Tag Archives: hiromu arakawa

Review: Fullmetal Alchemist (Volume 18) (2009) Manga | My Reviews 25 DEC 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 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.

Auto-mail engineer Winry is captured and held hostage to force Edward to do her captor’s bidding. Hawkeye discovers the disturbing truth about President Bradley’s son. Our heroes have fortuitous and not-so-fortuitous reunions with old friends and enemies. And multiple intrigues and double-crosses ensue as some people plot to save the world while others scheme to destroy it.

Volume 18 has Ed and Al still up in the North, though now they are being manipulated by Kimblee, who has Winry in his treacherous grasp and seeks the aid of the Elric brothers in creating another Philosopher’s Stone. However, Scar and his companions are also in the area, a big target for both the military and the Elric brothers, though Kimblee would do well to watch out just where the loyalties of the Northern forces really lie. In the same breath, back in Central, Lieutenant Hawkeye makes a rather startling – and disturbing discovery, something revolving around yet another homunculus which makes he’s rather unexpected appearance.

There is plenty of darkness in volume 18 as we’ve come to expect whenever a homunculus is involved, though this is balanced out by plenty of action sequences, and of course by yet more intrigue as writer Hiromu Arakawa carefully lifts the lids off of some secrets, only to tantalize with a few new ones in return! Some nice little twists are thrown in and overall, Volume 18 grabs you and sucks you in well before you even realize it.

As we’ve become accustomed to it by now, Arakawa’s flat cartoony style still doesn’t quite match up with the dark tones at times, but for the most part the clean lines and good backgrounds do make for pleasant visuals, with her style capturing her trademark slapstick humor and silliness that she likes throwing in every now and then perfectly!

It’s a decent read that certainly won’t disappoint fans of the series that have already come this far into it.

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fullmetal_Alchemist

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!

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fullmetal_Alchemist

Review: Fullmetal Alchemist (Volume 15) Manga | My Reviews 08 FEB 2012

The horrors of the Ishbalan campaign occurred years before Ed became a state alchemist, and had serious repercussions, which set the tone for the complicated dealings of present-day state politics. Lieutenant Hawkeye reluctantly tells Ed all the dread details of the role Colonel Mustang and the other state alchemists played in this tragic event.

As you might be able to tell from the volume blurb above, volume 15 of Hiromu Arakawa’s popular Fullmetal Alchemist is devoted entirely to telling a backstory around the Ishbalan Civil War, focusing in particular on Colonel Mustang as he is drawn into the senseless conflict through his military orders, as well as the pretty bloody and dirty stuff the state alchemists were called upon to carry out, as the Amestrians under King Bradley systematically killed every man, woman and child living in Ishbal. Other stories touched on is the tragic birth of Scar, the death of Winfrey’s parents, the betrayal of Solf J. Kimblee, as well as the expanded actions of Colonel Gran.

Hiromu steps out to make this a very bloody and cold-hearted book, as she leads you through what can only be called murder by all the characters you have come to love and admire in the military up until this story arc. This doesn’t paint a pretty picture of the Amestrian military but it certainly does paint a lot of the backstory and reveals a lot of the motivations for what is happening in the main story timeline.

Of course, this does mean a book with much less (if any) humor and reads quite differently from what has come before. It is dark and dirty, and certainly won’t leave you feeling warm and fuzzy as you turn the final page.

Artistically Hiromu continues her interesting look made up of very simple and flat lines mixed in with great backgrounds (and quite often pretty bloody spotches), but as per usual her somewhat “cartoony” style (well to me at least) just doest match the tone of the book, though that said, this is a complaint I’ve had from volume 1 right up to this point, so it wouldn’t be fair to lump that criticism on this volume’s shoulders alone.

It’s important to note that this isn’t a good volume to jump on the bandwagon in terms of Fullmetal Alchemist as a whole, thanks in particular to the lack of appearances from the main protagonists, i.e. Ed and Al, but if you have been following the story up until now, then this one is actually pretty crucial thanks to all the backstory and character motivations it reveals.

A decent and entertaining read most certainly, but certainly not a must read, and certainly not one to take off the shelf if you are more interested in the laughs Ms. Arakawa provides than her horror segments.

In other words, even if you are a big fan of Fullmetal Alchemist, if you don’t care too much of the history, then you can quite safely give volume 15 a skip!

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fullmetal_Alchemist

Review: Fullmetal Alchemist (Volume 13) Manga | My Reviews 18 JUL 2011

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.

In the midst of a heated battle, Ed and Prince Lin of Xing are swallowed whole by the homunculus Gluttony. Will they survive the depths of Gluttony’s gullet like Jonah in the whale, or has Al lost his brother for good? And the political power structure of the military may be irreparably shattered when Colonel Mustang confronts Fuhrer President King Bradley with his horrifying suspicion that Bradley is a homunculus!

Volume 13 pitches us straight into an all out battle between Edward, Alphonse and Prince Lin, against Envy and Gluttony. However, things are cut short when Gluttony accidentally eats Ed, Lin and Envy, sending them straight through the portal door that lurks in his stomach. This leaves the three of them to either battle it out in the pitch black nightmare they now find themselves in, or team up and try to find a way out of this impossible situation. As for Alphonse, he is now lost without Ed and has no choice other than to persuade Gluttony to take them to the Homunculi father figure in the hopes of learning more.

And in case you think the side story of Colonel Mustang’s quest to learn the truth about the military has stalled, think again as some horrifying secrets get revealed – and he and his squad get placed in rather immediate danger.

Hiromu Arakawa continues her enjoyable mixture of action, political intrigue, drama, humour and fantasy, setting up an enjoyable volume that ends up answering a lot more mysteries than creating new ones. There are some big reveals here and if you have been following up to this point, you’re certainly going to enjoy them. As per usual the tale is dark, but nicely balanced with some comedic moments and timing arising from her varied casts’ interactions.

As for her art, she continues with the fairly simple lined characters and minimal backgrounds, but she does this to great affect and although the final outcome is sometimes a little too cartoony to carry perhaps the more sinister tone of the writing, it does look good and her clean lines make for an easy follow as you work your way through the book. Overall this is a good looking book with some fantastic action sequences and some well portrayed comedic moments.

In summary, Fullmetal Alchemist continues with the great work laid out in the previous volumes and is strong enough to pull new readers back to the series if they’ve just hopped on for the first time at this point.

Well worth the effort of picking up then, even if you have already seen the anime adaptation, which if you weren’t aware, doesn’t actually mirror the manga at all!

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fullmetal_Alchemist