Mangaka: Hiromu Arakawa
Translator: Akira Watanabe
My rating: 5 of 5
While they are still quite young, brothers Edward and Alphonse Elric are left essentially orphaned after their father abandoned the family and their mother died of illness shortly after. In the way of small towns, the brothers are cared for, particularly by their near neighbors, the Rockbells. Still, they deeply miss their mother, to the extent that they throw themselves headlong into the science of alchemy in hopes of finding a way to bring her back from the dead. When their attempt backfires, the Elrics are left not only motherless, but broken–Edward having lost both an arm and a leg and Alphonse having lost his body entirely. (Edward bonded Al’s soul to a suit of armor their dad had left in the house, turning Al into a walking suit of armor!) Rather than giving in at this point, the boys press on with a new goal: regaining their original bodies. Along that road, they meet with a huge variety of people, grow up in unexpected ways, and unearth a cancer at the heart of their country’s government, and all these encounters change their lives. But, being who they are, Ed and Al continue pressing forward . . . and who knows, they might just save their country while they’re at it.
Fullmetal Alchemist is one of the most epic manga I have ever read. The plot is an intricate blend of action, fantasy, politics, and human drama that deftly pulls the reader in. Added to that is a brilliant, eclectic collection of dozens of interesting characters, each crafted in sufficient detail, and each vital enough to the flow of the story, that they might rival the main characters–certainly, many of the so-called side characters in Fullmetal Alchemist are nearer to my heart than the protagonists of many other stories. Add to that Arakawa’s signature art style–clean and expressive, quite well suited to this type of story–and you have a wonderful manga which I highly recommend as one of my favorites.