Title: Fullmetal Alchemist: A New Beginning
Author: Makoto Inoue
Release Date: October 12, 2021
Publisher: Viz Media
Fullmetal Alchemist is an established anime and manga masterpiece with die-hard fans across all mediums. Fullmetal Alchemist: A New Beginning is a new Western entry for the Fullmetal Alchemist Light Novel series, but it was initially released in Japan back in 2007. Finally, localized for English-speaking fans, the latest entry is sure to be a treat for all fans but Rockbell fans especially.
This volume is such an enjoyable read for grounding the sense of the world and bringing back the core heartfelt values that make Fullmetal Alchemist such an engaging series.
Being the 6th volume in the series, A New Beginning follows the story of Winry Rockbell while she is taking on an apprenticeship in Rush Valley, the center city for Automail production. It is the perfect place for Winry to master her skills as a Mechanic, as Rush Valley lives up to its namesake as a place where things happen at a quick pace, waiting for no man or woman. It is the perfect place for a narrative within the Fullmetal Alchemist universe to take place.
The City of Rush Valley houses some of the best Mechanics on the planet, and with a focus on Automail production, Winry is exposed to the world of Automails beyond what she knew while living with her Grandmother. Fans of the series may remember Rockbell from the original series where the Elric Brothers met multiple concurrent side characters.
Even within this familiar space, new personalities, mixed with new information regarding the Automail industry, makes Winry unravel as a character before the reader’s eyes. Watching her reactions to the city traditions she disagrees with parallel her reaction to the ones she does, is a heartfelt reminder of Winry’s light within the Fullmetal Alchemist series.
It’s awesome reading about Rush Valley in detail through Winry’s perspectiv
It is essential to emphasize the lack of Elrics’ presence for most of this volume because it allows for Winry’s journey to be the center point of the experience, and any events happening during or after feel like secondary events when reading. Additionally, following Winry’s life as a mechanic apprentice removes the reader from the world of Alchemy, leaning more onto pure physical altercations and slice-of-life moments.
It’s awesome reading about Rush Valley in detail through Winry’s perspective, allowing the reader to see how Rush Valley works in its daily function and how the experience there was something to strengthen Winry’s character. The volume feels slow-moving in the beginning, understandably because of the build-up into how Winry began to mesh with the city. However, it picks up steadily once events unfold that bring Winry closer to the clients she works with as an apprentice.
New Beginning does a fantastic job bringing more of Winry’s path to become a better Automail mechanic while growing as a person.
This volume is such an enjoyable read for grounding the sense of the world and bringing back the core heartfelt values that make Fullmetal Alchemist such an engaging series. Taking new characters and giving them thematic importance to Winry’s stages in her apprenticeship elevates the experience of the maturity she gains throughout the volume and emphasizes her personality in the original story. It felt nostalgic to see Winry’s circumstances unfold and see how she decides to handle the numerous stressful situations that come across her path while training.
Overall, A New Beginning does a fantastic job bringing more of Winry’s path to become a better Automail mechanic while growing as a person. It can feel dull at times, relying on slice-of-life storytelling with minor physical altercations. However, the ability to connect with the characters gives each little moment its meaning to eventually come back together to tell a fantastic story with an amazing epilogue to tie it all together.
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