Fullmetal Alchemist (鋼の錬金術師 Hagane no Renkinjutsushi?, literally "Alchemist of Steel"), is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Hiromu Arakawa. The world of Fullmetal Alchemist is styled after the European Industrial Revolution. Set in a fictional universe in which alchemy is one of the most advanced scientific techniques known to man, the story follows the brothers Edward and Alphonse Elric, who want to restore their bodies after a disastrous failed attempt to bring their mother back to life through alchemy.
The manga was serialized in Square Enix's Monthly Shōnen Gangan magazine (starting August 2001 and ending June 2010) and was collected in 27 tankōbon volumes. It was adapted into an animated television series of 51 episodes by Bones from October 4, 2003, to October 2, 2004, later followed by a film sequel that concluded the story of the anime. Fullmetal Alchemist would later spawn a second series called Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, which first premiered in Japan on April 5, 2009. Another feature film will follow the end of Brotherhood. A multitude of spin-off novels, original video animations (OVAs), drama CDs, soundtracks, and video games have been adapted from the series. A collectible card game, multiple supplementary books, and a variety of action figures and other merchandise based on the characters of the series have also been released.
The manga has been licensed by Viz Media for publication in the United States, with twenty-three bound volumes released currently. Although there are no major differences with the Japanese version, some pages have been edited to avoid minor references to western theology. Funimation Entertainment has dubbed the anime episodes in the United States and Canada, and has also released them in all English-speaking DVD regions. The English version of the film premiered in a limited number of U.S. theaters on August 25, 2006, and was later released on DVD. Funimation and Destineer have also been releasing the video games from the series.
In Japan, the Fullmetal Alchemist manga has enjoyed exceptional sales of 50 million volumes sold as of 2010. The English release of the manga's first volume was the top-selling graphic novel during the year 2005. In two TV Asahi web polls, the anime was voted #1 most popular anime of all time in Japan. It was nominated in six of the eight categories for which it was eligible at the American Anime Awards in February 2007, winning awards in five of them. Reviewers from several media generally had positive comments on the series.
- 1 Plot
- 2 Production
- 3 Media
- 4 Reception
- 5 References
- 6 External links
Edward and Alphonse Elric are two alchemist brothers searching for the legendary catalyst called the Philosopher's Stone, a powerful object which would allow them to recover their bodies (which were lost in an attempt to bring their mother back to life through alchemy). Born in the village of Risembool from the country of Amestris (アメストリス Amesutorisu?), the two brothers lived there with their mother. Their father, Van Hohenheim, left home for unknown reasons and years later, their mother Trisha Elric died of a terminal illness, leaving the Elric brothers alone. After their mother's death, Edward became determined to bring her back through the use of alchemy, an advanced science in which objects can be created from raw materials. They researched Human Transmutation, a forbidden art in which one attempts to create or modify a human being. However, this attempt failed, ultimately resulting in the loss of Edward's left leg, and Alphonse's entire body. In a desperate effort to save his brother, Edward sacrificed his right arm to affix Alphonse's soul to a suit of armor. Some days later, an alchemist named Roy Mustang visited the Elric brothers, and told Edward to become a member of the State Military of the country to find a way to recover their bodies. After that, Edward's left leg and right arm were replaced with automail, a type of advanced prosthetic limb, created for him by his close family friends Winry Rockbell and her grandmother Pinako.
Edward then became a State Alchemist (国家錬金術師 Kokka Renkinjutsushi?), an alchemist employed by the State Military of Amestris, which infamously annihilated most of the Ishbalan race (Ishbal) in the past decade. Becoming a State Alchemist enables Edward to use the extensive resources available to State Alchemists, but it also turns him into what many call a "dog of the military". His more friendly relationship with Mustang however, whom he reports to and who recruited him, allows the brothers freedom to search for the Philosopher's Stone as part of Edward's research, as each State Alchemist is expected to independently research new things which may be of a use to the State Military of Amestris. The brothers set off in search of the Philosopher's Stone as a means to restore their bodies. Throughout their journey, they meet many antagonists, including those who are willing to do anything to obtain the Philosopher's Stone; Scar, one of the few surviving Ishbalans, who seeks vengeance on the State Alchemists for the destruction of his race; and the homunculi, a group of human-like creatures who carry pieces of the Philosopher's Stone inside themselves, and from it derive the ability to survive almost any harm.
