Reviews: Full Metal Alchemist
Read the Manga; Watch Brotherhood
For those who are looking for one of the greatest stories of all time, you've come to the right place. Fullmetal Alchemist has been praised for it's amazing characters, intricate storyline, theme, delivery - actually, it's been praised for almost every aspect. I enjoyed it as much all the other reviewers, so I'd say it's pretty great. But for those who are as new as I am to the FM Averse and are trying to find out if you want to watch it...well. I'll try to help. So there are two separate continuities for the FM Averse: the 2003 anime and the manga plus Brotherhood. A lot of the fandom has seen both and every now and then there's a debate on which one is better. For a newcomer, it's pretty overwhelming. Two takes on the story when sometimes you can barely handle just one? That's enough to turn other people off. Like a previous reviewer said, both animes equal to 115 episodes - 51 on 2003, 64 on Brotherhood. The manga is 108 chapters. It's not as heavy as Naruto or One Piece or Bleach, but for casual fans it's quite a lot. So are you willing to go through all that? Or will you pick? In terms of popularity in the Western fanbase, the 2003 anime is fondly remembered. But in the Japanese fanbase, manga and Brotherhood has widely eclipsed the first. I just want to say that both continuities are widely loved. Personally, I prefer Brotherhood. That opinion is based on a Tumblr post about the variety of characters - it was then reblogged with a comment basically saying, "You mean Fullmetal Alchemist BROTHERHOOD." And I was interested in that! I loved Brotherhood with all my heart. So I decided, why not watch the 2003 anime? And I was...disappointed isn't the word. I just felt like they oversold it. It was definitely different and I think I just didn't handle it well. Watching the 2003 anime was like experiencing a gentle breeze; watching Brotherhood was like being blown away. I don't want to start another debate on which is better! It's just that personally, if you say you want to get into Fullmetal Alchemist, to absorb all the values that Arakawa wanted you to learn, to hear the the story that Arakawa wanted to tell: read the manga. Want an anime? Watch Brotherhood. Want more? The manga has funny omakes and side-stories. Some of them are animated too! There are four OV As and 16 4-Koma Theater episodes. It's fulfilling in all aspects.
I recommend it, but...
…Fullmetal alchemist: Brotherhood isn't perfect. I am a fan of the series, and I agree with everyone here who praises it. Instead of gushing about the show and adding more fuel to Hype Aversion, I'll take a different route and use Reverse Psychology by telling what’s wrong with the anime. There isn't much to complain about, but I try my best. PLOT: There are some ridiculous contrived coincidences. A girl walks accidentally into a conversation that concerns her? One of the bad guys appears accidentally where the main characters are? Characters meet because they use accidentally the same hideout at the same time? The series isn't free of Idiot Ball moments, either. One of the bad guys is captured, and characters (who aren't against killing) never think that the baddie could escape from a glass jar? CHARACTERS: The obvious downside of a large cast is that it's impossible to give characters equal amount of development and limelight. Many interesting minor characters are Out of Focus for a long time. About villains. Sometimes I feel conflicted, because I'm forced to feel sympathy for evil. I can't hate the baddies freely if they are miserable, pathetic wrecks. STORYTELLING: There's a problem with pacing, especially in the anime. It's sometimes slow, and sometimes the plot progresses so quickly that plot holes are formed in result. THEMES: The series is very idealistic, especially in Thou Shall Not Kill aspect. Two main characters are "saved" from killing anyone, because the plot finds alternative ways to kill the villains. The story is all-around Anvilicious in its morals. PERSONAL EXPERIENCE: The greatest flaw in Fullmetal alchemist, in my opinion, is my favorite character's unbalanced character arc. He is a Recurring Character who is Put on a Bus most of the series, only to become really important and receive the last minute I Just Want to Have Friends realization in the finale. The timeskip doesn't help it, because his supposed character development happens off-screen. All in all, Fullmetal alchemist: Brotherhood is an awful anime. Don't watch it.
