A good series that doesn't appeal to me.
Full Metal Alchemist
is often touted by its fans as a masterpiece, which I think is an exaggeration. (I won't deny that this review is influenced by Hype Backlash
.) It's good—there's no real way of denying that. But it's not perfect, and it has elements that may alienate potential readers.
Pros: The plot is well-planned and very coherent, even though there are some elements that may leave several unanswered questions bugging you. There are a handful of very well-developed and engaging characters, and many of the characters with less development have quirky and interesting personalities. Arakawa has also put a lot of effort into world-building, so there's a lot of candy for those who enjoy intricate fantasy worlds.
Cons: The plot isn't particularly original, and may be fairly predictable for veterans of the fantasy genre. The cast becomes enormous towards the end, with new characters often being given a lot of focus; if they don't click with you, you may find it difficult to maintain your interest. Narratively, the series can be quite inconsistent. For example, the first dozen or so volumes are dedicated to the viewpoint of a single pair of protagonists, but that suddenly changes as more characters are introduced. Arakawa also has a habit of switching between viewpoints several times in a single chapter, which can become quite frustrating if you prefer a more steady or predictable narrative style; I often find that it interrupts the flow of an entire chapter and pulls me out of the story. The pacing can become quite inconsistent, as well, with some chapters feeling very rushed, and others—especially later ones—seeming to drag.
Another possible con, one that I'd argue is my biggest problem with the series, is that you may not have the same sense of humor as the author. She really likes to have comedic moments, sometimes even in the middle of a scene with very high tension. So, if you don't share in her brand of humor, you may find that much of the manga to falls flat for you. Of course, if you do share in her brand of humor, this will turn into a massive pro.
Overall, I'd recommend giving this manga a try. It may not have been my cup of tea, but it's a very solid series that undoubtedly deserves the fans that it has.