Title: The Complete Art of Fullmetal Alchemist
Author: Hiromu Arakawa
Publisher: Viz Media / SQUARE ENIX
Genre: Art, Anime, Manga
Publication Date: November 13, 2018
It is no secret that Hiromu Arakawa has left and continues to leave her mark on the manga/anime world. VIZ Media recently teamed with SQUARE ENIX and released an art book that is completely dedicated to Arakawa’s most-known series: Fullmetal Alchemist. While she lent her artistic talents to Arslan Senki (The Heroic Legend of Arslan) as well as her current ongoing series Gin no Saji (Silver Spoon), Fullmetal Alchemist is the series that she will forever be known for because it was one of the biggest hits in manga and anime history. In fact, as of the time of this writing, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, the reboot of the original anime, still holds the #1 spot as Top Anime of All Time on MyAnimeList.net and it has held that spot for years with an impressive overall rating of 9.24 / 10.
It’s only natural that VIZ Media celebrates this amazing series with an equally amazing art book. While an art book suggests that it is filled with art, typically, they will add special features to the book and while The Complete Art of Fullmetal Alchemist does contain special features such as an exclusive interview with Arakawa, as well as a display of Arakawa’s drawing/inking process, it kind of lacked that extra punch to make it stand out as something more than just a collection of art.
The art; however, does take center stage and there is PLENTY of it. Plenty as in over 280 pages of artwork which, in and of itself, boggles the mind of just how much art Arakawa created for her beloved series. As soon as you open the beautifully embossed hardcover, you’re treated to the cover as an art page and then you jump right into the table of contents which is broken down into years started in 2001 and ending in 2010.
Every chapter title page features a colored character on a black background and direct quote from the Fullmetal Alchemist series. It’s a nice little touch, especially if you’ve read the manga and watched both versions of the anime, as some of the quotes will trigger that feeling of nostalgia while reminding you why this series was so great to begin with!
Even though the art is the entire meat and potatoes of the book, every single piece of art that is in this book tells you exactly where it comes from! From manga covers, key visuals, promotional key art, special editions, covers to magazines, to everything else in between, every piece of art is identified so you know exactly where it was used and when! While it may seem like a small footnote at the bottom of every page, the fact that they dug through her entire past to find when, where, and why that art piece was used is truly a herculean task… unless it was already labeled and sitting on Arakawa’s hard drive and she was just like “here ya go!” Still, the fact that 10 years worth of art is individually labeled is a brilliant touch!
The interview itself at the back of the book was short and sweet but it did dive into topics such as what her favorite color to use is, what she often uses for references when she drew the series, to even things she had to remind herself of while drawing (spoiler: she kept forgetting Ed’s hair tie!)
The physical book itself is extremely impressive. The gold foil lettering on the cover to the embossed FMA logo on the back to the glossy paper and hi-resolution images in between, this is a very high-quality artbook that does the series justice and more. The book itself is massive in size clocking in at just under 9” W x 12” H (more like 8.2 x 11.8 if you want to get super technical). You can definitely do some damage to someone who says they didn’t care for FMA as a series (although I would never recommend that you would! Hurting people is bad… even if they are wrong about FMA!). Needless to say, the size of the book will make it a bit difficult on some bookshelves but once it finds a place you’ll know that the book will own that space and rightfully so.
It goes without saying but I will say it anyway. If you love Fullmetal Alchemist, like Fullmetal Alchemist, or just appreciate amazing art, this book is well worth your time and attention. Even though the extra content is a bit lacking, with the amount of amazing work that precedes it, I don’t really think it’s truly needed.
In short: buy this book. You will not regret it! (and don’t bludgeon anyone with it if you do!)
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This item, along with images, was provided for review by Viz Media & SQUARE ENIX