Manga Review: Fullmetal Alchemist Vol. 6

All right, the Revolution is going to change the format a little for manga reviews. We’ll give the short synopsis from the manga volume and then give you a very brief overview of the manga volume. Since these are much longer than a single issue of an American comic, we aren’t going to give a detailed synopsis of the story. Fullmetal Alchemist is one of the Revolution’s favorite mangas. Usually, we don’t dig female writers in comics. However, Arakawa continually proves us wrong by creating one hell of a manga.

Creative Team
Writer & Artist: Hiromu Arakawa

Rating: 4.5 Night Girls out of 5.

Their Take: The origin of the Elric Brothers! Once, Edward and Alphonse Elric were willing to do anything to become alchemists. But when they tried to use their newfound skills to resurrect their dead mother, they broke a taboo and encountered something more terrifying than death itself. Now, hardened by years of military training, Edward and Alphonse have returned to the woman, Izumi, who first taught them alchemy…but can she help them, or even forgive them?

My Take: This volume begins with the Elric brothers being left on an island for 30 days. If they survive then Izumi will take them on as her students and train them in alchemy. While they are on the island, they fight this strange man wearing a panther head and cape. Every day they struggle to find food and then half-starved they have to fight this strange panther man each day. They survive the 30 days and when they get picked up by Izumi, they find out that the panther man was one of her friends sent there to “train” them and watch over them.

We then witness the brothers completing their training and go home. There they attempt to bring their mother back to life. We finally get to see how it happened. During the botched attempt, Ed sees the “creator” of all things and is shown “the truth.” This greatly expands Ed’s alchemy powers allowing him to perform alchemy of incredible feats without a rune circle. Al cannot remember anything due to the shock of losing his body.

We then see Col. Mustang first meeting the Elric brothers and offering them a job as State Alchemists. They train for a year and then accept the position since being a state alchemist gives them access to information and resources normal men cannot access. This will aid in their search to figure out how to get Al’s body back.

We then come back to the present day and see the Elric brothers back at Izumi’s place and they have finished telling her everything that they have done since they finished training with her. Izumi is impressed with Ed’s abilities and that he is a State Alchemist at such a young age. She loves them but expels them from her school saying they are no longer master/students since they broke the rule of alchemy in trying to bring back their mother.

The boys are about to leave when one of Izumi’s friends tell them that they don’t have to leave. Now they can talk as peers since there is no longer a teacher/student relationship. So, the boys go back to Izumi and ask for her help to get Al’s body back. She agrees. She says the key is getting Al to remember the “truth.” His memory was blocked out due to the trauma of losing his body. The key to getting his body back will be in restoring his memories.

The Good: This was a great volume. First, Arakawa is a solid manga artist. I love all the attitude and emotion that she puts on Ed’s face. Arakawa has plenty of motion and draws great action scenes. But, she also has a nice subtle quality to her art for those quiet touching scenes in the manga. She is very able in conveying a story through her images without needing to depend on words.

Second, Arakawa has crafter a great story. She is a very balanced writer. She can do action, comedy, and drama with equal ability. It was great finally getting to read the origin of Ed and Al. We have only gotten little bits and pieces in the first 5 volumes. We finally get to enjoy the entire story in Vol. 6. The part of the story with Ed and Al on the island for 30 days was well done. How Ed and Al come to the realization of the circle of life, of the interconnection of the each being and the entire universe. It was very Zen and quite excellent.

The scene where they try to bring back their mother was horrific, wonderful, and sad. Ed’s meeting the “all creator” or “the universe” as he calls himself was absolutely fascinating. Ed finding out the “truth” was cool. I liked this entire surreal scene.

Yet, probably my favorite scene was after the boys finished telling Izumi their terrible story. At first, she chews them out and gives them a real tongue lashing. The boys apologize and say they deserve what happened to them. Izumi then calls them fools and tells them that they don’t have to hold back. She lovingly embraces both boys and they begin to cry saying “I’m sorry” over and over. It was such a touching scene that was wonderfully done and got the Revolution a little misty-eyed. Yeah, the Revolution is secure enough in our manhood to show some emotion.

The Bad: The Revolution has no complaints. This is a wonderfully done manga.