Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa

What is your wish? Gold? Immortality? Fame? Whatever it might be, you can have it!

So long as you’re willing to pay the price for it. How about sacrificing your first born son to get gold? Dying every time you got hurt in exchange for almost immortal like powers? Or even killing a whole town to gain fame!

You see, with alchemy, you can gain anything you want, but the rule of alchemy is that for everything made there is an equal amount that must be given back. Water is needed to instantly make ice, trees in order to make paper. And brothers Edward and Alphonse Elric have just learned the hard way that in order to bring their dead mother back to life, Edward must sacrifice a leg and Alphonse his whole body. And then, Edward sacrificed his arm to put his brother’s soul upon a suit of armor.

Now, Edward and Alphonse have vowed to get their bodies back, or at least Al’s trying to get his back, as Ed wants to keep his leg as a reminder. They travel the world as “dogs of the military”, Ed with a fullmetal arm and leg, and Al in his armor body. Of course, they have heard of the Philosopher’s stone, the stone that defies the rules of alchemy, but they vowed never to use it. And it was good that they did so, as some evil is distributing fake Philosopher’s stones.

This manga is legendary, and deserves the credit it has. It has been rated by many manga sites as one of the top three mangas ever, and, although it is not the best art, the story is amazing. Not only does the manga have some high depth philosophical elements, but it also has some very good tragic and comedy moments, including the most well known death scene in anime and a ferocious mini panda that considers weak humans worse than food.

Additionally, I love that while it goes over how far one is willing to pay for their wishes, it also gets into immortality. For example, the story gets into how two different people crossed a huge desert just to get immortality. Furthermore, there is even one guy who has immortality, though never really wanted and is now faced with the burden of people calling him a monster, seeing people he loves die before him, and the great sin of what he did to gain immortality.

Not only is this manga well known, it was made by a woman. It is extremely rare for action manga to be created by a women, and I can only think of seven other women who can say that they have written a famous action manga, with only two of those rivaling this amazing woman. So, feminists, rejoice by reading a manga that is not only made by a woman, but features a female role model who is in the military and the other women in the manga are not content with just “waiting”.

Finally, the spacing and ending for this manga is incredible! This manga ended a while ago, but I can think of no better way to end the story. I did read Beezelbub, which ran shorter than Fullmetal Alchemist and had a pretty good ending, but I finished reading it feeling that there could have been more the author could have touched on. I have also read Bleach and Naruto, both longer than Fullmetal Alchemist, but Naruto had an okay ending and Bleach had an ending that is to not be spoken of. However, Fullmetal Alchemist was perfect in this regard. Not only did it tie in stuff from the first chapters, such as us meeting the same characters from chapter one near the end, but Ed and Al get their bodies in a way that best suited the characters. The villains died in such a way that the reader feels satisfied, and everyone gets an ending that not only shows what they’re doing in the future, but also shows so much hope for them in the future. This way was really perfect, and I can see no flaws (other than the fact that I felt that one of the very good villains died way earlier than the rest of the very good villains, but that was it).

Once I again, even for non manga lovers, if there is any manga you should read before you die, it is this one.

Megan V,

Manga Review: Never Give Up vol. 1, by Hiromu Mutou

never_give_up1Once upon a time, there was a girl named Kiri Minase. She wanted to be the “princess” of a boy named Tohya Enishi. Kiri set her life’s goal at the age of four: to marry Tohya. Years pass, and Kiri still hasn’t given up on her goal. However, there is only one problem, that she looks like a boy! She wants to be as girly and feminine as possible so that she can become the perfect princess for Tohya. However, when her mom hires Tohya in her modeling agency, Kiri decides to follow to protect him and enters the world of modeling as a boy! But then things start getting a little tricky when people start falling in love with Kiri’s male self, and Kiri is kissed by a boy who isn’t Tohya!

This book is a sweet read, and the plotline is superb. It is absolutely hilarious most of the time and will probably make you laugh out loud, or at least laugh inside. Although at times it can get a little confusing, sometimes that added factor is just the thing to make you laugh. I really loved this book. If you ever see it, pick it up and give it a try.

There aren’t any copies in any of the libraries in Orange County, but there is always a chance that you’ll stumble upon it in one of your local bookstores. On a scale from 1 to 10, I would give it an 8.5. As I said before, it can get a little confusing sometimes, nevertheless, I would still recommend this book.

-Linna C., 7th grade

Manga Review: Shugo Chara! vol. 1, by Peach-Pit

shugo_chara1Who do you want to be? Fifth grader Amu Hinamori is everything a fifth grader would want to be. She’s smart cool, and popular. But she has a secret: she’s tired of being that exterior character that isn’t the real her.

One night she prays to her guardian angel that she can be born as a different person. The next morning when she wakes up, there are three eggs in her bed! While at school, she does something mean to the guy she loves, and later that day, she suddenly bursts out in an assembly that she loves him. Embarrassed and upset, she runs away, wishing that she had a hole to hide in… and falls into a hole at a construction site and lands on a boy. He starts sniffing around her and swipes one of her eggs! Suddenly, a worker starts dumping dirt into the hole, and Amu worries that she will be buried alive, but one of her eggs hatches and gives birth to a mini person called a guardian character whose name is Ran, and helps her get out of the hole. However, the same guy that was in the hole with her suddenly sprouts cat ears, saying that he will get her other eggs too!

I really love this book series. It is one of my all-time favorite manga series. The artwork is at times sophisticated, but here and there are some little doodles. I love the blend. I also love the texturizing in the beginnings of some of the chapters. And the way that they introduce the concept of the story is fantastic. On a scale from 1 to 10, I would probably rate it a 9.5. It is also great for laughs, so try to pick up a copy at your local library, you will not regret it.

