Born in Hokkaido (northern Japan), Hiromu Arakawa first attracted national attention in 1999 with her award-winning manga Stray Dog. Her series Fullmetal Alchemist debuted in 2001 in Square Enix's monthly manga anthology Shonen Gangan.
For five years, American readers have been following this manga series, the adventures of Edward and Alphonse, both horribly injured in an attempt to return their dead mother to life via magical means. Their early adventures were more lighthearted, even when they faced serious menaces in their quest to become fully human again. Then, things slowly turned dark, as the true nature of the bad guys became visible. Now, the story is building toward a climax as plot threads begin to be resolved, characters head toward "final" showdowns, and scenes from early in the series are revisited. Fullmetal Alchemist is, on the surface, an action/adventure story, and that is what attracts the younger readers. For more mature readers, there are philosophical, political, and other issues interwoven through the story. Even the definition of humanity comes into question, as both enemies and allies include beings that are only partially human, by most standards. Verdict While not a good jumping-on point for the vast story arc, these volumes are a solid continuation of a popular story. For teens and adults, owing to violence.-Nick Smith, Pasadena P.L. Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.