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REVIEW: Fullmetal Alchemist GN 1-3


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Kagemusha



Joined: 20 Feb 2004
Posts: 2783
Location: Boston
PostPosted: Sat Nov 11, 2006 12:50 am Reply with quote
Quote:
No other manga, and maybe no other book, on the bookshelf will leave you thinking like Fullmetal Alchemist.


No offense, but if you really think that "Fullmetal Alchemist" is the most thought-provoking title on the market I'd HIGHLY recommend that you read more manga, not to mention more books. I mean it's a very good series that manages to inject alot more intellegence in a story that's aimed at fourteen-year olds than you'd expect, but it's like saying "Indiana Jones" is a deeper movie than "2001: A Space Odyssey"; even if you (like many people) believe the former is a better movie it's hardly as challenging as Kubrick's film.
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joel_s95387



Joined: 29 Jun 2005
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Location: California... The Village Hidden In The Porn
PostPosted: Sat Nov 11, 2006 1:22 am Reply with quote
I agree that the quote is a little extreme, but in a way it does describe Fullmetal Alchemist, the manga. It does leave you thinking and mainly do to that most of us can actually relate to this manga as opposed to others.
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HitokiriShadow



Joined: 09 May 2005
Posts: 6251
PostPosted: Sat Nov 11, 2006 1:22 am Reply with quote
I was thinking the same thing. Don't get me wrong, I've enjoyed reading the manga and I enjoyed the TV series (still waiting for the LE movie), but I didn't find either one that though provoking.

It's more than mindless shonen action, but its not that much deeper than, say, Rurouni Kenshin and all its stuff on redemption and forgiveness, etc.
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milcor1



Joined: 27 Mar 2005
Posts: 337
PostPosted: Sat Nov 11, 2006 2:27 am Reply with quote
Goodness gracious, A+ for the story? And here I thought that was one of the series weaker points, or at least on par with other manga series aimed at the same age groups anyways. I've been seeing alot of manga reviews on ANN for the more popular properties that seem to be reviewed by hardcore fans instead of a more rational voice of opinion. Completely original? No cliches? No other manga, and maybe no other book, on the bookshelf will leave you thinking like Fullmetal Alchemist?! Ugh, lets broaden our horizons a little more please.
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dormcat
Encyclopedia Editor


Joined: 08 Dec 2003
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Location: New Taipei City, Taiwan, ROC
PostPosted: Sat Nov 11, 2006 3:11 am Reply with quote
While other users in this thread (and mostly manga forum veterans...) focused on the story of FMA, I'd like to address about "the other hand": artwork.

Quote:
The artwork is not astounding, but it’s certainly original. Ed’s facial expressions are probably the humorous highlight of the series, as he reacts quite violently to comments about his small size. Arakawa has a gift for movement; even the smallest moves the characters make come across clearly through her art. That said, the series is a little heavy on distortion, especially on distance shots. This adds to the humor of the series, but sometimes gives it a sketchy appearance.

Those paragraphs were the part describing its artwork. Do they qualify for an A- in art? I'd say "hardly."

As a staff I tried to refrain criticizing ANN's reviews, but I've noticed a problem for a long time: the rating of the art is often "locked" with the story, i.e. when the plot or the storytelling is good then the artwork often gets similar letter grade and vice versa. However, it's not uncommon to see fabulous artworks with mediocre or even crappy stories (those manga-ka are better off being illustrators or find a script writer), or creative stories with very simplistic (not crappy) artwork. The latter often happens in comedies e.g. Crayon Shin-chan and Tottemo! Luckyman. Same thing goes to many American animated comedies like The Simpsons: great comedy, but hardly an A- artwork because of the simplistic character design.

Quote:
No other manga, and maybe no other book, on the bookshelf will leave you thinking like Fullmetal Alchemist.

I'd say you need to read a lot more of books, not just manga.
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kazenoyume



Joined: 18 Apr 2006
Posts: 425
PostPosted: Sat Nov 11, 2006 3:57 am Reply with quote
Okay FMA is my second favorite manga, and I agree that it's an outstanding title but... I also agree that this review was a bit over the top.

Quote:
The narrative power of Edward Elric’s story rivals that of any literature currently in print.


This and some other quotes seemed a little extreme. Any literature currently in print? I think a trip to Border's is order, since even if you're one of those modern literature haters- the classics are all still available.

