Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Response to Arakawa's Fullmetal Alchemist (by Erica Hollingsworth)

1       The artwork very well reflects the idea behind this manga. Every line has a purpose, but they are not sinister in that way. It flows very well from frame to frame as well, making it an easy read, at least visually. Everything is there for you to see. The backgrounds are not always complex, sometimes merely being a single tone or parallel lines going in the same direction as those in the frame. Because you don't always have to focus on what is happening in the frame, you can instead look more into what the author wants you to see: the characters and what they are saying. However, this is not always the case. There are still many frames that give clues or back-story without a word being mentioned about those things.

2       As I have seen this in both manga and anime forms, I can safely say that it is best shown as a manga. The music and voice actors are very distracting from the overall feel of the story. It takes away instead of adding to it. Also, because of techniques used in the manga like to monotone backgrounds, there is a slight problem with translation that can never really be overcome without looking silly. There are also instances like on page 166, during the train heist, where the characters interact with the onomatopoeia of the frames. In one, the sound “floop” is used as an onomatopoeia, but in the next, one of the hijackers looks back toward the sound in confusion, asking “floop?” Something like this could not be well translated into a film or book setting, but it does
add to the story in manga form.

3       In all, there is a third person camera following all the
characters around, but the main focus is always on Edward Elric. Since I
am staying strictly focused on volume one of this series, I can only go
so in depth with this, but there are several times when the reader knows
more than Edward does himself. That being said, he does not always
reveal to the reader what he has planned until the other people in the
story know it too. There are no narration boxes like what can be found
in Batman: Year One, and truth be told, the story is being told as it
happens, with the exception of the few flashbacks. It also differs from
how Watson told the adventures of Holmes in that, even though Ed and Al
are always together, and a good deal of the story does have to do with
just Al, he is in no way a narrator by himself. None of the characters
are, again, with the exception of when they relay tales of their past.

4       I could write pages over events all throughout the series that
strike me as important. Since I've already read them all, I will focus
on a scene that will not spoil anything for new readers. On page 126,
after the town inn has been burned down, the miners and Edward get into
an argument. The miners want Ed to make them gold so that they can pay
to repair their shop. Edward insists that he can't do this, it being
against the law. Not only that, it goes against the foundation of
Alchemy, equivalent exchange. As Edward says himself, “Why should I give
you money for free?” But, I digress. Ed continues on by saying that the
miners should move if they hate it there so much. We find out later that
Ed and Al are constantly on the move (which is revealed why later in the
series), so when the owner of the inn tells Ed “The mines are our homes
and our graves,” it strikes a chord with the boy. It takes reading the
book through twice to really get the message, but that was one of the m
ore important moments I've found in this volume without it being very
obvious or spoiling a later revealed plot element.

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