Fullmetal Alchemist Volume 1

[openbook booknumber=”1591169208″][rating:5/5]

Alchemy: the mystical power to alter the world; something between magic, art, and science. When two brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric, dabbled in this power to grant their dearest wish, one of them lost an arm and a leg… and the other became nothing but a soul locked into a body of living steel. Now Edward is an agent of the government, a slave of the military-alchemical complex, using his unique powers to obey orders… even to kill. Except his powers aren’t unique. The world has been ravaged by the abuse of alchemy. And in pursuit of the ultimate alchemical treasure, the Philosopher’s Stone, their enemies are even more ruthless than they are…

Fullmetal Alchemist turns out to be an engaging series set in the early 1900’s about a paranormal world where alchemy is real and its effects on the world and artifacts that increase its power are at once magical and beautiful, sinister and deadly. Transforming something from a broken to a fixed state is handy, transforming something into a grotesque pantomime of what it should be, not so much.

For fans of the anime, this series is a must read. First off, the anime was based on this manga series. The original anime split off in development pretty early on and ended some time ago. For those of you disappointed in that ending you simply must read this manga, and watch the new Brotherhood anime which follows it much more closely. The storyline is so much better and this is one of those cases where the book is ten times better than anything you have seen on screen.

The opening to this book is a shock that makes you sit up and take notice. They start you right at the moment that Ed discovers that he is missing his leg (no clean cut, either) and that his brother is gone. It very much sets the tone for the rest of the book, and the series! Very dark and frightening with many hard lessons to be learned and sacrifices that need to be made to set things right after this very gruesome beginning. Right at the end of that first page the book snaps to several years later and you have to read on to find out why Ed and Al are the way they are and what exactly made them that way. Definitely a page turner to find out more about these characters and the lives they have been forced to lead since that very disastrous decision they made as children.

The first volume is made up of a series of adventures as Ed and Al try and get their original bodies back. They know that human transmutation is beyond their power alone (just look at what happened last time they tried!) so they seek out the power of the Philosopher’s Stone. Ed’s power as the youngest State Alchemist (and dog of the military) ever, at age 12, both aids him and gets him in more trouble than he ever would have gotten into on his own.

There were lots of funny moments to lighten up the plot. Ed is a very stubborn and petulant child for all that he is in neck deep in an adult world. He throws huge fits when people call him “little”, and refuses to drink milk because it’s gross. Also, the constant confusion the public has thinking the suit of armor is the Fullmetal Alchemist and that the short kid is his little brother and not the other way around results in some spectacular displays of temper on Ed’s part used to great comedic effect.

This is a great introduction for the series, it gives you just a taste of who these characters are and what they are setting out to do. There is a great balance struck between the horror, violence, hints of romance, and adventure throughout. I would definitely recommend it for teen and up though because of the gruesome violence and Ed’s occasional potty mouth. If you want to know the rest, you have to read it to find out!

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