As the story progresses, Edward and Alphonse discover the vast expansion of Amestris was the result of the homunculi, who created and secretly control the State Military. The homunculi and much of the high-ranking military officers are commanded from behind the curtains by the creator of the homunculi, a man simply known as "Father", who gained immortality through a Philosopher's Stone, which he created by tricking Hohenheim centuries before the series' timeline. He plans to use Amestris as a gigantic transmutation circle in order to transmute the entire country for reasons unknown to the Elrics. When Edward and Alphonse discover Father's plans, they, along with other members of the State Military, set out to defeat him.
As the forces collide, one by one, the remaining homonculi are defeated and Central city's troops are enlightened about the truth of the situation. However, Father temporarily harvests all the souls in Amestris, numbering several million, and using that power traps "God" and gains immense power. However, due to Hohenheim's earlier actions, the souls are brought back to their bodies by their spirits, and Father becomes unstable. Everyone joins in to fight Father, forcing him to use more and more of his stone. He is finally defeated by Edward with his original arm, Al having sacrificed himself to bring it back. After Father is trapped within the Truth, revealed to be God, Ed sacrifices his ability to use alchemy to bring Al back in his original body. The Elrics return to Resembool, but two years later, they separate in order to repay the people who helped in their journey.
Differences in the first anime adaptation
The first half of the anime's plot basically follows that of the manga, but the plots severely diverge from each other near the middle of the story, when Ed and Al reunite with their teacher. A former lover of Hohenheim, the former mentor to their own teacher, Dante, acts as the series' main antagonist, appearing only in the anime. Centuries ago, the two perfected methods for making the Philosopher's Stone, achieving a sort of immortality by transferring their soul and intellect into others' bodies as they age. Hohenheim was eventually overcome by the guilt of sacrificing lives to make the Stone and left Dante. Although Dante is still able to jump from body to body with the last stone she and Hohenheim created, she does not possess the complete knowledge on how to make one. She uses the homunculi to spur Edward and Alphonse, along with other Alchemists equally desperate, into creating another complete Philosopher's Stone for her.
When Scar creates the Philosopher's Stone, he infuses the stone into Alphonse's metal body, making him the main focus of Dante's efforts leading to him being kidnapped. When Edward goes to rescue him, he is killed by the homunculus Envy. Alphonse uses the Philosopher's Stone to revive his brother but disappears in the process. Dante tries to escape, but she is killed when the homunculus Gluttony, whose mind she had earlier destroyed, fails to recognize his master. After being revived, Edward risks his life to bring back his brother in exchange. As a result, Edward ends up in a parallel world, while Alphonse recovers his original body. Determined to return to Alphonse, Edward becomes involved in rocketry research, with the intention to use that technology to try to get back to his home world.
The story is followed in the film Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa situated two years after the end of the anime. While Edward is working in Germany to find a way to return to Amestris, Dietlinde Eckhart, a member from the Thule Society, discovers the existence of Ed's world and starts giving him hints to open a portal to Amestris. Alphonse, having been looking for his brother after two years, also discovers the portal and opens it at the same time as his father Hohenheim opens the one from Germany, allowing Dietlinde to enter Amestris and try to conquer it. Edward reunites with his brother and they join forces to defeat Dietlinde. Knowing the danger that both worlds are now connected through the portal, Edward returns to Germany to destroy that side of the portal, knowing that he would be trapped there forever. Alphonse secretly follows him, having decided to stay with Edward.
After reading about the philosopher's stone, Arakawa said that she became attracted to the idea of using alchemy in the manga. She liked it so much that she started reading books relating to alchemy, which she found very complicated due to the fact that some books contradicted others. Arakawa was attracted more by the philosophical aspects than the practical aspects. For the Equivalent Exchange concept, she was inspired by the work of her parents who had a farm in Hokkaidō and always had to give all their effort in order to earn the money to eat.
