Thursday, May 3, 2018

REVIEW: Fullmetal Alchemist: Fullmetal Edition Vol. 1

It’s somewhat serendipitous that this opportunity comes up now. If you’ve been following the blog for a while you’ll know that I watched Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood for the first time over the last months. I’d never seen either version of the anime before and I have not read the manga. Until now. Check out my review of the Fullmetal Edition after the jump.

I received a copy of Fullmetal Alchemist: Fullmetal Edition courtesy of VIZ Media. Opinions are my own.

FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST: FULLMETAL EDITION is a hardcover, deluxe collector’s edition with brand-new cover art, new color inserts and color versions of select pages previously printed in black and white, and behind-the-scenes character sketches from series creator Hiromu Arakawa.

The Fullmetal Edition is a super high-quality hardback re-release of the original manga by Hiromu Arakawa. The cover art is a beautifully hand-drawn image of Edward that wraps around the entire cover. On the front, Edward shows off his exposed shoulder where the nerves connect to his metal arm. His arm extends across the spine until we’re on the back where his fist punches right off the book. Truly a book cover that is both graceful and badass at the same time. The title and author’s name are embossed on the cover and across the spine in a shiny red. The best part is: there’s no dust jacket. All of these cool details are right on the cover.

Inside, the pages are a shiny glossy white instead of the usual pulpy paper that most manga is made of and while I do love that old school feel I gotta say this artwork really stands out in this printing. The title page is a transparent red page that casts a glow over another hand-drawn image of Edward. The first few pages of the manga proper are in full color. At the end are a couple pages of concept arts and sketches of Edward. There’s a lot of Ed, so I imagine other characters will take his place in the later volumes. Even the “You’re reading the wrong way” page is fancy.

As far as the manga itself, what can I say? It’s Fullmetal Alchemist. Edward and Alphonse Elric broke the greatest law of alchemy when they tried to bring their mother back to life. As a result, Edward lost an arm and a leg and Al lost his entire body, his soul bonded to a hollow suit of armor. Literally armed with mechanical prosthetics, Edward becomes a State Alchemist - given the title of Fullmetal - to aid his quest to find the legendary Philosopher’s Stone so that the two can regain their original bodies.

The original manga tells more or less the same story that both anime series do, just in some different ways. One thing that really jumped out at me - as someone who has only seen Brotherhood - was a chapter set in a mining town. This was not adapted into an episode of Brotherhood, however, I eventually realized it sorta was. Towards the end of Brotherhood, a random dude shows up cursing Edward for ruining his life. There’s a quick flashback that summarizes the events of the mining town chapter in the style of an old movie and then this random dude sticks around for the rest of the series. I was so confused. Who was this guy? Now I know the whole story.

The Fullmetal Edition is the perfect item for collectors and superfans of one of the most beloved stories to come out of Japan. Viz has the Signature imprint that releases cutting-edge manga in oversized volumes, but this is unlike anything I’ve ever seen them put out. It’s rare we get a deluxe, collector’s edition of a manga so if you love Fullmetal Alchemist you owe it to yourself to pick this up.

Volume 1 (which contains one and a half of the original graphic novels) will be released exclusively in print with an MSRP of $19.99 U.S. / $26.99 CAN and is rated ‘T’ for Teens. Future volumes will be published by VIZ Media on a quarterly basis.

Click here to get your copy of the Fullmetal Edition now.