BLOGGERS' WEEK Troo Topham has conflicting emotions about the end of an anime phenomenon
Is there life after Fullmetal Alchemist ? I mean we’ve all been on tenterhooks for years now. I certainly have, after discovering the manga in Toronto, of all places, way back in 2006. There’s the oddest little gaming shop on the PATH network just north of the Eaton Centre and, well... Suffice to say they also do reams and reams of manga, and the shiny covers of the first three collected, translated Fullmetal Alchemist caught my eye. It was silvered! The artwork was amazing! How could I resist?
I was pretty new to manga back then, too. I had done the usual experimentation at university (with anime…! ) but it had fallen off my radar for the * coughmumble * years since those wild Halcyon days. After that I voraciously devoured each new volume the moment it became available in the UK, for we have to wait many moons beyond the US publication dates before a few precious paperbacks can find their way across the Atlantic to us. Occasionally I would get lucky and find myself somewhere within the North American continent and manage to bulk buy – thank you Anime Castle in NYC, and also to the very understanding security lady at JFK Airport who was bemused by the weight of my bag until I explained that it was filled with books.
Then I got really lucky and started going to Japan. Imagine my horror on finding out just how far behind their publication schedule we were. Imagine my aghastness (I made it up, that’s just how aghast I was) on picking up Monthly Shōnen GanGan to find that I didn’t recognise a single character in Fullmetal Alchemist , so far ahead were they on the storyline than us mere English-speaking mortals. Imagine my tears as I found that GanGan readers were also regularly treated to brilliant little Manga-themed free gifts almost every month and that many of these over the years were Fullmetal Alchemist treats!
And imagine my horror as Fullmetal Alchemist drew to a close in GanGan while I was back here in Blighty knowing that final issue (with its brilliant swathe of FMA gifts) was beyond my reach. I tell you, I almost hopped on a flight then and there.
Even better – or worse – was that Aniplex was taking advantage of the closing of the truly epic storyline to have a second go at its Anime adaptation. Back in Tokyo only last November I did manage to pick up some of the Blu-ray discs in their beautiful packaging with their collectible little character cards and other assorted goodies, and I am left holding them now and thinking: This is it.
This is the end of a journey which, for me, has only lasted five years but for the Japanese readers who have been addicted right from day one it has been ten. Ten years, glued to a brilliant, insightful, heart-wrenching story which only unveils itself a handful of pages at a time on the cheaply-printed pages of a magazine for teenage boys. We get to eke a little more out of it, waiting for the English translations and releases, but those of us eagerly gobbling the story up in Japanese while we wait are left floored, gasping, and wondering whether anything else can ever really fill this hole in our lives.
Do I want a spin-off? God, no. Fullmetal Alchemist is perfect, whole, and complete as-is. Did it make me cry? Christ, yes. Almost every book. Am I going to tell you how it ends? No. I wouldn’t do that to my worst enemy, let alone you.
Is there life afterward, though? Sure. Of course. Don’t be silly. I mean, one story ends, and another begins, right?
鋼の錬金術師, I damn-well love you. And I always will. And whenever life’s just a little too empty without you, well... I can start back at the beginning and fall in love with you all over again.