Manga: Stray Dog
Written by Hiromu Arakawa in 1999, this one-chapter manga (published in a magazine at the time) was her very first serious work. It would eventually influence her later works, especially Fullmetal Alchemist, particularly in her own concept of alchemy itself ("chemistry and magic") as well as that of chimaeras.It focuses on the story of a bandit, Fultac, and his "military dog" Kilka. A "military dog" is a creature derived from the fusion of a human being and a dog (duh!), which is very loyal to his/her owner; originally used as soldiers, they are now pretty much pets, and the laboratory where they were created serves now as a factory. After finding Kilka, Fultac and her eventually face a bounty hunter mage and his own military dog; while said mage is killed, Fultac pretty much loses an arm, and Kilka dies. Filled with anger he goes to the laboratory where he was created, facing the scientist/mage who is responsible for everything. In the process we learn he was among his very first experiment, thrown away as a child to the sewers along with the carcasses of the other victims of the scientist/mage's experiments. After burning the place down Fultac kills the other military dogs to free them from their miserable lives, and ends up adopting a little military dog child himself, who may or may not be free since he didn't performed the ritual of "bonding".Overall a good Tear Jerker and heartwarming story, which is pretty much Fullmetal's prototype. Can be found here, of course.
This manga provides examples of:
- Bittersweet Ending: More on the sweet side. The only reason why it isn't an happy ending is because Kilka dies.
- Crowning Moment Of Heart Warming: Fultac, and basically any interactions with his second military dog. Perhaps even more admirable is the fact we don't see him doing the apparently necessary ritual to bond military dogs to their owners as he did to Kilka, so there's a chance that the child grew up to be a normal boy(?)
- Eyepatch of Power: Fultac. Its hides a functioning, golden eye.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Fultac.
- Little Bit Beastly: young dogs look like this, while older ones are more furry.
- Low Fantasy: Despite the usage of science, magic is still used and the setting is medieval European looking.
- Mad Scientist: This coming from Hiromu Arakawa, it's really not surprising.
- Magic Knight: Fultac is a partial example: in addition to swordsmanship he knows exactly one spell, which is fairly powerful.
- Light Is Not Good: The bounty hunter mage uses light-based powers. Fultac later uses them, though...and it's still not good for the military dogs and for the mage/scientist.
- Papa Wolf / Big Brother Instinct: Fultac toward Kilka.
- Shout-Out: Fultac kinda looks like Guts/Gatts.
- Supernatural Gold Eyes: That's how you distinguish a particularly human-like military dog from a normal person. Fultac has one golden eye, indicating his status as one of the oldest military dogs.