(Hagane no Renkinjutsushi)
|Genre||Adventure, dark fantasy, science fiction|
|Written by||Hiromu Arakawa|
|Magazine||Monthly Shōnen Gangan|
|Original run||July 12, 2001 – June 11, 2010|
|Written by||Makoto Inoue|
|Illustrated by||Hiromu Arakawa|
|Published by||Square Enix|
|Original run||February 28, 2003 – April 22, 2010|
Fullmetal Alchemist (Japanese: 鋼の錬金術師, Hepburn: Hagane no Renkinjutsushi, lit. "Alchemist of Steel") is a Japanese shōnen manga series written and illustrated by Hiromu Arakawa. It was serialized in Square Enix's Monthly Shōnen Gangan magazine between August 2001 and June 2010; the publisher later collected the individual chapters into twenty-seven tankōbon volumes. The world of Fullmetal Alchemist is styled after the European Industrial Revolution. Set in a fictional universe in which alchemy is one of the advanced natural techniques revolved around scientific laws of equal exchange, the story follows two alchemist brothers named Edward and Alphonse Elric, who are searching for the philosopher's stone to restore their bodies after a failed attempt to bring their mother back to life using alchemy. They are especially driven as Alphonse's body has been entirely removed, and he now lives as a soul trapped in a lifeless armor, while Edward has exchanged his leg to attempt to bring his mother back, and his arm to tie Alphonse's soul to a set of armor that was lying nearby.
The manga was published and localized in English by Viz Media in North America, Madman Entertainment in Australasia, and Chuang Yi in Singapore. Yen Press also has the rights for the digital release of the volumes in North America due to the series being a Square Enix title. It has been adapted into two anime television series, two animated films—all animated by Bones studio—and light novels. Funimation dubbed the television series, films and video games. The series has generated original video animations, video games, supplementary books, a collectible card game, and a variety of action figures and other merchandise. A live action film based on the series was also released in 2017.
The manga has sold over 70 million volumes worldwide, making it one of the best-selling manga series. The English release of the manga's first volume was the top-selling graphic novel during 2005. In two TV Asahi web polls, the anime was voted the most popular anime of all time in Japan. At the American Anime Awards in February 2007, it was eligible for eight awards, nominated for six, and won five. Reviewers from several media conglomerations had positive comments on the series, particularly for its character development, action scenes, symbolism and philosophical references.
- 1 Synopsis
- 2 Production
- 3 Themes
- 4 Media
- 5 Reception
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Fullmetal Alchemist takes place in the fictional country of Amestris (アメストリス, Amesutorisu). In this world, alchemy is one of the most-practiced sciences; Alchemists who work for the government are known as State Alchemists (国家錬金術師, Kokka Renkinjutsushi) and are automatically given the rank of Major in the military. Alchemists have the ability, with the help of patterns called Transmutation Circles, to create almost anything they desire. However, when they do so, they must provide something of equal value in accordance with the Law of Equivalent Exchange. The only things Alchemists are forbidden from transmuting are humans and gold. There has never been a successful human transmutation; those who attempt it lose a part of their body and the result is a horrific inhuman mass. Attemptees are confronted by Truth (真理, Shinri), a pantheistic and semi-cerebral God-like being who tauntingly regulates all alchemy use and whose nigh-featureless appearance is relative to the person to whom Truth is conversing with; the series' antagonist, Father, and some other characters, claim and believe that Truth is a personal God who punishes the arrogant, a belief that Edward denies, citing a flaw in Father's interpretation of Truth's works.
Attemptees of Human Transmutation are also thrown into the Gate of Truth (真理の扉, Shinri no Tobira), where they receive an overwhelming dose of information, but also allowing them to transmute without a circle. All living things possess their own Gate of Truth, and per the Gaea hypothesis heavenly bodies like planets also have their own Gates of Truth. It is possible to bypass the Law of Equivalent Exchange (to an extent) using a Philosopher's Stone, a red, enigmatic substance. Philosopher's Stones can be used to create Homunculi, artificial humans of proud nature. Homunculi have numerous superhuman abilities unique amongst each other and look down upon all humanity. With the exception of one, they do not age and can only be killed via the destruction of their Philosopher's Stones.
