||This article may require copy editing for grammar, style, cohesion, tone, or spelling. (October 2013)|
(Hagane no Renkinjutsushi)
|Genre||Adventure, Science fantasy|
|Written by||Hiromu Arakawa|
|Published by||Enix (2001-2003)
Square Enix (2003-2010)
|Magazine||Monthly Shōnen Gangan|
|Original run||August 2001 – June 2010|
|Anime television series|
|Directed by||Seiji Mizushima|
|Written by||Shō Aikawa|
|Network||JNN (MBS), Animax|
|Original run||October 4, 2003 – October 2, 2004|
|Written by||Makoto Inoue|
|Illustrated by||Hiromu Arakawa|
|Published by||Square Enix|
|Original run||2004 – 2010|
|Anime television series|
|Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood|
|Directed by||Yasuhiro Irie|
|Written by||Hiroshi Ōnogi|
|Original run||April 5, 2009 – July 4, 2010|
Fullmetal Alchemist (Japanese: 鋼の錬金術師 Hepburn: Hagane no Renkinjutsushi , lit. "Alchemist of Steel") is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Hiromu Arakawa. 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 most advanced scientific techniques, the story follows the Elric brothers. Edward and Alphonse Elric are searching for a Philosopher's Stone to restore their bodies after a disastrous failed attempt to bring their mother back to life through alchemy.
The manga was localized in English by Viz Media in North America, Madman Entertainment in Australasia, and Chuang Yi in South Korea. It was adapted into two animated television series, two animated films, light novels, original video animations, video games, supplementary books, collectible card game and a variety of action figures and other merchandise based on the characters of the series. Bones animated the television series and the two films. Funimation Entertainment dubbed both animated series and films in English and released them for North America; its dubs' were distributed in other regions by several other companies. Viz Media localized the light novels, while Funimation and Destineer have localized the video games.
The Fullmetal Alchemist manga has enjoyed exceptional sales of 61 million volumes as of 2013. 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 the #1 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.
- 1 Plot
- 2 Production
- 3 Themes
- 4 Media
- 5 Reception
- 6 References
- 7 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. Born in the village of Resembool from the country of Amestris (アメストリス Amesutorisu ), the two brothers lived there with their mother Trisha Elric. Their father, Von Hohenheim, left home for unknown reasons and years later, Trisha 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, resulting in the loss of Edward's left leg and Alphonse's entire body. In a desperate effort to save his brother, Edward additionally sacrificed his right arm to affix Alphonse's soul to a suit of armour. Some days later, an alchemist named Roy Mustang visited the Elric brothers, and proposed that Edward become a member of the State Military of Amestris in exchange for more research materials 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, built 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 in the past decade. Becoming a State Alchemist enables Edward to use the extensive resources available to other State Alchemists. The brothers set off in search of the Philosopher's Stone as a means to restore their bodies. Throughout their journey, they meet allies and enemies, 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." Father 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. The Northern "Briggs" Army invades Central City, Amestris's capital, and comes into conflict with the Central forces.
As the forces collide, one by one, the remaining homunculi are defeated and Central City's troops are enlightened about the truth of the situation. Father tries to transmutate Amestris to gain god-like powers but Hohenheim manages to stop him. A weakened Father is defeated by Edward with his original arm, Al having sacrificed himself to bring it back. Afterward, Ed sacrifices his ability to use alchemy to bring Alphonse 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 follows that of the manga, but the plots severely diverge from each other near the middle of the story. Dante, a former lover of Hohenheim and mentor to their own teacher, acts as the series' main antagonist. 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, which leads to Alphonse's kidnapping. 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 reunite with 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 concludes in the film adaption Conqueror of Shamballa where Edward's search attracts the attention of the Thule Society, which seeks to enter his homeworld, believing it to be Shamballa, in order to obtain new weapons to help them in World War II. Dietlinde Eckhart, a member of the Thule Society, manages to enter the other world and tries to destroy Amestris. However, she is defeated by the Elric brothers who decide to stay in Germany.
After reading about the philosopher's stone, Arakawa 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 because some books contradicted others. Arakawa was attracted more by the philosophical aspects than the practical aspects. 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 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 several major plot points and how the story would end. She already wanted the Elrics brothers to recover their bodies even if it was partially. As the plot continued, however, she felt some characters were maturing and decided to change some scenes. 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 minimize focus on sad scenes.
When the number of manga chapters was around 40, Arakawa commented that as the series got near the end, she would try to make the 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 was also necessary since the number of pages that Arakawa had to work with in Monthly Shōnen Gangan was not enough to cover all the storyline content she wanted to add. As such, certain characters' appearances were limited in some chapters. At first Arakawa believed the series would last twenty-one volumes but the length increased to twenty-seven. Upon finishing serialization after nine years, Arakawa was satisfied with her work as she believed 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 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.
The series explores social problems the author Hiromu Arakawa has studied. Scar's backstory and his hatred against the state military references the Ainu 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 Ainu's land happened to be originally Ainu which is referenced in the irony of Scar using alchemy to kill alchemists even though it was forbidden in his own religion. The Elrics being orphans and adopted by Pinako Rockbell reflects how Arakawa believes society should treat orphans. The characters' dedicated occupations also involve how people have to work hard in order to earn their meals. The series also explores the concept of equivalent exchange: in order to obtain something new, the person must pay with something of the same value. This is applied by alchemists when creating new materials and is also a common belief the Elric brothers follow.
Written and drawn by Hiromu Arakawa, the Fullmetal Alchemist manga series was 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 in June 2010. A side-story to the series was then published in the October issue of Monthly Shōnen Gangan on September 11, 2010. In the July 2011 issue of the same magazine, the prototype version from the manga was published. Square Enix compiled the chapters into twenty-seven 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. On July 22, 2011, Square Enix started republishing the series in kanzenban format.
