I didn't want to like Fullmetal Alchemist purely because I was stuck under the Its Popular Now It Sucks mind-set. I stumbled through the first three volumes with a yawn, but I realized I was hooked when a character I was fond of bought the harp farm. After an "Awww, damn it" moment, I continued reading, knowing I had to continue. Simply put, the manga series is a near-masterpiece. The manga is one of the most well-paced comics I've ever read. Yes, the beginning stories are often filler-ish stuffed with Anvilicious messages, but almost all of them play into the overall story by either expanding their characters or brilliant foreshadowing future plots. Even the main character Ed is incredibly likable (as is the rest of the cast, each brimming with personality). I normally don't like the young cocky, male protagonist, but Ed balances it with his undying loyalty to his loved ones, intelligence, and cleverness. Also, his short jokes are often very hilarious. One of the reasons why it's so gut-busting funny is due to Hiromu Arakwawa's exaggerated facial expressions she gives to him. Her artwork in general is very good and solid. The artwork is different enough to purely distinct it with her. And I'll be frank, it's one of the few female manga artists who makes her men look like men (with exception from Envy and he/she has a justification). What can I say? I don't care much for the Bishonen type. So yes, it's a greatly paced manga with wonderful character development - even seen through the artwork (Ed actually getting taller for one thing) - engaging story, and overall marvelous presentation.
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