The Law of Equivalent Exchange! Lets Read The Fullmetal Alchemist Manga!


Chapter 3: The Coal Mine Town

Chapter 3: The Coal Mine Town

Last time on Fullmetal Alchemist, we were introduced to the series, as our heroes Edward Elric and Alphonse Elric managed to take down a corrupt religion that had ensnared the tow! Okay, so that may result in some conflict within the city that may spring into civil war, but it’s not like the Elrics set horrible events into motion!


I should not that this an the next chapter are the closest thing this series has to Filler. Everything else becomes completely serialized afterwards. And even then, this chapter has some importance later, and the next introduces somebody. Still, for filler, these chapters are entertaining filler, and I personally have a soft spot for both these chapters.

So our chapter begins with the Elrics on a train as they notice the absence of passengers on the train. They talk about it before Ed notes that there is not much to see on the way anyway. Their last stop in the East, as Ed says, is the Youswell Coal Mines. As they arrive at the train station, Ed notes that it’s a “Seedy Place”, seeing as it’s a mostly barren mine town with only a few sorrowful people about. Ed says that they should be a tad livelier and Al notes that they look lethargic.

Their insight on the place is interrupted by a dirty kid with short blond hair and a bandage on his cheek accidentally swings a large block of wood into Ed’s head. As Ed yells at him, the kid identifies him as a traveller and starts bombarding Ed with questions on if he is a tourist, where he comes from and if he has a place to stay. He calls to his dad (Before Ed gets a chance to say anything), saying that they have customers, (Calling them their cash cow, which Ed angrily retorts “Who’re ya callin’ cow?!”. This will make sense later on)

His dad, a muscular blond haired man with rad facial hair, greets them. We also learn that the kid’s name is Kayal, as we cut to the town inn. He says that they don’t get paid for crap, so he runs a tavern to make ends meet. The people in the Inn claim that he’s always trying to get the poor out of debt, with another saying that his wife must be furious. He retorts with “None o’ yer business!”. His wife asks Ed and Al if it will be room for two, as Ed asks how much. The dad says that it will cost him. Ed thinks he has enough, but by “cost” the dad apparently meant, 200,000.  *

Ed of course, facefaults at this. He claims it’s daylight robbery (It is, really), as Kayal’s father explains that as they don’t get tourists, they have to milk them for everything they have (Which is a really stupid way to milk money out of tourists when you think about it. It would lose more money then they would gain). Ed does the logical thing and tries to leave, and get accomodation elsewhere, but Kayal’s Dad is less than happy for him to leave with “WHERE DO YA THINK YER GOING CASH COW?!” So not only are their prices unresonably high, they basically prevent people from exiting. I can see why people don’t go to this town. The Kayal points out that the prices are the same evrywhere else in town.

Ed, of course does not have enough money, so he plots to change stone into gold to pay it off. Al points out that that is illegal  * and that he could get caught and court marshaled for it. Ed goes face to face with Al (Too close, as Al’s horn is going into Ed’s forehead) to him “Only if we get caught”, to which Ed replies, “Your’re evil bro...”

Their conversation was apparently too loud as Kayal was sitting between them the entire time and promptly tells his father that Ed is an Alchemist. One display of Pickaxe Fixing later, the townspeople have warmed up to them. The father says that he used to study Alchemy in the past, but quit as he wasn’t that good at it. He decides to give Ed a discount. Unfortunately for Ed, it’s a 50% discount. He asks for Ed’s name, but when Ed says “Im’ Edward Elric”, Kayal’s father takes his food away. Then asking if he is Edward Elric the State Alchemist  *

When Ed says yes, his drink gets taken away and he and Al get booted outside. When he protests they say that they don’t want to serve any military dogs. Al proceeds to leave Ed in the lurch by saying that he is just a normal citizen and not part of the military. Way to be a jerk Al, re-Oh god. OH GOD!! Getting horrible flashbacks of that awful Pokemon episode where Ash gets booted out of the Celedon Gym just for not liking perfume!! GET OUT OF MY HEAD!!! AHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!-

  • Technical Difficulties. Please stand by*

Back in the tavern, the people there are still fuming about the fact that Ed is a military dog. Apparently it’s because the greedy money grubbing Lieutenant Yorki  *. Apparently he owns the mines and is giving them shit all for pay while working them nonstop, which he can do becuase he had the army backing him. Kayal’s father then states that while he was learning Alchemy, he was taught that “Alchemists live for the sake of the people” and that people who sell their souls to the military  *

Back outside, Ed is starving due to being abandoned. However, Al comes to him with food and drink that he snuck out.  *. Ed responds by changing his allegiance (Which is not lost on Al) and giving Al a gratification hug. Al tells him all about Yorki. Ed fumes that he is being condemned by the people via Guilt By Proxy, and says that even he is pissed at the military (Which does not make sense considering that  *) He continues to lament that when he became a state Alchemist, he was prepared for backlash, but being hated by an entire town is a new low. Oh come on. All heroes get hated by at least one town in their adventure! You even got hated by more than one during the First Anime!