There are several cities throughout Amestris. The main setting is the capital of Central City (セントラルシティ, Sentoraru Shiti), along with other military cities such as the northern city of Briggs (ブリッグズ, Burigguzu). Towns featured include Resembool (リゼンブール, Rizenbūru), the rural hometown of the Elrics; Liore (リオール, Riōru), a city tricked into following a cult; Rush Valley (ラッシュバレー, Rasshu Barē), a town that specializes in automail manufacturing; and Ishbal, a conservative-religion region that rejects alchemy and was destroyed in the Ishbalan Civil War instigated after a soldier shot an Ishbalan child. Outside of Amestris, there are few named countries, and none are seen in the main story. The main foreign country is Xing. Heavily reminiscent of China, Xing has a complex system of clans and emperors, as opposed to Amestris's government-controlled election of a Führer. It also has its own system of alchemy, called Alkahestry (錬丹術, Rentanjutsu), which is more medical and can be bi-located using kunai; in turn, it is implied that all countries have different forms of alchemy.
Edward and Alphonse Elric live in the rural town of Resembool with their mother Trisha, their father Van Hohenheim having left without a reason. Edward bears a grudge against their father as he and Alphonse showed a talent for alchemy before Trisha died of the plague. After finishing their alchemy training under Izumi Curtis, the brothers attempt to bring their mother back with alchemy. But the transmutation backfires and in law with equivalent exchange, Edward loses his left leg while Alphonse is dragged into the Gate of Truth. Edward sacrifices his right arm to retrieve Alphonse's soul, binding it to a suit of armor with a blood seal. Edward is invited by Roy Mustang to become a State Alchemist to research a way to restore Alphonse's body, passing his exams while given the title of Fullmetal Alchemist based on his prosthetic automail limbs and use of metal in his alchemy. The Elrics spent the next three years searching for the mythical Philosopher's Stone to achieve their goals. One such lead results in them exposing a corrupt religious leader in the city of Liore while unaware of events occurring behind the scenes by the mysterious Homunculi.
Following their time with the State Alchemist Shou Tucker, which teaches them a horrific lesson, the Elric brothers have a near-death experience from encountering an Ishbalan serial killer labeled as Scar who targets State Alchemists for his people's genocide in the Ishbalan civil war. After returning to Resembool to have Edward's limbs repaired by their childhood friend and mechanic, Winry Rockbell, the Elrics meet the guilt-ridden former State Alchemist Dr. Marcoh who provides them with clues to learn that a Philosopher's Stone is created from human souls. After the Homunculi hinder them by destroying the hidden laboratory, the brothers are joined by Winry as they attempt to find an alternate means to restore themselves. At the same time, Mustang's friend Maes Hughes continues the Elrics' research and ends up murdered by a disguised homonculus, Envy, when he learns of the Homunculi's plan.
After their defeat at the hands of Scar, the Elric Brothers decide to visit their teacher Izumi Curtis in the city of Dublith, hoping that she might be able to train them in higher forms of alchemy. This backfires when she discovers their failed attempt at Human Transmutation, with Izumi telling the Elrics how she committed human transmutation on her stillborn child. Izumi expels them as her apprentices, though following a determined argument, she allows them to stay with her for extra training. Following this, Alphonse is captured by the rogue homunculus Greed, who in turn is attacked by Amestris' leader King Bradley, revealed to be the homunculus Wrath. When Greed refuses to rejoin his fellow Homunculi, he is consequently melted down by and reabsorbed within the Homunculi's creator, Father.
After running into the Xingese prince Lin Yao, who is also after a Philosopher's Stone to cement his position as heir to his country's throne, the Elrics and Winry return to Central City where they learn of Hughes's death with Lieutenant Maria Ross framed for the murder. Mustang fakes Maria's death and smuggles her out of the country with Lin's help so he can focus on the Homunculi. The events that follow result in the death of the homunculi Lust, revealing that a Philosopher's Stone forms a Homunculus's core along with an upcoming event the Homunculi are working towards. Meanwhile, Scar forms a small band with the Xingese princess May Chang, who also seeks the stone, and a former military officer named Yoki whom the Elrics exposed as a corrupt official.
