Fullmetal Alchemist 3-in-1: Volumes 1-3 by Hiromu Arakawa (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

July 21, 2011 by  

Are you new to “Fullmetal Alchemist” and want to know how it all began? Look no further as Viz Media is releasing “Fullmetal Alchemist” as part of their 3-in-1 series. Featuring the first three volumes of the manga series, read the action, adventure and drama of Hiromu Arakawa’s popular hit series! Definitely recommended!

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Image courtesy of © 2002 Hiromu Arakawa/SQUARE ENIX. All Rights Reserved.

MANGA TITLE: Fullmetal Alchemist 3-in-1: Volumes 1-3

STORY AND ART BY: Hiromu Arakawa



RATED: T for Older Teen

PAGES: 576

RELEASE DATE: June 7, 2011

In an alchemical ritual gone wrong, Edward Elric lost his arm and his leg, and his brother Alphonse became nothing but a soul in a suit of armor. Equipped with mechanical “”auto-mail”” limbs, Edward becomes a state alchemist, seeking the one thing that can restore his and his brother’s bodies…the legendary Philosopher’s Stone.

Alchemy: the mystical power to alter the natural world, somewhere between magic art, and science. When two brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric, dabbled in these powers to grant their dearest wish, one of them lost an arm and leg…and the other became nothing but a soul locked into a body of living iron. Now they are agents of the government, slaves of the military -alchemical complex, using their unique powers to obey their orders…even to kill. But their powers aren’t unique. The world crawls with evil alchemists. And in pursuit of the ultimate alchemical treasure, the Philsopher’s Stone, their enemies are even more ruthless than they are…

In Japan, “Fullmetal Alchemist” (Hagane no Renkinjutushi) is a popular long running anime and manga series created by mangaka Hiromu Arakawa.  The original manga series was serialized in Square Enix’s “Shonen Gangan” since 2001, while the 51-episode TV series created by BONES was shown on television in 2004 followed by a manga faithful anime adaptation with “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” airing in 2009-2010.

The popularity of “Fullmetal Alchemist” has led to many novels, OVA’s, drama CD’s, soundtracks and video games and a lot of these releases have been distributed in various countries and its popularity is a testament of how people have come to love the series which has won many awards in Japan including being voted for the #1 most popular anime series of all time.

With the popularity of this franchise and its current Blu-ray and DVD release in the U.S., its no surprise that fans are wanting to read the manga version and what best way than to do it now with the release of Viz Media’s omnibus, “Fullmetal Alchemist 3-in-1” with the first volume feature manga volumes 1-3.

“Fullmetal Alchemist” is a manga series about two young alchemist brothers named Edward and his younger brother Alphonse Elric (aka “Al”).  Their father left them and several months after their father left, an epidemic hit their village and killed their mother.  Grieving and alone without their mother, the two quickly tried to hone their alchemist skills and hope to bring their mother back alive by using a human transmutation (this is illegal and considered taboo by alchemist).

While performing the transmutation, a dark shadow comes and literally breaks apart the body of Alphonse and as for Edward, he is shown “the truth” but in return for doing the transmutation, there is a toll and in this case, he loses his legs and feet and his right arm.  And the transmutation to bring their mother fails as Edward was only able to revive a disembodied figure.  In a short time allowed before the dark shadow leaves, Edward was able to bond Al’s soul to a suit of armor but there are some consequences.  And these consequences and guilt have plunged Edward to the lowest he had ever been.

With this opportunity, this gives Edward a chance to repair what he did wrong and help his brother.  But as they investigate on how they can get their bodies back and investigating what is known as a “Philosopher’s Stone”, an unknown group is out there, observing his every move and willing to kill in order to get to Edward.

Meanwhile, a military figure named Roy Mustang is assisting the Elric brothers by giving them opportunities to find the Philosopher’s Stone but to do that, the two will be part of the military.  For the Elric brothers, working together is a good idea as they hope the stone may give Edward a chance to bring his brother Al back to life and also get back his own body as well.