Arakawa wanted to integrate social problems into the story. She gathered information watching news programs and talking to people, such as refugees, war veterans and former yakuza. Several plot elements expand on these themes, such as Pinako Rockbell caring for the Elric brothers after the death of their mother, and the brothers helping people all over the country, to gain an understanding of the meaning of family. When creating the fictional world of Fullmetal Alchemist, Arakawa was inspired after reading about Europe during the Industrial Revolution period; she was amazed by how different the people from different countries were, in terms of their culture, architecture, and clothes. She was especially interested in England during this period and "added to it her own original flavor to turn it into a fantasy world."
When the manga began serialization, Arakawa had in mind how the story would end. As the plot continued, however, she felt some characters were maturing and decided to change some scenes, resulting in some sketches of the faces of the characters being improvised. In creating the characters' designs, she comments that the manga authors Suihō Tagawa and Hiroyuki Eto are her main inspirations, and describes her artwork as a mix of both of them. The easiest of the series characters for her to draw was Alex Louis Armstrong, as well as little animals. Due to the fact she likes dogs, Arakawa added several of them in the story. Arakawa made comedy central in the manga because she thinks it is intended for entertainment, and tried to minimalize focus on sad scenes.
When the number of manga chapters was around 40, Arakawa commented that as the series gets near the end, she will try to make story faster until getting to the conclusion. To avoid making chapters less entertaining than others, unnecessary details from each of them are removed and a climax is developed. The removal of minor information is also necessary since the number of pages that Arakawa has to work with in Monthly Shōnen Gangan is not enough to cover all the storyline content she wants to add. For this, certain character's appearances were limited in some chapters.
During the development of the first anime, Arakawa allowed the anime staff to work independently from her, and requested having a different ending from the one in the manga. She said that she would not like to repeat the same ending in both media, as well as to make the manga longer to work more in the development of 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. As Arakawa also helped the Bones staff in the making of the series, she was kept busy from focusing on the manga's cover illustrations and had little time to make them.
Written and drawn by Hiromu Arakawa, the Fullmetal Alchemist manga series is serialized in Square Enix's monthly manga magazine Monthly Shōnen Gangan. It has been serialized since Monthly Shōnen Gangan's August 2001 issue (published on July 12, 2001) and has been completed with chapter 108 marking an end to the series, as of June 2010. A side-story to the series will appear in the October issues of Monthly Shōnen Gangan on September 11, 2010. Square Enix collected in 28 tankōbon volumes. The first volume was released on January 22, 2002, with the last one released on November 22, 2010. A few chapters have been rereleased in Japan in two "Extra number" magazines and Fullmetal Alchemist, The First Attack, which features the first nine chapters of the manga as well as other side stories. Viz Media is releasing the manga in North America. The first volume was released on May 3, 2005, and the latest volume they have released is volume 23 in July 2010.
The content of the manga released by Viz in the United States were mostly consistent with the original material. As of August 2007, the only edits that have been made were to a set of twelve panels from volume 8, depicting the homunculus Greed tied to a cross-shaped stone slab in crucifixion style. In the U.S. version the stone was redesigned to become round in each panel, as commented by Viz to avoid references to Christianity. This change in the manga was made with the approval of Arakawa.
In Singapore, the manga is being published by Chuang Yi. Publishing in both English and Simplified Chinese, nineteen volumes have been released in English, while twenty-one volumes have been released in Simplified Chinese. In Poland, Japonica Polonica Fantastica is publishing the manga - as of January 2010, eighteen volumes have been released. In France, the manga is being released by Kurokawa. Volume eight, released in September 2006, was available also in a collector's edition, which consisted of the book packed with the original comedic novel Flame Alchemist, focusing on Roy Mustang's schedule. Prior to this, this novel was only available with the limited edition of volume six in Japan. In Brazil, Editora JBC is publishing the manga with forty-four volumes equivalent to the first original twenty-two volumes having been released currently. In Italy, the manga is published by Panini Comics using the label "Planet Manga".