Following an attempt to capture the homonculi Gluttony using Lin's sensory skills, the Homunculus end up accidentally swallowing Edward, Lin, and Envy into his void-like stomach, with the two humans learning the Homunculi orchestrated Ametris's history over the centuries. Gluttony takes Alphonse to meet Father whilst the others manage to escape from Gluttony's stomach, eventually meeting Father. Father considers killing Lin for not being one of the human sacrifices like the Elrics. Instead, he makes Lin the vessel of a new incarnation of Greed with the Elrics attempting to escape upon seeing Scar. Edward has Envy admit to having caused the Ishbalan civil war, whilst Scar meets Winry and realises the evil nature of his desire for revenge. Soon after, with Winry used against them as a hostage, the Elrics are allowed to continue their quest as long as they no longer oppose Father. Mustang receives a similar threat with his subordinates scattered to the other military branches. At the same time, finding Dr. Marcoh held captive, Scar spirited him out of Central as Scar's group head north.
The Elrics eventually reach Fort Briggs under the command of General Olivier Armstrong, revealing what they know following the discovery of a tunnel beneath Briggs made by the Homunculus Sloth. The brothers soon learn from Hughes's research that Father created Amestris to amass a large enough population to create a massive Philosopher's Stone. Forced to work with Solf J. Kimblee, a murderous former State Alchemist and willing ally of the Homunculi in tracking down Scar, the Elrics make their move to save Winry and split up with Kimblee's chimera subordinates joining them. As Edward is joined by Lin/Greed, who regained his former self's memories, Alphonse encounters Hohenheim in Liore. Honenheim reveals he was made an immortal when Father, once simply known as ‘Homunculus’, arranged the fall of Cselkcess four centuries ago to create his body while giving half of the sacrificed souls to Hohenheim. Hohenheim also explains he left his family to try and stop Father from sacrificing the Amestrisan people to create a massive philosopher’s stone, and achieving godhood by absorbing the being beyond the Gate of Truth on the ‘Promised Day’.
The Promised Day arrives, with Father preparing to initiate his plan using an eclipse and his desired ‘human sacrifices’ in order to trigger the transmutation. The protagonists, having assembled days prior, orchestrate an all-out attack on Central with Sloth, Envy, Wrath and Kimblee killed in the process while Gluttony is devoured by Pride. Despite the opposition, Father manages to activate the nationwide transmutation once the Elrics, Izumi, Hohenheim are gathered along with Mustang after being forced by Pride to perform Human Transmutation. Hohenheim and Scar activate the countermeasures put in place by Hohenheim to save the Amestrians, causing Father to become unstable from housing the absorbed superior being within him without the souls needed to subdue it. Father is confronted above ground where the protagonists battle him to wear down his Philosopher's Stone while he attempts to replenish himself, Edward managing to defeat the gravely weakened Pride before joining the fray.
Alphonse, whose armor is all but destroyed, sacrifices his soul to restore Edward's right arm while Greed leaves Lin's body and sacrifices himself to weaken Father's body enough for Edward to destroy Father's Philosopher's Stone. This causes Father to implode out of reality while dragged into the Gate of Truth from which he was created. Edward sacrifices his ability to perform alchemy to retrieve a fully restored Alphonse, Lin receiving a Philosopher's Stone while promising May to be a just ruler. Hohenheim takes his leave and visits Trisha's grave where he dies with a smile on his face. The Elrics return home months later, still motivated by those they failed to save in learning new forms of alchemy to prevent repeated tragedies. This leads to the Elrics leaving Amestris two years later to study other cultures and their knowledge, with Alphonse leaving for Xing in the east while Edward heads westward. The epilogue finishes with a family photo of Alphonse, May, Edward, Winry, and Winry and Edward's son and daughter.