I was extremely dissapointed
...when it ended. because i know i will never fill the void it had left in my life. normally, not a shounen fan. too much fighting. even this i thought had too much fighting, in the end, because as I was reading it I slowly watched the chapters i had left tick down, and I kept wanting the fighting to end so that I could see more of the characters before it ended. But that was basically the only thing I didn't love. Normaly I try to find somethign to critisize even about works I loved, so, I'll just say there was too much fighting for my taste, but otherwise perfect. seriously though this was one of the first mangas I read and i was so dissapointed to learn other shounen was not like this!! truly an awesome story
I watched Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood after my local anime club showed a few episodes. I have come to expect cliches in works; the anime showed little cliche and much trope, and I ended up binging through all 64 episodes in three days. There is much about the anime and its source manga that appeals to me. The characters' motives and storyline are all solid and mostly devoid of Fridge Logic. E.g., Ed's automail causes in-story problems if it malfunctions or is destroyed; I'd expect Hiromu Arakawa to use subtle discontinuities to carry the plotline. Instead, the story's attention to details like those makes the plot logical yet smooth. Each plot thread paces itself and switches to another at a precise moment to invoke interest; the threads that develop weave and produce satisfying resolutions for the characters at the story's end (well, there was Sheska, but that was early on). Originally, I disdained the comedic breaks (seeing them as "typical anime" jokes) in midst of the plot, but I eventually saw them as Bathos that isolates drama at peaks for effect; actually, this work is one of few I've seen that does not inflate dramatic moments into Narm or boredom. The protagonists constantly subvert my expectations—a pleasant surprise. Arakawa has been praised for her Cast of Snowflakes being diverse in both design and personality. The characters develop rather than Flanderize, (Mustang's growing aggression for revenge, e.g., is criticized), and that keeps my attention. I don't see any protagonist as being The Scrappy; they are all interesting. Studio BONES animates each episode frighteningly well, even outside of action sequences (I recall that infant body on Envy grasping for Marcoh's leg). I love how these little details add to the work's atmosphere. Well, most of it. It may be because I went through an average of twenty episodes per day, but the soundtrack felt repetitive. "Anticipation" seemed to play every time drama increased, and it's burrowed into my head. If the soundtrack was as bountiful as the characters, plot, and animation, it would've enhanced this anime even more. The three aspects mentioned are beyond expectations and more than make up for one disappointment, though, and I give my kudos to Arakawa and Studio BONES for that.
There's A Reason I Love FMA...
This review is mainly about the manga. Just warning. Okay, now that we covered that, let me just say: this is my number one favorite series of all time. Now, you may be wondering why. It's because it's hilarious and Just. That. Good. We have Ed, the selfless, prideful, 15 year old genius, who hates being called short, his younger, and calmer, brother Al, and the rest of the main cast. Which, as someone mentioned earlier, is quite large. Within 27 volumes the characters deal with deaths of absolutely loveable characters, are faced time and time again with the truth, and are thrown through the ringer, time and time again, whether it's by other characters, scenarios, or just because Truth really feels like making them his butt monkey. And did I mention how loveable most of the characters are? You really feel like cheering all the characters on, even one or two of the bad guys, and it truly feels like all of the characters are real. Plot aside this is a well written manga that all shonen fans (and even shojo fans) should read from start to finish.
An intelligent manga worthy of every bookshelf...
- Original characters. I've seen a few manga/anime and I'll be honest, so many of them seem to be tired cliches. With Fullmetal Alchemist, I don't feel like I'm reading the same thing over again, all the characters are unique and the narrative doesn't hop around miscellaneously. I loved the main cast and the villains were interesting as well. (Not to mention, every one of them was badass.) Each had a distinct story to tell.
- Intense plot. Arakawa's research really shows in her work, so much detail is intricately woven together to create a compelling story that is able to stand on its own. Even the subplots are interesting. The revolving theme of alchemy helps in creating an interesting universe.
- Great humor. While the story is dark and brooding, there are still some lighter moments and some decent humor that helps soften the mood. A typical volume ends with a few four-panel strips that poke fun at the story. Some running gags include Ed's stature and Alex Armstrong (who himself is a gag).
- Drama. There's plenty of suspense that helps to develop the characters more. There are some pretty sad/touching moments, particularly in the last few books and even in the first ones.
- The plot isn't stretched out too long. Unlike your fellow Bleach and Naruto, the author knows when to end the story. So many others become almost a chore to read, but FMA doesn't "kick the bucket" and has a pretty satisfying end.
