Fullmetal Alchemist Vol. #18 (Mania.com)

By:Sakura Eries
Review Date: Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Release Date: Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The frozen North heats up as alchemists, chimeras, and innocents gather in Briggs!

Creative Staff
Writer/Artist: Hiromu Arakawa
Translation: Akira Watanabe
Adaptation: Jake Forbes

What They Say
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.

Automail engineer Winry is captured and held hostage to force Edward to do her captor's bidding. Hawkeye discovers the disturbing truth about President Bradley's son. Our heroes have fortuitous and not-so-fortuitous reunions with old friends and enemies. And multiple intrigues and double-crosses ensue as some plot to save the world while others scheme to destroy it.

The Review!
Ed has new orders from the military: to assist Kimblee, the Red Lotus Alchemist, with the destruction of the people of the Northern Territory. And to make sure the Fullmetal Alchemist complies, Kimblee holds Winry in his custody. Unwilling to endanger her safety, Ed agrees to Kimblee's demands. However, when Ed and Al find May Chang and her traveling companions in an old mining town, former foes put differences aside in a risky scheme to free Winry and get to the bottom of the Homunculi's treacherous plot.

Fullmetal Alchemist keeps the excitement up with intrigue, action, and the unlikeliest of allies in Volume 18. While we get a few glimpses of Mustang and Hawkeye in Central, this volume is mainly focused on events taking place in the Briggs area. Arakawa-sensei does a wonderful job of heightening the stakes using Kimblee's coercive strategy for manipulating Ed. In addition to all plotting behind closed doors, there is also excitement in the form of an alchemical battle involving Ed, Al, Scar, and Kimblee's goons and its unexpected aftermath. While it is rather convenient how everyone readily cooperates in the scheme to free Winry after Scar's capture, it doesn't feel contrived.

In addition to the rapid progression of events in Briggs, Pride finally makes an appearance in this volume. Considering how far the manga has diverged from the anime, it's not surprising that this Pride differs significantly from the anime Pride, but I was floored that this particular character turned out to be a homunculus.

Extras consist of a story thus far summary and character lineup, five pages of post-manga extras, and ads for other Viz products.

Mania Grade: A
Art Rating: A
Packaging Rating: B+
Text/Translation Rating: B+
Age Rating: 13 and Up
Released By: Viz Media
MSRP: 9.99
Pages: 192
ISBN: 978-1421525365
Size: B6
Orientation: Right to Left