After reading about the concept of the Philosopher's Stone, Arakawa became attracted to the idea of her characters using alchemy in the manga. She started reading books about alchemy, which she found complicated because some books contradict others. Arakawa was attracted more by the philosophical aspects than the practical ones. For the Equivalent Exchange (等価交換, Tōka Kōkan) concept, she was inspired by the work of her parents, who had a farm in Hokkaido and worked hard to earn the money to eat.
Arakawa wanted to integrate social problems into the story. Her research involved watching television news programs and talking to refugees, war veterans and former yakuza. Several plot elements, such as Pinako Rockbell caring for the Elric brothers after their mother dies, and the brothers helping people to understand the meaning of family, expand on these themes. When creating the fictional world of Fullmetal Alchemist, Arakawa was inspired after reading about the Industrial Revolution in Europe; she was amazed by differences in the culture, architecture, and clothes of the era and those of her own culture. She was especially interested in England during this period and incorporated these ideas into the manga.
When the manga began serialization, Arakawa was considering several major plot points, including the ending. She wanted the Elric brothers to recover their bodies—at least partly. As the plot continued, she thought that some characters were maturing and decided to change some scenes. Arakawa said the manga authors Suihō Tagawa and Hiroyuki Eto are her main inspirations for her character designs; she describes her artwork as a mix of both of them. She found that the easiest of the series's characters to draw were Alex Louis Armstrong, and the little animals. Arakawa likes dogs so she included several of them in the story. Arakawa made comedy central to the manga's story because she thinks it is intended for entertainment, and tried to minimize sad scenes.
When around forty manga chapters had been published, Arakawa said that as the series was nearing its end and she would try to increase the pace of the narrative. To avoid making some chapters less entertaining than others, unnecessary details from each of them were removed and a climax was developed. The removal of minor details was also necessary because Arakawa had too few pages in Monthly Shōnen Gangan to include all the story content she wanted to add. Some characters' appearances were limited in some chapters. At first, Arakawa thought the series would last twenty-one volumes but the length increased to twenty-seven. Serialization finished after nine years, and Arakawa was satisfied with her work because she had told everything she wanted with the manga.
During the development of the first anime, Arakawa allowed the anime staff to work independently from her, and requested a different ending from that of the manga. She said that she would not like to repeat the same ending in both media, and wanted to make the manga longer so she could develop the characters. When watching the ending of the anime, she was amazed about how different the homunculi creatures were from the manga and enjoyed how the staff speculated about the origins of the villains. Because Arakawa helped the Bones staff in the making of the series, she was kept from focusing on the manga's cover illustrations and had little time to make them.
The series explores social problems, including discrimination, scientific advancement, political greed, brotherhood, family, and war. Scar's backstory and his hatred of the state military references the Ainu people, who had their land taken by other people. This includes the consequences of guerrilla warfare and the amount of violent soldiers a military can have. Some of the people who took the Ainus' land were originally Ainu; this irony is referenced in Scar's use of alchemy to kill alchemists even though it was forbidden in his own religion. The Elrics being orphans and adopted by Pinako Rockbell reflects Arakawa's beliefs about the ways society should treat orphans. The characters' dedication to their occupations reference the need to work for food. The series also explores the concept of equivalent exchange; to obtain something new, one must pay with something of equal value. This is applied by alchemists when creating new materials and is also a philosophical belief the Elric brothers follow.
Written and drawn by Hiromu Arakawa, Fullmetal Alchemist was serialized in Square Enix's monthly manga magazine Monthly Shōnen Gangan. Its first installment was published in the magazine's August 2001 issue on July 12, 2001; publication continued until the series concluded on June 11, 2010 with the 108th installment. A side-story to the series was published in the October 2010 issue of Monthly Shōnen Gangan on September 11, 2010. In the July 2011 issue of the same magazine, the prototype version of the manga was published. Square Enix compiled the chapters into twenty-seven tankōbon volumes. The first volume was released on January 22, 2002, and the last on November 22, 2010. A few chapters have been re-released in Japan in two "Extra number" magazines and Fullmetal Alchemist, The First Attack, which features the first nine chapters of the manga and other side stories. On July 22, 2011, Square Enix started republishing the series in kanzenban format.
