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Fullmetal Alchemist: The Complete Four-Panel Comics

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No joke is too cheesy and there are no sacred cows in this zany take onFullmetal Alchemist! In an alchemical ritual gone wrong, Edward Elric lost his arm and his leg, and his brother Alphonse became nothing but a soul in a suit of armor. Though the Elric brothers' circumstances are tragic, in these spoofs penned by author Hiromu Arakawa, the duo’s quest to reclaim their No joke is too cheesy and there are no sacred cows in this zany take on Fullmetal Alchemist! In an alchemical ritual gone wrong, Edward Elric lost his arm and his leg, and his brother Alphonse became nothing but a soul in a suit of armor. Though the Elric brothers' circumstances are tragic, in these spoofs penned by author Hiromu Arakawa, the duo’s quest to reclaim their bodies is completely hilarious! This complete collection offers the beloved four-panel comic strips from the graphic novel series and bonus strips from the anime DVDs of Fullmetal Alchemist and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, as well as rare strips from Japan!


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No joke is too cheesy and there are no sacred cows in this zany take onFullmetal Alchemist! In an alchemical ritual gone wrong, Edward Elric lost his arm and his leg, and his brother Alphonse became nothing but a soul in a suit of armor. Though the Elric brothers' circumstances are tragic, in these spoofs penned by author Hiromu Arakawa, the duo’s quest to reclaim their No joke is too cheesy and there are no sacred cows in this zany take on Fullmetal Alchemist! In an alchemical ritual gone wrong, Edward Elric lost his arm and his leg, and his brother Alphonse became nothing but a soul in a suit of armor. Though the Elric brothers' circumstances are tragic, in these spoofs penned by author Hiromu Arakawa, the duo’s quest to reclaim their bodies is completely hilarious! This complete collection offers the beloved four-panel comic strips from the graphic novel series and bonus strips from the anime DVDs of Fullmetal Alchemist and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, as well as rare strips from Japan!

