To call 2009"s Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood a extremely rated anime would certainly be a correct understatement — the shonen series has to be ranked very first in the MyAnimeList Top Anime table for years now. At the time of this writing, the present has a look at untouchable score of 9.23 top top what is essentially the IMDb of anime. Brotherhood was a substantial success for Bones, i m sorry was really familiar v the home by this point. The studio also made 2003"s Fullmetal Alchemist, an earlier adaptation the the manga that did really well, specifically in the States. The series won 5 awards at the inaugural American Anime Awards in 2007, including ideal Long Series, best Cast, and Best Actor. Both version owe your success to one person: Hiromu Arakawa. 

Arakawa moved come Tokyo in 1999 with dreams of coming to be a manga illustrator, dreams that she managed to realize almost immediately. She conveniently got her foot in the door in ~ Square Enix, landing a role as an assistant top top its Magical one Guru Guru series. She took fee of a couple of shorts in between then and also 2001, once the manga that would certainly make her a household name debuted. The 2000s came to be the decade of Fullmetal Alchemist, i beg your pardon was released in Monthly Shonen Gangan until 2010. The residential property remains simply as well-known today, but how lot do you know around this Japanese pop culture phenomenon? This is the untold fact of Fullmetal Alchemist.

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The creator of Fullmetal Alchemist pulled a J.K. Rowling when she moved to Tokyo to pursue a career together a mangaka. According to CrunchyRoll, Arakawa started up a doujin group and began submitting four-panel comics come the now defunct Gamest magazine using the pen surname Edmund Arakawa. When she went pro she made decision a much subtler alias — she determined to i announced under Hiromu Arakawa rather of her birth name Hiromi Arakawa. It was the second time she"d changed her surname to make herself appear male, however she couldn"t keep her secret for long. When Fullmetal Alchemist became a hit, fans found that the writer was actually female. That didn"t halt Fullmetal"s rise. Arakawa"s manga picked up the Shogakukan Manga Award and also the Seiun award on its way to selling more than 70 million copies.

Her success has actually helped pave the way for the likes of Kekkaishi creator Yellow Tanabe and Shinobu Ohtaka, the woman behind Magi. Speaking come French magazine Animeland in 2013, Arakawa reminded reader why they must never referee a manga by the mangaka"s gender. "Some men are yes, really able come imagine perceptible and complicated characters, while some women room able to develop sometimes violent activity scenes," she said. "Nowadays, every writer has their very own speciality. The doesn"t issue if they"re a guy or a woman."


If you"re a Fullmetal Alchemist fan, you"ll know all about Equivalent Exchange, the an initial law that alchemy in Arakawa"s world. "Humankind cannot get anything without first giving miscellaneous in return," Alphonse Elric explains in the opening narration of the 2003 anime series. "To obtain, other of same value must be lost." What you could not understand is the Arakawa come up through this principle when she was farming up on she family"s dairy farm yard in Hokkaido. "The an ext you love her animals, the much more they offer it back to you," she told Animeland. "Equivalent exchange is based on the power you"ll deploy to establish the job that to be assigned come you. In a way, the exchange provides rhythm to mine life."

It wasn"t just the pets that inspired her, either. Arakawa thrived up surrounded by a variety of hardworking women on the farm, and that additionally shows pretty clearly on the page. "Our family members motto is "Those that don"t work, don"t deserve to eat,"" the mangaka revealed in Fullmetal Alchemist volume 12 (via The mar Sue). "Everyone has to work difficult to do ends meet, consisting of women and kids. That"s the factor there are so plenty of working ladies in Fullmetal." Arakawa"s story has actually been praised together a rare example of shonen the doesn"t relegate the female result in a nurse/healer role — the wrench-wielding Winry Rockbell is one automail mechanic and also total gearhead.


The human being of manga is full of eccentric characters, and Arakawa is absolutely one that them. The creator of Fullmetal Alchemist is known for being something the a recluse, avoiding the spotlight anytime she can. A couple of pictures of the mangaka have actually been circulated online, but the pictures are such a low quality that it"s difficult to do out any type of distinguishing features. When Arakawa paint, etc her author portrait, she transforms herself into an anthropomorphic cow, a nod to she farming past but also a method of maintaining her identity hidden. Therefore what does she do for TV interviews? Simple — they modify in a cow challenge after the fact.

"Right now, my face is cow, yet I to be human," she assured viewers when she offered an interview to encourage an exhibition showcasing she artwork in 2017. It was her first ever TV appearance, and she hasn"t exactly made a habit of the since. To this particular day the vast majority of she fans have no idea what she in reality looks like. In fact, many have mistakenly established voice actress Romi Paku as Arakawa, because she often represents the Fullmetal Alchemist creator in ~ events. "Even in Japan, I never attend windy events," Arakawa told Animeland.


The story of Fullmetal Alchemist starts when Edward Elric and his younger brothers Alphonse attempt to use alchemy to bring their deceased mother back to life. Person transmutation is alchemy"s best taboo, and the Elric siblings suffer dearly because that breaking it — Ed loser his left leg during their fail resurrection attempt, and his little brother is sucked right into the door of Truth. He"s required to sacrifice his right arm (both four are later replaced with automail) in exchange for Al"s soul, i beg your pardon he easily binds come an empty suit of armor utilizing a blood seal. We"re then taken on a journey v the Elrics as they search for the philosopher"s stone, which they believe will help restore their bodies.

