Brothers, Homunculi & Alchemy, Oh My!

Obviously the book that is going to rush off the shelves this week is the second-to-last Full Metal Alchemist volume. That shouldn’t surprise anyone, but the excitement that’s building as the story dwindles to a close definitely will! Even if you are one of the new FMA fans that went hog wild over the rehashed anime, Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood, there is still a certain je ne sais quoi about reading the story as it was originally conceived in manga form (Frankly, it is for this reason that I’m not personally too crazy over Brotherhood. I was okay with accepting the old anime as something different; it at least forced people to read the book, whereas now I worry that having a cartoon version will just make everyone too lazy to do so).

Oh, no, wait; I’m sorry, what was that? You haven’t heard of FMA before? What, you live under a rock or something? Full Metal Alchemist blew up like crazy in the mid 2000’s when the original anime hit Adult Swim, and it’s only gained momentum since. If you haven’t had a chance to check it out; perhaps because you are wary of things that are stupidly popular; at least give FMA a chance, as it most definitely deserves nearly all the brouhaha.

Why, you ask? Well, first off, it is one of the more complex and layered storylines to appear in a while. Whether or not you are nerdy enough to recognize all of the historical elements and figures who influence this world where alchemy is real, just the main ideas found here are more than enough to keep one engaged. Hiromu Arakawa, the creator of the series, definitely keeps things consistent, never breaking away from the laws of alchemy that are established very early on in the story. This is incredibly important since many plot points are based on various characters trying their best to bend the rules for their own needs. As things grow more complex, you as a reader can fall back on what you know to be true — or at least, what you think to be true.

But perhaps the most powerful thing about FMA is that at its core, despite the immense interest of the worldbuild, the series is about two lost brothers and the incredible filial love that they have for one another. After an alchemic attempt to bring their mother back from the grave goes horribly awry, the younger brother, Alphonse, has lost his body to the nether. Edward, the eldest, swears he will do any and everything to get his brother back to normal. In order to do this, the two brothers set out to find the Philosopher’s Stone, a legendary object in alchemy that ignores the law of equivalent exchange — the very law that took Al’s body in the first place. And, of course as is typical with all anime, it turns out that setting out on this journey will bring the two brothers to revelations about their own family and the world they live in that they never deemed possible.

So graduate from Bleach and check out the phenomenal shounen series that has captured the hearts of millions of readers around the world. Action, intrigue and a lot of soul, FMA is sure to win you over as well.

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