Review: Fullmetal Alchemist (Volume 16) (2008) Manga | My Reviews 06 SEP 2012

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 armour. 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.

The brothers pursue fugitive May Chang to solve the mystery of why their alchemical powers were rendered inert while she and Scar continued to be able to wield them. Meanwhile, Scar enlists some unlikely help to delve into the secrets of his brother’s alchemical knowledge. And the newest, most horrifying homunculus makes an appearance…!

With Volume 15 being very much a history lesson and filling in some of the gaps surrounding the Ishbalan Civil War, it is nice to get back to the story proper with Volume 16, though be warned that for the most part this volume is pretty devoid of any real action. Rather the first half is carved up between three story threads, namely Eric and Al trying to track down some answers, Scar forcefully enlisting some help in his quest, and Colonel Mustang continuing to peel away the secrets of the military.

The second half changes location as the Elric brothers are sent North, where they encounter a few hostilities before getting quite the surprise with what will be their new home base for the next while. And entwined in amongst all of this is a rather epic battle between Scar and someone rather quite unexpected!

The last volume was pretty dark and heavy, and so it is nice to see Hiromu Arakawa lighten it up a little this time around with some of her enjoyable slapstick humour. At the same time though, this volume does read a little on the slow side, but as per usual she feeds us quite a lot of story points to digest, gives us a fair share of new mysteries and intrigues to mull over, never mind the rather big surprise reveal right at the end! Her artwork is the usual mix of slightly cartoony looking, simple line characters mixed in with excellently detailed backgrounds, and overall the visuals work quite well for the story being told.

In summary, volume 16 of Fullmetal Alchemist is definitely a slower than normal read and perhaps not quite as dark as some of the previous volumes, but it is most definitely packed with story and drives the tale of Ed and Al Elric along nicely, a definite step up from the previous volume.

In other words, fans of the series will thus certainly not have much to complain about with this one then!

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About Craig Lotter

South African software architect and developer at Touchwork. Husband to a cupcake baker and father to two little girls. I don't have time for myself any more.