Born in Hokkaido, Japan, Hiromu Arakawa first attracted attention in 1999 with her award-winning manga Stray Dog. Her series Fullmetal Alchemist was serialized from 2001 to 2010 with a story that spanned 27 volumes and became an international critical and commercial success, receiving both the Shogakukan Manga Award and Seiun Award and selling over 70 million copies worldwide. Fullmetal Alchemist has been adapted into anime twice, first as Fullmetal Alchemist in 2003 and again as Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood in 2009. The series has also inspired numerous films, video games and novels.
For five years, American readers have been following this manga series, the adventures of Edward and Alphonse, both horribly injured in an attempt to return their dead mother to life via magical means. Their early adventures were more lighthearted, even when they faced serious menaces in their quest to become fully human again. Then, things slowly turned dark, as the true nature of the bad guys became visible. Now, the story is building toward a climax as plot threads begin to be resolved, characters head toward "final" showdowns, and scenes from early in the series are revisited. Fullmetal Alchemist is, on the surface, an action/adventure story, and that is what attracts the younger readers. For more mature readers, there are philosophical, political, and other issues interwoven through the story. Even the definition of humanity comes into question, as both enemies and allies include beings that are only partially human, by most standards. Verdict While not a good jumping-on point for the vast story arc, these volumes are a solid continuation of a popular story. For teens and adults, owing to violence.-Nick Smith, Pasadena P.L. Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.
This manga inspired the popular series now airing on the Cartoon Network and captures the show's brand of mystical, action-packed adventure. Set in a steam-powered locale that isn't necessarily in our world, the series follows two teenage brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric-one bearing two cybernetic replacement limbs while the other's soul animates a cumbersome suit of armor. The two are government agents wielding prodigious abilities in alchemy who carry out the hazardous assignments issued by their handlers. Their exploits range from thwarting the machinations of a fraudulent and ambitious priest who abuses the faith of his oblivious flock to cunningly extracting an impoverished mining community from the exorbitant clutches of a corrupt official and dealing with a train-hijack situation that owes a serious debt to the film Under Siege. In a market glutted with too many like-minded efforts, Arakawa's work grabs readers and shakes them with simple yet eloquent visuals and a bizarre concept. To give away more would ruin the story, but the snippets of the brothers' origin hint at much darker things to come, and such portents herald fun in upcoming installments. (May) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.