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review 2018-03-18 17:47
Fullmetal Alchemist: The Land of Sand (book, vol. 1) by Makoto Inoue, original concept by Hiromu Arakawa, translated by Alexander O. Smith with Rich Amtower
Fullmetal Alchemist: The Land of Sand - Makoto Inoue,Alexander O. Smith,Hiromu Arakawa

This volume is composed of two stories. The primary one is "The Land of Sand." The shorter bonus story is "The Phantom of Warehouse 13." Both of these stories were adapted into episodes in the original anime series.

"The Land of Sand":

Edward and Alphonse arrive at the dying former gold mining town of Xenotime and are shocked to learn that two boys who say their names are Edward and Alphonse Elric have been living in Xenotime for a while, researching how to make a Philosopher's Stone in order to revitalize the town. Who are these imposters, and how close are they to finishing their research?

This wasn't bad, like bland but reasonably well-written fanfic. It's been a while since I watched the anime adaptation of this, but I remembered liking that more than this story. Ed and Al seemed to be pretty accurately depicted (although I've never thought of Al as being "bronze-hued" (14)), but the text did have occasional clunky moments. There were times when I could tell that the humor would probably work on-screen but was a bit awkward and weird on-page, like the time Ed and Russell transitioned from a physical battle to a verbal one.

One thing I really liked about this story was the "little brother" aspect. Both Al and Fletcher were the level-headed younger brothers, but whereas Al could talk to his brother and expect to be listened to, Fletcher was afraid to tell his brother what he was really thinking. I loved the scenes where Al and Fletcher bonded, and watching Fletcher slowly become more confident was nice.

I didn't see anything that contradicted anything I recalled from the manga (although it's been ages since I last read any of that). I agree with those who wondered why Ed didn't just pull out his State Alchemist pocket watch to prove his identity, though. I suppose you could argue that the Xenotime townsfolk were so convinced that their Edward and Alphonse were real that even that wouldn't have swayed them, but it was still a bit odd that he didn't even give it a shot.

"The Phantom of Warehouse 13":

Colonel Roy Mustang gets roped into helping his men investigate reports of nighttime ghostly activity near Warehouse 13. Several people said they heard sounds of digging and weeping. Since Warehouse 13 doesn't exist, Roy is pretty sure everything's happening near Warehouse B. He's determined to get to the bottom of it all before Eastern Command becomes both a laughing stock and a tourist attraction.

This story was goofy and ridiculous, and I enjoyed it anyway. It made no effort to even pretend that it might advance anything in the overall Fullmetal Alchemist storyline. Roy Mustang, Fuery, Havoc, Falman, and Breda were like a group of little boys taking part in a sleepover and scaring each other silly with ghost stories.

I couldn't tell whether the ending was predictable or whether I just remembered too much of the anime episode. Either way, this was a fun bit of fluff.

All in all, this volume was a quick and relatively decent read.

Extras:

  • One full-page color illustration and several black-and-white illustrations created by Hiromu Arakawa.
  • A couple pages of sketches - Fletcher and Russell, plus Ed imagining how tall and suave he'll be at age 19. Also, a 4-panel comic about the planning stages for the book that's a bit horrifying if you know what happens to Maes Hughes in the series. Poor Makoto Inoue.
  • A 3-page afterword written by Makoto Inoue.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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text 2018-03-13 23:11
Reading progress update: I've read 221 out of 221 pages.
Fullmetal Alchemist: The Land of Sand - Makoto Inoue,Alexander O. Smith,Hiromu Arakawa

A sudden project at work (which I superstitiously think was due to our Periodicals Librarian foolishly saying the words "program review" several times in the space of a few minutes) meant that audiobook listening didn't really happen much today. However, I did manage to finish this book while pet sitting after work.

 

All in all, this was decent. The bulk of the book was "The Land of Sand." I couldn't help judging it against my memories of the anime adaptation of it, and I preferred the anime. That said, it wasn't bad - like bland but readable fanfic. The rest of the volume was a bonus story, "The Phantom Warehouse," which was also adapted into an anime episode. The humor didn't always work, and it was a bit ridiculous, but I enjoyed it all the same.

 

I'm going to use it for the Antique Hunting Rifle card - Inoue begins with one of the letters in the word "RIFLE." It'll be my guess for today. (I think I finished early enough to still squeak in a guess?)

 

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text 2018-03-13 11:56
Reading progress update: I've read 192 out of 221 pages.
Fullmetal Alchemist: The Land of Sand - Makoto Inoue,Alexander O. Smith,Hiromu Arakawa

Now it's time for a ridiculous short story in which Roy Mustang helps his men investigate rumors of ghosts hanging around a warehouse that doesn't exist. If I remember right, this was turned into a filler episode in the first anime series as well.

 

I should hopefully be able to finish this today, although probably not soon enough to use it for my Kill Your Darling guess. As far as that goes, I think I can manage The Murder of Roger Ackroyd in time.

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text 2018-03-11 22:32
Reading progress update: I've read 77 out of 221 pages.
Fullmetal Alchemist: The Land of Sand - Makoto Inoue,Alexander O. Smith,Hiromu Arakawa

"And yes, some of the fields near the mine went bad from the dust, but everyone's lives improved. Some people might regret losing our green fields and orchards, but most of us were happy enough with the wealth we got in return. And once one person made it, everyone else wanted to get in on the act. That's why we all learned goldsmithing so fast. Now, none of us can forget those golden days. That's why we stay. For the love of gold."

 

:-(

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text 2018-03-11 21:35
Reading progress update: I've read 7 out of 221 pages.
Fullmetal Alchemist: The Land of Sand - Makoto Inoue,Alexander O. Smith,Hiromu Arakawa

I know it looks like manga, but this is actually a novel. Its events appear in episodes 11 to whatever of the original Fullmetal Alchemist anime, the ones with the two brothers (Russell and Fletcher) pretending to be Ed and Al.

 

I can't remember if I've read this before. I suspect not, although I definitely remember the anime episodes.

 

This should work for a card in the Kill Your Darlings game, although I won't decide yet which one.

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