Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Fullmetal Alchemist Vol. 1 - 10 (Manga) - Review

The Truth Behind Truths

When two young boys commit the ultimate taboo in the world of alchemy, the older brother, Edward, loses his right arm and left leg. His younger brother, Alphonse, loses his entire body and is saved by Edward through transmutation of his soul to a suit of armor. The young boys set out on a quest to find the fabled philosopher's stone and restore their bodies. But little do they know that they're not the only ones looking for the stone, and that great evil lurks around every corner.

The first ten volumes of the manga deal with the brothers joining the military in order to gain access to the research and files on alchemy that the government has access to. In the process, they discover that a sinister group of homunculi (artificial human beings) are trying to gather human sacrifices to create a perfect philosopher's stone themselves. There's double-crossing, espionage, and a whole lot of crazy scientific powers through alchemy. The series hasn't lost steam near the halfway mark (there are 28 volumes and 108 chapters), and I'm excited to see where the story leads.

I picked up the first few volumes of "Fullmetal Alchemist" at the library when the book I was looking for was checked out. I couldn't have been happier to stumble upon the adventures of the Fullmetal Alchemist (Edward) and his armored brother Al. The series had become pretty popular a few years ago amongst watchers of anime and readers of manga in the US, but I had written it off as kid stuff and ignored it, sticking with "Mobile Suit Gundam" and "Darker Than Black." I now know that I was wrong, and I admit that outright.

The themes of messing with the rules of life through science ring as true as Mary Shelly's "Frankenstein," and often leave haunting images to remind us that science can take us too far.

I highly recommend this series for anyone who likes steam-punk and superpowers, as well as deep themes about family, honor, and the dangers of science.