Manga Mondays: How Have We Not Talked About FMA Yet?

But seriously, you guys, Fullmetal Alchemist is one of the best and most feminist shounen mangas out there. It was written by Hiromu Arakawa, a wonderful author with a unique style of illustration, and a hero among female mangaka, and the series is clever, and heartbreaking, and funny, and literally everything you want from a manga series.

And I’m not talking about the crappy 2003 anime here. First rule of FMA is we don’t talk about 2003, unless it’s about the music (come on, L’Arc~en~Ciel, AKFG, Porno Graffiti? That shit was good). I’m talking about the manga, or at least the more recent anime adaptation (FMA: Brotherhood).

Fullmetal Alchemist is the story of two brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric, living in the country of Amestris (it’s sort of loosely like 1920s steampunk Germany). The brothers learned alchemy as children, and when their mother passed away, they attempted one of alchemy’s greatest taboos—human transmutation—to bring her back. But alchemy is based on the principle of equivalent exchange: something of equal value must be given for what is received. And nothing is equivalent to a human soul. What they bring back is not their mother, and they pay dearly for the attempt; Ed loses an arm and a leg, and Al loses his entire body, only surviving because Ed binds his soul into a suit of armor. The story picks up on them as teenagers, traveling the country and trying to find a way to get their missing body/body parts back. Ed has taken a commission from the military to be a State Alchemist to help fund his search (they give him the title of Fullmetal Alchemist because of his prosthetic arm and leg, hence the series’s title), but the military complex is corrupt and has a history of asking its alchemists to commit atrocities in the name of the homeland. Ed and Al’s search eventually leads them to rumors of the Philosopher’s Stone, a legendary item that, when used, allows the alchemist to bypass the laws of equivalent exchange. But the price of creating a Stone is beyond their wildest nightmares, and the corruption in the military extends further than they can imagine, and is linked to a plot older than the country of Amestris itself.

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Manga Mondays: Silver Spoon

Everybody remember Fullmetal Alchemist? Good, because we’ve got the same author, Hiromu Arakawa, writing about agricultural school. You heard it correctly folks, agricultural school. Now, when Lady Saika heard agricultural school her response was, “Ummm… not reading this!” I, however, decided to stick with the series (because I’m waiting for Ed or Roy Mustang to show up).

This series focuses on the life of Hachiken Yugo, a boy from the city with the extremely incorrect notion that he could graduate top-of-his-class at a agricultural school. But there is more to it than that; he also is lost in his life, unsure of what to do next, and not afraid to take chances. I, personally, am coming to a crossroads in my life (that’s probably one of the most cliche things I could write, but the cliche says it nice and clearly, so sorry) and I can relate. Hachiken is more of a risk-taker than he gives himself credit for, and he’s not afraid to get his hands dirty in the process (I mean, he has already helped in birthing a cow and butchered a deer). But he is a normal protagonist that I can respect. While I’m a total sucker for shonen anime like Bleach, Katekyo Hitman Reborn, and a series with a strong male protagonist with supernatural powers, I’m drawn (not sexually, that’s for another post) to Hachiken much more since he is a normal person. He is feeling the exact way I’m feeling about my life, and it is somewhat bizarre to read this manga series about somebody who is feeling the exact same way you are when you are feeling it. I enjoy a series more when I can personally relate to it, and I think everyone feels that way

My personal feelings aside, this series is pretty ridiculous. There are cows, pigs, pizza parties for kids who have never eaten pizza before, giant horses, and perhaps aliens. I’ve been reading it since the beginning (last May) and I’ve enjoyed it. There are thirty-two chapters available for reading online.

There is one thing I ask of you: do not ask what any of the other character’s names are. I am horrendous at keeping track of names and usually describe people as “the one who wants to be a vet” or “the crazy and short guy”. But I really do like the supporting characters; the only problem is the only reason there are supporting characters is to develop Hachiken at this point. I wish we can see a little more of their characters develop.  Especially Hachiken’s brother because he is hysterical. He’s give-that-man-a-day-time-TV-show hysterical.

This series has had several what-is-going-on moments, mostly involving science (which I don’t do) and technical farm things. But if you can get past the cows, the pigs, the horses, and all of the other animals, it’s a really great series and I’ve really enjoyed reading it. I’m not even waiting for some FMA characters to show up anymore. I don’t think I’ve said that I’ve enjoyed reading this series enough in this post so I’m going to say it again:  I enjoy reading this series. And if you aren’t going to read a series because you enjoy it, then why are you reading it in the first place?