Fullmetal Alchemist Volume 2

[openbook booknumber=”1591169232″][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 brother and himself… the legendary Philosopher’s Stone.

There are many types of alchemy in the world. Edward’s commanding officer, “Flame Alchemist” Roy Mustang, can control fire. Shou Tucker, the “Sewing-Life Alchemist,” specializes in the most difficult alchemy of all… biological transmutation, the ability to alter the tissue of living things. But no matter what their power, alchemists are still human. And when a mysterious killer begins stalking state alchemists, no one can escape his vengeance…

Volume 2 picks up right where volume 1 left off, with Roy Mustang “owing one” to Ed for saving the general on the train. In return Mustang introduces Ed to Shou Tucker, the “Sewing-Life Alchemist”. Ed is branching out in all directions searching for a way to restore his body and that of his brother. Unfortunately who he ends up meeting is a scientist who is willing to use any means to achieve his ends. Ed and Al have some hard lessons to learn about their own continued powerlessness and about the difference between sacrificing others for your ends, and sacrificing yourself. I thought this was a very powerful and eerie part of the series, and of course very sad.

After that a new character is introduced, Scar is a man that is set on a lifetime of vengeance. Scar believes that the alchemy of this country is a perverse sin. That it is wrong to create, transforming something into a grotesque pantomime of what it should be is a sin against his god. Ironically enough he uses alchemy himself to serve justice. Scar is not without his reasons though as you discover when you read about the military’s dark past with his mother country Ishvarla.

To end the volume the brothers meet up with Dr. Marcoh. He is their first good lead on the Philosopher’s Stone as he used to be a state alchemist that did that exact research. What he discovered terrified him and he fled to hide in the countryside as a simple doctor. Ed and Al’s story and determination to right the wrongs they committed touched the Doctor. But, regardless of how horrifying the truth is that his research notes contain, can the Elric brothers not only face that truth but also look beyond to “the truth within the truth”?

Unlike the first volume this one takes time to explore the world around these characters and particularly the role the military takes in it. The military’s warlike past and experimental present are explored and it soon becomes clear that in his quest for knowledge Ed may have allied himself with an organization with sins blacker than anyone could have guessed.

Through it all the author continues to make clear that Ed and Al are just kids themselves, so even though this manga is deservedly rated T for Teen, Ed and Al are portrayed as dealing with the problems and horror that arises in a very realistic way for someone their age. That is, not well at all. I appreciated the realism.

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