Sunday, February 9, 2020

REVIEW: Fullmetal Alchemist: The Abducted Alchemist (book, vol. 2) by Makoto Inoue, original concept by Hiromu Arakawa, translated by Alexander O. Smith with Rich Amtower

The Abducted Alchemist is the second book in the Japanese light novel series based on Hiromu Arakawa's Fullmetal Alchemist manga.


After another unsuccessful investigation into Philosopher's Stone rumors, Edward and Alphonse Elric wait for a train. Strangely, when one finally arrives, it's hours late. They're also surprised to see Roy Mustang and Jean Havoc among the passengers, dressed in civilian clothes. They soon learn that there has been a lot of recent terrorist activity on the train tracks. The terrorists announce their bombing target 20-30 minutes in advance, enough time for civilians to get to safety but too little time for the military to do anything to stop them. It's terrorism without terror - civilians are more inconvenienced than anything, and they've directed their annoyance towards the ineffectual military.

Although he hasn't been able to find any proof yet, Roy suspects that the bombings are somehow connected to a string of kidnappings. The kidnappers abduct a child from a family with a connection to the military, demand and receive a ransom, and let the child go free, completely unharmed. As Ed and Al continue their own work, they accidentally stumble across something that may be key to both of Roy's investigations.

This is the second Fullmetal Alchemist novel I've read, and the first that I don't think was turned into a filler episode in the original anime, so the story was entirely new to me. It was decent - not something I'll necessarily want to reread, but it felt like something that could happen in the Fullmetal Alchemist universe, was a relatively quick and light read, and the characters mostly acted and spoke like themselves.

Ancy, the child Ed and Al encountered, was like literally every child they've ever met in the series, sweet and cute. There was a funny running joke involving Ed calling Roy "Dad" that, for a very brief moment, dipped into "Roy as Ed's father figure" territory. Havoc drove a car badly, multiple times. Ed went up against a couple dozen terrorists and managed to hold his own with alchemy and an entire building (although he forgot that some parts of buildings are load-bearing and really shouldn't be messed with). There were no alchemists in the terrorist group, but there was a guy named Gael who was ridiculously strong and fast.

It wasn't the most exciting story, overall, but it had some good stuff in it, especially in the second half. Roy and Ed had some great scenes together. The one thing that was a little off was the bit where a woman called Ed a "wee bonnie squire" to Al's "knight in shining armor" (78) and Ed didn't even twitch.

This is the last of the Fullmetal Alchemist novels that I have on hand, but I'd still like to read the rest.


A few black and white illustrations throughout, an afterword by Makoto Inoue, and an afterword/illustrated interpretation of the "you have a son?" scene by Hiromu Arakawa. Also, one full-color illustration.

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