Title: Fullmetal Alchemist: Fullmetal Edition Vol. 1
Author: Hiromu Arakawa
Publisher: Viz Media
Genre: Shounen, Battle
Publication Date: May 8, 2018
Fullmetal Alchemist is heralded as one of the greatest series in the history of anime and manga. Sure, it’s not THE BEST (but what really is? That’s a debate that has raged on for ages) but it is one of the best, for sure. The original manga ended back in 2010 and has since received two television anime adaptations, two anime movies, and a live-action movie adaptation. Now, VIZ Media is re-releasing the manga in the new Fullmetal Edition signature series!
The first volume covers a few story arcs including the introduction of the Elric Brothers and their search for the philosopher’s stone. They come to a town that is being brainwashed by a priest named Father Cornello. It is said that Cornello can create miracles and used this as an influence on anyone who would follow him. Of course, Edward Elric being an alchemist knew that Cornello’s “miracles” were just alchemy, but it bothered him as to how Cornello ignored the laws of equivalent exchange. Edward deduces that it must be the work of the philosopher’s stone and sets out to investigate. In the process, he exposes Cornello’s scam and realizes that the stone he sought after was a fake.
Next, Edward and his brother Alphonse travel to the mining town of Youswell. There, he tries to stay at an obscenely-overpriced inn but is nearly tossed out when it is discovered he is a state alchemist. Just then, Lieutenant Yoki from the military shows up to collect his taxes and ends up discovering that Edward is a state alchemist and decides to use this opportunity to try and bribe him to have a good word put in with the higher-ups. Edward cooks up a scheme to put an end to Yoki and give the miners the freedom they so desired.
From here, Edward is on a train back to the Eastern District when it’s taken over by hijackers. Needless to say, Edward and Alphonse end up putting a stop to that and gets reunited with Colonel Roy Mustang upon getting off of the train. Back at headquarters, Edwards asks Mustang about bio alchemy and Mustang points him to the life-sewing alchemist Shou Tucker (hoo boy, here we go.) For those who are already familiar with the series, you know what comes next… for those who don’t, this manga is getting my high recommendations anyway, so go read it and find out why people become instantly angered with you for posting, talking about or even just thinking about Shou Tucker.
After that arc, we are introduced to Scar… a man whose identity is unknown and is going around killing state alchemists. By chance, he runs into Edward Elric and our first volume comes to a close.
As I have stated many times in my anime reviews, I am an anime watcher first and a manga reader second. I never saw the original Fullmetal Alchemist anime, but I have watched Brotherhood. I have seen the live-action and I’ve read the manga starting at the point I was at in the anime so I have never really read the manga fully from the beginning. Needless to say, being able to review the Fullmetal Edition is going to give me an opportunity to enjoy the manga from beginning to end for the first time so I am highly interested in seeing what the differences were (if any) between Brotherhood and the original manga. I know I still owe it to myself to watch the original anime and I will… one day.
So far, just from an anime perspective, there are so many nostalgic memories reading this first omnibus. It made me fall in love all over again with a series I was already in love with. I’ve enjoyed Arakawa’s work from FMA to Silver Spoon to Arslan Senki. The story is still as amazing as I remember it being as expected from Arakawa-san!
Edward and Alphonse Elric are our main characters. They lost their mother when they were children and decided to try alchemy to bring her back to life. The experiment failed and Alphonse lost his body and Edward lost his left leg as part of the equivalent exchange. Edward then traded his right arm for his brother’s soul so he could bind it to a suit of armor. Now the two of them are searching for the philosopher’s stone to get their bodies back.
Edward is a caring individual, but he’s quite the snarky jerk. He also loses his temper if anyone ends up calling him short or any variation or synonym of the word. Alphonse, on the other hand, is the gentle, compassionate one and is a great counterbalance to Edward’s brash personality. The two of them play off of each other rather well and they are written in such a way that you can just feel their personalities through the words written on the page.
We were also introduced to Lust, Gluttony, and Envy in this volume as well. While I know full well who they are, their true identities are still veiled here in the first volume. We know that they were the ones behind Father Cornello’s corruption and they only wish to spread chaos wherever they go. For now, they are the series’ main antagonists but you wouldn’t know that after the appearance of Scar.
Scar isn’t connected to the aforementioned three but seems to have his own agenda when it comes to state alchemists. He cites that there are those who create and those who destroy. It’s easy to tell which one of those people Scar is. At this point, it’s unknown what his true motives are but we do know that the military is going to have their hands full for quite some time.
Colonel Mustang, the Flame Alchemist (along with his partner Hawkeye), were introduced towards the end. All we have on him at this point is that Mustang and Edward are very familiar with each other and seem to have a gritty relationship. We also get to meet Mayes Hughes as well, but outside of being a friend of Colonel Mustang, not much is revealed about him yet.
The cast of characters are already large, but each has their own distinct personalities. Looking at this from a first-time reader’s perspective, Arakawa gives you enough information to get a feel for a lot of these characters while painting nice pictures of who they are and how they interact with the world.
As I have said earlier, this series gets my full recommendation so I just want to take this opportunity to give some praise to VIZ Media for the amazing job they did with the Fullmetal Edition.
First off, the book is in hardcover rather than your standard paperback. The size is 5.5 x 8.5 or the typical size of a light novel. The cover features the Fullmetal Alchemist logo in a red foil embossing on the front and back and the alchemy transmutation circle in a clear gloss on the back cover. The cover is in full color and looks to be watercolor paint. The cover in and of itself is absolutely amazing.
When you open the book, you’re treated to some beautiful color images on a semi-gloss finish and that’s when it hits you. The entire book is printed on the semi-gloss paper. Every page, regardless of it being black and white or color just pops with a sharpness and vividness that is not normally seen out of most manga! There is a random color page sprinkled throughout the book, too which is a nice touch along with a couple of bonus pages in the back featuring some of Arakawa’s sketches.
All-in-all, it is a well-crafted package that really does the series justice. Whether you’re a first-time reader or someone who wants to relive the story, this is a must-have for any fan of Fullmetal Alchemist!
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This item was provided for review by Viz Media