Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa first released in the early 2000's and has become a beloved series that over the years has received two anime adaptations, the original 2003 series and a retelling titled Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood that released in 2009, and various manga releases, including paperback volumes, 3-in-1's, a complete box set, and most recently, the Fullmetal Editions.
How are the Fullmetal Editions different from their manga counterparts and are they worth picking up? Find out below!
What’s different about the Fullmetal Editions?
In comparison to the paperback volumes, which released as individual volumes, 3-in-1’s, and a complete box set, the Fullmetal Editions differ because they feature new cover art and design, updated translation, new lettering, and some new content, including color inserts and behind-the-scenes character sketches by Hiromu Arakawa. Also, the Fullmetal Editions released in hardcover format.
In terms of size, the individual volumes are approximately 5 x 0.7 x 7.5in while the Fullmetal Editions are 5.75 x 0.8 x 8.25in in size, so they are slightly bigger than the individual volumes all-around. They are almost the same width, so they don’t take up much more space on the shelf. The biggest difference is their height, which allows the panels to stand out more.
In regards to price, at the time of writing this post, the Fullmetal Editions are selling for $14.99 USD each on RightStuf and the individual paperback volumes are selling for $7.49 a piece. The Fullmetal Editions collect about 1.5 volumes, so they are approximately $3.76 more expensive than the individual volumes for the same amount of material.
Potential negatives to buying the Fullmetal Editions
The binding needs improvement
The only negative thing I've noticed about the Fullmetal Editions is that their spines and binding have a few issues. One being that some of the pages break away from the spine over time, usually the first few pages of the volumes. Another issue is that the eye is very small, making the volumes not all that flexible while reading. Because of this, they are a tad bit more difficult to read than I’d like. The volumes never lay flat, which is okay, but you do have to apply quite a bit of force while reading to keep the volumes open. Despite these issues though, all of the panels and text are still legible and never disappear into the centerfold, which is a plus.
It sort of feels like you are reading a paperback with hardcovers. Sounds odd, but the way you have to read these and the way the binding and spine were done makes them less enjoyable to read than other hardcover special or collector’s editions I’ve come across. The Soul Eater Perfect Editions are about the same size, but they have a flat spine versus a curved one, which makes them somewhat easier to read than the Fullmetal Editions.
These are areas that really need to be improved upon, but there's still many positives about the Fullmetal Editions that make them worth picking up.
Positives to buying the Fullmetal Editions
They look nice and have a modern design
I enjoy the overall look of the Fullmetal Editions, especially in comparison to Fullmetal Alchemist's other manga releases. Each cover highlights an individual character from the series, and while they all feature the same bold, metallic lettering, their colors are unique, which I really like.
The lettering on the spine is also foiled, so they really stand out on the shelf. On the back of the volumes, there's a glossy, opaque transmutation circle, which is a nice touch. This detail gives the book more texture in addition to the raised lettering.
Overall, they feature a great design and I prefer their more modern look. They feel great in hand, but they look great on a shelf or on display as well.
They are printed on higher-quality paper
Instead of that newspaper-like paper, these volumes are printed on a thicker, higher-quality paper that has a glossy look to it. I prefer the feel of the pages and overall print quality of the Fullmetal Editions in comparison to the paperbacks.
The Fullmetal Editions have updated translation and new lettering
The updated translation is a big positive for me, because they fixed some grammatical and wording errors in these volumes. From what I’ve seen, the things they updated in terms of translation are relatively minor things that enhance readability. They did make some changes to names, like General Hakuro is now Halcrow in this book, but things like this, while may bother others, didn’t bother me at all.
As long as it has the same story and the dialogue remains intact, albeit with small fixes, I like the fact that they choose to retranslate some areas within the volumes. In my opinion, this updated translation is better than what we saw in the original volumes, so I recommend them in that regard, especially for first time readers of Fullmetal Alchemist.
On top of that, the quality and look of the new lettering is amazing and I prefer it over the lettering we see in the individual volumes.
The Fullmetal Editions feature some new content
Even though there’s not a ton of new content in the Fullmetal Editions in comparison to other collector’s editions, any amount of new content is still a bonus. The Fullmetal Editions come with new color inserts and behind-the-scenes character sketches by Hiromu Arakawa.
Final Verdict: Are the Fullmetal Editions worth it?
Would I recommend that someone who’s already collected the paperbacks also buy the Fullmetal Editions? I’m not quite sure. You do get a better and updated translation in these new releases, good quality printing, and some new content, like new cover art, color inserts and behind-the-scenes character sketches. Plus, there’s always the fact that they are hardcover, which is nice.
With that said, if you have the entire series already, I’m not sure there’s enough that's different about the Fullmetal Editions that warrant picking them up. There are Fullmetal Alchemist art books, like this one, I’d recommend over the Fullmetal Editions if you are looking for full-color illustrations and extra material.
There wasn’t much added in terms of content; However, the new translation and updated lettering is great. If you are wanting to re-read the series, I recommend you do so in this new format with the updates and changes they’ve made.
If you are completely new to Fullmetal Alchemist and have yet to read it, I highly recommend going with the Fullmetal Editions over the individual volumes, box set, or 3-in-1’s. They are sturdier, and while have some issues, like the binding, feature a smoother and better reading experience thanks to the updated translation and new lettering.
You can check out photos and get an inside look of the first Fullmetal Edition below!