The animation studio Bones adapted the manga into a 51-episode anime series. It was directed by Seiji Mizushima, written by Shō Aikawa and co-produced by Bones, Mainichi Broadcasting System and Aniplex. Character designs were handled by Yoshiyuki Itō. The anime was broadcast on Mainichi Broadcasting System, TBS, and Animax in Japan from October 4, 2003 to October 2, 2004, with a 6.8 percent television viewership rating. The English dubbed version of the anime was produced by Funimation and debuted on the Adult Swim block of the United States cable channel Cartoon Network on November 6, 2004. A year and a half later, Canada's YTV began airing it on March 3, 2006. The anime's later story and conclusion by Bones is different from the manga due to a request by Arakawa. During the making of the anime, Arakawa was present in meetings to give the staff insight into the world of Fullmetal Alchemist, though she did not actively take part in any writing for the TV series.
The series has been released in a series of thirteen DVDs from December 17, 2003 to January 26, 2005 in Japan. Funimation Entertainment also released the same series of DVDs from February 8, 2005 to September 12, 2006 in the United States. MVM had released the first eight volumes in the United Kingdom; however, Funimation gave the rights over to Revelation Films.
A film sequel, Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa, was produced by the same studio, and premiered in Japanese theaters on July 23, 2005. A series of five original video animations (OVAs) were also released. The majority of these OVAs are side stories and do not expand on the plot. These OVAs also include a live action segment with Alphonse Elric travelling around a city. In March 2006 a DVD featuring these OVAs was released in Japan with the name of Fullmetal Alchemist: Premium Collection. Funimation acquired and dubbed Premium Collection during the end of 2008 for English release. The DVD was released in English on August 4, 2009. During January 2009, Bones released a "DVD box archives" of the anime. It includes the first anime of 51 episodes, the film, the CD soundtracks, and guidebooks from the series.
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
In the 20th volume of the manga, creator Arakawa announced that a second Fullmetal Alchemist anime series was being produced. Bones produces the new series with Yasuhiro Irie as director and Hiroshi Ōnogi as writer. The title of the series is also Fullmetal Alchemist in the Japanese version, although as Hagane no Renkinjutsushi: Fullmetal Alchemist (鋼の錬金術師 FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST Hagane no Renkinjutsushi: Furumetaru Arukemisuto?, abbreviated as 鋼の錬金術師FA) to differentiate it from the 2003 series. The series premiered on April 5, 2009, on MBS-TBS's Sunday 5:00 pm JST anime timeblock, replacing Mobile Suit Gundam 00, and voice actors Romi Park and Rie Kugimiya reprised their roles as main characters Edward and Alphonse Elric respectively. Unlike the first anime which had an original story, the second series follows the story of the manga. On March 20, 2009, it was announced that the English title of the series was Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood and that it would receive its English language premiere on Animax Asia, with Japanese audio and English subtitles, on April 10, 2009, at 8:30 p.m, five days after its Japanese premiere. Aniplex started releasing the series in blu-ray and DVD on August 26, 2009, with the first containing two episodes and an original video animation (OVA). Two more OVAs were included in the fifth and ninth volumes alongisde four episodes. Other volumes feature four episodes and no OVAs. A total of sixteen volumes were released, with the last one on November 24, 2010.
On April 3, 2009, Funimation announced it would stream English subtitled episodes four days after they air in Japan. Madman Entertainment will also stream it "within days" of the episodes airing in Japan. Funimation later suspended the release of new episodes of the series for a few weeks due to an incident involving an episode of One Piece being uploaded before it had aired in Japan. However, the episodes are now back on the Funimation website as well as on the official Funimation channel on Youtube. In September 2009, Funimation announced the cast for an English dub of the series. Starting February 13, 2010, the English dub of the series premiered on Adult Swim. Funimation also began releasing the episodes in blu-ray and DVD volumes each of thirteen episodes on May 25, 2010.
Following the last episode's ending, an announcement was shown regarding a new Fullmetal Alchemist film. A teaser trailer began streaming in November 2010 in the Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood official site, confirming that a movie entitled Fullmetal Alchemist: Milos no Sei naru Hoshi (鋼の錬金術師 FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST 嘆きの丘(ミロス)の聖なる星 Hagane no Renkinjutsushi: Furumetaru Arukemisuto: Mirosu no Sei naru Hoshi?) will be open throughout Japan next summer, July 2011. It will be directed by Kazuya Murata, while the script will be by Yūichi Shinpo.