30 review for Fullmetal Alchemist: The Complete Four-Panel Comics

  1. 5 out of 5

    King Haddock

    I was stoked to hear Viz would be translating and publishing this book. So much of the FMA franchise has never received official English translation. Some golden nuggets from the FMA world can be difficult to find, too, even in the original Japanese. The four panel comics are dispersed in all sorts of random places, from bookmarks to light novels to special editions to guidebooks to everything else under the sun, and that's made it difficult for me to acquire / find all of them. So, a book I was stoked to hear Viz would be translating and publishing this book. So much of the FMA franchise has never received official English translation. Some golden nuggets from the FMA world can be difficult to find, too, even in the original Japanese. The four panel comics are dispersed in all sorts of random places, from bookmarks to light novels to special editions to guidebooks to everything else under the sun, and that's made it difficult for me to acquire / find all of them. So, a book compiling 4koma? Sold! I hadn't gotten around to purchasing the original Japanese 4koma compilation, but had it on my "to get" list. Upon seeing that an English version of the book would be available, I launched myself at it. There's pros and cons to this book, which I'll get into below, but overall: an entertaining and worthwhile buy for both casual FMA lovers and hardcore collectors. Pro: New Translation and Text Everything has been translated anew. Even the comics that had already been translated into English and published by Viz (such as in the manga's paperbacks) have been re-translated / updated by a new translator. With this has come a fun, refreshing, entertaining new take on the jokes. The typography is clean, expressive, and works well with the artwork - probably some of the most expressive integrations of English font into FMA panels. One of the main fonts I'm not a fan of, but it's not objectionable, and the way dramatic text is written is gold. The language sounds colloquial and accessible to English speakers. There's a danger where translations may fall either into the realm of formal, stiff, awkward wording... or the realm of uncomfortable, forced slang. This is natural everyday youthful English and the perfect choice of tone to give comedic effect. Viz's first round of translations was never bad, but there were a few instances of awkward phrasing. On several occasions, it made jokes flow less naturally to English readers. I'd say that this book, with its new translations, gets rid of those issues. To give an example, let's compare these versions of the omake "A Man's Dignity" from Volume 4: (Yes, these are my own photographs, sorry for the imperfect quality... I didn't want to spend TOO much time on this review!) In the publication from 2005, we read: Havoc: A mustache might make you look older. Mustang: That's it!! A mustache! [Hawkeye draws cat whiskers on him] Hawkeye: Is there a problem? Mustang: Uh-huh. It's the mustache... definitely the mustache. Viz's paperback text didn't make it clear how we got from mustaches to cat whiskers. Fanmade translations did a better job connecting lines of reasoning / word play by using words like "facial hair" instead of "mustache". But in The Complete Four-Panel Comics from 2019, we read: Havoc: Facial hair might make you look older. Mustang: That's it!! Whiskers! [Hawkeye draws cat whiskers on him] Hawkeye: Is there a problem? Mustang: Uh-huh. Those are whiskers... definitely whiskers. The new translation in The Complete Four-Panel Comics chooses words that make for much more sense to English readers. It's an improvement! This is one example I chose to highlight, but I found similar translation improvements throughout The Complete Four-Panel Comics. I'd say it's a great translation all around; there are only a few instances where I might have tweaked wording myself. One line has Ed saying, "It tastes just like Mom used to make," which sounds awkward, and might have been better as, "It tastes just like what Mom used to make." There was one instance Hawkeye said "left hand" when she should have said "right" - and that was something the first Viz publication had right. I also think the toilet paper transmutation comic was funnier in its word choice from 2006's Fullmetal Alchemist Profiles. But again, these nitpick instances are rare (at least on my first reading). In this book, we're filled with delightful translations. The English SPARKLES in this book, and it's a blast. Con: Occasional Questionable Representation Anyone who's read FMA omake before, or watched 4Koma Theatre from FMAB specials, won't be surprised at the humor. This isn't new material. These aren't new gags in FMA-verse. Chances are, if you're picking up this book, you enjoy the jokes and nothing here bothers you much. I myself stand on the ground of "this might not be perfect, but it is damn entertaining and I can laugh at it," and I'm a queer boobied reader myself. However, I'll still make a quick note of potentially questionable representation - just so we get this out in the open. Garfiel has an ongoing gag of injecting himself into situations where no one wants him. How he's portrayed can be criticized as questionable queer representation, given as he's portrayed as being overly, unwantedly sexual, and with lots of stereotypical "effeminate" behaviors. We can also mention "boys will be boys" type humor, which is decently prevalent, in which male characters gawk over the female body. Jokes can go into Peeping Tom or attempted groping. Arakawa does enjoy sexual jokes, which I find often hilarious (Al's helmet plus sand boobs? rotflh), but there's something to be said about what a few of these underlying jokes might endorse or normalize. So yeah. I REALLY don't want to get into an enormous discussion on the complicated morals of humor (it would be a fun and nuanced debate, but NOT on Goodreads, thanks). Some of you might have issues with it, some of you might not, I'm not here to facilitate your debate or opinions. But... I'm putting this out here in case you're not already familiar with Arakawa's humor style in the omake, and you know ahead of time this wouldn't be your thing. Pro: Original Publication Information for Each Panel One thing that I LOVE - because I do dive deeply into collecting FMA material - is that this book gives us information on where all the four-panel comics first appeared in print. We're given the date and the location where the comic premiered! "Safe Searching" on p. 114 is labeled as "Fullmetal Alchemist Website Launch, September 2004" - I didn't even KNOW there was a four-panel comic that first appeared on the website! On p. 116, "Self-Aggrandizing Manga" is labeled as "Fullmetal Alchemist: Perfect Guide Bonus, December 2003." So on, and so forth. It's a small formatting thing, but it adds so much to someone like me. Now I know the origin of each 4koma that appears and what context it came in. BLESS. In fact, the whole book is organized based upon where the comics first debuted. We have separate sections for omake that appeared in the manga tankoubon publications, in the DVD extras for FMA 2003 and FMAB, and in other miscellaneous locations. There's even a section called "Bonus Comics," which appear to be new-as-of-this-book, found-nowhere-else. It's only four pages, but I'm never going to complain to more Arakawa-created shenanigans! Con: It Doesn't Have EVERY Four-Panel / Extra The Japanese edition of this book was published in 2017. That means it's recent enough it should have been up-to-date for everything Arakawa's done. However, this does NOT collect every omake, extra, or parody comic Arakawa has written for FMA. For instance, the gaiden special edition released for the live action, Vol. 0 「旅の始まり」 "The Beginning of the Journey," contains an omake at the end. Though not in the four panel format, it's technically four panels. And it's not in The Complete Four-Panel Comics. Other omake that aren't four panels long, but are extras, don't make the cut either. Popularity contest jokes from the guidebooks, or joke panels Arakawa wrote for the light novels, or two-to-three page gags, are absent as well. You can understand why these are excluded from a book called "The Complete Four-Panel Comics." Technically, none of these are FOUR-PANEL. They're extras, but not THAT specific format. I would have liked their inclusion, but I can see why, on the technicality, they're not part of this collection. This means The Complete Four-Panel Comics lacks treasures like this: or: or: BUT. There ARE actual four-panel comics from the FMA-verse that are absent. Lots of them. This includes four-panels comics that both HAVE received official English translation before, and those which have not. (Not like Viz had control of this, but just noting). Two four-panel comics from the light novel series by Makoto Inoue are absent; they're more about Inoue coming up with story ideas about characters who are about to have misfortunes happen to them in the manga... but it's still FMA-related four-panel writing. The relay comics from Fullmetal Alchemist Profiles are also missing from The Complete Four-Panel Comics. What surprised me the most, though, was the exclusion of many 4koma panels that were in Chronicle. I was very much hoping for an English translation of these, but instead, many pages of 4koma from Chronicle (which, btw, are ALSO available in 「ハガレン研究所 DX 」, etc. - Chronicle is its own book of compilations) never make their way into The "Complete" Four-Panel Comics. An entire section of comics in Chronicle is missing from this book. And Chronicle, by the way, was published in 2011, so there's no reason why these couldn't have been included here. Next, this book lacks rare 4koma that I've seen printed as exhibition bookmarks. They haven't made it to Chronicle, they haven't made it to this, despite the fact that these rare panels would be PERFECT for a book collecting FMA's four-panel comics. The Complete Four-Panel Comics contains rare 4koma, as they were advertising, but they don't have all the rare 4koma, which is a shame. I was hoping for an English translation of that one time young!Mustang shot fire out of his butt (Arakawa, you have NO respect for your own characters...). By and large, though, we've got lots of material. We've got lots of comics, we've got lots of laughs, we've got hoards of comics making their official English translation debut in print. The English translation is great, both for the familiar panels you've seen a hundred times, and for those you might not have had the privilege to check out before. I'm rating it 4/5 because it DOES lack many 4koma that I anticipated, but that's more out of pickiness than anything. I'm very happy with this book. For an English-speaking collector, I wouldn't call this a bad buy!

