GNN: Fullmetal Alchemist, volumes 2,3,4
Posted November 5, 2010on:
Just joining us? Welcome! learn about the world of Fullmetal Alchemist and read about Volume one here.
In volumes two, three, and four of Fullmetal Alchemist, Edward is certainly the main character, but mangaka Hiromu Arakawa takes the opportunity to introduce us to a ton of supporting characters. Via dialogue and a little bit of comedy relief, she imbues everyone with their own unique personality. There are no red-shirts here.
One after another, Ed and Al meet rogue alchemists who can help them, and hurt them. The boys seek information on the philosopher’s stone and how they can get their original bodies back, but some secrets are best left undiscovered.
Interested in bio-alchemy, Colonel Roy Mustang introduces them to Shou Tucker, the Sewing-Life Alchemist. Tucker is famous for having created a chimera that could talk. The pressure is on for him to product another alchemical creation, and he does. But his daughter and pet dog have gone missing. When Ed discovers the truth, he accuses Tucker of acting against everything alchemists believe in. Tucker’s response is that Edward did the same thing when he attempted human transmutation.
Before Tucker can be brought to trial, he is murdered by Scar. Scar is a mysterious terrorist, who specifically goes after state alchemists. He believes he is a divine instrument, cleansing the world of the work of the devil. It comes to light that Scar is an Ishbalan (spelled Ishvarlan in earlier printings), a member of the ethnic group that is still recovering from it’s war with Amestris. Ishbalans living in Amestris are marginalized, usually forced to live in ghettos and not allowed to practice their religion. Of course, Edward and Alphonse go after Scar, who uses his deconstruction alchemy to obliterate Ed’s automail arm and nearly tear Alphonse’s suit of armor in half. One handed, Ed can’t do alchemy. He can’t put his brother’s suit of armor back together. Without his prosthetic arm, Ed is just one more useless kid. Scar seems unstoppable, and his goal is to destroy the State Alchemists of Amestris.
Humbled, the brothers travel back to their hometown of Resembool to visit their automail engineers and while enroute, they meet Tim Marcoh, a famous military alchemist who has been on the run from the military since the Ishbal war ended. Edward practically demands that Dr. Marcoh hand over his research on the philosopher’s stone, and although Marcoh won’t give it up, he does tell Ed that his notes can be found in the library in Central City, and that Edward needs to find the truth within the truth to understand. Satisfied, the boys continue onto Resembool. But they aren’t the only ones who know were Marcoh’s secrets are hidden.
Calling them Ed’s automail engineers gives Winry and Granny Pinako the short shrift. Granny Pinako knew Ed and Al’s father from way back when, and Winry grew up playing with the boys. She lives with her grandmother because her parents were killed in the Ishbal war. Through Granny Pinako, we learn a little bit of what Ed when through after the failed human transmutation. Al may have been stuck in a metal body, not being able to hurt or cry, but Ed endured surgery after surgery, months of pain and rehabilitation. He and Winry have a special kind of relationship. They grew up together and love each other like siblings, maybe one day it will turn into something more.
Ed and Al do make it to Central to visit the library Dr. Marcoh told them about. But the building has been burnt to the ground, everything in it destroyed. Why would someone burn a library down? What was in Dr. Marcoh’s notes that someone doesn’t want Edward to discover? With the help of one of my favorite minor characters, Cheska, they are able to recover Dr. Marcoh’s notes. And Edward does find the truth within the truth. And slowly, the boy begin to understand the first truth:
The only thing that can get their bodies back to normal is the philosopher’s stone.
And the only way to make a philosopher’s stone is to use a human sacrifice. Lots of human sacrifices.
Are they really willing to do that, just to be back in full human bodies? Is anything worth killing so many people?
Someone seems to think so, as that’s how the Amestris military was able to subdue so many Ishbalans. There is something else going on behind the scenes as well, corruption deep in the government. And people who ask too many questions end up dead.
Can Ed and Al manage to keep ahead of the homonculi, inhuman shapeshifters that will kill you as soon as speak to you? Ed survives the first beating, and is informed they’ll never kill him outright, they need him as their human sacrifice. Lust, Gluttony, and Envy, how many more of these disgusting creatures are there, and what is their ultimate goal?
It’s been a while since I read Fullmetal Alchemist from the beginning, and I’d forgotten how much Arakawa crams into the earlier volumes. Her writing and artwork is such that you always know what’s going on, you never feel lost. I love how she puts everything together in a coherent manner, and I love that every minor character has a fully developed personality. Be careful who you get attached to, she’s not above killing off her (and your) favorite characters.
Stay tuned for more Fullmetal Alchemist! Totally my fave Shonen manga!!