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Creator / Hiromu Arakawa

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Portrait of the artist as a young cow.

Hiromu Arakawa (荒川 弘 Arakawa Hiromu, born May 8, 1973) is a Japanese mangaka from Hokkaidō best known for creating Fullmetal Alchemist. Born and raised on a dairy farm, Arakawa spent several years helping out her family farm while taking painting lessons after graduating high school before moving to Tokyo to become a manga assistant, to Hiroyuki Eto of Magical Circle Guru-Guru fame.

Works by Hiromu Arakawa:

Tropes applying to Arakawa or her works:

  • Art Shift: She'll use any style to make a point... or a point-of-view scene make a statement. From Gag to stock-Shojo and/or Josei to realistic-Seinen to Sport to Bara-esque — anything goes. In a normally very-much-a-Shonen style.
  • Author Appeal: Now memetic. "Men should be muscular and women should be va-va-voom!"
  • Author Avatar: She usually appears as a bespectacled cow.
  • Creator's Oddball: Most of her works are action/fantasy stories with brutal fight scenes and high stakes involved. Silver Spoon, however, is a Slice of Life story set in contemporary Japan with no fantasy elements at all, and with animals dying instead of humans. Arakawa has said this was intentional since she wanted to challenge herself by writing a more realistic work.
  • Darker and Edgier: Souten no Koumori (a one-shot about a female Ninja) is just as tragic and bittersweet as Fullmetal Alchemist and Stray Dog, but has the least humor and slapstick of all of her works. Her rendition of The Heroic Legend of Arslan is noticeably more intense than the original manga.
  • Gorn: It says a lot when Silver Spoon, a Slice of Life manga, depicts nauseatingly realistic gore.
  • Mistaken Identity: If you do an image search for "Hiromu Arakawa", you will get a lot of pictures of Romi Park, the seiyū of Edward Elric in Fullmetal Alchemist. This is due to some past misidentification that the internet won't forget.
  • Mood Whiplash: Nobody else does it quite like she does... You'll frequently find several swinging moods in the same scene, let alone the same chapter, yet she makes it all work. She often includes the use of Super-Deformed or otherwise Art Shifted caricatures for emphasis: it's a trademark. And, beware all ye the Bishie Sparkle and Wingding Eyes: the uses are many and various... and, not all of them are uniquely humorous.
  • Moustache de Plume: Her real given name is Hiromi, but she writes under the name "Hiromu", which is a more gender-neutral version of her name. She hasn't been very secretive about her gender otherwise, since she mentions things like being pregnant on her blog more than once.
  • Reclusive Artist: Zigzagged; it's very difficult to find an actual photo of her, as opposed to the bespectacled cow she always draws herself as. During a TV interview in 2017, she even had a drawing of the cow imposed over her face. However, while she's reclusive about her appearance, she's quite willing to talk about herself and her life, particularly in Omake. Heck, Noble Farmer is basically her autobiography!
  • The Remake: Made her own rendition of The Heroic Legend of Arslan, which began in 2013 and had an anime adaptation in 2015.
  • Shōnen: Most of her works are this, though they have more mature themes and are Bloodier and Gorier than most.
  • Shown Their Work: Fullmetal Alchemist shows that she did a lot of research on both alchemy (famous alchemists, theoretical alchemic laws, uses for Philosopher's Stone) and chemistry (human composition, conservation of matter). Any breaks from them seem to be either Rule of Cool, Rule of Funny, or the alchemists in question knowing what they're doing (more so than can be shown with just a few images and some relatively small speech bubbles).
    • For the wuxia-inspired Hero Tales, Arakawa and her team traveled to where the series is set to see some Chinese architecture and way of living.
  • Take That!: In a 4koma for Fullmetal Alchemist, her cowsona drunkenly rants about Star Wars, specifically, "Why would Padme fall in love with Anakin?!".
  • Write What You Know:
    • Silver Spoon takes place in Hokkaido, and features the life and times of students at an agricultural high school. Arakawa was herself born into a farming family in Hokkaido and attended such a school, so naturally, the depiction of the life there is very accurate. Noble Farmer describes her life on her parents' farm; the protagonists of Fullmetal Alchemist have their adventures all over the place, but they're from a small town in the country.
    • Arakawa has also stated that the plight of the Ishvalans in Fullmetal Alchemist was inspired by the Ainu, the indigenous people of Japan and Russia; the Ainu are the original inhabitants of her native Hokkaido, and she grew up around many people who were Ainu or of Ainu descent.