If that sounds like a plot native a B-movie, that"s due to the fact that those kind of films straight inspired Arakawa. In the foreword of the an initial ever volume of Fullmetal Alchemist, the author and artist revealed the her love the B-movies made her want to compose something the sucked human being in with its quirkiness. "I love the means they make me think "What the hell is this? That"s crazy!" however still attract me in so that i watch the totality thing," she stated (via The mar Sue).

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It took ar eight years prior to the main story commences, yet the Ishval Civil battle still casts a large shadow over everyone in Fullmetal Alchemist. A fatal conflict broke out in the region, which had previously been linked by powerful neighbor Amestris. The latter sent State Alchemists to the prior line and a genocide take it place. A revenge-obsessed survivor named Scar came to be one the the most famous Fullmetal Alchemist characters, regardless of some people taking worry with his portrayal, and the portrayal of minority personalities in general.

Some think the Ishval Civil battle (or the Ishvalan war of Extermination) is partly based upon Germany"s massacre of the Herero, livestock herders living in what is currently Namibia who were killed for your land. Arakawa"s true incentive came from closer to home. She revealed to Newtype USA that her own ancestors displaced the native civilization of Hokkaido once it was colonized by the Japanese. 

"My ancestors were farmers and also homesteaders that displaced Ainu and stole your land native them," she said. "But ironically enough, several of my own relatives have Ainu blood in them. That seems complicated, yet it"s simply an daily fact the life to have actually neighbors of differing ethnicity. Ns think the truly serious difficulties in this people are when people don"t make any kind of effort come learn about these day-to-day situations, when they revolve away indigenous them or watch them from only a single perspective."

Arakawa can love B-movies, but they"re no the just thing she watches. The mangaka is well-known to it is in an admirer that Hollywood movies, specifically ones that come from the psychic of George Lucas. She supposedly loves the Indiana Jones films, and she"s made her feelings on Star Wars publicly known — in one Fullmetal Alchemist afterword, Arakawa animated herself (in she bespectacled cow form, of course) bemoaning the fact that Padmé Amidala fell for Anakin Skywalker, that would of course go on to come to be Darth Vader. It"s not that Arakawa has actually anything against Darth Vader. Quite the opposite, in fact.

According to Sankichi Hinodeya, that was among the Arakawa"s aides on Fullmetal Alchemist, the mangaka do the efforts to acquisition a scale replica that the iconic Star Wars villain in ~ one stage, however she was compelled to offer up top top the idea as soon as she found just exactly how much the statue was going come cost. The mar Sue once defined her as "quite the geek" and also a "hardcore fan of Star Wars" in a profile piece, yet this was reportedly one item of memorabilia too far.

When Arakawa spoke to now defunct anime mag Newtype USA for that is January 2006 edition, she revealed the she watches films from anywhere the civilization in she spare time, however she"s come to be especially fond the the "heart-pounding fun and simpleminded power of Hong Kong and Hollywood films."

Arakawa produced a pair of shorts before Fullmetal Alchemist sent her into the stratosphere, and also one the those shorts is on regular basis referenced in she most renowned work — in fact, parts of 1999"s Stray Dog are straight up recycle in Fullmetal Alchemist, including some terminology and several big plot devices. Perhaps most notably, Stray Dog features chimaeras, human-dog hybrids created by the military. Similar creatures attribute in Fullmetal Alchemist. There space plenty of smaller nods and also Easter eggs for keen-eyed Arakawa pan to chuckle over, too.

Stray Dog is a brand of liquor in the Fullmetal Alchemist universe (it"s on sale in shady pub the Devil"s Nest) and the ax "dog that military" is often thrown at Edward Elric, gift a State Alchemist and all. Edward has actually the exact same braid as a Stray Dog character, and the same gold eyes, too. It"s tough not to look at Stray Dog as a forerunner to Fullmetal Alchemist, however in reality most that Arakawa"s early work consists of traces of the somewhere. Four-chapter short Demons of Shanghai features personality designs that are so similar to Fullmetal Alchemist the pranksters have been maybe to traction them off together spoilers, tricking manga readers.

Those gaining into Fullmetal Alchemist because that the first time usually ask this question before they carry out anything else. Is 2009"s Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood a sequel come 2003"s Fullmetal Alchemist, or is the a remake? It"s actually neither that those things. When Fullmetal Alchemist was an initial adapted right into an anime in 2003, the manga to be still reasonably young. Because there was just so much story they can adapt, the producers created their own, v Arakawa"s full blessing. "I think the there is no need come worry about the original job-related separately," the mangaka said when asked if the was ideal to leave the anime come the animators. "I said, "Please do every little thing you want." ns am the type that carry out not care about how the character looks visually as long as the personality is expressed."

