Viz’ Fullmetal Alchemist (3‑in‑1 Edition), Volumes 25 – 27 includes Volumes 25, 26, and 27 of the original Japanese manga1. Story and art are by Hiromu Arakawa; English translation by Akira Watanabe; English adaptation by Jake Forbes; touch-up art and lettering by Wayne Truman. The original manga appeared in 2010.
The nice thing about series whose author has a destination in mind is the comparative absence of supporting characters who don’t actually support anything and subplots that don’t go anywhere. The less nice thing is that eventually the story reaches that destination. End of the line.
Which gets me to Fullmetal Alchemist (3‑in‑1 Edition), Volumes 25 – 27.
Having spent centuries carefully exploiting the greed of short-sighted humans, Father’s grand plan is nearing its end. How annoying, therefore, that a comparative handful of mayfly humans, the very ones who had been intended to carry the scheme to fruition, should manage to poke a stick into the spokes of Father’s machinations.
Not to mention the fact that of the seven homunculae Father spawned, only three remain alive. Homunculae faith in their personal indestructibility turns out to be ill-founded. Worse, one of them, Greed, is actively working against its creator. It’s as though each arrogant, power-mad being carries the seeds of its own destruction.
Still, Father is nothing if not diligent. Despite the best efforts of the Elric Brothers, reformed terrorist Scar, Roy Mustang, and all of the others, Father still manages to cast his grand transmutation, still hoovers up virtually every soul in Amestris, and still manages to consume the actual target of his ambition. Many of the protagonists are still standing, but so is Father … and now he contains God itself.
If there’s one lesson to take away from Fullmetal Alchemist, it’s “never explain what you are doing, not even if you think you hold all the cards.” Take a cue from Ozymandias.
Hold off explaining until after you succeed.
To its credit, Father did lie to his hapless human catspaws about his plans, but he left sufficient breadcrumbs in his wake for Maes Hughes to piece it all together early on. Homunculus Lust did stopper that leak, but not nearly well enough.
Another useful lesson is that powering up may not be as useful as you expect if the other side is used to fighting you from a position of disadvantage. You may find yourself struggling to contain all that new power you absorbed, while the other side can simply continue applying the methods they already know work against you. Chip chip chip.
The fight scenes did go on a bit long for my taste. I suppose it was a way to give each character their individual moments of glory. It’s not all fighting, however. A fair chunk of the last volume devotes itself to following up on the consequences of the last battle. Just because one side or the other wins does not mean events come to a halt. There are, for example, romantic plots to tie up.
Even taking into account that Edward is only about seventeen, his oblique confession to Winry that he is … ah … a bit fond of her is pretty awkward. It only took them twenty-seven issues published over eight years to get around to admitting what was painfully clear to every other character and to most readers. Though that’s a bit faster than the sidling romantic approach between Mari and Akko in the manga Girlfriends.
This was a pretty satisfactory ending to the story. My only complaint is I am not sure where to go from here with Arakawa’s work. Silver Spoon seems a bit outside the purview of this site. Oh, Arakawa did an adaptation of Yoshiki Tanaka’s Heroic Legend of Arslan, you say? Hmmmm.
Fullmetal Alchemist (3‑in‑1 Edition), Volumes 1 – 3 was reviewed here.
Fullmetal Alchemist (3‑in‑1 Edition), Volumes 4 – 6 was reviewed here.
Fullmetal Alchemist (3‑in‑1 Edition), Volumes 7–9 was reviewed here.
Fullmetal Alchemist (3‑in‑1 Edition), Volumes 10–12 was reviewed here.
Fullmetal Alchemist (3‑in‑1 Edition), Volumes 13 – 15 was reviewed here.
Fullmetal Alchemist (3‑in‑1 Edition) Volumes 16 – 18 was reviewed here.
Fullmetal Alchemist (3‑in‑1 Edition) Volumes 19 – 21 was reviewed here.
Fullmetal Alchemist (3‑in‑1 Edition) Volumes 22 – 24 was reviewed here.