A series of six Fullmetal Alchemist Japanese light novels, written by Makoto Inoue, have been published by Square Enix. The novels are licensed for an English-language release by Viz Media in North America, with translations by Alexander O. Smith. Although Arakawa did not write the novels, she did illustrations for them, including covers and frontispieces. 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 anime series. The fourth novel also contains an extra story about the military called "Roy's Holiday". Novelizations of three of the PlayStation 2 games, Fullmetal Alchemist and the Broken Angel, Curse of the Crimson Elixir, and The Girl Who Surpasses God—have also been written. The first was authored 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 story similar to the first novel. The Tringham brothers reprised their roles in the anime. 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 with the addition of other characters from the State Military from the series.
The second series of audio dramas, available only with purchases of Shōnen Gangan, consists of short stories. There are 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, while the second story, Fullmetal Alchemist: Crown of Heaven (天上の宝冠 Tenjō no Hōkan?), was found in the November and December issues.
The music for Fullmetal Alchemist was composed and arranged by Michiru Oshima, who won the 5th Tokyo Anime Award in the category "Best Music" for Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa. TV Animation Fullmetal Alchemist Original Soundtrack 1 was released on March 24, 2004 in Japan and contained thirty-three tracks, including several of the background sounds used during key points in the main series and the first opening and ending theme songs. Although never released officially, a version of the Russian track "Brothers" (Russian: Братья, Bratja; Japanese: Burācha) from this CD has been recorded in English by Vic Mignogna, the voice actor who played Edward Elric in the English dubbed version. TV Animation Fullmetal Alchemist Original Soundtrack 2 was released on December 15, 2004 and contained thirty tracks. TV Animation Fullmetal Alchemist Original Soundtrack 3, released on May 18, 2005 contained twenty-seven tracks.
Fullmetal Alchemist: Complete Best and Fullmetal Alchemist Hagaren Song File (Best Compilation) are compilations of the soundtracks that were released in Japan on October 14, 2004 and December 21, 2005, respectively. A bonus DVD, exclusive to the U.S. release, contains a music video for Nana Kitade's "Indelible Sin". Fullmetal Alchemist The Movie Conqueror Of Shamballa OST, which contained forty-six tracks, was released on December 21, 2005. All are tracks used in the featured film Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa. During December 2004, a concert titled "Tales of Another Festival" was staged in Tokyo and Osaka. It featured performances by several of the musical artists from the television series as well as narrations by the voice actors and actresses. A DVD of the concert entitled Fullmetal Alchemist Festival - Tales of Another was released in Japan on April 27, 2005.
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood's music composer is Akira Senju. The first CD soundtrack from this anime was published on October 14, 2009. The second CD soundtrack from the anime was published on March 24, 2010. The third and final CD soundtrack became available on July 7, 2010. Finally, Fullmetal Alchemist Final Best, a compilation of openings and endings songs, was released on July 28, 2010.
Video games based on Fullmetal Alchemist have also been released. The storylines of the games often diverge from those of the anime and manga and feature new 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—and one fighting game, Dream Carnival, for the PlayStation 2. 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. Bandai also released another 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, in Japan. 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, Dream Carnival, Curse of the Crimson Elixir, and Dual Sympathy have seen international release; the others have not been released internationally. 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 has commented that this will be the first of many titles that they plan to release. On February 19, 2007, Destineer announced the second game in its Fullmetal Alchemist series, the Fullmetal Alchemist Trading Card Game. This title was released October 15, 2007. A third game for the PlayStation Portable titled Fullmetal Alchemist: Senka wo Takuseshi Mono was released in Japan on October 15, 2009. The game was announced for a European release with Namco Bandai being the publisher on March 4, 2010. The massively multiplayer online role-playing game MapleStory is also going to receive special ingame items based on the series as tie-in.