  2. 5 out of 5

    kerrycat

    I laughed sooo much reading this - and only cried at one panel (yeah, my fellow FMA fans know exactly what - or who - that panel must be about). Seriously, this is absolutely hilarious, and a MUST for FMA lovers.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mukta A

    It's been so incredibly long since I finished the FMA series and since it's my favourite manga series ever, this book was AMAZING. Funny, adorable and full of Arakawa's lovely art and legendary humour that I missed so much! Recommended to ANY Fullmetal Alchemist fan- it will make you smile, laugh, and sigh- and relive a series that was beautiful, thought provoking and simply perfect. :')

  4. 4 out of 5

    mayday

    Four panel comics from Hiromu Arakawa are the best. The premium edition published in Indonesia doesn't have the four-panel comics like the previous edition. So glad I can read them again :)

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ken Yuen

    Kind of weird to read these comics out of context, but it's still fun revisiting the Fullmetal Alchemist cast. Still love all these guys, even if I've forgotten some of them.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Doc

    No Joke is too cheesy and there are no sacred cows in this zany take on Fullmetal Alchemist! Considered by many to be a classic in anime, Fullmetal Alchemist often had small 4 panel gag comics accompanying their products capturing the spirit of parts of the story while often times being humorous and breaking some serious themes while remaining separate from the story itself. Now thanks to Viz Media we have a book that gathers all of these 4 panel comics from the graphic novels, DVDs, and other No Joke is too cheesy and there are no sacred cows in this zany take on Fullmetal Alchemist! Considered by many to be a classic in anime, Fullmetal Alchemist often had small 4 panel gag comics accompanying their products capturing the spirit of parts of the story while often times being humorous and breaking some serious themes while remaining separate from the story itself. Now thanks to Viz Media we have a book that gathers all of these 4 panel comics from the graphic novels, DVDs, and other products (such as games and magazine originals) in one place to bring back memories for those that have seen them before and to experience them for the first time for those that had missed them the first time around . :)

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    Awesome and funny. However, i had to take a star off due to the gay jokes regarding garfiel. Tbf hiromu arakawa has lots of sexual jokes in her 4-panel comics but all his jokes depicted him as an unwanted & predatory gay man, and that is really a shame :'( I still recommend this to all fullmetal alchemist fans out there

  8. 5 out of 5

    Taylor Ramirez

    I picked this up at Barnes and Noble because I needed to complete my Fullmetal Alchemist collection. This was so hilarious. I love Arakawa’s humor and style. I laughed out loud multiple times and highly recommend getting it because there are comics from other pieces of FMA media, not just the manga.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Esther

    not counting this as Read In 2019 because lbr i read most of the stuff in here a looong time ago but it’s fun to see it all together and also i’m so excited that all the strips that hadnt been translated before are in here!!!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kelly C.

    Such a cute and fulfilling book! A must-have for fans of the "Fullmetal Alchemist" series. I thoroughly enjoyed the fact that the content was from all related media (light novels, video games, magazines). Reading this makes me want to re-read the series. Fantastic!

  11. 5 out of 5

    ChinaSorrows

    Very funny. A relatively quick read. There were some fat jokes that just seemed lazy and some that could have been doing with further explanation - for instance, I understood the Takarazuka reference but it would have fallen flat if I didn't.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    I had so much fun reading this! I love these characters and the four panel comics are always a highlight when I read the manga. It’s a bonus that I’d only read those so most of this book was new content for me.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Honestly these were sometimes my favorite part of the manga when I was reading it.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Addie

    Silly and I liked it. :)

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ellie (ermreading)

    Actually a 4.5 stars

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

    Readable even by casual fans of FMA. Being four-panel comics, they rely primarily on gags, but some knowledge of the characters, background, and overall plot is necessary.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Dani St-Onge (Literary Lion)

    For more reviews and bookish content: http://literarylion.ca/ Review to come.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ella

    Hilarious

  19. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    I adored this. I didn't expect so much content I hadn't seen before. Loved it, loved it, loved it

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ruthsic

    Warnings: body horror, mentions of war, physical violence Made for FMA fans, this collection of four-panel comics distributed across all sorts of media is a delight. Going into this, I would advise that you have read and seen the full series, because otherwise a lot of the jokes won't make sense. If you vaguely remember stuff, go and re-read/re-watch it, because it is worth it. Now, this collection is entirely extra material - its basically gags and jokes that occasionally break the fourth wall, Warnings: body horror, mentions of war, physical violence Made for FMA fans, this collection of four-panel comics distributed across all sorts of media is a delight. Going into this, I would advise that you have read and seen the full series, because otherwise a lot of the jokes won't make sense. If you vaguely remember stuff, go and re-read/re-watch it, because it is worth it. Now, this collection is entirely extra material - its basically gags and jokes that occasionally break the fourth wall, some AU stuff, and comic twists to iconic moments. It will make you laugh a lot, that's for sure. The artwork switches between the original style and a bit of chibi style, and enhances the comic element of the series. Definitely recommended for the nostalgia and the laughs. Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review from Viz Media LLC, via Edelweiss.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Salimbol

  22. 4 out of 5

    Isabella

  23. 5 out of 5

    Zara Mcaspurren

  24. 5 out of 5

    nico

  25. 4 out of 5

    Allison King

  26. 4 out of 5

    Sami Kerner

  27. 5 out of 5

    Margarida

  28. 5 out of 5

    Deborah Balsham

  29. 5 out of 5

    Hannah Kane

  30. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

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