Fullmetal Alchemist is a wildly popular manga that has spawned, among other things, two anime series, a movie, light novels, and video games. Although technically a shonen manga, it has a huge female following, thanks to mangaka Arakawa’s brilliant cast of characters and the heart and complexity she weaves into the plot. The American translation of Volume 27 has recently been released, and you can read on for the review. (For those interested in my reviews of earlier volumes, you can find them here).
The story centers on Edward and Alphonse Elric, two brothers who attempted to bring their dead mother back to life through a forbidden alchemical ritual. However, the ritual went wrong, taking Ed’s leg and Al’s entire body. At the cost of his arm, Ed manages to graft Al’s soul onto a suit of armor. Equipped with mechanical “auto-mail” to replace his missing limbs, Ed becomes a state alchemist in hopes of finding the one thing that can restore their bodies…the legendary Philosopher’s Stone.
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With the help of Hohenheim and their allies, the Elric brothers launch a desperate final attack against the homunculus “father.” But to claim victory, some may have to make the ultimate sacrifice. And when the dust clears, will a happy ending await our favorite characters in the final volume of Fullmetal Alchemist?
Considering the many events of the Day of Reckoning, they seem to span several days instead of one. The conclusion to the battle against the homunculus Father is no different. The actual duration of the fight is just minutes, but so much happens so quickly, Arakawa-sensei burns through panels to convey everything. Action fans will get their fill with missiles, bullets, alchemy, and old-fashioned fisticuffs all aimed toward the former Dwarf in the Flask. At times, the images do get kind of grotesque. Part of it is due to the ferocity of the battle, but part of it is because of the homunculus’ monstrous nature. He, as an Amestrian soldier notes, is a dead ringer for Edward, but when his opponents’ firepower starts taking its toll, the distortions that result in the homunculus’ body are pretty scary.
During the course of the fight, both brothers wind up back at the portal of Truth. The way Al goes back is heartrending, and Ed’s reaction to it kicks up the emotion several levels. In contrast, the scene in which Ed returns evokes a different type of tension, coming across more like a showdown of wits. He has an intriguing philosophical interchange with the shadowy figure of the portal, and though the cynical part of me wonders whether their bargain actually is an exchange of “equivalents” (the item Ed offers is used, after all), Ed’s solution is one that took me by surprise.
With the final battle over, Arakawa-sensei wraps things up for her characters. Considering how large the cast is, there is a lot of wrapping up to do. (If you look at the splash page for Chapter 107, you get a feel for how big that task is). She does an excellent job though, covering everything from the Xing travelers to the Ishbalan refugees to Hohenheim’s return to Resembool. Fullmetal Alchemist comes to a wonderfully satisfying conclusion, and I salute Arakawa-sensei for a compelling story, consistently delightful artwork, and unforgettable characters in this series which, in my opinion, is bound to become a classic.
It’s a wild final showdown against the homunculus Father, ultimately leading both Elric boys back to the portal of Truth. Arakawa-sensei does an amazing job bringing the series’ multiple journeys and quests to an end in the concluding volume of Fullmetal Alchemist.
First published at the Fandom Post.