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Ontology on the gone!

The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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05/02/2006 Archived Entry: "Manga review: Fullmetal Alchemist, Vol. 5"

Fullmetal Alchemist, Vol. 5
by Hiromu Arakawa
VIZ

Review by Tom Good

This episode finds Ed, Al, and Winri in Rush Valley, "The Boomtown of the Broken Down," and the home of the best automail mechanics in the land. The techies in town admire Winri's workmanship on Ed's automail. Ed enters into an automail arm-wrestling contest, but after his opponent insults him for being a kid, he cheats and uses alchemy to win the bout.

Winri discovers some automail she admires, but unfortunately it is on the legs of a female thief who steals Ed's State Alchemist watch. The girl is named Paninya, and her advanced automail was made by a man named Dominic who lives in the middle of nowhere. Winri wants to apprentice with him, but he is not interested. It turns out that Dominic's daughter is pregnant and about to deliver, which leads to some interesting drama where we also find out a funny secret about Winri's granny Pinoko.

The rest of the book is about Ed and Al's reunion with their alchemy teacher, Izumi Curtis. Through flashbacks, Ed and Al reveal to her the terrible secret of how they got into their current state, where Al is a disembodied spirit inside a suit of armor, and Ed has some artificial limbs.

I find it difficult to review this purely as a manga, because the FMA anime series is one of my favorites, and I have seen every episode. So for me, the manga will always be a fun way to remind myself of what I liked about the anime. But as a stand-alone manga I do think it works pretty well. One of the nice things about manga is that you can read at your own pace, and some of the FMA anime episodes felt a bit rushed, like a complex plot with a lot of information was put into a short show. So the book allowed me to savor some of the dialogue and the characters' facial expressions. I like the anime slightly more than the manga, but that could be just because I saw the anime first. Both versions have the same great story and characters, so I would recommend both.

See also:
FMA, Vol. 1 review by Chad Denton

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