Al wonders if he should also get a state licence, but Ed waves it off saying that one person baring the sin is more than enough. Ed feels that he can’t argue with being named a military dog. And also considers the results of their journey into alchemic necromancy. They wonder what their sensei would say if she knew about it all. They take a moment to consider it before breaking into an ‘’utterly terrified’’ state saying that she would kill them. Oh I am sure that their sensei is nowhere near as terrifying as they make her sound!  *.

Their PTSD episode is broken my the arrival of Lieutenant Yorki, a snobbish, uptight man with short balding hair and a Waluigi mustache, flanked by his two bodyguards. He remarks about the Inn being “as filthy as ever”, to which Kayal’s father responds “Nah... The place just stinks because of the company we get around here”. Yorki says he’ll ignore that. Yorki states that the town has been slacking on their payments. Kayal’s father complains that they can’t pay much as they are being paid shit all to begin with. But Yorki points out that they are still able to enjoy a round of booze. So he decides upon cutting their wages further (Because that presumed extra dollar is so important to Yorki). The bar company reacts as you would expect, as Kayal throws a napkin at Yorki (Although I am quite surprised that nobody else threw something heavier at him). Yorki decides hat he will not ignore this before bitchslapping Kayal, and ordering his men to go at him with a sword. Well, the flat of his sword by the look of it but still.

Of course, Edward comes in and blocks the hit, making the sword snap cleanly in half, instead of, you know, bending  *. As Yorki loundly asks when Ed came from, he cooly replies (While sipping coffee no less!) that he was just passing by. Yorki yells at him to leave, but Ed simply shows Yorki a silver watch with a Lion in the middle of a pentagram emblazoned on it. Yorki recoils in horror that it is the President’s emblem. Well that got hi-

President’s emblem.


Okay, this is the first of some of the various translation inconsistencies in the Madman translation. This is not supposed to be the President. The leader of the country actually holds the title of Fuhrer (And do NOT make ANY references to Godwins Law, because this country, Amestris as we find out much later, is intentionally based on 1930’s-40’s era Germany. I will allude to that but NOT the Nazi party. No discussion about that, alright?) Regardless, I am starting a new count:

Translation Errors: 1

Anyway, one of Yorki’s men asks who the brat is (That’s not the short joke. It’s coming), but Yorki twats him on the head whispering that it’s a State Alchemist, who answer to the Fuhrer himself (And this makes the previous translation error even more baffling). His body guard remarks that the pipsqueak (There we go) really is a state alchemist. Yorki realizes that if he sucks up to him he can get further up the ranking ladder. While Ed’s is a bit tweaked from hearing the word pipsqueak, Yorki sucks up to him and allows him to stay with him for dinner (To which Kayal is voicing his displeasure in the background). Ed accepts this saying “This stingy old Inn Keeper should really learn from you!”. Yorki makes one more threat at the bar people before leaving, sending the bar into a fit of rage.

At Yorki’s manor, Ed’s dinner apparently consists of two ribs and eggs (Or some food that I can’t remember the name of). Regardless of appearance, Ed thinks it’s quite a spread, considering that the townsfolk are starving (Weren’t they just low on pay?). They discuss for a bit about Yorki’s difficulties with collecting taxes. Ed compares it to Equivalent Exchange, as “With rights come duties” (I don’t think Yorki is balancing his equivalent exchange well, but that’s beside the point). It ends with him offering Ed a small sack of Gold coins, as Yorki makes it clear that he wants to move up, and away from Youswell. So he’s been putting the whole town into the shitter just to get higher up. Like stepping on an Ant hill.

After Edward is escorted to his room, one of Yorki’s guards tells him that the workers have been “Voicing their discontent”. Yorki is fumed saying that they were against him from start. Oh really? You mean the many, many complaints and the various insults and napkins thrown at you during your last visit didn’t tip you off? In any case, Ed overhears Yorki’s order to burn down the place.

