Part of my weekend reading included the 14th volume of Hiromu Arakawa’s Fullmetal Alchemist (Viz). It’s a really entertaining series, and if you’ve avoided it because it’s really popular, you might reconsider, because it’s also very, very good.

That said, the latest installment left me feeling a little at odds.

(Spoilers after the cut.)

So pretty much everyone knows everything about the big government conspiracy, largely because the big government conspiracy basically decided to tell them. I’m not quite sure how I feel about this. It doesn’t precisely raise the threat level, which was always fairly high, but it transforms it into something rather different.

It seems like Arakawa was ready to shake up her toy box and fuel the next big chunk of narrative. In fact, it kind of reminds me of the big mid-series development in Death Note (Shonen Jump Advanced), and while it opens up all kinds of new plot twists, there’s also the vague sense of the air being let out. On one hand, the good guys were too bright and tenacious to be in the dark forever; on the other, it’s going to take some doing to reposition all of the major players in their new, murkier moral landscape.

The series is up to its 17th volume in Japan, though I have no idea if Arakawa has set an end point on it as yet. This does seem like the beginning of an endgame to me. That doesn’t mean it won’t be protracted, obviously. Does the news of a new series from Arakawa indicate impending closure on Fullmetal? I don’t know.

I have to note that Arakawa does some of the funniest extras in manga. They’re like excellent petit fours after a really good meal.

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