Fullmetal Alchemist Volume 11

[openbook booknumber=”1421508389″][rating:5/5]

In an alchemical ritual gone wrong, Edward Elric lost his arm and his leg, and his brother Alphonse became nothing but a soul in a suit of armor. Equipped with mechanical “auto-mail” limbs, Edward becomes a state alchemist, seeking the one thing that can restore his and his brother’s bodies… the legendary Philosopher’s Stone.

Ed returns to Resembool and meets his father Hohenheim for the first time in many years. Although his father is happy to see him, Ed harbors intense feelings of resentment for being all but abandoned many years ago. However, anger gives way to intrigue as Ed and Al discover an important fact about the human transmutation ritual they attempted years before. What they thought was a partial resurrection of their mother was something else entirely – a revelation that could change their destiny forever.

Confrontation! If volume 11 was going to have a one word title that would be it. This entire volume in the Fullmetal Alchemist series deals with various characters finally confronting some demons whether real, imagined, imminent or distant. Edward confronts his father on abandoning him, his mother and his younger brother ten years ago. His father confronts Edward about the human transmutation he attempted and Ed and Al’s decision to burn down the house. Colonel Mustang and his officers confront the reality of Havoc’s paralysis from the waist down. Al confronts the possible loss of his metal body once it eventually rejects his soul and the brothers both confront the reality of what they really brought back from the other side when they attempted to transmute their mother back to life. Finally the brothers prepare to confront Scar, determined that no one else will be hurt in their quest to get their original bodies back.

I love the art in this one just because so much in these scenes are shown and not said, whether through body language or facial expression. More is hinted at by frame layout and the arrangement of characters within those frames than is said aloud. This is a volume that has a vivid, layered and emotionally complex story to tell, and that needs to presented with both the written word and the art working together as one whole. It is pulled off in this volume wonderfully. There were moments when the posture of a character or the look on their face stopped me cold and I felt like I was really in the story experiencing it with them.

My only two small complaints was in the English translation I was reading they rearranged where the words were for two frames of speech bubbles and that made two people swap what they were saying so I was confused about who said what when it was referenced later as being the other way around. There was also one other typo where a word was omitted (but space was left for it) that was kind of jolting. Not the fault of Arakawa, just the fault of the translators, lettering folks and touch up artists state side. Normally they do such an amazing job (not just translating the work over to English but also reworking it with common slang and cadence that really reaches out to an American audience) that missteps like this stick out all the more when a mistake is finally made.

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