Book Review│Fullmetal Alchemist (3-in-1 edition) Volume 1


Fullmetal Alchemist (3-in-1 edition) Volume 1 by Hiromu Arakawa

VIZ Media LLC, January 2014

576 pages

ISBN13: 9781421540184

Rating: 5/5 stars

Goodreads, Amazon, Wordery 



Volume 1 of Fullmetal Alchemist begins with Edward Elric and his younger brother Alphonse attempting to use the forbidden alchemic technique of human transmutation to bring their mother back from the dead. The transmutation fails, and as a result, Edward loses his left leg, and Alphonse loses his whole body. In order to save his brother, Edward sacrifices his right arm to bind Alphonse’s soul to a suit of armour with a blood pact- he there after becomes known as the ‘Fullmetal alchemist’ as he has automail prosthetics to replace his arm and leg, and is now a state alchemist in order to find the mythical ‘Philosopher’s Stone’ to restore Alphonse’s body.

I just want to say, before anything else, that Fullmetal Alchemist got under my skin in a way no other manga or anime has done since I watched the first season of Attack on Titan way way back when it first came out. I couldn’t stop reading it. From the get go, I was so drawn in by Edward and Alphonse as characters, as well as their brotherhood, that I could tell I was going to love this. And love it I did.

Every character came alive on the page. The other alchemists, whether it was Roy Mustang or a random alchemist assigned to protect them; Winry and her grandmother Pinako; Hawkeye; the brothers themselves; even the baddies, had substance, their actions so clouded in mystery that you just wanted to keep reading to understand their motives and aims. There is such a focus on humanity and themes of loss, grief, hope, that the narrative seemed to be driven by it- there isn’t one fight or character not driven by something, and it became an incredibly emotional experience. Which makes moments of loss even harder to read- chimeras will scar you for life– and the moments of humour- which are actually quite frequent, and woven very well into the plot- even more standout and funny.

The art style is also very consistent, and I loved looking at every panel and the detail paid to character’s expressions. There’s so much detail in Alphonse’s armour, Edward’s automail body parts, every fight scene flows and it was just so easy to read and enjoy. It was so easy that adjusting to reading right to left again was effortless and I wasn’t even conscious of doing it until my cousin mentioned it to me. I didn’t want to stop reading at the end of the third volume, and all I want to do is buy the next few volumes to binge read, but my rent is due next month and I have literally no money.

What I loved most about Fullmetal Alchemist, however, was the brotherhood between Edward and Alphonse. I could go on about them and how important it was to me, reading such an emotional and dedicated relationship between two brothers. Their closeness was just so convincing, the perfect example of being quite a young and immature bond where they can mess around and take the piss out of each other while also being one that is fully binding and difficult, something you wouldn’t give up for the world but still really draining when all you want to do is slap your sibling round the back of the head. Edward dedicates so much to saving Alphonse that his moments of immaturity and sulking really throw into perspective how much he sacrifices for his brother, and makes comments about Alphonse being the ‘mature’ one even more hard hitting as Alphonse reminds them of the lengths Edward has gone to in order to protect his brother, and that Alphonse himself is still only 14 years old, Edward 15.

This first volume is a brilliant introduction to the characters and the world, as well as the overarching plot. It’s difficult to read at points, very violent and doesn’t hesitate to put the boys through shit that would scar them for life. I couldn’t recommend this series more, and I will be carrying on with this series as soon as I possibly can without being left with no money for food.




2 thoughts on “Book Review│Fullmetal Alchemist (3-in-1 edition) Volume 1

  1. Pingback: 2017│Favourite Reads of 2017 – seasonsofwords

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