By Leroy Douresseaux
September 12, 2009 - 09:07
|Fullmetal Alchemist Volume 20 is courtesy of barnesandnoble.com.|
Rated “T” for “Teen”
Amestris is a country on an alternate-history version of Earth. There, brothers Edward & Alphonse “Al” Elric take part in a forbidden alchemical ritual that goes wrong. Edward lost a leg, but Alphonse lost his entire body. Edward grafted his younger brother’s soul into a suit of armor (which also costs Edward an arm). Edward replaced his own missing flesh with “auto-mail” limbs. Edward eventually became a state alchemist and continues to serve the Amestris state military. In the meantime, he searches for the Philosopher’s Stone, a legendary substance that can restore the brothers’ bodies.
In Fullmetal Alchemist, Vol. 20, Al reunited with his father, the man known as Von Hohenheim. May Chang heads for Central City. Ed and his chimera companions make a surprising deal with the schizophrenic homunculus, Greed. After being let in on an amazing secret, Olivier Mira Armstrong makes her move to become head of her family.
THE LOWDOWN: D’uh! I only just realized that Fullmetal Alchemist creator, Hiromu Arakawa, is a female manga-ka. That would explain why this alternate-history/military drama is defined as much by its strong characters as it is by the conspiracy-laden plot. [At least, I find female manga-ka to be exceptional at characterization.] Fullmetal Alchemist has a dense narrative, complicated plot, large cast, and involved mythology. While that can make it an imposing series for new readers to start anywhere other than at the beginning, the addictive Fullmetal Alchemist is worth it.
POSSIBLE AUDIENCE: Readers looking for an excellent science fiction/fantasy manga that is also accessible to and appropriate for teen readers will like Fullmetal Alchemist.