Monday, February 7, 2011

Fullmetal Alchemist

Art and Story by Hiromu Arakawa

All right, so I'm late to the party. The Fullmetal Alchemist Party. Everybody already knows how sweet this book is, it's one of the most popular manga series of all time, the anime was amazing, blah blah blah.

Unless you don't! Unless, like me, you only occasionally dip your toe into the strange, exciting, sometimes weird and terrible world of manga and maybe this book slipped off your radar. Sure, you've heard the name before; you thought the name sounded kind of esoteric and dense, something only those hardcore manga nerds would dig. And that's not you, right? You read comics! You are cool!

But you were a fool. And so was I. Me especially. This book is as good as anything I've read in a loooong time. The world is so fleshed out and original; the characters are deeply, sometimes depressingly complex; the balance of funny and dramatic and epic is pitch perfect. I freaking love it.

Don't get me wrong. This actually IS manga for the manga-freaks. There are plenty of those tropes that we've come to love (and hate) sprinkled throughout the series' 24 (and counting) volumes: spontaneous rivers of tears streaming down faces, androgynous male and female lead characters, verbal description of exactly what a character is thinking and plotting, etc. But Arakawa has a deft hand and knows her characters and their culture backwards and forwards. The love and craft put into this book fucking LEAPS off the page. It is accessible to anyone, of nearly any age, not just the initiated.

I am hooked. You will be too. Unless you've already read it, which you probably have.

4.5 out of 5 Equivalent Exchanges.

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