Review: Fullmetal Alchemist (Manga)


Within a year’s time, I have collected all 27 volumes.

…As of this weekend I have also finished reading all 27 volumes.

For the third time 18 months, I have completed an entire Manga set. The first was Code Geass last year while Death Note was the second earlier this year. The legendary franchise earned its spot in Anime history over 10 years ago when the Anime was first released (first in Japaan and then in the U.S.). The Manga’s storyline was the basis for the more recent Anime adaptation Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood.

Havimg read the Manga after warching FMA:B in full, I came to appreciate both mediums a whole lot more:

  • I might have missed the episode it happens in but Heinkel kills Kimbley in a surprise ambush and Pride later eats his corpse. I knew Kimbley stops Pride from escaping from Ed during their fight later on but I couldn’t remember how he ended up inside Pride.
  • It’s never actually stated what Armstrong’s “disgrace” was in FMA:B.  This detail is revealed in the Manga: Armstrong questions his orders during the war in Ishval and later lets some Ishvalans escape. Moments later, the citizens he let go are gunned down by Amestrian soldiers. He is branded a coward and a weakling by his superiors and his sister Olivier.
  • Speaking of General Armstrong: The Manga confirms she is Louis’ oldest sister. Elizabeth (who appears in both the Manga and FMA:B) is the youngest followed by Louis, two unnamed sisters and then Olivier.
  • Father’s monologue after the final battle doesn’t happen in the Manga but The Truth has a much longer monologue when it’s confronted by him on the other side.
  • Speaking of The Truth: The Manga does a slightly better job of pointing out The Truth mirrors whoever appears before it. Ed, who opens the portal three times (the first time as a kid, the second time while inside Gluttony and the final time to get Al) figured it out after he and Al figure out how Al’s soul can survive without his physical body for so long. This is the reason he says to The Truth in the Anime “Who needs Alchemy when I’ve got them?” The Portal of Truth is what allows an Alchemist to transmute even though with a few exceptions, they will never see it with their own eyes.
  • By chosing to give up Alchemy itself, Ed did what the Dwarf in the Flask couldn’t and realized Alchemity itself was the root cause of his and Al’s troubles. The Dwarf only saw it as a means of becoming a God.
  • It’s interesting to note the Manga reveals Olivier has her troops smuggle Scar away from Central after the final battle. This explains why he’s shown in the Armstrong Mansion in the final episode.
  • In the Anime, Mustang and Dr. Marcoh use a Philosipher’s Stone to fix Havoc’s spine, allowing him the use of his legs again. In the Manga, Havoc is shown undergoing some intense rehab to regain the use of his legs.
  • Hoenheim explains in the Manga as he activates the Reverse Transmutation Circle even if a person’s soul is ripped from their body, as long as the body is still capable of housing it, body and soul will automatically be drawn to each other like a magnet. This explains why Barry the Chopper’s body followed him to the end, why Al blacked out in Briggs and why all of the souls of Amestris taken by Father returned to their original bodies. In the Anime it’s suggested the souls of the Xerxes Citizens that triggered the Reverse Transmutation Circle also returned them to their rightful bodies.
  • Hoenheim was about 35 years old at the time of the destruction of Xerxes. It’s suggested the over 500,000 souls in his body were added to his lifespan. 350 years pass from the time of Xerxes to the births of Ed and Al. We know from the deaths of the Homunculi each time they’re “killed”, they lose one of the philosipher’s stones that keep them alive. In the Manga, Hoenheim states after Father is defeated only his soul remained. He burned through the others during the course of the battle. Based on that, it’s no hard to understand why his body decayed so quickly. At 400 years old, he far exceeded a normal human lifespan!

Overall, I give the Manga a 10/10. A solid storyline and it’s a must-read for fans of anything FMA. I’m even considering cosplaying as an Amestrian Soldier at Anime Boston 2015. If not FMA then possibly the Survey Corps from Attack on Titan. Hmm…