Fullmetal Alchemist (Japanese: 鋼の錬金術師 Hepburn: Hagane no Renkinjutsushi?, lit. "Alchemist of Steel") is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Hiromu Arakawa. It was serialized in Square Enix's Monthly Shōnen Gangan magazine between August 2001 and June 2010; the publisher later collected the individual chapters into twenty-seven tankōbon volumes. The world of Fullmetal Alchemist is styled after the European Industrial Revolution. Set in a fictional universe in which alchemy is one of the most advanced scientific techniques, the story follows the adventures of two alchemist brothers named Edward and Alphonse Elric, who are searching for a philosopher's stone to restore their bodies after a failed attempt to bring their mother back to life using alchemy.
The manga was published in English by Viz Media in North America, Madman Entertainment in Australasia, and Chuang Yi in Singapore. It has been adapted into two anime television series, two animated films—all animated by Bones studio—and light novels. Funimation dubbed both television series and films into English and released them for North America; these were distributed in other regions by several other companies. Viz Media localized the light novels, and Funimation and Destineer have localized the video games. Original video animations, video games, supplementary books, collectible card game and a variety of action figures and other merchandise have been based on the series' characters. A live action film based on the series is also in the works.
The Fullmetal Alchemist manga has sold approximately 64 million volumes worldwide. The English release of the manga's first volume was the top-selling graphic novel during 2005. In two TV Asahi web polls, the anime was voted the most popular anime of all time in Japan. At the American Anime Awards in February 2007, it was eligible for eight awards, nominated for six, and won five. Reviewers from several media conglomerations had positive comments on the series, particularly for its character development.
Fullmetal Alchemist takes place in an alternate Edwardian Era-themed history, in the fictional country of Amestris (アメストリス Amesutorisu?). In the world, alchemy is one of the most-practiced sciences; Alchemists who work for the government are known as State Alchemist (国家錬金術師 Kokka Renkinjutsushi?), and automatically are given the rank of Major in the military. Alchemists have the ability, with the help of a Transmutation Circle, to transmute almost anything they desire via their souls. However, when they do so, they must also give up something physically personal of theirs, as stated under the Law of Equivalent Exchange. The only thing Alchemists are forbidden from transmuting are humans. Doing so will not only cost a person a part of their body and create a black, inhuman mesh, but also be confronted by Truth, a God-like being who tauntingly regulates all alchemy use. They are also thrown into the Gate of Truth, where they receive an overwhelming dose of information, but also allowing them to transmute without a circle. It is possible to bypass the Law of Equivalent Exchange (to an extent) using a Philosopher's Stone, a red, enigmatic crystal. However, Philosopher's Stones can also be used to create Homunculi, artificial humans named after the seven deadly sins. Homunculi have numerous superhuman abilities unique amongst each other, and look down upon all humanity. With the exception of Wrath, they do not age and can only be killed via the destruction of their Philosopher's Stones. There are also several cities throughout Amestris. The main setting is the capital of Central City, along with other military cities such as the Northern City of Briggs. Towns featured include Resembool, the rural hometown of the Elrics; Liore, a city tricked to follow the fictional religion of Letoism; Rush Valley, a town that specializes in automail manufacturing; and Ishval, a conservative-religion city that rejects alchemy and was destroyed in the Ishval Civil War instigated after a soldier (actually the homunculus Envy) shot an Ishvalan child. Outside of Amestris, there are few named countries, and none are seen in the main story. The main foreign country is Xing. Heavily influenced by China, Xing has a complex system of clans and emperors, as opposed to Amestris's government-controlled election of a Fuhrer. It also has its own system of alchemy, called Alkahestry, which is more medical and can be bi-located using kunai; in turn, it is implied that all countries have different forms of alchemy.
Edward and Alphonse Elric live in the rural town of Resembool with their mother Trisha and their father Van Hohenheim, the latter having left home for an unknown reason. When Trisha dies of the plague, the brothers perform the forbidden alchemic technique of human transmutation in an attempt to resurrect her. Consequently, the transmutation backfires and in law with Equivalent Exchange, Edward's left leg and Alphonse's entire body are destroyed. Edward sacrifices his right arm to rescue Alphonse's soul, binding it to a suit of armor with a blood seal. Edward is invited by Roy Mustang to become a State Alchemist so that the Elric brothers could research a way to restore their bodies. Edward succeeds, becoming the Fullmetal Alchemist, the title based on his prosthetic automail limbs and use of alchemy involving metal materials.
