mon Feb 17, 2014 6:50 pm

Fullmetal Alchemist is up there as number 2 of my favorite manga, first being Rurouni Kenshin. I love Hiromu Arakawa and I heard her Silver Spoon manga is good and but different.
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Re: Fullmetal Alchemist (Manga) - Warrior 4 Jesus' Review

Postby CalebFishy » Tue Feb 18, 2014 9:58 am

The only parts I found pretty gruesome was what they thought they created was their "mother" and the butcher guy...
Anyways, It was my first anime and I thought it was pretty good. TV-14 is probably a good rating.
(I also watched the Original and Brotherhood, along with the movies) :thumb:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i30WR3Ahnig
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Re: Fullmetal Alchemist (Manga) - Warrior 4 Jesus' Review

Postby artisticDreamer » Sat Nov 08, 2014 12:18 pm

Hi, I'm new here. ^-^ I want to know if there's any nudity in the manga. I've seen both the animes and loved them.
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Re: Fullmetal Alchemist (Manga) - Warrior 4 Jesus' Review

Postby nillapoet » Fri Mar 13, 2015 7:20 am

artisticDreamer wrote:Hi, I'm new here. ^-^ I want to know if there's any nudity in the manga. I've seen both the animes and loved them.


I don't remember any.
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Re: Fullmetal Alchemist (Manga) - Warrior 4 Jesus' Review

Postby the_wolfs_howl » Thu Mar 19, 2015 1:08 pm

artisticDreamer wrote:Hi, I'm new here. ^-^ I want to know if there's any nudity in the manga. I've seen both the animes and loved them.

I don't know if this question is even applicable to you anymore, but in case anyone else comes along wondering the same thing: There is a small amount of nudity in the manga, but it's always drawn from such an angle that you don't see anything. And there's always a reason for it; I never got the sense that I have in some other manga that the mangaka was just putting the characters in such a situation for fanservice. I mean, even in the one or two shower/bath scenes, they're there because they're really dirty and it wouldn't make sense for them to not make a beeline for the shower.
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