Also to say that it lacks any cliche seems a bit presumptious. I am sorry but literature without any cliche is just plain not possible. FMA certainly is scarce on the shounen cliche, but there are some present and some are quite conspicious.
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penguintruth



Joined: 08 Dec 2004
Posts: 8294
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 11, 2006 3:57 am Reply with quote
The review is a bit puffed up, and inconsistent between opinion and grade, but I mostly agree with it.

My own real problem with it is reviewing three volumes at one time. I dislike that. Each volume doesn't get enough space for a thorough review. Some volumes are stronger than others, also.

The first three are pretty solid, but not nearly strong as certain later volumes.
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Kouji



Joined: 01 Oct 2005
Posts: 978
PostPosted: Sat Nov 11, 2006 9:57 am Reply with quote
While FMA is my favorite anime and I've enjoyed reading what I've read of the manga so far, it's hardly the most thought-provoking series out there. IMO, that award goes to Serial Experiments Lain and any Kon Satoshi film. Although I love the manga art a lot (FMA was the first series I bought a manga art book for), I personally think the art looks more detailed and more refined in the anime version, but I tend to think that most shounen action series work better visually in an animated format, especially a series that has a lot of focus on action in it. Also, while I'm enjoying the FMA manga a lot more than the anime as a whole, I still personally think that the episode where Nina spoiler[dies after being turned into a chimera] is a lot more emotionally-gripping in the anime version. And at the beginning of volume one, Arakawa-san states that FMA was largely inspired by the over-the-topness of B movies and that she wants readers to read her manga while thinking "What kind of alchemy is that?!" As such, I don't think she intends for her manga to be perfect or to be the uber most thought-provoking thing ever. In fact, from her opening statements, it seems as if she wants her readers to criticize her work. I think she just intended the series to be entertaining rather than be the most thought-provoking series ever, but IMO, it's that FMA isn't perfect but still wonderfully executed and that over-the-top nature of the series that makes FMA special.
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rowsdower



Joined: 21 Feb 2006
Posts: 83
PostPosted: Sat Nov 11, 2006 4:22 pm Reply with quote
Quote:
No other manga, and maybe no other book, on the bookshelf will leave you thinking like Fullmetal Alchemist.


I'm glad other people have been boggled by this line too. I like FMA fine, but I can't even REMOTELY agree with that statement when there are things like Naoki Urasawa's "Monster" on the same shelves. Surprised And that's not touching the 'normal', non-comic books, or even western comics!
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Ashen Phoenix



Joined: 21 Jun 2006
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 11, 2006 5:05 pm Reply with quote
I can't really say I agree with that. I thought the review was very fair, and quite truthful (at least in my opinion), about how emotionally driven and compelling FMA is as a whole. The fact that yes it may not be the most unbelieveable series since the beginning of literature - well, that's something I'd say is a stretch. But it IS a very deep story, and I'll side with the fact that the reviewer stated it might be the best in Manga (at least for the majority). No offense to those who disagree; these are just my personal thoughts on the matter. Anime catgrin
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Tempest
I Run this place.
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Joined: 29 Dec 2001
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 11, 2006 9:25 pm Reply with quote
Quote:
No other manga, and maybe no other book, on the bookshelf will leave you thinking like Fullmetal Alchemist.


The story of Fullmetal Alchemist look very deeply at what it means to be alive, as well as the importance of religion and also offers a lot of socio-economic commentary on current and past world situation, particularly, but not exclusively, Palestine.

Those of you criticizing the above statement in the review, were you aware of this ? Or did you think that FMA was just the story of a young alchemist searching for a special stone?

On the other hand I too would disagree with the statement if "the bookshelf" in question was the bookshelf of a scholar, or even my own bookshelf. I think Melissa was probably referring to the "current releases" shelf at your local bookstore, but this is just a guess on my part.

-t
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Nagisa
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Joined: 19 Aug 2003
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 11, 2006 10:11 pm Reply with quote
tempest wrote:
The story of Fullmetal Alchemist look very deeply at what it means to be alive, as well as the importance of religion and also offers a lot of socio-economic commentary on current and past world situation, particularly, but not exclusively, Palestine.

...

On the other hand I too would disagree with the statement if "the bookshelf" in question was the bookshelf of a scholar, or even my own bookshelf. I think Melissa was probably referring to the "current releases" shelf at your local bookstore, but this is just a guess on my part.