Three years on, the Elrics search for the mythical Philosopher's Stone to achieve their goals. They are targeted by Scar, an Ishvalan serial killer who murders State Alchemists, and their encounter with him forcing them to return to Resembool to have their bodies repaired by their childhood friend and mechanic, Winry Rockbell. The Elrics meet Dr. Tim Marcoh, a reclusive former State Alchemist who created Stones during the Ishval Civil War. Marcoh sends them to find his notes, but they learn the key ingredient to make the Stone is human sacrifices. Reaching a dead end thanks to the Homunculi, the Elrics go to meet their alchemy teacher Izumi Curtis. Maes Hughes, Mustang's friend, carries on their research, but is shot dead by a disguised Envy for discovering the Homunculi's plans.
Visiting Izumi, the Elrics learn she committed human transmutation on her stillborn child. Alphonse is captured by the rogue homunculus Greed, but is rescued by Amestris' president King Bradley, revealed to be the homunculus Wrath. Greed is consequently melted down by and reabsorbed within the Homunculi's creator who they call their "father". The Elrics and Winry return to Central City to visit Hughes but learn of his death. Lieutenant Maria Ross is framed for Hughes' murder, but is seemingly murdered by Mustang. However, Edward learns Ross' death was staged so Mustang can smuggle her out of the country to Xing, assisted by Xingese prince Ling Yao. Meanwhile, Scar forms a small band with former soldier Yoki, Xingese princess May Chang, and later Dr. Marcoh. Edward reunites with Hohenheim but hates him for his lengthy absence from home.
As the story progresses, the protagonists encounter the Homunculi repeatedly. Lust is killed by Mustang; Gluttony is captured by Mustang and Ling, but he ends up swallowing Edward, Ling, and Envy into his void-like stomach. Gluttony takes Alphonse to meet Father, but when the others escape from Gluttony's stomach, Father turns Ling into a Homunculus, namely the new incarnation of Greed. The Elrics are released to continue their quest as long as they don't oppose Father.
The Elrics go to northern Amestris where they inform the soldiers of Fort Briggs of the conspiracies in Central. Finding an underground tunnel beneath Briggs, the Elrics and General Olivier Mira Armstrong discover Father has been creating a nationwide transmutation circle and plans to sacrifice its citizens so he can ascend to godhood. The Elrics are forced to work with Solf J. Kimblee to track down Scar with Winry as a hostage. They learn Scar's brother created a new type of alchemy to combat Father, leading them to team up and go on the run from the military, though Edward is left behind to divert Kimblee. Greed regains his past self's memories and betrays Father, teaming up with Edward, Kimblee's chimera minions, and later Hohenheim. Hohenheim reveals to his sons separately that he is immortal, turned into a living Philosopher's Stone by Father four-hundred years ago.
The Promised Day arrives and Father prepares to initiate his plan using an eclipse and those who tried human transmutation as his key sacrifices. The numerous protagonists battle Father's minions, with most of the Homunculi dying. Father activates the nationwide transmutation after the Elrics, Izumi, Hohenheim, and a forced Mustang are gathered as the triggers. However, Hohenheim and Scar activate countermeasures to save the Amestrians. Father is confronted above ground where the protagonists battle him to wear down his Philosopher's Stone, but Greed is destroyed by Father.
Alphonse, whose armor is all but destroyed during the final battle against Father, sacrifices his soul to retrieve Edward's right arm, who in turn destroys Father's Stone, sending him back to the ethereal Gate of Truth. Edward sacrifices his ability to perform alchemy to retrieve Alphonse's body and soul. Hohenheim visits Trisha's grave where he dies with a smile. Several months later, Edward and Alphonse return home where they are reunited with Winry, though they both leave home two years later to explore the world.
After reading about the Philosopher's Stone, the author Arakawa said that she became attracted to the idea of using alchemy in the manga. She liked it so much that she started reading books relating to alchemy, which she found very complicated due to the fact that some books contradicted others. Arakawa was attracted more by the philosophical aspects than the practical aspects. For the Equivalent Exchange concept, she was inspired by the work of her parents who had a farm in Hokkaidō and always had to give all their effort in order to earn the money to eat.