Viz Media localized the tankōbon volumes in English in North America between May 3, 2005, and December 20, 2011. On June 7, 2011, Viz started publishing the series in omnibus format, featuring three volumes in one. Yen Press has the rights for the digital release of the volumes in North America since 2014, and on December 12, 2016 has released the series on the ComiXology website. Other English localizations were done by Madman Entertainment for Australasia and Chuang Yi in Singapore. The series has been also localized in Polish, French, Portuguese, Italian, and Korean.
Fullmetal Alchemist was adapted into two anime series for television: an adaption with a partially original story titled Fullmetal Alchemist in 2003–2004, and an adaption more faithful to the manga 2009–2010 retelling titled Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood.
Two feature-length anime films were produced; Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa, a sequel/conclusion to the 2003 series, and Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos, set during the time period of Brotherhood.
A live-action film based on the manga was released on November 19, 2017. Fumihiko Sori directed the film. The film stars Ryosuke Yamada as Edward Elric, Tsubasa Honda as Winry Rockbell and Dean Fujioka as Roy Mustang.
Square Enix has published a series of six Fullmetal Alchemist Japanese light novels, written by Makoto Inoue. The novels were licensed for an English-language release by Viz Media in North America, with translations by Alexander O. Smith and illustrations—including covers and frontispieces—by Arakawa. The novels are spin-offs of the manga series and follow the Elric brothers on their continued quest for the philosopher's stone. The first novel, Fullmetal Alchemist: The Land of Sand, was animated as the episodes eleven and twelve of the first anime series. The fourth novel contains an extra story about the military called "Roy's Holiday". Novelizations of the PlayStation 2 games Fullmetal Alchemist and the Broken Angel, Curse of the Crimson Elixir, and The Girl Who Succeeds God have also been written, the first by Makoto Inoue and the rest by Jun Eishima.
There have been two series of Fullmetal Alchemist audio dramas. The first volume of the first series, Fullmetal Alchemist Vol. 1: The Land of Sand (砂礫の大地, Sareki no Daichi), was released before the anime and tells a similar story to the first novel. The Tringham brothers reprised their anime roles. Fullmetal Alchemist Vol. 2: False Light, Truth's Shadow (偽りの光 真実の影, Itsuwari no Hikari, Shinjitsu no Kage) and Fullmetal Alchemist Vol. 3: Criminals' Scar (咎人たちの傷跡, Togabitotachi no Kizuato) are stories based on different manga chapters; their State Military characters are different from those in the anime. The second series of audio dramas, available only with purchases of Shōnen Gangan, consists two stories in this series, each with two parts. The first, Fullmetal Alchemist: Ogutāre of the Fog (霧のオグターレ, Kiri no Ogutāre), was included in Shōnen Gangan's April and May 2004 issues; the second story, Fullmetal Alchemist: Crown of Heaven (天上の宝冠, Tenjō no Hōkan), was issued in the November and December 2004 issues.
Video games based on Fullmetal Alchemist have been released. The storylines of the games often diverge from those of the anime and manga, and feature original characters. Square Enix has released three role-playing games (RPG)—Fullmetal Alchemist and the Broken Angel, Curse of the Crimson Elixir, and Kami o Tsugu Shōjo. Bandai has released two RPG titles, Fullmetal Alchemist: Stray Rondo (鋼の錬金術師 迷走の輪舞曲, Hagane no Renkinjutsushi Meisō no Rondo) and Fullmetal Alchemist: Sonata of Memory (鋼の錬金術師 想い出の奏鳴曲, Hagane no Renkinjutsushi Omoide no Sonata), for the Game Boy Advance and one, Dual Sympathy, for the Nintendo DS. In Japan, Bandai released an RPG Fullmetal Alchemist: To the Promised Day (鋼の錬金術師 Fullmetal Alchemist 約束の日へ, Hagane no Renkinjutsushi Fullmetal Alchemist Yakusoku no Hi e) for the PlayStation Portable on May 20, 2010. Bandai also released a fighting game, Dream Carnival, for the PlayStation 2. Destineer released a game based on the trading card game in North America for the Nintendo DS. Of the seven games made in Japan, Broken Angel, Curse of the Crimson Elixir, and Dual Sympathy have seen international releases. For the Wii, Akatsuki no Ōji (暁の王子, lit. Fullmetal Alchemist: Prince of the Dawn) was released in Japan on August 13, 2009. A direct sequel of the game, Tasogare no Shōjo (黄昏の少女, lit. Fullmetal Alchemist: Daughter of the Dusk), was released on December 10, 2009, for the same console.
