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Manga Review: Fullmetal Alchemist Volume Five by Hiromu Arakawa

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Fullmetal Alchemist Volume Five is a manga by Hiromu Arakawa, and it was released in North America by Viz Media in 2005. Fullmetal Alchemist is rated “T” for teens; from what I’ve read of the manga and from seeing both of the anime series, I would agree with this rating.

Edward and Alphonse Elric are brothers who practice alchemy. After trying to perform a forbidden alchemy technique to bring their mother back to life, Alphonse lost his body. Edward attached Alphonse’s soul to a suit of armor; in order to do this, Edward had to sacrifice one of his arms and one of his legs. Edward has “auto-mail” prosthetics designed by his friend Winry Rockbell and her grandmother, Pinako.

Edward has become the youngest State Alchemist and has been given the name “Fullmetal Alchemist.” The series follows Ed and Al as they search for the Philosopher’s Stone, a legendary artifact that the brothers believe will allow them to recover their bodies.

This volume begins with Ed, Al, and Winry at Rush Valley; this is a location that is known for its auto-mail. The group has made a stop here during Ed and Al’s journey to see their old alchemy teacher. While they’re at Rush Valley, the get to witness a miraculous event, and Winry tries to get an apprenticeship in Rush Valley so she can improve her skills at developing auto-mail. Ed and Al also make a visit to their old alchemy teacher, and the volume ends in the middle of a flashback of the training the brothers underwent when they were younger.

I really enjoyed reading this volume of Fullmetal Alchemist, because It contains just the right balance of drama and humor. There’s also some wonderful character development for Winry in this volume. While there’s some development for Ed and Al, the focus of the character development in this volume goes to Winry. I really enjoyed seeing Winry realize that she needs to start doing things for her own growth journey in order to provide even better help to Ed and Al than she has.

Even though I already knew what to expect in this volume, since I had already seen Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, I liked being able to see it in its original manga version. I was so riveted by what I was reading that I didn’t want to put the volume down.

So far, Arakawa has been successful in telling a very compelling story with both her art and her storytelling. I’m really looking forward to reading Volume Six to see how the manga telling of the story compares with what I’ve seen in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood.

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About Lesley Aeschliman

Lesley Aeschliman is a freelance writer who began writing on a full-time basis in 2007. She has served as the Anime editor at BellaOnline.com, and she also writes and maintains two blogs: Lesley's Musings... on Anime and Manga and AeschTunes.