Arakawa wanted to integrate social problems into the story. She gathered information watching news programs and talking to people, such as refugees, war veterans and former yakuza. Several plot elements expand on these themes, such as Pinako Rockbell caring for the Elric brothers after the death of their mother, and the brothers helping people all over the country, to gain an understanding of the meaning of family. When creating the fictional world of Fullmetal Alchemist, Arakawa was inspired after reading about Europe during the Industrial Revolution period; she was amazed by how different the people from different countries were, in terms of their culture, architecture, and clothes. She was especially interested in England during this period and "added to it her own original flavor to turn it into a fantasy world".
When the manga began serialization, Arakawa had in mind how the story would end. As the plot continued, however, she felt some characters were maturing and decided to change some scenes, resulting in some sketches of the faces of the characters were improvised. In creating the characters' designs, she comments that the manga authors Suihō Tagawa and Hiroyuki Eto are her main inspirations, and describes her artwork is a mix of both of them. The easiest of the series characters for her to draw was Alex Louis Armstrong, as well as little animals. Due to the fact she likes dogs, Arakawa added several of them in the story. Arakawa made comedy central in the manga because she thinks it is intended for entertainment, and tried to minimalize focus on sad scenes.
During the development of the anime, Arakawa allowed the anime staff to work independently from her, and requested having a different ending from the one in the manga. She said that she would not like to repeat the same ending in both media, as well as to make the manga longer to work more in the development of the characters. When watching the ending of the anime, she was amazed at how different the Homunculi creatures were from the manga and enjoyed how the staff speculated about the origins of the villains.
The series explores social problems, including discrimination, scientific advancement, political greed, brotherhood, family, and war. Scar's backstory and his hatred of the state military references the Ainu people, who had their land taken by other people. This includes the consequences of guerrilla warfare and the number of violent soldiers a military can have. Some of the people who took the Ainu's land were originally Ainu; this irony is referenced in Scar's use of alchemy to kill alchemists even though it was forbidden in his own religion. The Elrics being orphaned and adopted by Pinako Rockbell reflects Arakawa's beliefs about the ways society should treat orphans. The characters' dedication to their occupations references the need to work for food. The series also explores the concept of equivalent exchange; to obtain something new, one must pay with something of equal value. This is applied by alchemists when creating new materials and is also a belief the Elric brothers follow.
- Main article: List of Fullmetal Alchemist Volumes and Chapters
Written and drawn by Hiromu Arakawa, the Fullmetal Alchemist manga series is serialized in Square Enix's monthly manga magazine Monthly Shōnen Gangan. Serialization began in August 2001 and finished in June 2010, with a chapter in every issue. Square Enix is collecting the chapters in tankōbon format. The first volume was released on January 2002, and as of November 22, 2010, 27 volumes have been released, being volume 27 the last one released. A few chapters have been re-released in Japan in two "Extra number" magazines and Fullmetal Alchemist, The First Attack, which features the first nine chapters of the manga as well as other side stories. The series is being republished on kanzenban format starting on July 22, 2011, and as of October 22, 2011, 7 kanzenban volumes have been released. Viz Media is releasing the manga in North America. The first volume was released on May 3, 2005, and the latest volume they have released is volume 17 on October 21, 2008.
The content of the manga released by Viz in the United States was mostly consistent with the original material. As of August 2007, the only edits that have been made were to a set of twelve panels from volume 8, depicting the Homunculus Greed tied to a cross-shaped stone slab in crucifixion style. In the U.S. version, the stone was redesigned to become round in each panel, as commented by Viz to avoid references to Christianity. This change in the manga was made with the approval of Arakawa.
In Singapore, the manga is being published by Chuang Yi. Publishing in both English and Simplified Chinese, seventeen volumes have been released in English, while fourteen volumes have been released in Simplified Chinese. In Poland, JPFantastica is publishing the manga - as of November 2008, thirteen volumes have been released. In France, the manga is being released by Kurokawa. Volume eight, released in September 2006, was available also in a collector's edition, which consisted of the book packed with the original comedic novel Flame Alchemist, focusing on Roy Mustang's schedule. Prior to this, this novel was only available with the limited edition of volume six in Japan. In Brazil, Editora JBC is publishing the manga with thirty-four volumes equivalent to the first original seventeen volumes having been released currently.
