It has been a while since I last read the Full Metal Alchemist manga, like a year and a half ago! But after some quick rereading I decided to increase my collection as I was enjoying the story and characters. Volume 5 takes a leisurely approach giving us a story of auto mail and a story of the past.
One thing I noticed upon reading the manga version is how different the two anime adaptations can be. The story is still the same, Ed has a metal arm and leg and his brother is a soul in an empty piece of amour and the two go on an adventure to make the philosopher’s stone so they can return themselves to normal. The structure and progression is mostly the same at this stage too, both anime versions went through the past story and the auto mail town but differences are apparent. The auto mail town story is almost completely different with a different chase scene and little scenes from towns folk the anime skimmed over.
The manga is the source material though so I took these as the real intended events and I actually like them better than the way the anime told it largely because the manga version packs in some cute humour more. The story is rather tame this time round, nothing dramatic happens and everything finishes on what is expected to be a long flashback of the Elric brothers up to now but it is charming to read and the little details in the art make it easy and understandable to read. No questions are needed on what’s happening which series like One Piece, D. Gray-man and Gin Tama can be guilty of. Sometimes it may come across as too simple and a little bland but when reading the stories you become so absorbed with what’s going on that it isn’t noticed.
The stories are a little twee this time with thief chasing, a woman giving birth which while enjoyable to read thanks to the way Hiromu tells the story are ultimately events which hold little importance to the larger scale of the plot though it does hold the promise that these events will have some significant meaning in how Ed and Al develop through the course of the story. They learn that alchemy doesn’t solve everything and Ed has a focal moment when he tells himself how much of a coward he really is thanks to the message he keeps in his watch. The simple rather normal tales lead to these nice developments and the slow pace is rather refreshing to read after coming from the hectic if substance light Bleach. The strength of the characters is what keeps these simple tales from being a bore.
Volume 5 is a pleasant read which introduces some entertaining new characters such as the teacher Izuma and her husband and while the story is going at a slow almost snail pace, every page is full of fun details, jokes and action.