- Envy. This is more of a biased opinion, rather than an actual flaw in the story itself. He's the only character that just didn't need to be there. I was actually cheering when he died, I didn't get this feeling for the other Homunculi (the villains).
- JUST PRETEND THIS PAGE IS FOR THE OVERALL FRANCHISE- I'll be talking about both series here, not just Brotherhood.
Review of the manga: five stars
There's a certain type of feeling you get, very subtle, when a talented author of a book or manga in this case has done a lot of thinking, planning, heavy research etc. It shows in the cracks of the character interaction, the moderation of the plot, the easy secure feel of the workings of the world. I stumbled onto FMA while boredly perusing reams of manga, and boredly read the first few chapters. I thought it was pretty sterotypical adventure manga at first, with a nicely effective art style (some shoujo I swear to god) and good pacing, so I bookmarked it, read a few more chapters and at some point realized I never stopped. The characters were charming, EVERY character, the comedic timing was always on the mark and not overused, the plot was serious and unpandering, and the story soon revealed an ambitious reach with a full on alternate history, war, and crazy genius foreshadowing. The thing about this series is the gritty realism it portrays without resorting to over-detailed art styles or being a backstreet fight manga. Even with the fantasy-esque alchemy it was integrated so naturally into the series, action, history, and personality of the characters that it just became an awesome personal trait kind of feel rather than a contrived plot device. (which it wasn't.) Visual wise the fight scenes are dramatic and dynamic, the tragedy is emphatic and almost understated (but with lasting effects- such as trauma) and the drawing style is amazingly serviceable and distinct. Personally I loved it, but others may think differently because... I frankly have no idea. If an author can age up a character that subtly through 25 volumes they are very skilled in my book. The best part of the series (besides the sneaky philosophy at the end) were the characters. The women characters were all amazing and individuals with lives beyond the lead for one, and the main character and his brother were great foils for eachother— the situation the homunculi put them through really made them grow up for better or worse. Off the top of my head, Riza, Mei, Ling, and Scar were hugely developed characters instead of being the two-dimensional throwoffs they could have been (in another series), instead making the plot so three dimensional it firmly cemented FMA as my top series. This would be a good gateway series to introduce someone to the potential of the medium.
The Human Condition... with Magic!
FMA was to me what Harry Potter was for many others. I waited with bated breath each week for Onemanga to upload the newest chapter. I watched every episode of the original, saw the films, cried for Nina and Alexander, Gaped at Al's unstable blood bond, shivered at the revelations of the philosopher stone and stood there in awe at the final chapter's brilliantly obvious play on the series rules. 11 years of magic that has changed how I take in a good story. Alchemy is so dang awesome and it's cool that threads the fine line of acceptable break from reality, rule of cool, and showing their work while all the while being a brilliant chekovs gun and bookend. Viewing it for the first time was like watching a fusion of Jackie Chan, Last Airbender, Dragon Ball and the matrix. Cool, sleek and fast! There was no emphasis on the power itself but on what it did! It was used with grace and guile! Who uses an Ammonium gas explosion from a tube of TNT to incapacitate a group of Killer beastmen with Enhanced Senses?! Other shows would light the TNT and RUN with it. The Story was so simple. Two boys wanting to make amends for their mistakes. It's relatable from the outset. There's no escapist message to inspire the audience, just an emotion every human has experienced: "the want to fix a mistake." It's a humble message that blossoms forth into beautiful and grotesque pastures. Kimblee's Bloodlust, Tucker's Greed, Hawkeye's Loyalty, Armstrong's Gentility, Ed's Determination, Al's Heart, Ms Hugh's Grief. All of it used to color the struggles of these boys and the people they meet as well as their triumphs. It's all there to remind you that the world has issues and to accept and keep on moving. It's all there to make you care for these boys but naturally as it leads you through the world of their lives. The best part of this series was how it loved to show you how it's done. It showed off what it knew of science with a keen edge. It guided you through every emotion under the sun and some that are cloistered in our darkest recesses. It beat you down with stuff that's soul crushing and real. It did one thing though. It showed you how a power of love ending can be done without it being forced and with it being within the rules of the series. it showed you how to make people rave and how to end so well they shut up and celebrate That it's Really Over
My favorite Anime and Manga of all time.