- Main article: List of Fullmetal Alchemist episodes
The animation studio Bones adapted the manga into an anime series of 51 episodes and 4 seasons. It was directed by Seiji Mizushima and co-produced by Bones, Mainichi Broadcasting System and Aniplex. Character designs were handled by Yoshiyuki Ito and the script by Sho Aikawa. The anime was broadcast on the Mainichi Broadcasting System, TBS, and Animax in Japan from October 4, 2003, to October 2, 2004, with a 6.8 percent television viewership rating. The English version of the anime was produced by Funimation and debuted on the Adult Swim block of the United States cable channel Cartoon Network on November 6, 2004. A year and a half later, Canada's YTV began airing it on March 3, 2006. The anime's later story and conclusion by Bones are different from the manga (which at the time was still ongoing) due to a request by Arakawa. During the making of the anime, Arakawa was present in meetings to give the staff insight into the world of Fullmetal Alchemist, though she did not actively take part in any writing for the TV series.
The series has been released in a series of thirteen DVDs from December 17, 2003, to January 26, 2005, in Japan. Funimation also released the same series of DVDs from February 8, 2005, to September 12, 2006, in the United States. MVM had released the first eight volumes in the United Kingdom; however, Funimation gave the rights over to Revelation Films.
A movie sequel, Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa, was made by the same studio, and premiered in Japanese theaters on July 23, 2005. A series of five original video animations (OVAs) were also released. The majority of these OVAs are side stories and do not expand on the plot. These OVAs also include a live-action segment with Alphonse Elric traveling around a city. In March 2006 a DVD featuring these OVAs was released in Japan with the name of Fullmetal Alchemist: Premium Collection. During January from 2009, Bones will release a "DVD box archives" of the anime. It will include the first anime of 51 episodes, the film, the CD soundtracks, and guidebooks from the series. In the 20th manga volume, Arakawa announced that a second Fullmetal Alchemist anime television series is currently being produced. Bones produced the new series with Yasuhiro Irie as the series director. The title series premiered in April 2009 with the same name as the previous series which was given the title Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood in the international releases to distinguish it from the first series. This new series intended to follow the original manga storyline more closely, and ended in July 4, 2010, after 64 episodes and 5 seasons. A second movie Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos that is based around the second anime has been released in Japan in 2011 and in the United States in 2012.
- Main article: List of Fullmetal Alchemist Light Novels
A series of six Fullmetal Alchemist Japanese light novels, written by Makoto Inoue, have been published by Square Enix. The novels are licensed for an English-language release by Viz Media in North America, with translations by Alexander O. Smith. Although Arakawa did not write the novels, she did illustrations for them, including covers and frontispieces. The novels are spin-offs of the manga series and follow the Elric brothers on their continued quest for the Philosopher's Stone. The first novel, Fullmetal Alchemist: The Land of Sand, were animated as the episodes eleven, twelve and the last part of episode 37 of the 2003 anime series. The fourth novel also contains an extra story about the military called "Roy's Holiday". Novelizations of three of the PlayStation 2 games, Fullmetal Alchemist and the Broken Angel, Curse of the Crimson Elixir, and The Girl Who Surpasses God—have also been written. The first was authored by Makoto Inoue and the rest by Jun Eishima. None of these have been translated for distribution outside Japan.
There have been two series of Fullmetal Alchemist audio dramas. The first volume of the first series, Fullmetal Alchemist Vol. 1: The Land of Sand(砂礫の大地)Sareki no Daichi, was released before the anime and tells a story similar to the first novel. The Tringham brothers reprised their roles in the anime and are stories based on different manga chapters with the addition of other characters from the State Military from the series.
The second series of audio dramas, available only with purchases of Shōnen Gangan, consists of short stories. There are two stories in this series, each with two parts. The first, Fullmetal Alchemist: Ogutāre of the Fog|霧のオグターレ|Kiri no Ogutāre, was included in Shōnen Gangan's April and May 2004 issues, while the second story was found in the November and December issues.
The music for Fullmetal Alchemist was composed and arranged by Michiru Oshima, who won the 5th Tokyo Anime Award in the category "Best Music" for Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa.TV Animation Fullmetal Alchemist Original Soundtrack 1 was released on March 24, 2004, in Japan and contained thirty-three tracks, including several of the background sounds used during key points in the main series and the first opening and ending theme songs. An English version of the Russian track "Brothers" (Russian: Братья, Bratja; Japanese: Burācha) was also included and was recorded in English by Vic Mignogna, the voice actor who played Edward Elric in the series. TV Animation Fullmetal Alchemist Original Soundtrack 2 was released on December 15, 2004, and contained thirty tracks. TV Animation Fullmetal Alchemist Original Soundtrack 3, released on May 18, 2005, contained twenty-seven tracks.