In the first volume, a woman named Rose trusts a charlatan (who has a Philospher’s Stone) who promises to bring her dead husband back, but the Elric Brothers knows that there is no such way.   Meanwhile, as the Elric Brothers head back to headquarters, the train is hijacked.

In the second volume, the Elric Brothers come in contact with a mad scientist named Dr. Tucker who is learning transmutation and learn of the crazy and tragic things he has done.  Meanwhile, a mysterious man with a scar has arrived.  Who is this man known as Scar?  And what happens when the military try to apprehend him?

Meanwhile, the Elric Brothers try to look for a scientist known for creating the Philosopher’s Stone.

In the third volume, Edward’s automail is damaged and the only person he knows that can repair it is his childhood friend Winry Rockbell.  So, Edward and Al head back home along with Armstrong to get the repairs done.  Meanwhile, the Homunculus go after Scar and the military work hard in to decrypting the code of how a Philosopher’s Stone is created and leading Edward and Al to confront their true enemy.

“Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” features the following characters:

  • Edward Elric – The oldest of the Elric brothers who manage to survive a transmutation and managed to bond his brother to a suit of armor just in time.   In the process, he lost his legs and his right arm in which his childhood friend Winry has created metal prosthetics known as “automail”.  He is also quite short but also very destructive as he is skillful with alchemy and the fact he survived a transmutation shocks the military.  Working as a State Alchemist in order to find a way to bring his brother’s body back and possibly getting his own body back.
  • Alphonse Elric – Al is the youngest brother of Edward who was bonded to a suit of armor.   Almost invulnerable and very strong.  Often mistaken as the eldest because of his size.
  • Roy Mustang – The Lt. Colonel of the State Military who wants to become the next Fuhrer of Amestris.  He is the one who discovered Edward and Alphonse.
  • Winry Rockbell – A childhood friend of Edward and Alphonse.  She is also very gifted in technical and mechanical things.   Often is the person who repairs Edward’s automail (metal prosthetic limbs).  And always arguing with Edward, but its quite obvious that she cares about him.
  • Alex Louis Armstrong – A strong arm alchemist who is extremely strong and hulking in size but also very sensitive.
  • Riza Hawkeye – Roy Mustang’s most trusted subordinate.  The voice of reason and excellent in using firearms.

The Homunculi

The main antagonists which consist of artificial humans who are trying to create the philosopher’s stone and has become a major thorn in the military’s side.  They are hard to defeat as they can regenerate.

  • Lust – A homunculi who is a sexy woman who can use her fingers to become weapons and grow to larger lengths and cut through anything.
  • Gluttony – A homunculi who likes to eat people or anything.  He has powerful jaws with acidic saliva.
  • Envy – A homunculi who can assume any appearance and makes him infiltrate the military HQ quite easily and is known to create and instigate major problems.

“Fullmetal Alchemist” is no doubt a popular manga series and because so many people were introduced to anime and manga because of “Fullmetal Alchemist”, with the release of “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood”, many fans are wanting to know how the original manga series were.

And fortunately, Viz Media has done a great service to fans of popular series “Naruto”, “Bleach” and “Fullmetal Alchemist” by releasing these omnibus featuring three volumes per graphic novel for a low price!

One thing that those who are new to the series can expect from “Fullmetal Alchemist” is that the storyline delivers in action and drama but also, it features plenty of characters and also adventure, so you pretty much get a little bit of everything with this series.

Hiromu Arakawa’s artwork and writing are quite solid and its a testament that a series that is not long-running compared to “Naruto” or “Bleach” has achieved so much success in the USA but also has been released on Blu-ray, DVD, video games as well in America.  Not bad for a manga series that is 27 volumes long!  In fact, that’s fantastic!

But if you have been wanting to jump in and read the manga series, it’s a great time to do that now, especially through the release of the 3-in-1 series.  For its price and value, there is nothing to complain about.  This is  great deal for new and old “Fullmetal Alchemist” fans who have not read the manga series.

Highly recommended!

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