This is coming from a person who has watched, read and collected over 100 animes and mangas in total. Fullmetal Alchemist is by FAR my absolute favorite, and I can barely put it into words why. But, for the sake of this, I'll try. The foreshadowing is absolutely BRILLIANT. Hiromu Arakawa somehow managed to foreshadow suprising dramatic elements throughout the entirety of the series, but simultaneously doesn't tip anyone off. Even things that made complete sense and were shown in retrospect, I did NOT see coming. I actually have a few specific examples of what I mean, but no way am I going to spoil them. The characters are amazing. They're all individuals and likeable, even those that are of not so high moral caliber. They're all given their own reasons for doing the things that they do, get their own arcs to some extent, and are explored fully. They're also suprisingly funny and memorable. The writing is gold. The plot is complex, but not so much that it's hard to understand; the humor, even when it is arguably misplaced given the situations, are hilarous; the tragedy is genuinely depressing as well. This series succeded in making me cry at least five times, and that is no easy feat. My favorite thing about the writing of both the Manga and Brotherhood is, by far, the fact that there is NO filler whatsoever. Don't get me wrong, filler can be funny and entertaining in some cases, but in my opinion it usually just wastes time. Not so for this series. Every chapter, even EXTRA chapters, are relevant and connect to the plot or characters' development in some way. Even the extra chapter about Hawkeye getting Black Hayate(her dog) is relevant in some way! It may make the story had to keep up with, but trust me, it's well worth it. Speaking of, the story is incredible. It's heartwrenching, engaging, and even frightening in some areas, but still allows for happy moments and optimism. Making a darker story that characters can still be optimistic in is amazing in itself. ...Dang it, I'm running out of room. All in all, I give both the anime and the manga a 10/10. Pick it up, you won't regret it.
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood/manga: A must watch
I have to first admit I do not normally write reviews but comment on them, this series is just so high on my favorites (#1) that I HAD to write a good review. The series as a whole reflects and rounds about a VERY fulfilling plot. You get to know the characters in the beginning in an almost random fashion, but makes complete cohere sense and puts you straight into the plot. Even the new episode for Brotherhood worked in perfectly. After getting you into the main plot, everything thickens and stirs giving you a feeling of "What's next. Oh he'll be fine. OH WAIT, he did what!?!?", you can really only GUESS what will happen next, and unlike most plots it probably won't be right. The characters all interact wonderfully with their full personalities down to their random funny moments. Even the non lampshaded subtleties of ed's alchemy style gives you a lot of know how of his personality and likes, and the lamp shaded just confirms your suspicion. The adaptability of alchemy to it's user clearly just in itself, help you know the character by that alone. Ed gets more hasty, Al draws it out by hand and gets a clean good result. Mustang's flames clearly shows his authority, and Armstrong's finely sculpted statues of himself just tell you, not vanity in my opinion, but very hammy pride. Then the pick yourself up and stop sulking attitude very clearing stated to others tell you of the series, and the characters so much. It gives me tears of pure joy thinking of it. I want to find an american flag and go to way with it, and it only. Generally. There is a lot i want to put in, but saying too much would be bad. But, if my words of praise alone should tell you how well this anime/manga can swell you over, then really do the details matter when you can learn it all yourself? Also, if you wondering. I recommend the anime due to being that much more immersion. Black and white print can be good to some. But, if I can see and hear it, I feel so much more comfortable, and the english acting is top notch. A MUST WATCH!!!!
