Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa

Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa

Arakawa, Horomu. Fullmetal Alchemist Vol. 1. VIZ Media LLC. 2005 (first published Jan. 22, 2002). ISBN 1591169208

Reader’s Annotation: Two brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric, turned to alchemy to try and bring their mother back to life.  Instead, Edward lost his arm and leg and Alphonse lost his body and now must work with the government using his alchemist powers.

Plot Summary: In an effort to bring their mother back to life Edward and Alphonse dabbled in alchemy and Alphonse lost his body and is now encased in a suit of armor and Edward lost his arm and leg.  Edward is now a state alchemist, an agent of the military, and along his search for the Philosopher’s Stone he uses his powers against the corrupt.

Critical Evaluation

This volume follows the brothers on their search for the Philosopher’s Stone and actually contains three different adventures in which Edward and Alphonse end up saving the public from corrupt officials, scam artists and other bad guys.  While not quite as interesting for my tastes as InuYasha I can still see why this series is such a hit.  Alphonse seems to be such a sweet guy who has lost so much (his actual body) that you can’t help but feel for him.  Even though he is the younger brother he comes across as the more mature of the two.  Edward’s character took a little examination to figure out if I liked him or not.  In the first story it seems like he only helps expose a fraud for his own personal reasons. Another adventure in which he rescues the good guys seems to be because they insult his stature and he is reacting to their insults.  It was the mining town adventure that showed that he really does have a good heart when he helps a group of miners deal with a corrupt official.

There are still many questions about what exactly a state alchemist is supposed to be doing, Edward and Alphonse’s past and what exactly the Philosopher’s Stone can do but it definitely seems to be setting up to an interesting series.

About the author

Arakawa is a manga artist from Hokkaido, Japan and her Fullmetal Alchemist is the series she is most well known for.  It was an international hit and became an animated TV series as well.

In 2011 she began work on a new series, Silver Spoon, and it won the 5th Manga Taisho Award for Silver Spoon.



Curriculum Ties


Book talking idea

How would you like the power to transmute an item into some other sort of item? What would you do with this kind of power?

Reading level

Grade 9 and up

Challenge Issues


I would have the library’s collection management policy on hand and explain that the library is not here to filter what patrons read.  If questioned about this policy I would direct the patron to the ALA Bill of Rights.

While there is killing, not much blood and gore is shown and most teens will see worse things on TV or at the movie theaters.

Why did I include this book?

This has been mentioned as a very popular manga series.


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Filed under Fiction, Graphic Novel

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