Title: Full Metal Alchemist #2
Author: Hiromu Arakawa
Remarks: As I’ve mentioned before, I really love the concept of the Full Metal series. I love the theme of sacrifice that binds the story together. When Edward and Alphonse Elric’s mother dies, they think they have discovered a way to cheat at alchemy, and bring her back to life. All they bring back is a formless monster, and in the process, Al loses his body, and Ed loses an arm and a leg. With Al’s soul bound in a suit of armor, and Ed fitted with automail limbs, they search for a way to restore their bodies. Ed becomes a State Alchemist, as position gives him access to research needed to develop the Philosopher’s Stone, a legendary amplifier of alchemical power, which they believe will help restore their true forms.
In this volume, Ed an Al have an opportunity to study with the Sewing Life Alchemist, Shou Tucker. Tucker has been experimenting with combining life forms, and as he is a specialist in biological alchemy, they think he might be able to help them regain their bodies. However, they learn the terrible secret behind his research, and the awful price he paid for his "equivalent exchange."
This volume also introduces Scar, an Ishvarlan who has a grudge against State Alchemists, and has been killing them one by one. Driven by his god, he believes that it is his divine obligation to murder all the State Alchemists. He injures Al and Ed, and just barely manages to escape when the Col Mustang and the gang show up at the last minute to save the brothers.
I didn’t care for the first volume of this manga at all. I didn’t care for the first few episodes of the anime, either, but I stuck with it, and it has become a favorite. The story becomes very complex, and the characters have a lot of depth. With the concept of equivalent exchange, there is a ramification for everything that everyone does. Ed is haunted by his past actions, and he feels such overwhelming guilt for what happened to Al. Roy Mustang is also haunted by his past, and it is due, in part, to his actions during an earlier war that Scar develops such a hatred for alchemists.
The whole plot thread with Tucker and his research really creeps me out. He’s so blinded by his ambition that he’s ready to sacrifice his family to ensure that his research continues. I wasn’t too upset when he met his fate. You sicko! Die!!