http://www.onemanga.com/Full_Metal_Alchemist/1/00/ DO IT NOW! Okay, Okay, You probably want to know why. I'll explain Fullmetal Alchemist in brief. There's this guy, Edward Elric, and his brother, Alphonse. Their Mother died when they were young and they decided to use Alchemy, the magic of the setting, to bring her back to life. This costs Ed his leg, and Alphonse his whole body, but Ed gives up his arm to fuse Al's soul with a suit of armour. They embark on a quest to find the Philosopher's Stone, which they plan to use to get their limbs back. In order to acheive this, Ed decides to work for the State and becomes a State Alchemist, codename Fullmetal Alchemist. And that doesn't even begin to describe the supporting cast, which contains around 40 plot-significant, recurring characters. The plot is complex and multi-layered, which makes sense as it was evidently planned out from the beginning, thus averting The Chris Carter Effect. All of the aforementioned characters are distinct, memorable, and likeable, not a scrappy among them, except in potential cases of Die For Our Ship, which is very uncommon. It's comparable to Indiana Jones, not just in the general time frame of the setting and the themes of the works (magic and Nazis) but in that it has a huge emotional range, going from Crowning Moment Of Heart Warming to Tear Jerker and everything in between. The action is excellent and the comedy is hilarious. It has almost everything you could want out of a comic, and then some. The storytelling is some of the best I've ever seen. You wonder why people who were fans of the manga hated the first anime which was objectively excellent? Cause the manga's that fucking good. It's hard to explain much beyond that, you'll just have to read it yourself.
My favorite manga.
The first volume of Fullmetal Alchemist was the first manga I ever read, my guide into the world of manga and anime. Naturally, I feel quite nostalgic for it. I'm quite glad it was my first one, because it really is also the best one I've ever read, and it ranks in my favorite series up there with Harry Potter. The overarching plot is dense and complicated enough to keep one guessing about certain aspects, and the characters are motivating and engaging. I normally don't like the main character, as these tend to be a bit Mary-Sue-ish or annoying, but Edward Elric is one of my rare exceptions for this, as he packs a lot of personality and punch. My other favorites include Alphonse, of course, Riza Hawkeye, and the Badass Action Girl Major General Olivier Mira Armstrong. I also really like the villains—they're not villain sues, and they're mainly both lovable and hateable, perhaps at the same time. Envy is such a Complete Monster, and its true form freaks even me out (made even better in Brotherhood, where the animation for its true form is full of details and the heads are constantly moving). Lust is an awesome vamp-like monster, and Pride...Well... Pride is just...creepy. In a good way. And Greed started out as a villain but made a very convincing change to good, and his final act almost made me cry. I love the art. After finishing the series, I looked back at the first volume and was shocked. Hiromu Arakawa had really managed to age Edward flawlessly. Winry, too. I like how the art is simple but shows all of the detail necessary. The way she draws her characters not too skinny or BIshonen is awesome, too—I agree with her that skinny females can be unattractive, and that somebody with some meat and muscle is much better-looking. I enjoyed every minute of this series, so much that I also watched the 64-episode anime adaptation of the manga, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, which is an excellent anime. The art is very faithful to the manga, and any little changes were favorable and worked just fine for me. The voice acting in the English dub is great—it's the only dubbed anime I can watch without grimacing every other word (And Lust had one sexy voice. I loved this series and recommend it to anybody with a love for a well-written fantasy work with great characters and a cool plot.
Pretty damn enjoyable.
When I first started reading this series, I was a little skeptical. I mean, it was really popular, but I was afraid that, like some other series *cough Naruto cough*, it wouldn't live up to the hype. And, in the beginning, although I was thoroughly amused by the plot, it just didn't do it for me. Then, things began to happen. It suddenly changed from a series about a plucky teenager on his many journeys into a tightly woven plot of intrigue, mystery, violence, science, and death. It was absolutely shocking, to be sure, but Arakawa actually managed to weave it in so well, and without sacrificing any of the good humor and characterization for angsty, emo characterization, that I thoroughly enjoyed the change, and loved the entire series. Still do. The art... isn't much to look at, really. It's your standard shounen fare, with a lot of characters tending to have similar faces, EXCEPT that the composition of her fight scenes is excellent, and the detail that she puts into the facial expressions and emotions of characters is definitely evident. Speaking of characters, lets talk about them. I'm going to say this now: almost no character that is EVER mentioned in this series is wasted. EVER. I won't spoil, but Arakawa manages to turn some of the most forgettable side characters (the ones that were in, oh, I don't know, three panels?) into full-on support characters with fully fledged personalities. And her main characters are amazing. Well characterized, they don't suffer from the usual Wangst that a lot of characters suffer from in other shounen. They react to situations in a way that seems ABSOLUTELY real, and as you read the series you begin to sympathize with them, and then when bad things happen it breaks your heart. Overall, a very strong series, with an excellently written plot, lovable and well made characters, and decent art. *insert title here*