Funimation licensed the franchise to create a new series of Fullmetal Alchemist-related video games to be published by Destineer Publishing Corporation in the United States. Destineer released its first Fullmetal Alchemist game for the Nintendo DS, a translation of Bandai's Dual Sympathy, on December 15, 2006, and said that they plan to release further titles. On February 19, 2007, Destineer announced the second game in its Fullmetal Alchemist series, the Fullmetal Alchemist Trading Card Game, which was released on October 15, 2007. A third game for the PlayStation Portable titled Fullmetal Alchemist: Senka wo Takuseshi Mono (背中を託せし者) was released in Japan on October 15, 2009. A European release of the game, published by with Namco Bandai, was announced on March 4, 2010. The massively multiplayer online role-playing game MapleStory also received special in-game items based on the anime series.
Arakawa oversaw the story and designed the characters for the RPG games, while Bones—the studio responsible for the anime series—produced several animation sequences. The developers looked at other titles—specifically Square Enix's action role-playing game Kingdom Hearts and other games based on manga series, such as Dragon Ball, Naruto or One Piece games—for inspiration. The biggest challenge was to make a "full-fledged" game rather than a simple character-based one. Tomoya Asano, the assistant producer for the games, said that development took more than a year, unlike most character-based games.
Art and guidebooks
The Fullmetal Alchemist has received several artbooks. Three artbooks called The Art of Fullmetal Alchemist (イラスト集 FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST, Irasuto Shū Fullmetal Alchemist) were released by Square Enix; two of those were released in the US by Viz Media. The first artbook contains illustrations made between May 2001 to April 2003, spanning the first six manga volumes, while the second has illustrations from September 2003 to October 2005, spanning the next six volumes. The last one includes illustrations from the remaining volumes.
The manga also has three guidebooks; each of them contains timelines, guides to the Elric brothers' journey, and gaiden chapters that were never released in manga volumes. Only the first guidebook was released by Viz Media, titled Fullmetal Alchemist Profiles. A guidebook titled "Fullmetal Alchemist Chronicle" (鋼の錬金術師 CHRONICLE), which contains post-manga story information, was released in Japan on July 29, 2011.
Action figures, busts, and statues from the Fullmetal Alchemist anime and manga have been produced by toy companies, including Medicom and Southern Island. Medicom has created high end deluxe vinyl figures of the characters from the anime. These figures are exclusively distributed in the United States and UK by Southern Island. Southern Island released its own action figures of the main characters in 2007, and a 12" statuette was scheduled for release the same year. Southern Island has since gone bankrupt, putting the statuette's release in doubt. A trading card game was first published in 2005 in the United States by Joyride Entertainment. Since then, six expansions have been released. The card game was withdrawn on July 11, 2007. Destineer released a Nintendo DS adaptation of the game on October 15, 2007.
Overall, the franchise has received widespread critical acclaim and commercial success.
Along with Yakitate!! Japan, the series won the forty-ninth Shogakukan Manga Award for shōnen in 2004. It won the public voting for Eagle Award's "Favourite Manga" in 2010 and 2011. The manga also received the Seiun Award for best science fiction comic in 2011.
