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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

In an alchemical ritual gone wrong, Edward Elric lost his arm and his leg, and his brother Alphonse became nothing but a soul in a suit of armor. Equipped with mechanical "auto mail" limbs, Edward becomes a state alchemist, seeking the one thing that can restore his brother and himself...the legendary Philosopher's Stone. Trapped and injured in a secret alchemical laboratory, Edward Elric is at the mercy of his enemies, Lust and Envy. But they don't want him dead...they have other plans for him. As the laboratory goes up in flames, the brothers find themselves back at square one, with only an inkling of the massive scale of the Philosopher's Stone conspiracy. But then, Lieutenant Colonel Maes Hughes uncovers a shocking secret...…

Overall Book Review:

Readers should be aware that this book is a sequel that follows immediately the volume before it, and it cannot be read as a stand-alone book. If you are looking for the beginning of the story, please see Fullmetal Alchemist, Vol. 1-3.

The second 3-in-1 volume of Fullmetal Alchemist follows the continuing adventures of Ed and Alphonse Elric. Their search for the Philosopher’s Stone leads them to an abandoned military laboratory and brings them face to face with their enemies. Arakawa expands the cast of characters and deepens the mystery surrounding the Philosopher’s Stone with the same level of great storytelling and crisp artwork that characterized the first installment.

Since the introductions to major characters were already made in the preceding stories, the author was able to steer this sequel towards more action and stronger emotion. Arakawa has a gift for making the story come alive on the pages, using the visual aspect of a graphic novel to great effect and imparting a depth of feeling that is rarely seen in an illustrated format.

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  4 religious exclamations; 33 mild obscenities; 1 derogatory name; 2 scatological words.

Violence/Gore:  Character slaps another; an injured character is hurt by excessive hugging; character hits another with a heavy object without injury a few times; characters spar a couple of times; character shoots a gun at an animal but misses (comical scene); comic fight involving armored combatants and an animal; character is killed in a humorous side-comic, with blood shown; character says that another character is to be a human sacrifice; character threatens to beat another; character draws a gun around little kids to protect another character; characters threaten others with weapons a few times; character debates whether to kill an animal; comic martial arts fight in which characters are thrown, kicked, and punched; mention of a murder; mention of past war; a few military reports of death; mention of students beaten by a teacher; report of rioting and deaths in a city; the body of an animal is found; record of past mass deaths; a few martial arts fights with no major injury; character’s wounds re-open in hospital setting, requiring extra bandages; characters are injured in an arm-wrestling match; character hits another with a fist a couple of times; a large blood stain and smaller splatters are shown after violence; brief fantasy violence with martial arts and magic; a dog attacks another with no injury; character throws a knife at another; character’s body is injured by magic in a side cartoon; a character coughs up blood a couple of times due to illness; a couple of non-human characters are killed by stabbing; an animal eats another animal with some blood depicted; a couple of animals are killed; a character chases children and attacks them with a club in a few scenes; a building blows up; chase scene involving property damage to things such as roads and buildings where participants use guns and knives without major injury; a character is stabbed to death, with only part of the body and some blood shown, not the actual injury; scene where several characters are stabbed, one in the face (this is graphically illustrated); brief scene of fantasy violence with serious wounds including severing of a limb (graphic); extended scene (20 pages) involving a monstrous creature in which a character loses limbs and gore is shown.

Note: The first page of each volume of this three-volume collection contains a brief summary of previous volumes, and some of these summaries reference violent aspects of past volumes.

Sex/Nudity:  Character jokes about another character sneaking a girl into his hospital room; character calls another “honey” romantically; characters hug and flirt; character discusses whether a girl is sexy or not; female characters wear revealing clothing and hang on a male character; a male character is shown shirtless and with exaggerated physique as part of an ongoing comic element; a character is stripped to his boxers in public a couple of times; a sculpture has sexy female curves, but no details; female characters wear tight, cleavage-revealing clothes in a few scenes; joke references mini-skirts and a harem; a female character wears a belly-revealing top; a baby is delivered with nothing visually depicted but with details, such as water breaking and the presence of lots of blood, verbally mentioned.

Mature Subject Matter:

Miscarriage, terminal illness, death (family member; friend; pet), civil war, riots, genocide, abandonment by a parent, arson, gambling, theft.

Alcohol / Drug Use:

An adult smokes cigarettes.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

My taste in literature leans heavily towards sci-fi, fantasy, and (my favorite) horror, and the latter can present some fairly murky waters for parents to let their children explore. I enjoy novels of both the standard and graphic varieties. Since those genres, and graphic novels in particular, tend to appeal to boys, I hope that I can help other Boy Mommies in their quest to find books that their little video gamers--I mean, future bibliophiles will read and enjoy. When I am not reading, I enjoy tabletop role-playing games, video games, and singing karaoke. I have a wonderful husband who lets me indulge my reading habit by sharing the housework and being a great dad to our genius kids and their faithful hound.