Title: Fullmetal Alchemist: The Complete Four-Panel Comics Author: Hiromu Arakawa Publisher: Viz Media Language: English Format: Paperback Pages: 128 Genre: Comedy Publication Date: March 12, 2019
This is an odd review for me as I’ve never actually reviewed a book filled with Yonkoma before. Yonkoma translates to Four-Panel and is the style in Japan to depict the equivalent of comic strips we Americans find in our daily/Sunday newspapers. Hiromu Awakawa created a ton of them for the Fullmetal Alchemist series and VIZ Media has put them together in a nice little 128-page book for us all to enjoy.
Normally, this section of the review would be reserved for the story but there is no story to be had here. Each comic is just a small quick tongue-in-cheek joke involving the characters from FMA. The book is divided into five sections which feature comics that were based on the manga, the original FMA DVDs, the Brotherhood DVDs, miscellaneous products, and a second of bonus comics.
Arakawa even depicts herself in the comics as a small cow avatar (I know that’s always been her thing but perhaps it is also a subliminal message to her other series Gin no Saji aka Silver Spoon?) There was even a nice little one-panel comic where Arakawa tells us not to read manga in which Edward punches her and says he doesn’t want to hear that from someone who creates manga. Not only is she poking fun at her own characters but she’s including herself into some of the gags.
Inside, you’ll find strips such as Al complaining to Ed about using a suit of armor and Ed asking him if he would prefer to be affixed to some goofy-looking dolls instead, there’s one of Greed attacking King Bradley only to have all his clothes sliced off to which Bradley yells for the police because there is a pervert near him, and more. It would take forever and a day to go through each and every one of them individually but reading through them all put a smile on my face!
I think this book is a must-have for any Fullmetal Alchemist fan. While some of the strips were a bit corny and didn’t get too much of a laugh out of me, there were a ton of others that did. In fact, I would say the ones that made me laugh outweighed the ones that didn’t. Not every strip was a winner but not all of them have to be. Just seeing our favorite Fullmetal Alchemist characters placed into this unorthodox scenarios is enough to provide entertainment for about an hour or so. With only 128 pages and each strip reading pretty quick, this makes for a great book to kill a little bit of time with on a weekend, or a great traveling companion if you want to take this on a plane, or a long car ride (just make sure you’re not the one driving… especially after the comic where we get to see Gluttony in a bikini. That’s going to replace the whale in my nightmares.)