My Impressions the First Time
It's often hard to talk about the anime of Fullmetal Alchemist without mentioning the manga, and how the two versions compare to one another, but this review will evaluate the anime on its own, as it is a fairly good show with some noticeable flaws. This review is about what I thought of the anime before I read the manga. The series has an interesting overarching story that touches on questions such as how to use power, how people can atone for their mistakes and whether the world is at all fair. The world is well-developed and has a rich history, making it an effective setting for the story as past events have implications on several regards in the present. Many of the recurring characters are well-developed, with personal conflicts that often relate to the broader themes in the story and their world's issues, although some of them, like Roy Mustang's subordinates, are not as well developed as they could have been, and others, like Dr. Marcoh, disappear from the story far earlier than they should. The system of alchemy works well in the battles, allowing for a variety of uses and tactics in battles, such as making weapons or altering the environment. The characters have a variety of alchemy specialties and fighting styles, allowing for a variety of exciting battles, but some of the secondary protagonists, like Armstrong and Mustang, could have been given more chances to fight. Unfortunately, the plot often gets sidetracked on diversions that do little for the main story. These plots are significantly less interesting than the main material, and often involve characters who, like the Elrics, resent someone close to them without understanding the entire truth, and the villains in these episodes tend to seek power with no compelling motivations. Such stretches can go on for several episodes at a time, undermining viewer interest. The climax is somewhat disappointing, as it sets up some potentially epic battles and fails to deliver, particularly in the case of the main villain, and has a somewhat inconclusive ending that is a Sequel Hook for the movie. One may be led to wonder why the writers didn't remove some of the filler episodes to address these issues. Overall, Fullmetal Alchemist is worth a look, but I personally recommend also viewing the manga or the Brotherhood anime.
This has to be one of my favorite anime/manga series of all time. The animation is beautiful, the characters are just AWESOME and the whole damn story is just so engrossing.True, the manga is wonderful but it is the Brotherhood anime that sets it apart from everything out there. You can tell that the people who made this series put their hearts and souls into it and all the great details show. The English dub of Brotherhood is also well done with Vic Mignogna heading the anime all star cast. Unlike most people, my favorite character happens to be the most twisted: Envy. Yes, I adore the twisted palm-tree boy...girl...it not just because of its villainous nature but because it is truly scary...especially in his full blown "true form". That thing would give the Cloverfield monster, Godzilla and dare I say it, the Alien Queen a run for their money. And yes, I do love Edward as well. The awesome protagonist lacks height but more than makes up for it with his kick ass fighting skills and sheer awesomesauce when it comes to Alchemy. All in all, this anime is a masterpiece and should be watched by anyone who is an anime fan or who has already seen the first series + the movie Conqueror of Shamballa (which I also recommend).
The Truth Behind the Truth...
I'll keep this review as moderate as possible. At the start of the series, we're flatly introduced to our main character as he has his "My God What Have I Done?!" moment. From there, a web of intriegue and conspiracy spawns as the first villain is taken care of in Lior. As the series progresses, the characters really do evolve and grow, both in personal strength and revelations to who they are. Probably the biggest characters to grow are Ed himself, and Scar. I won't give to many spoilers away, but he does realize that the chain of violence indeed needs one man to break it. That said, there can be problems. While the drama and action scenes are spaced as well as the author can make, the drama seems to stretch a tad, while all the action scenes have seemed to have been saved to the very end, and it wouldn't surprise me if anyone came away with some ending fatigue. The villains were a very interesting miniboss squad, and seeing a group based on the seven deadly sins was interesting, especially when it came to their little endings. The human villains could also be good, Kimblee being an almost calm and subtle version of everyone's favorite monster clown, though your milage will vary. Now, it seems there's the issue of gushing in here, so I'll keep it as un-gushing as I can. The series is good, and there are genuine moments of comedy and action. All of the characters have their own motives, and the various plotlines tie together well in the end. That said, there's some WTF moments, and at times, the characters motives can seem confusing. But the characters do have their flaws and their limits, with only Roy Mustang and a few others coming close to any kind of Mary Sue level. Now that the series is at it's end, only one more chapter stands between FMA and it's true placement in manga history. Where that place is, the readers and fans will decide.
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.
A near perfect masterpiece
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.