For the RPG games, Arakawa oversaw the story and designed its characters, while Bones, the studio which would be responsible for the anime series, produced several animation sequences. The developers looked at other titles for inspiration, particularly Square Enix's action role-playing game Kingdom Hearts, in addition to other games based on manga series, such as Dragon Ball, Naruto or One Piece games. The biggest challenge they had to overcome was to try to make the title a "full-fledged" game rather than a simple "character-based" game. Tomoya Asano, the assistant producer for the games, noted that development spanned more than a year, unlike most character-based games.
Art and guidebooks
The Fullmetal Alchemist franchise has several artbooks for the manga and the anime; two manga artbooks called The Art of Fullmetal Alchemist (イラスト集 FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST Irasuto Shū Fullmetal Alchemist?) were released by Square Enix and later by Viz Media. The first 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. For the anime, three artbooks with the name of The Art of Fullmetal Alchemist: The Anime (TVアニメーション鋼の錬金術師 ART BOOK TV Animēshon Hagane no Renkinjutsushi Artbook?) were released in Japan, while only the first was released by Viz Media. An artbook from the second anime titled Fullmetal Alchemist Official Drawing Collection was also released in November 2010.
The manga also has three guidebooks; each of them contain timelines, guides to the Elric brothers' journey, and gaiden chapters that were never released in a manga volume. Only the first guidebook has been released by Viz Media, under the name of Fullmetal Alchemist Profiles. An anime character guide book called Fullmetal Alchemist Anime Profiles (TV Animation Hagane no Renkinjutsushi Kyarakore?) was released Japan as well in the United States. A series of five fanbooks have also been released with the name of TV Anime Fullmetal Alchemist Official Fanbooks (TVアニメ 鋼の錬金術師 オフィシャルファンブック TV Anime Hagane no Renkinjutsushi Ofisharu Fan Bukku?) containing each one information of the anime as well as several interviews with the staff of the series. Additionally, a series of four guidebooks focused on the second anime series were released from on August 12, 2009 to August 2010.
Action figures, busts, and statues from the Fullmetal Alchemist anime and manga have been created by leading toy companies; primarily 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 has also released their own action figures in 2007 of the main characters. These figures and a 12" statue were scheduled to release in 2007. Southern Island has since gone bankrupt, putting the figures on permanent hiatus. A trading card game was first published in 2005 in the United States by Joyride Entertainment. Since then, six expansions have been released. The physical game was retired on July 11, 2007. Destineer released a Nintendo DS adaptation of the game on October 15, 2007.
In March 2007, the manga has sold over 27 million volumes in Japan, while as of March 2008, the number increased to more than 30 million. With the release of volume 24 in December 2009, the series will have a total of 40 million units printed, while with volume 27, the copies increased to over 50 million. As of January 10, 2010 every volume of the manga has sold over a million copies each in Japan. Along with Yakitate!! Japan, the series won the 49th Shogakukan Manga Award for shōnen in 2004. During 2008, volumes 19 and 20 sold over a million copies, ranking as the 10th and 11th best seller comics, respectively from Japan. In the first half of 2009, it ranked as the 7th best-seller from Japan, having sold over 3 million copies. Volume 21 ranked 4th, with more than 1 million copies sold and volume 22 ranked 6th with a similar number of sold copies. Producer Kouji Taguchi from Square Enix said that Volume 1's initial sales were of 150,000 copies and changed 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. 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 has also been featured in the Diamond Comic Distributors' polls of graphic novel 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 the year 2005. 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.
Fullmetal Alchemist has generally been well received by critics. Though the initial volumes were felt to be formulaic, critics noted that the series grows in complexity as it progresses. Arakawa was praised for being able to keep all of her character designs unique and distinguishable, despite many of them wearing the same basic uniforms. The characterization of the protagonist Edward balances between being a "typical clever kid" and a "stubborn kid", successfully allowing him to float between the series' more comical moments and its underlying drama without seeming false. Reviewers celebrated the development of the characters in the manga, with their beliefs actively changing during the story forcing them to grow in maturity. Mania Entertainment's Jarred Pine found that the manga can be enjoyed by anybody who has watched the first anime despite the similarities in the first chapters. Like other reviewers, he praised the dark mood from the manga and how it balances the humor and action scenes. The development from characters who have little appearances in the first anime was also praised by Pine. In a review from volume 14, Sakura Eries from the same site liked the revelations in spite of the fact that there are still several story arcs that need to be resolved. She also praised the development from the homunculi such as the return of Greed as well as their fights.