Viz Media localized the tankōbon volumes in English 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. Other English localizations were done by Madman Entertainment for Australasia and Chuang Yi in Singapore. The series has also been localized in other languages such as Polish, French, Portuguese, Italian, and Korean.
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 premiered on Mainichi Broadcasting System, TBS, and Animax in Japan from October 4, 2003, replacing Mobile Suit Gundam SEED and running until October 2, 2004, with a 6.8 percent television viewership rating. The anime's later story and conclusion by Bones is different from the manga due to the manga being still ongoing. 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 by Aniplex. During January 2009, Bones released a "DVD box archives" of the anime. It includes the first anime of fifty-one episodes, the film, the CD soundtracks, and guidebooks from the series.
The English dubbed version of the anime was produced by Funimation Entertainment 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. In the United Kingdom, the anime was broadcast by Rapture TV and AnimeCentral. Animax Asia also aired the series in regions such on their Philippines, India, and South Asia broadcasts.
Funimation Entertainment released the series as DVD volumes between February 8, 2005 to September 12, 2006. Funimation later re-released the series into two DVD volumes in 2009 and again in 2010. In the United Kingdom, MVM Films distributed the first eight volumes of the series; however, Funimation gave the rights over to Revelation Films. In Australasia, Madman Entertainment released the series in two DVD volumes.
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. 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.
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
In the 20th volume of the manga, creator Arakawa announced that a second Fullmetal Alchemist anime series was being produced. Bones produced 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 actresses 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 alongside four episodes. These OVAs are sidestories focused on several of the series' characters. 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. On February 13, 2010, the English dub of the series premiered on Cartoon Network and ended on September 25, 2011. Funimation also began releasing the episodes in Blu-ray and DVD volumes each of thirteen episodes on May 25, 2010, and finished on August 2, 2011 with a total of five volumes. In the United Kingdom, Manga Entertainment released the series in a total of five Blu-ray volumes during 2010 and 2011, and later collected them in a two-part boxset. Madman Entertainment also distributed the series in Australia.
A film sequel to the first anime, Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa, was produced by Bones, and premiered in Japanese theaters on July 23, 2005. The film follows Edward Elric's attempts to return to his homeworld, having lived for two years in our world, which exists in a parallel universe to his own, while Alphonse is equally determined to reunite with his brother by any means necessary. Funimation Entertainment released the English DVD on September 12, 2006.
Following the second anime'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: The Sacred Star of Milos would open throughout Japan in July 2011. It was directed by Kazuya Murata, while the script was done by Yūichi Shinpo. Set within the second anime's storyline, it follows the Elrics going to another country to capture a criminal. Funimation has licensed the film, releasing it in selected theaters within the United States in January 2012, and released the film on DVD and Blu-ray on April 24, 2012.
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 Succeeds 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. 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.[not in citation given] 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 July 20, 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. 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 has 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. 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 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 (背中を託せし者) 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 also received 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; three manga artbooks called The Art of Fullmetal Alchemist (イラスト集 FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST Irasuto Shū Fullmetal Alchemist ) were released by Square Enix with two of them also 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. The last one includes illustrations from the remaining volumes. 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 contains 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. A new guidebook titled "Fullmetal Alchemist Chronicle" (鋼の錬金術師 CHRONICLE) was released in Japan on July 29, 2011 which contains more information on what happens after the end of the manga.
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.
The series has become one of the top properties of Square Enix 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 reports that the series sold 61 million units worldwide as of June 25, 2013, with thirteen million units sold outside of Japan. Along with Yakitate!! Japan, the series won the 49th Shogakukan Manga Award for shōnen in 2004. The manga also received the Seiun Award for best science fiction comic, in 2011. 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.
The series is also popular within amateur writers who produce dōjinshi that borrow characters from the series. In the Japanese market Super Comic City, there have been over 1.100 dōjinshi based on Fullmetal Alchemist with some of them focused on romantical interactions between Edward Elric and Roy Mustang. Anime News Network noted the series had the same impact in Comiket 2004 as several female fans were seen there writing dōjinshi.
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 first 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 nation-wide survey; Fullmetal Alchemist placed first in the online poll and 20th in the survey. In 2006, TV Asahi conducted another online poll for the top one hundred anime, and Fullmetal Alchemist placed first again. It 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 Voice Actor" (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".[unreliable source?] The second film, Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos, also won three awards at the Baltimore Convention Center.
The first anime was named the 95th best animated series by IGN. They commented that although it is 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. 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.
The initial episodes of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood received criticism from members of the Anime News Network staff, who felt that repeating events from the first anime led to a lack of suspense. Mania Entertainment's Chris Beveridge noted that the entertainment in these episodes lay in the differences in the characters' actions from the first series, and how some episodes had original content which focused on the emotional theme from the series. 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 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 that of the first anime, with comments focused on the characters' expressions as well as the way the fight scenes were executed. Much praise was given to the climactic episodes for the way action scenes and morals were conveyed, with many finding them superior to the conclusion of the first Fullmetal Alchemist anime. The way the series closed was found satisfactory by critics to the point of being called "A virtually perfect ending to an outstanding series." In April 2010, it was listed as the 6th best anime between April 2009 and March 2010 by Animage.
Light novels reception
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 "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.|
- Official Gangan Fullmetal Alchemist manga and novel website (Japanese)
- Official Aniplex Fullmetal Alchemist website (Japanese)
- Official Viz Fullmetal Alchemist manga 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