One offscreen act of Arson later and we see the next moring, where Kayal’s father and his wife are standing in front of the ashes of the inn, as Kayal says that he saw Yorki’s men around the place last night, and that he didn;t think they would sink that low. He laments that if his father knew proper Alchemy that he would fight to save the town, before asking Edward to transmutate gold to save the town. Ed refuses, talking about Equivalent Exchange, and that they have done nothing to earn it. Kayal, pissed as hell, grabs Ed’s jacket yelling at him saying “AND YOU CALL YOURSELF AN ALCHEMIST!?”. Ed calmly responds that even if he did create gold, it would just go into the tax collection fund. So he tells them to move out of the town if things are this bad (I really don’t think Yorki would let them go however). But they all respond that the town is their home, and they will live and die there, with a lovely back shot that gives a sense of Empathy. Ed starts to think on this.

We cut to a yard where Edward is strolling over to a mine cart full of Tailings, he asks Al how much they weight. Al says it’s about one or two tones and asks why. Ed responds that he’s about to break the rules. Al asks if he is supposed to be an accesory to it and Ed says why not. Al realizes it’s futile as he’s going to do it no matter what he says, and also says that it can be a pain having him as a brother, as Ed transmutates the tailings into gold bars.

Now here was where I got confused the first time reading this. How could he do that? Was the elements for gold in the tailings themselves? Okay, in the first anime, it shows him spilling the bag of gold coins he got from Yorki onto the tailings, before trasmutating them, so what ever.

Back to Yorki’s place, he and his men are in stunned amazement as they see Ed and Al surrounded by several piles of Gold Bars (One wonders how they even got them to Yorki’s office, although I suspect that Ed transmutated a trolley or something), with Ed saying that he wants to buy the mines. Yorki is overjoyed as he realises that he can bribe his way into the high office with the bars (If he means the top brass [[spoilers: he may have a nasty surprise]]). Ed tells him that he will indeed mention him to command, (With a sparkle on his face), but he requests Yorki to edit the contract to say that he has turned over the mines to Edward for free. Both Yorki and Ed congratulate each other on their deal (Al says that their like birds of a feather. Which they are not in the slightest).

Meanwhile, in the town, Kayal’s father is resfusing to have the townsfolk have their way, as they are about to attempt open rebellion against Yorki. Kayal’s father is refusing as he does not want anybody there to become a criminal. This is interrupted by the arrival of Ed in a delightfully smug and happy greeting. The townsfolk respond with a look of pure loathing and misery. It does not take long for Ed to reveal that he now technically owns the mines, much to the collected shock of the bar. However, since the Elric’s are wanderers, the deeds are useless to them and they want to sell them away (Can you see where this is going?). Kayal’s father asks how much, before Ed goes on about the value of the paper and it’s container itself (Like, he talks about the value of the silver that the container is made of and the KEY THAT OPENS IT), before soming down to, of course 200,000 centimes. Kayal’s father roars with laughter as he accepts. However, Yorki comes in at that exact moment as he comes complaining about a certain matter. He says that he just sold the deed to the town, as Yorki says that the gold he received turned into stone. Al whispers to Ed when he changed it back, and Ed responds that he did it right before they left. Ed says to Yorki that he never gave any gold bars to him, because, as it says in the contract, ‘’he gave it to them free of change’’.

In his rage, Yorki orders his body guards to confiscate the deed, but they are stopped by a giant townsperson, as they point out that he is technically on their property. Yorki wants to take it by force. Before they proceed to crack their knuckles, brandishing tools. Yorki and his guards have about five seconds to realize their predicament before being beaten senseless. Well, his body guards, Ed simply uses his Coup de grâce, as he tells Yorki, in a happy, sparkly tone that he will give a full report of his incompetence back to Grand Central, as he’s sure the brass will love it (Yorki’s expression to that last line is just perfect) as Yorki collapses into a pile of despair. The townsfolk celebrate by declaring “Bring on the Beer!”. As the patry begins (With them pouring beer on Edward, and trying to get him to drink and man up) Kayal realizes that Ed really didn’t sell his soul to the military. After that our last shot is the aftermath of the party with everyone on the floor, as Al yells to an unconsious Ed not to sleep with his tummy exposed. Al, just be thankful that Ed still HAS a shirt. Or pants for that matter.

This was a fun little chapter that introduced some themes. Not much to talk about here, but really, what makes this chapter memorable is Ed’s deception of Yorki. That is simply glorious to read. But it’s not ‘’quite’’ a CMOA so I won’t count it. BTW, if you want me to use the Viz names I am happy to oblige.

NEXT TIME: The Elrics face off with a train crisis, led by Naked Snake!


The "President" thing becomes Hilarious In Hindsight when a group of Elite Mooks is introduced later on (Presidential Candidates?).
silver2195 23rd Aug 11