Fullmetal Alchemist - Complete Best and Fullmetal Alchemist Hagaren Song File -Best Compilation- are compilations of the soundtracks that were released in Japan on October 14, 2004, and December 21, 2005, respectively. A bonus DVD, exclusive to the U.S. release, contains a music video for Nana Kitade's "Indelible Sin". Fullmetal Alchemist The Movie Conqueror Of Shamballa OST, which contained forty-six tracks, was released on December 21, 2005. All are tracks used in the featured film Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa. During December 2004, a concert titled "Tales of Another Festival" was staged in Tokyo and Osaka. It featured performances by several of the musical artists from the television series as well as narrations by the voice actors and actresses. A DVD of the concert entitled Fullmetal Alchemist Festival - Tales of Another was released in Japan on April 27, 2005.
The music for Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood was composed by Akira Senju. The first CD Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Original Soundtrack 1 from the anime was published on October 14, 2009, in Japan and contained thirty-one tracks, including the series first & second opening and ending theme songs. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Original Soundtrack 2 from the anime was published on March 24, 2010, also contained thirty-one tracks. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Original Soundtrack 3 the third and final CD soundtrack became available on July 7, 2010, also contained thirty-one tracks. Finally, Fullmetal Alchemist Final Best, a compilation of openings and endings songs, was released on July 28, 2010.
- Main article: List of Fullmetal Alchemist video games
Games based on Fullmetal Alchemist have also been released. The storylines of the games often diverge from those of the anime and manga and feature new characters. Square Enix has released three role-playing games (RPG)—Fullmetal Alchemist and the Broken Angel, Curse of the Crimson Elixir, and The Girl Who Surpasses God—and one fighting game, Dream Carnival, for the PlayStation 2. Bandai has released two RPG titles, Fullmetal Alchemist: Stray Rondo and Fullmetal Alchemist: Omoide no Sonata, for the Game Boy Advance and one, Dual Sympathy, for the Nintendo DS. Destineer released a game based on the trading card game in North America for the Nintendo DS. Of the eleven games made in Japan, Broken Angel, Curse of the Crimson Elixir, and Dual Sympathy have seen international release; the others have not been released internationally.
Funimation licensed the franchise to create a new series of Fullmetal Alchemist related video games to be published by Destineer Publishing Corporation in the United States. Destineer released its first Fullmetal Alchemist game for the Nintendo DS, a translation of Bandai's Fullmetal Alchemist: Dual Sympathy, on December 15, 2006, and has commented that this will be the first of many titles that they plan to release. On February 19, 2007, Destineer announced the second game in its Fullmetal Alchemist series, the Fullmetal Alchemist Trading Card Game. This title was released October 15, 2007.
For the RPG games, Arakawa oversaw the story and designed its characters, while Bones, the studio which would be responsible for the anime series, produced several animation sequences. The developers looked at other titles for inspiration, particularly Square's action role-playing game Kingdom Hearts, in addition to other games based on manga series, such as Dragon Ball, Naruto or One Piece games. The biggest challenge they had to overcome was to try to make the title a "full-fledged" game rather than a simple "character-based" game. Tomoya Asano, the assistant producer for the games, noted that development spanned more than a year, unlike most character-based games.
Art and Guidebooks
The Fullmetal Alchemist franchise has several artbooks for the manga and the anime; three manga artbooks called The Art of Fullmetal Alchemist were released by Square Enix and the first two by Viz Media. The first contains illustrations made between May 2001 to April 2003, spanning the first six manga volumes. The second has illustrations from September 2003 to October 2005, spanning the next six. The third has illustrations from the remaining volumes. For the anime, three artbooks were released in Japan, while only the first was released by Viz Media.
The manga also has three guidebooks; each of them contains timelines, guides to the Elric brothers' journey, and Gaiden chapters that were never released in a manga volume. Only the first guidebook has been released by Viz Media, under the name of Fullmetal Alchemist Profiles. An anime character guidebook called The Art of FullMetal Alchemist: The Anime was released in Japan as well in the United States. A series of five fanbooks have also been released with the name of containing each one information of the anime as well as several interviews with the staff of the series.
Action figures, busts, and statues from the Fullmetal Alchemist anime and manga have been created by leading toy companies; primarily Medicom and Southern Island. Medicom has created high-end deluxe vinyl figures of the characters from the anime. These figures are exclusively distributed in the United States and UK by Southern Island. Southern Island has also released their own action figures in 2007 of the main characters. These figures and a 12" statue were scheduled to release in 2007. Southern Island has since gone bankrupt, putting the figures on permanent hiatus. A trading card game was first published in 2005 in the United States by Joyride Entertainment. Since then, six expansions have been released. The physical game was retired on July 11, 2007. Destineer released a Nintendo DS adaptation of the game on October 15, 2007.
