Fullmetal Alchemist: Fullmetal Edition Book 1 is out now from Viz Media, recollecting and remastering Hiromu Arakawa’s classic manga series for readers new and old.
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. Their journey to restore their bodies through the power of the Philosopher’s Stone begins here.
This new edition covers the first one and a half volumes of the series. It includes brand-new cover art, new color inserts, color versions of select pages previously printed in black and white, and behind-the-scenes character sketches from creator Arakawa. You can learn more about the Fullmetal Alchemist: Fullmetal Edition series here.
The additions make this collection well worth the $20. The newly colored pages are crisp and clean, and the smattering of concept art throughout is fun and interesting to dig through, especially for older fans of FMA. It would have been great to see more coloring, though. There’s one colored spread at the front, and just two more throughout the book. And they’re gorgeous; they just leave you wanting more.
Revisiting these first one and a half volumes, you can see what made the series such a success. The characters are complex and interesting. Ed in particular is very funny to watch, while Al is more soft spoken, bringing a balance to their relationship, and giving the brothers a dynamic that’s pure fun to read.
But while the characters are the driving force behind the series, the story itself can’t help but suck you in. Yes, it’s got action and adventure, but best of all it’s mysterious and intriguing. Arakawa doesn’t waste time setting everything up with dull exposition; she just tells her story. She plants seeds which keep you as the reader invested, wanting to know more. There are elements introduced in these early pages that aren’t full explained or revealed until later in the series, and that’s masterful storytelling. It keeps you turning pages.
As far as art goes, Arakawa’s facial expressions do an excellent job conveying tone and emotion. Plus they’re often hysterical, generating much of the series humor. She also creates a unique atmosphere by juxtaposing detailed characters with minimalist backgrounds. A character like Al is rendered with incredible attention to detail, which really makes him pop against a more bare-bones background. The simple backgrounds are also Arakawa’s way of forcing the reader to focus on what she wants them to focus on, further proving her firm grasp on the medium.
Fullmetal Alchemist: Fullmetal Edition Book 1 combines the great story that fans know and love with some awesome new features. The only real criticism is that it leaves readers wanting more of the bonus content. But hey, that’s just a reason to look forward to Book 2.