While it is true that Fullmetal Alchemist has a good bit of thematic depth to it, it's hardly the only manga currently being released that carries it, and it might not necessarily be the best at executing it. As another poster stated, it also has titles like Monster to stand up to, which has a lot of thematic weight to it with its look at the ethics of revenge and our capacity towards ill will against others for personal gain (Kinderheim 511, as well as the twisted office politics that Tenma faces as only a couple examples). And what of Boogiepop's look into the disillusionment of youth and the emotional pressures teenagers face as they grow into adults? And though it's certainly arguable, I've personally always seen Rozen Maiden as a possible commentary on social isolation (Jun, Suigintou, Suiseiseki) and maybe even fanaticism.

The point is, I don't think any (or most, anyway) of us are questioning Fullmetal Alchemist's merits as an entertaining and thematically wealthy story. But what we are questioning is the exact language used in the review, which seems to sing the praises of Fullmetal Alchemist just a little too loudly, and exaggerate its merits just a bit much to be taken seriously and fully agreed with (even to those of us who agree it's good stuff). In order to say something's "the best ever," there needs to be more to back that statement up than what's presented, especially when such stiff competition exists.
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Zac
ANN Executive Editor


Joined: 05 Jan 2002
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 11, 2006 11:04 pm Reply with quote
I edited this review and I got to that statement and I'm positive Melissa simply overstated her case. Obviously Fullmetal Alchemist is not better than centuries of classic and even modern literature. Melissa's background is in this sort of thing; she knows what she's talking about. I'm sure we'll get a clarification at some point.
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Periodeia



Joined: 13 Sep 2006
Posts: 28
PostPosted: Sat Nov 11, 2006 11:07 pm Reply with quote
...Wow. Fullmetal Alchemist is my favorite manga, and it makes me happy to see it get such a glowing review, but if you think Volumes 1-3 are that good.....then I'd like to see what you think about Volume 9+. Anime hyper Arakawa is a master at plot, but I don't think it's that noticeable until Volume 9, where things really start moving.

And for anyone who thinks it lacks thematic depth...I've seen all of the Monster anime, loved it, and it's also in my top favorites. I think the Ishbal flashback arc is just as good. Arakawa wants to entertain, but she also tells a gripping, highly detailed story that explores themes of family, war, hatred, humanity, science, faith, devotion, what it takes to be a leader, and much, much more.

Seriously, Volumes 1-3 are excellent. But as someone who's up-to-date with the Japanese releases, I consider them merely setup for the meat of the plot.
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Kagemusha



Joined: 20 Feb 2004
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Location: Boston
PostPosted: Sat Nov 11, 2006 11:11 pm Reply with quote
tempest wrote:
Quote:
No other manga, and maybe no other book, on the bookshelf will leave you thinking like Fullmetal Alchemist.


The story of Fullmetal Alchemist look very deeply at what it means to be alive, as well as the importance of religion and also offers a lot of socio-economic commentary on current and past world situation, particularly, but not exclusively, Palestine.

Those of you criticizing the above statement in the review, were you aware of this ? Or did you think that FMA was just the story of a young alchemist searching for a special stone?

On the other hand I too would disagree with the statement if "the bookshelf" in question was the bookshelf of a scholar, or even my own bookshelf. I think Melissa was probably referring to the "current releases" shelf at your local bookstore, but this is just a guess on my part.

-t


Yes I'm aware of that, and if I didn't say it before I like the manga quite a bit, but just because a series "examines what it means to be alive" doesn't make it a philisophical masterpiece. Plenty of stories do this, and they all can't be reguarded as the single most thought-provoking piece of fiction currently being produced. Putting aside prose (which I think we can all agree is far deeper than the output of manga in the US, if only because of quantity) there are titles currently being released or that have been released within 2006 that qualify for the title "most thought-provoking" much more than FMA: Ode to Kirihito, Abandon the Old in Tokyo, Phoenix, Drifting Classroom, even something like Monster (while it is essentially a glorified pulp-thriller that people take a bit to seriously, it's a suprisingly smart one). There are more examples as well. For all it's strengths, FMA is at its heart a shonen series, and it refects this is the fairly straightforward presentation of its themes. There's nothing wrong with this, but to make it out to be "Crime and Punishment" probobly takes away from the book's strengths (being a page-turning adventure that does make the reader think).
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