The series has been highly popular in both Japan and around the world. In March 2007, the manga has sold over 27 million volumes in Japan, while as of March 2008, the number increased to more than 30 million. Along with Yakitate!! Japan, the series won the 49th Shogakukan Manga Award for shōnen in 2004. The series is also one of Viz Media's best sellers, appearing in "BookScan's Top 20 Graphic Novels" and the "USA Today Booklist". The English release of the manga's first volume was the top-selling graphic novel during the year 2005.
Fullmetal Alchemist has generally been well received by critics. Though the initial volumes were felt to be formulaic, critics noted that the series grows in complexity as it progresses. Arakawa was praised for being able to keep all of her character designs unique and distinguishable, despite many of them wearing the same basic uniforms. The characterization of the protagonist Edward balances between being a "typical clever kid" and "a stubborn kid", successfully allowing him to float between the series more comical moments and its underlying drama without seeming false. Reviewers celebrated the development of the characters in the manga, with their beliefs actively changing during the story forcing them to grow in maturity.
The anime premiered in Japan with a 6.8 percent television viewership rating. In 2005, Japanese television network TV Asahi conducted a "Top 100" online web poll and nationwide survey; the Fullmetal Alchemist anime adaptation placed first in the online poll and twentieth in the survey. In 2006, TV Asahi conducted another online poll for the top one hundred anime, and Fullmetal Alchemist placed first again. Fullmetal Alchemist was also a winner in the American Anime Awards in several categories. These include "Long Series", "Best Cast", "Best DVD Package Design", "Best Anime Theme Song" ("Rewrite," by Asian Kung-Fu Generation), and "Best Actor" (Vic Mignogna, Edward Elric's English voice actor). It was also nominated in the category of "Best Anime Feature" for Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa. The series also won most of the Twenty-sixth Annual Animage Readers' Polls. The series was the winner in the "Favorite Anime Series", "Favorite Episode" (episode seven), "Favorite Male Character" (Edward Elric), "Favorite Female Character" (Riza Hawkeye \), "Favorite Theme Song" ("Melissa", by Porno Graffitti), and "Favorite Seiyū" (Romi Paku, Edward's Japanese voice actor). In the "Tokyo Anime Fair", the series also won in the categories "Animation Of The Year" (Fullmetal Alchemist: Conqueror of Shamballa), "Best original story" (Hiromu Arakawa) and "Best music" (Michiru Oshima).
The series has become one of the top properties of Square Enix along with Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest. The designs of the characters have been praised remarking they are almost unique. Flashbacks have been criticized to be annoying as they are repeated several times. Others reviewers compared the series with an Odyssey and part tragic coming of age story. The plot and the music have been celebrated to be almost rich. The anime has also been praised for having a good balance between action, comedy and deep moments and remarked the emotional core of the development of the two main characters. Criticism towards the anime focused on a large number of sentimental scenes in the series abuse to make the people who watch it cry. The ending also had a negative review noting that the beliefs of Edward did not change at all as he tried once again to bring somebody back to life. Soundtracks received praise due to the fact there are different styles of music as well as a large number of artists that makes every song enjoyable. The music of the backgrounds has been noted to never distract to it from the story and to always be pleasant to hear. DVDvisionjapan.com considered the first opening theme and the first ending theme as the best tracks of the series remarking that they made a good combination of anime and song.
The first Fullmetal Alchemist novel, The Land of the Sand was well received by Jarred Pine of Mania.com as a self-contained novelization that remained true to the characterizations from the manga series. He notes that while the lack of backstory makes it geared more towards fans of the franchise than new readers, it was an impressive debut piece for the Viz Fiction line. Ain't it Cool News also found the novel to be true to its roots, and that while it brought nothing new to the series, it was compelling enough for followers of the series to enjoy a retelling. As a whole, the reviewer felt it was a "work for young-ish readers that's pretty clear about some darker sides of politics, economics, and human nature." Charles Solomon of the Los Angeles Times noted that the novel has a different focus than anime series, with The Land of Sand "creating stronger, sympathetic bond" between the younger brothers than is seen in its two-episode anime counterpart.