The 2003 anime was considered a success, but by 2009, Arakawa"s manga was nearing that conclusion and there to be calls for a new, more faithful adaptation. That adaptation was Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (Hagane no Renkinjutsushi: Fullmetal Alchemist in Japan), which follows the resource material from start to end. Follow to The mary Sue, Arakawa let Brotherhood"s manager in ~ above the finishing she had in keep for the manga for this reason they could remain in sync. The last episode aired simply a few weeks after the critical chapter the the manga to reduce in July 2010.

It"s no mystery that Hollywood rarely gets that right when it concerns adapting anime because that the large screen, however it can surprise girlfriend to discover that Japanese filmmakers are also pretty destructive at it. The 2015 live-action adaptation of Attack on Titan and that is sequel, subtitled End that the World, both fail to admire critics, as did the Fullmetal Alchemist movie. Exit in 2017, the movie was topic to part controversy. American producers have been accused the whitewashing anime adaptations on number of occasions, and also the exact same thing taken place in turning back when Fullmetal Alchemist was made — the truth that the setting and the personalities are european by design led a number of fans to argue the white actors should have been actors over Japanese ones.

Parts the the movie to be shot on ar in Europe, and that was apparently enough authenticity because that Arakawa, who very much appreciated this recent take on her magnum opus. The creator was specifically happy v the performance of Ryosuke Yamada in the role of Ed. "There to be a hasty desperation in the running, and also he did that in a comical means just choose the manga," said Arakawa, that was presented the script however had no involvement in the make of the movie. "Ed"s comical but an excellent physicality to be on full screen in the opening activity scene, and I thought, "He is as great as i expected, this guy!""

When they referred to as the live activity Fullmetal Alchemist movie in English, they lugged in veteran voice actor Vic Mignogna, the guy who voiced Edward Elric in both the the anime adaptations. Mignogna has a long and distinguished career in voice acting, and also he"s play some big characters end the years, however none have the right to compare come Ed. "I to be honored beyond words to it is in a part of Fullmetal Alchemist," Mignogna told Red Carpet News in 2012. "I couldn"t love Ed more, he"s been just one of my favorite functions to play." Mignogna to be hugely respected at the time, yet his reputation has actually been tarnished in the years since.

In 2019, io9 launched an investigation into cases of sex-related harassment that had been made versus Mignogna. Dozens the industry experts (from Mignogna"s other voice gibbs to cosplayers and also convention employees) painted "a picture of a 56-year-old male who aggressively hugs, grabs, touches, kisses, and propositions ladies — frequently without asking for their consent." follow to voice gibbs Jamie McGonnigal, Mignogna"s habits has to be anime"s worst kept secret for years.

"Have you heard of the lacking stair analogy?" McGonnigal asked io9. "It"s basically what happens when countless folks in an market know about a particular person, and also warn everyone around that person, sort of quietly... You tell the world that you understand to skip that stair since it"s broken... That"s what it"s been choose for upwards of 15 years. Civilization just know around Vic."

When the final chapter of Fullmetal Alchemist hit shelves in 2010, it was the finish of one era for Square Enix"s Monthly Shonen Gangan magazine, the manga"s home due to the fact that its beginning in 2001. Arakawa had been dreading the day, however when the time lastly came, she feeling a good sense of relief. "When we finished the manga, i was surprised due to the fact that I had been drawing this story for nine years and I was encouraged that in the end, I would certainly be sad, as in a rest up," she told Animeland. "When ns submitted the critical chapter, i was actually relieved. Not since I to be glad it was over, but due to the fact that I had actually the conviction I had told everything I want to."

The mangaka recalled the moment that she gave the last pages to she publisher during her interview with the French anime mag, reminiscing around the grilled beef lock ate as they commemorated their achievement. "We had actually nice drinks, quite food, and also I had actually a feeling of satisfaction," Arakawa said. "As if my children just graduated." Fullmetal Alchemist will constantly be her baby, however Arakawa likewise has three actual kids with her husband. She provided birth come her 3rd child in 2014, announcing the arrival through an illustration of her iconic cow watching over a baby v the caption "Human Transmutation Accomplished" underneath.

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On the surface, Fullmetal Alchemist isn"t your usual thinking person"s anime. Conversations about morality and philosophy aren"t normally sparked by shonen stories, yet Arakawa"s manga and also its assorted adaptations have actually inspired lot debate. The creator asks large questions of she audience, who space left come judge few of the an ext morally ambiguous personalities for themselves (discussions about Scar"s status are still raging years after Fullmetal Alchemist ended). When Arakawa speak to Newtype USA, she revealed the she became "more attracted to the philosophical aspects of than the practical ones" together she carried out her research, i beg your pardon is why Fullmetal Alchemist requires a good deal that thought between the fight scenes.

Arakawa touched on a number of themes over the years, however the one that stayed a constant throughout Fullmetal Alchemist is family. "The collection starts off v the Elric brothers attempting to revive their dead mother, and they do that since they lengthy for the warmth of family," she said. The guys ultimately type a surrogate family about them, and also as far as Arakawa is concerned, mirroring her readers the we"re every one large family still was always the endgame. "I think the story"s eventual destination could be an expertise of family, in a bigger sense that the world."