The Fullmetal Alchemist franchise is shonen at its finest, featuring a large but well-written cast of characters struggling to hold onto their ideals as the world spirals out of control. This is the story of Edward Elric's quest to redeem himself and his brother for a sin they committed as alchemists, but they soon get swept up in a much larger scheme of world domination and false godhood.
Although the original manga has been complete for years, the world of Fullmetal Alchemist is one that's worth getting into at any time and the franchise is still going strong to this day. In fact, the series has recently released new, high-quality manga volumes and DVD sets, a fine starting point for new viewers and readers alike.
How To Read the Fullmetal Alchemist Manga Series
The original Fullmetal Alchemist manga series is complete, clocking in at 27 volumes. Many retailers still offer the original, paperback volumes of the manga, including Barnes & Noble, Rightstufanime.com and Amazon.com, too. The manga has also been reprinted into massive three-in-one omnibuses and, more recently, into hardback, special "Fullmetal Edition" volumes, which are still being released. As of this writing, 12 volumes of the Fullmetal Edition have been released, with more on the way.
The digital version of this manga adventure is available at Amazon.com as well, via the Kindle and comiXology services, which offer Fullmetal Alchemist at a lower price. The same is true at Barnes & Noble's online catalog, which offers a digital version for the NOOK reader, a convenient way to read the series with any desktop or mobile device. As of this writing, VIZ.com does not appear to have a digital version of the series, though it does offer a portal of retailers for the print version.
Watching the Fullmetal Alchemist Anime
There are actually two different anime adaptations of Hiromu Arakawa's original manga series, and one of them differs significantly from the source material. The 2003, version, Fullmetal Alchemist deviated from the source manga (which was ongoing at the time) fairly early on and crafted its own plot, complete with a unique villain and ending. This original series spawned several video games and can be streamed on AniplexUSA's website. Once the manga was completed, a second anime adaptation launched in 2009, titled Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. This series more closely followed the original Fullmetal Alchemist manga, including the ending. Brotherhood is often considered the definitive Fullmetal Alchemist experience, though the 2003 version has its fans.
FMA: Brotherhood streams on Hulu, and the series' first season can be found at Amazon Prime Video. The full Brotherhood anime is also available to stream on FUNimation.com, Crunchyroll and both Brotherhood and the 2003 anime are available to watch on Netflix.
As for home video, this series is on Blu-Ray, Rightstufanime.com has exclusive DVD sets of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, and Amazon.com stocks the complete Brotherhood series on Blu-Ray. This franchise also has two animated movies, Conquerer of Shamballa and Sacred Star of Milos, which are also available on Blu-Ray on Amazon. In addition, Conquerer of Shamballa is available to stream on Crunchyroll, split into two separate videos.