“Fullmetal Alchemist” celebrated its 20th anniversary on July 12, 2021. Started serialization in the monthly “Shonen Gangan,” two TV animations were produced and broadcast from 2003 to 2004 and from 2009 to 2010, starring Ryosuke Yamada (Hey! Say! JUMP) 2017. It has even been made into a live-action movie.
The other day, special programs to commemorate the 20 anniversary were delivered on YouTube, held in Tokyo and Osaka, “Fullmetal Alchemist Exhibition RETURNS,” author Hiromu Arakawa of Good news was also announced, including the production of the latest and new smartphone games. It is no exaggeration to say that even after nearly ten years have passed since the end of the series. It is still producing many fans, especially popular overseas. If you search for “Fullmetal Alchemist,” an English translation, you can find many tweets from overseas fans. What is the appeal of this work? I want to unravel the fun of this work, which is intricately intertwined.
The first thing that catches the eye in this work is to carefully draw each character’s background, wipe out the trauma and wounds that they suffered as they go through a bloody battle, and express the appearance of suffering from conflict. That’s the point.
The protagonists Edward Elric and Alphonse Elric and their allies Riza Hawkeye and Alex Louis Armstrong are the villainous wounded man (Scar), the homunculus last, and are greed. The same is true for them.
As the story progresses, they look back on their actions and past, suffer from conflicts, and make their own choices. The depiction of human reason and animal instinct swaying violently is the same for Ed and Al and the masters Izumi Curtis and Roy Mustang, who closely watch over them. Sometimes, the characters are depicted as villains and villains. Has been expressed in. Since drawing the backbone of a character firmly leads to solidifying the thoughts and beliefs of each individual, they try to reason, such as tricks and guesses.
If they see it as an unacceptable partner from their perspective, It may be denied. The humanity that goes on in this way attracts what you see and does not stop. It can be said that the style of actively drawing not only the main character but also the backbone of the characters on the enemy side and the villain side spread the interpretation that “evil also has evil thoughts and feelings.”
At the same time, similar styles were found in shōnen manga, such as “NARUTO” and “ONE PIECE,” leading to “My Hero Academia” and “Kimetsu no Yaiba.” It can be said that it was different from the mere poetic justice story format and was in line with the historical background of the 2000s and beyond.
The unyielding philosophy of each character as a country, religion, and group
Another thing that drastically portrayed this work is the solid personal history of each character and the logical sense that is born from the perspective of the country and ethnic group. Amestris, the dictatorship of President King Bradley, Singh, far east of it, Drachma, a great power north of Amestris across the mountains, and the Ishvar people of the Ishvar religion. It is suggested that the battle was mainly caused by “conflict, persecution, and feud between other races and religions.”
They have different nations, religions, ethics, and origins, and even if they come across the same event, their reactions are different. For example, the alchemist, who is highly regarded in the country of Amestris, is a persecuted enemy from the perspective of Scar (a wounded man), who was a warrior of the Ishvara religion. It is regarded as “blasphemy.” However, on his right arm and left hand, where he continues to murder, there is a training team bestowed by his brother.
The contradiction that “I hate the alchemist kills humans with alchemy” causes him to suffer many times during the work. Ling Yao, the twelfth prince of Singh, is the homunculusEven if he came into contact with them, he still regarded him as a person who could use it for himself, not as a person who disturbed himself. He had an idea to set himself apart from other characters, looking at his interests and trying to help him even if he eroded his body.
The more the story goes on, the more they talk. Hesitate, ponder, and make choices not just because you carry your own life but also because you have countries, ethnic groups, organizations and groups, and friends.
The personal history and way of thinking of each character, the philosophical idea that the government, religion, and group to which he belongs, and other multifaceted perspectives are mixed, and the philosophical question “What is truth, happiness, and self?” It has become even more profound and has become popular to this day.
It is worth noting that this work, which significantly emphasizes romantic ideas such as religion and politics, is still popular from overseas. Dark fantasy works created only by Japanese people should continue to gain significant popularity.