I’d waited so eagerly for this volume, and here I am almost a month late with it. I suppose I can’t complain, though, as it’s the perfect reading for a stormy Saturday morning.
Fullmetal Alchemist is one of those series where every volume brings amazing new revelations, yet it is so well-plotted, none of this ever feels melodramatic or forced. I am constantly impressed with depth and detail of Hiromu Arakawa’s planning for this story, compounded by her deft execution of it. I know that FMA is a popular manga, but I often feel that in spite of (because of?) that, or perhaps because it is a shonen manga, Arakawa does not get the recognition she deserves for being a seriously fantastic storyteller. The release schedule for FMA in the US leaves long gaps between volumes, and I tend to get caught up in other things in-between. But every time a new volume comes out, I’m reminded immediately of why I’ve often said this is my favorite manga series.
Buy This Book
This volume, unsurprisingly, contains several big revelations, particularly regarding the homunculi’s overall plans and the source of power for Amestrian alchemy. Ed and Al share their knowledge of the homunculi with Major General Olivier Armstrong, and she continues to be a bad-ass of the best kind, neatly disposing of the corrupt General Raven by burying him in cement. Kimblee remains (sadly) alive and unbearably smug as always. The military continues to use Winry to keep control of the Elric brothers, bringing her to Fort Briggs, where it seems everyone is gathering for the next big event. I don’t read scanlations of this series, so I have no real idea where all this is leading, but I get the feeling that even though it feels like there could be a climax approaching, there is still a lot we don’t know. There’s only one real fight in this volume, between the Fort Briggs soldiers and the homunculus Sloth (who is surprisingly industrious considering his name), so this volume is thick with nice, juicy plot.
Perhaps my favorite chapter here, however, is a flashback to the Elric brothers’ childhood, where we learn much more about both their parents, and particularly about their father’s own personal quest. A scene in which Hoenheim is afraid to touch his sons for fear of turning them into monsters like him is extremely poignant. Aside from this flashback, and the confession to Major General Armstrong, this volume is actually pretty light on both Ed and Al, and it is yet another sign of Arakawa’s skill that even with the protagonists on the sidelines, her story remains crisp and compelling.
Now for the long wait until the release of volume 18. *sigh*