Thursday, September 21, 2023

Full Metal Alchemist: The Valley of the White Petals by Makoto Inque and Hiromu Arakawa



teen, lower secondary, Key Stage 3, ages10 -13, adventure, manga-related, fantasy, Inque Makoto, Arakakwa Hirmou, society,  

The white petals referred to in the title are from the flowers that Leaf grows. He offers them as a gift to Ruby who comes from the same village as him. Leaf is one of the weaker inhabitants of Wisteria, a town that is hidden at the bottom of a steep cliff.   Colonel   Mustang has ordered brothers Edward and Alphonse to go and investigate.

The Colonel’s methods are a little unorthodox: he has emptied their bank account of cash as a way of making them get in contact.

Edward and Alphonse Elric are Alchemists and have bodies made of metal. Their overall mission is to regain their own true bodes.

At Wisteria they meet Ruby who is convinced of the goodness of Mr Raygen who rescued her and who rules over all life in Wisteria. It seems idyllic in many ways but there are those who live on the cusp, such as Leaf.  There is a system of “equivalent exchange” which ultimately means that those who can’t work starve.

The brothers eventually show Raygen as he really is. He doesn’t really care about the people and he likes to control them.  They must obey. Once he has gone the people of Wisteria are freed to think for themselves.  Ruby and Leaf are reconciled.

This is a fast-paced adventure with pleasing character development and plenty of tension. It is based on the manga stories of Hirmou Arakakwa and indeed features a few manga-style illustrations.

It is 221 pages long, with blocked text in a serif font that includes difficult ‘a’s and ‘g’s. It has a friendly afterword from the author.                   

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