-Linna C., 7th grade

Manga Review: Loveless, vol. 3, by Yun Kouga

loveless3For those who have read ALL the reviews I’ve written of this series (see volume 1 and volume 2) and still think this book series isn’t interesting, you have to read the third book. This is where it starts getting intense; were we meet a member of Sempimal Moon.

The book starts off again with Soubi fighting Zero. Of course, the fight goes on but we first see Soubi’s true skills. This is where the first real mature violent content comes into play: Zero almost defeats Soubi; they step on his hand and hammer a nail into his hand. Being the fact that he is a beast when it comes to fighting, Soubi uses a frost spell that completely freezes them. As explained earlier, Zero and the others feel no pain, almost nothing at all– so they have no idea when they get hurt. That is their downfall; they get frostbite and have no idea. This, instantly ending the fight; of course good guy Soubi lets them stay at his house. If they lost, the person who sent them would not let them back at the school so they had nowhere else to go.

This is possibly the best of the three books so far. The combat is really good and I mean there fantastic. Once you get the hang of how they use the attacks with their words and how the partner system works the story is fantastic. Of course the minor amounts of mature content is still there; I didn’t notice nearly as much in this book as the rest of them, but a fair warning never hurt.

After all, I give the book a solid 9/10. A must-read if you like the series and a great reason to start reading it. Making the series get better is hard to do.

-Cameron S., 12th grade

Manga Review: Loveless, vol. 2, by Yun Kouga

loveless2WARNING: DO NOT READ THIS UNLESS YOU ARE 16.

I cannot stress this enough. This series is for mature readers. The first issue had some minor sexual tension and it wasn’t so bad; but this one– if you thought the first one was bad, this one is waaay worse. There’s no actual sexual content in this volume; just tension. This isn’t a bad thing for the right reader. Just be prepared for mature content. If you liked the first volume, it’s a great story and is worth reading.

That being said, this is now one of my favorite manga series. The story is developing slowly and at a rather reasonable pace. The characters are great and this one is far more towards Soubi, who wasn’t talked about much in the first book. I’m very glad about that because he is my favorite character, with questionable motives. The good news is this is rather good chunk of the book so more is explained throughout this book. I like having the focus more on one character for this book, so I hope it switches between the two main characters more. This is also the first time we get a major battle scene where Sobui and Ritsuka were working together, this is a great turn around for me. But still, kind of had some were tension between the two in my mind.

Overall, I give it a 9/10. A fantastic read I’m loving this more and more. If you couldn’t handle or didn’t like the content in the first one this isn’t really much better in that respect, but frankly, if you enjoy this series, it only gets better.

-Cameron S., 12th grade

Manga Review: Elemental Gelade, vol. 4, by Mayumi Azuma

elemental_gelade4Check here, here, and here for reviews of previous volumes in this series.

I have a love/hate relationship with this issue.

It’s not bad. In fact, it’s great. It has some strong character development and it shows a lot of new characters. The reason why I don’t like it is because they go through the trials and fails of Cou to get him to be stronger. Frankly, that in itself is fine. It plays well… it’s very enjoyable; but for some reason, I have a very horrible feeling about the first 100 or so pages as Cou trains. That’s not the main focus.

You learn a lot about Edel Raids in this issue, and it’s a lot of interesting mythos. It’s interesting to learn about the universe and how these people/weapons work because it does show that they are people through this knowledge. The thing about it is that this is no longer about practice, and Cou goes back to the arena and fights for money. Of course, being that this is the hero’s story, he wipes the floor with them; in some cases it’s total domination– until he fights the champ, Rasati. At this point, I would add an epic soundtrack and just watch how epic this fight is.

This is a really good book in this series, no matter how I feel about it. I really liked the second half over the first half, due just to the fact that I prefer the combat. This is the first issue that Rowen and Keuea wear normal clothing. Personally I like the change; it adds more of a humanizing effect. And somehow Keuea is wearing more clothes now then in the first two issues; I never noticed this until now.

I give this volume a 9/10. I loved this one a lot, and it has a cliffhanger, setting up for what could be an epic battle for this. I’m really excited for it and if you liked this one, you should be too!

-Cameron S., 12th grade

Manga Review: Elemental Gelade, vol. 3, by Mayumi Azuma

elemental_gelade3Check here and here for reviews of previous volumes in this series.

This is a character-developing book. It takes one character and for the majority of the time there is only focus on one character: Cisque. This takes place around the time of the end of the second book, which this series makes a habit of doing.

In this volume, Cisque has to save Kuea and the others. While she battles the hunter Wolx, Cou has to save them using Ren, which doesn’t really work, as normal. He works to keep off the guard while the buyer is watching the fight. Of course Cisque just barely wins by pulling out a pistol. Wolx’s Elemental Raid jumps in front of him and takes the bullet for him. Of course, being that this is the happy story, Cisque makes a deal where he finds elemental raids and sells them to her agency so instead of being sold on the black market they will be protected. Once they arrive at the town, they go and meet up with the agency. This is also the first time we will see Rowen and Cisque in regular clothes as they go on vacation.

Onto the book itself; yes, it is very good. I liked it a lot, like the second one. And seeing Cisque in the regular clothes is a nice change of pace for her. Rowen doesn’t really change; he just wears a suit instead of the work outfit. Cou and Rin don’t change by the end of the book, but they do play a major part in the next book.

I give this volume a 8/10; it’s a great book and fans should keep reading on and if you’re still sketchy, it’s still doing really well, so read on– it only gets better.

-Cameron S., 12th grade