The anime premiered in Japan with a 6.8 percent television viewership rating. In 2005, Japanese television network TV Asahi conducted a "Top 100" online web poll and nation-wide survey; the Fullmetal Alchemist anime adaptation 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. Fullmetal Alchemist was also a winner in the American Anime Awards in several categories. These include "Long Series", "Best Cast", "Best DVD Package Design", "Best Anime Theme Song" ("Rewrite," by Asian Kung-Fu Generation), and "Best Actor" (Vic Mignogna, Edward Elric's English voice actor). 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 Seiyū" (Romi Park, Edward's Japanese voice actor). In the "Tokyo Anime Fair", the series also won in the categories "Animation Of The Year" (Fullmetal Alchemist: The Conqueror of Shambala), "Best original story" (Hiromu Arakawa) and "Best music" (Michiru Oshima). In About.com 2006 American Awards, Fullmetal Alchemist was the winner in the categories "Best New Anime Series" and "Best Animation".
The series has become one of the top properties of Square Enix along with Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest. It was named the 95th best animated series by IGN. They commented that although it's mostly upbeat with amazing action scenes, it also touches on the human condition. They described it as "more than a mere anime," and "a powerful weekly drama." The staff also featured it in their "10 Cartoon Adaptations We'd Like to See" with comments focused in the characterization the series features. The designs of the characters have been praised remarking they are different from each other. Flashbacks have been criticized to be annoying as they are repeated several times. Other reviewers compared the series with an Odyssey as part tragic, part coming of age story. The plot and the music have been celebrated to be very entertaining. The anime has also been praised for having a good balance between action, comedy and deep moments and remarked the emotional core of the development of the two main characters. Criticism towards the anime focused on the large number of sentimental scenes in the series abused to evoke kneejerk emotional responses from the viewers. The ending was also the basis of one negative review noting that Edward's beliefs did not change at all as he tried once again to bring somebody back to life. Reviewers have praised the soundtrack for its variety of musical styles and artists, and the pleasant but not too distracting background music. DVDvisionjapan considered the first opening theme and the first ending theme as the best tracks of the series, remarking that they made a good combination of anime and song.
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood has been criticized by the Anime News Network Staff, who say that its first fourteen episodes were not very entertaining due to it repeating events from the first anime. In comparison to the first series, Brotherhood was criticized for its lack of suspense and "energy". Mania Entertainment's Chris Beveridge noted that what makes the second series entertaining is the difference between the characters' actions and how some of the episodes following episode 15 added more emotional content. In another review, Beveridge praised the new fight scenes as well as more drama which made these episodes "solid". Chris Zimmerman from Comic Book Bin agreed with Beveridge as as the series "turns around and establishes its own identity" due to the inclusion of new characters and revelations not shown in the first series, increasing its depth. The animation was also noted to be superior than the one from the first anime with comments focused on the characters' expression as well as the way fight scenes are done. In April 2010, it was listed as the 6th best anime between April 2009 and March 2010 by Animage.
The first Fullmetal Alchemist novel, The Land of the Sand, was well received by Jarred Pine of Mania as a self-contained novelization that remained true to the characterizations from the manga series. He notes that while the lack of backstory makes it geared 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 that while it brought nothing new to the series, it was compelling enough for followers of the series to enjoy a retelling. As a whole, the reviewer felt 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 noted that the novel has a different focus than anime series, with The Land of Sand "creating a stronger, sympathetic bond" between the younger brothers than is seen in its two episode anime counterpart.
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- Official Gangan Fullmetal Alchemist manga and novel website (Japanese)
- Official Aniplex Fullmetal Alchemist website (Japanese)
- Official Viz Fullmetal Alchemist manga website
- Official FUNimation Fullmetal Alchemist anime website
- Official Adult Swim Fullmetal Alchemist anime website
- Official Anime Central Fullmetal Alchemist anime website
- Official Madman Entertainment Fullmetal Alchemist website
- Fullmetal Alchemist (manga) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
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