Ed and Al have finally uncovered the secret to the Philosopher’s Stone but, as usual, more obstacles present themselves. But these new barriers are not just enemies, but also moral and ethical problems. And now new faces appear and new plans are set into motion – it seems the Elric brothers’ struggle isn’t over yet.
If the last volume was Fullmetal Alchemist taking a bit of a rest, then volume six is it getting back up and charging off again. The story is as engaging as ever, and just as one story arc seems to be coming to a close, it suddenly shoots off in an unexpected new direction. Little hints are dropped here and there, and there are plenty of interesting developments to keep things fresh.
The characters continue to be FMAs strongest asset, and each of the main characters receives their share of development. Ed faces some agonizing choices that could shatter everything he holds dear, while Al also grows increasingly uncertain of both himself and of Ed. He begins to distance himself from his brother as his self-doubts eat away at him, until things finally come to a head between them, and many long-buried issues are forced into the open. It becomes apparent that in some ways these boys haven’t grown up at all, and are still very vulnerable and insecure, despite their outward appearance. It’s this strong development that ensures these characters appear believable and memorable, and helps FMA rise above other titles.
For anyone keeping track, it’s during this volume that the story really begins to deviate from the manga, and starts down a completely different path. Fortunately, Fullmetal Alchemist doesn’t fall in to the old “filler’ trap, and the story remains just as strong, with only a few relatively weak moments so far.
The presentation is well up to standard, with strong visuals and animation, and a suitable (if not particularly memorable) soundtrack. The dub voice acting is worthy of note, with young Aaron Dismuke delivering a particularly impressive performance as Alphonse. The rest of the cast delivers their lines with aplomb, and the script remains a tight and accurate translation.
Continuing as it means to go on, Fullmetal Alchemist remains on form as we approach the halfway mark of this epic series. With the story continuing to unfold, it’s clear that there’s much more to come – and if continues to be this enjoyable, it’s very much worth looking forward to.