In a survey from Oricon in 2009, Fullmetal Alchemist ranked ninth as the manga that fans wanted to be turned into a live-action film. The series is also popular with amateur writers who produce dōjinshi (fan fiction) that borrows characters from the series. In the Japanese market Super Comic City, there have been over 1,100 dōjinshi based on Fullmetal Alchemist, some of which focused on romantic interactions between Edward Elric and Roy Mustang. Anime News Network said the series had the same impact in Comiket 2004 as several female fans were seen there writing dōjinshi.
The series has become one of Square Enix's best-performing properties, along with Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest. With the release of volume 27, the manga sold over 50 million copies in Japan. As of January 10, 2010, every volume of the manga has sold over a million copies each in Japan. Square Enix reported that the series had sold 70.3 million copies worldwide as of April 25, 2018, 16.4 million of those outside Japan. The series is also one of Viz Media's best sellers, appearing in "BookScan's Top 20 Graphic Novels" and the "USA Today Booklist". It was featured in the Diamond Comic Distributors' polls of graphic novels and The New York Times Best Seller Manga list. The English release of the manga's first volume was the top-selling graphic novel during 2005.
During 2008, volumes 19 and 20 sold over a million copies, ranking as the 10th and 11th best seller comics in Japan respectively. In the first half of 2009, it ranked as the seventh best-seller in Japan, having sold over 3 million copies. Volume 21 ranked fourth, with more than a million copies sold and volume 22 ranked sixth with a similar number of sold copies. Producer Kouji Taguchi of Square Enix said that Volume 1's initial sales were 150,000 copies; this grew to 1.5 million copies after the first anime aired. Prior to the second anime's premiere, each volume sold about 1.9 million copies, and then it changed to 2.1 million copies.
Fullmetal Alchemist has generally been well received by critics. Though the first volumes were thought to be formulaic, critics said that the series grows in complexity as it progresses. Jason Thompson called Arakawa one of the best at creating action scenes and praised the series for having great female characters despite being a boys' manga. He also noted how the story gets dark by including real-world issues such as government corruption, war and genocide. Thompson finished by stating that Fullmetal Alchemist "will be remembered as one of the classic shonen manga series of the 2000s." Melissa Harper of Anime News Network praised Arakawa for keeping all of her character designs unique and distinguishable, despite many of them wearing the same basic uniforms. IGN's Hilary Goldstein wrote that the characterization of the protagonist Edward balances between being a "typical clever kid" and a "stubborn kid", allowing him to float between the comical moments and the underlying drama without seeming false. Holly Ellingwood for Active Anime praised the development of the characters in the manga and their beliefs changing during the story, forcing them to mature. Mania Entertainment's Jarred Pine said that the manga can be enjoyed by anybody who has watched the first anime, despite the similarities in the first chapters. Like other reviewers, Pine praised the dark mood of the series and the way it balances the humor and action scenes. Pine also praised the development of characters who have few appearances in the first anime. In a review of volume 14, Sakura Eries—also of Mania Entertainment—liked the revelations, despite the need to resolve several story arcs. She also praised the development of the homunculi, such as the return of Greed, as well as their fights.
The first Fullmetal Alchemist anime premiered in Japan with a 6.82 percent television viewership rating. In 2005, Japanese television network TV Asahi conducted a "Top 100" online web poll and nationwide survey; Fullmetal Alchemist placed first in the online poll and twentieth in the survey. In 2006, TV Asahi conducted another online poll for the top one hundred anime, and Fullmetal Alchemist placed first again.
The first Fullmetal Alchemist won in several categories in the American Anime Awards, including "Long Series", "Best Cast", "Best DVD Package Design", "Best Anime Theme Song" ("Rewrite," by Asian Kung-Fu Generation), and "Best Actor" (Vic Mignogna—who played Edward Elric in the English version). It was also nominated in the category of "Best Anime Feature" for Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa. The series also won most of the twenty-sixth Annual Animage Readers' Polls. The series was the winner in the "Favorite Anime Series", "Favorite Episode" (episode seven), "Favorite Male Character" (Edward Elric), "Favorite Female Character" (Riza Hawkeye), "Favorite Theme Song" ("Melissa", by Porno Graffitti), and "Favorite Voice Actor" (Romi Park—who played Edward in the Japanese version). In the "Tokyo Anime Fair", the series won in the categories "Animation Of The Year" (Fullmetal Alchemist: The Conqueror of Shambala), "Best original story" (Hiromu Arakawa) and "Best music" (Michiru Ōshima). In the About.com 2006 American Awards, Fullmetal Alchemist won in the categories "Best New Anime Series" and "Best Animation".
