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Tokidoki Daylight – Fullmetal Alchemist, Volume 18

Fullmetal Alchemist, Vol. 18
By Hiromu Arakawa
Published by Viz

fma18

At the end of volume seventeen, Winry had been brought to Fort Briggs by the ever-slimy Kimblee as a means of controlling the Elric brothers, both of whom display how much they’ve grown over the course of the series by handling the situation with surprising restraint. Al, still locked up in the Briggs brig (yes, I just wanted to say that), carefully waits for his chance to escape while Ed, under orders to carry out mass murder (or else), chooses to put aside pride, bravado, and the ever popular lying-to-people-for-their-own-protection in favor of just straightforwardly telling Winry what’s going on. Meanwhile, Lt. Hawkeye has discovered a chilling truth about President Bradley’s young son–one she can’t reveal even to Colonel Mustang. As the volume continues, Ed and Al encounter Scar once again with whom they must form an uncomfortable alliance, and Al experiences an even more disturbing encounter–with his own physical body.

Though it is a matter of characterization more than plot, the most exciting aspect of this volume is actually Ed’s willingness to be fully honest with Winry about her role in Kimblee’s machinations, something which he surely would have tried to “protect” her from earlier in the series. This actually puts Winry in a position to make her own informed decisions on well-earned equal ground, and though it may not (and does not) keep her safe, it gives her the opportunity to grow up just as her two childhood friends have, something which will inevitably benefit them all. Already her grounded fortitude is an asset, particularly to Ed, and though she’s in peril once again by the end of the volume, there is no doubt she will continue to lend her strength to both brothers in the future. A romantic future with Ed also begins to feel inevitable (if undeniably distant), assuming they both survive, and this volume contains a surprisingly touching scene in which Winry gives her earrings (too dangerous to wear in the deadly cold outside Fort Briggs) to him for safekeeping, leaving him stammering after her. Arakawa plays this perfectly simple and matter-of-fact, which is somehow much more romantic than any labored, tearful goodbye could ever be. This is actually Winry’s volume all over–another highlight being her confrontation with Scar, the man who killed her parents.

With each new volume, this series gets stronger and stronger. Arakawa’s ability to maintain an incredibly complex plot with multiple locations and dozens of supporting characters, thick with moral and philosophical themes, while still turning out kick-ass shonen-style action sequences (of which there are at least two in this volume) is unmatched in my experience, and her story is as satisfying and honestly moving as anything I’ve encountered in any genre. I tend to consider Fullmetal Alchemist to be the most popular underrated series out there–tragically overlooked despite (or maybe because of) its massive sales numbers.

This volume ends with a sense of strong foreboding, as Al is trapped in a snowstorm, battling the effects of coming in contact with his real body, Winry is headed into a deadly trap, and Ed is stuck playing “human weapon” under Kimblee’s watch. For fans of the series, this volume provides new revelations, strong character development, and some anxious anticipation of what’s to come. For those who have avoided picking up this long-running shonen series, it’s never too late to catch up. Head to your local library before volume nineteen arrives on July 21st!

11 Comments

[…] for this week’s Manga Minis. In more exciting news, I just posted a review of volume 18 of Fullmetal Alchemist, which still stands as one of my favorite series of all […]

I’m sadly only just finished volume 6, but I’m looking forward to catching up on FMA. I loved the anime, but like many anime, I felt the ending was a bit rushed (not as much as others have been).

Really? I’ve always considered Full Metal to be quite overrated. It has legions of fans who are completely in love with it. It’s a good manga, and I like it. I just feel that it gets more attention than it might deserve.

I wouldn’t say it’s overrated. It’s a perfectly fine anime all on it’s own it’s just had the benefit of having been on Cartoon Network/Adult Swim which helps give it the push of popularity it needs to sell the amount of t-shirts/keychains/etc it does. It’s just unfortunate that other equally deserving anime aren’t able to acquire the timeslot FMA did. Though it is unfortunate that an anime as great as Moribito wasn’t able to gain the fanbase FMA did. That was definitely underrated.

Joe: I hope you enjoy the rest of the series! I liked the anime a lot, and then I kept on reading the manga after the point where they diverge, and I realized how much richer the manga is.

Okman: I do actually mean what I said. :) I think the manga is brilliant and that it gets dismissed too easily as just a popular shonen action story. I’m sure things like this will always vary person to person, but this story resonates with me really strongly, and I’m constantly impressed by its deft storytelling and characterization.

[…] 0) (Manga Life) Lori Henderson on vol. 1 of Fairy Idol Kanon (Manga Xanadu) Melinda Beasi on vol. 18 of Fullmetal Alchemist (Comics Should Be Good) Ed Sizemore on vol. 1 of Future Diary (Comics Worth Reading) Carlo Santos […]

It’s one of the best shonens ever. As simple as that. I wouldn’t go as far as say it’s current best one, but it’s up there and miles ahead of some of the weekly ones. It helps that it’s definitely gonna be finite, and the conclussion in Japan may even come during this year.

I have to admit back when I started reading it (4-5 years ago, when the first anime aired), I just couldn’t bring myself to continue after they introduced Ling and he hogged the spotlight for a while. It wasn’t hate; more like something similar to “X-Pac heat” was what I felt for the character. I have since continued reading, but the character just keeps feeling wrong with his backstory and the development he has undergone.

Now that there is a second anime which is an “almost” direct adaptation of the manga, there is no excuse to not follow the series in some way.

OmegaDenmad: Oh, interesting–I don’t have the same response to Ling, but it’s interesting to hear.

[…] xxxHolic, Vol. 13, One Thousand and One Nights, Vol. 7, NANA, Vols. 15 & 16, Mushishi, Vol. 7, Fullmetal Alchemist, Vol. 18, Fruits Basket, Vol. 22, and Age Called […]

[…] Darling Daughters Banana Fish Bleach Children of the Sea Claymore Crown of Love Detroit Metal City Fullmetal Alchemist High School Debut Hikaru no Go Ikigami: The Ultimate Limit Kimi ni Todoke: From Me to You NANA […]

[…] Vols. 1-2 Fullmetal Alchemist Read-a-Long, Vols. 3-4 Tears and Manga Fullmetal Alchemist, Vol. 17 Fullmetal Alchemist, Vol. 18 Fullmetal Alchemist, Vol. 19 Fullmetal Alchemist, Vol. 20 Fullmetal Alchemist, Vol. 21 Fullmetal […]

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