IGN named the first anime the ninety-fifth-best animated series. They said that although it is mostly upbeat with amazing action scenes, it also touches upon the human condition. They described it as "more than a mere anime" and "a powerful weekly drama". The IGN staff featured it in their "10 Cartoon Adaptations We'd Like to See" feature, with comments focused on the characterization in the series. The character designs have been praised; critics said they are different from each other. Samuel Arbogast of Theanime.org said the flashback sequences were annoying. Lori Lancaster of Mania Entertainment called the plot wonderful, and said it is "[a] bit of a tragic coming of age story mixed in with the Odyssey". She wrote, "There is enough action, drama and comedy mixed in to keep most viewers interested. This is one of those anime series that is likely to become a classic."
The series has also received some negative reviews, with Maria Lin of animefringe.com saying that the show's themes "are held hostage by… excessive sentimentality". She criticized the ending, saying that "no character has changed from how they were in the beginning. There have been no revelations. Even as the show tries to show that the Elric brothers are coming into their own as they pursue the stone, they're really not, because they keep on making the same mistakes over and over again without… fundamental change in their ideals. The adage of the soldier and his acceptance of losing his leg is lost on them."
Reviewers praised the soundtrack of the first anime for its variety of musical styles and artists, and the pleasant but not too distracting background music. DVDvisionjapan said the first opening theme and the first ending theme are the best tracks of the series.
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
The first fourteen episodes of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood received criticism from members of the Anime News Network staff, who said that repeating events from the first anime led to a lack of suspense. Mania Entertainment's Chris Beveridge said that the entertainment in these episodes lay in the differences in the characters' actions from the first series, and original content which focused on the emotional theme of the series. In another review, Beveridge praised the new fight scenes and said the extra drama which made these episodes "solid". Chris Zimmerman from Comic Book Bin said the series "turns around and establishes its own identity" because of the inclusion of new characters and revelations not shown in the first series, increasing its depth. He said the animation was superior to that of the first anime; his comments focused on the characters' expressions and the execution of the fight scenes. Writing for The Los Angeles Times, Charles Solomon ranked Brotherhood the second best anime of 2010 on his "Top 10".
Much praise was given to the climactic episodes for the way action scenes and morals were conveyed; many reviewers found them superior to the conclusion of the first Fullmetal Alchemist anime. Critics found the ending satisfying; Mark Thomas of The Fandom Post called it a "virtually perfect ending to an outstanding series".
The first Fullmetal Alchemist novel, The Land of the Sand, was well received by Jarred Pine of Mania Entertainment as a self-contained novelization that remained true to the characterizations of the manga series. He said that while the lack of backstory aims it more towards fans of the franchise than new readers, it was an impressive debut piece for the Viz Fiction line. Ain't It Cool News also found the novel to be true to its roots, and said that while it added nothing new, it was compelling enough for followers of the series to enjoy a retelling. The reviewer said it was a "work for young-ish readers that's pretty clear about some darker sides of politics, economics and human nature". Charles Solomon of the Los Angeles Times said that the novel has a different focus than the anime series; The Land of Sand "created a stronger, sympathetic bond" between the younger brothers than is seen in its two-episode anime counterpart.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Fullmetal Alchemist.|
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Fullmetal Alchemist|
- Official Gangan Fullmetal Alchemist manga and novel website (in Japanese)
- Official Viz Fullmetal Alchemist manga website at the Library of Congress Web Archives (archived 2010-10-07)
- Fullmetal Alchemist (manga) at Anime News Network's encyclopedia
- Official Gangan Online Fullmetal Alchemist homepage (in Japanese)