Fullmetal Alchemist or FMA, for short, is a manga series written and drawn by Hiromu Arakawa in 2001. The story is about two brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric, in search for a mythical object known as the Philosopher's Stone. This stone is said to amplify alchemic formulas and even able to convert materials with ease.
ANYWAYS, the story is set up well. The first volume introduces the two main characters and puts them into three different situation in which you learn a lot about them. As the story opens, you learn a little about the Ed and Al's back story. The author only gives a little just to entice but then starts you off years later, in the desert of Lior. As they take a rest from their travels, they learn about a prophet who can grant miracles and even resurrect people. This bit of news interests Ed into finding out more about the prophet and his church.
The interesting thing about this world is the alchemy. Alchemy is essentially magic but with the focus on the scientific instead of the magical. Alchemists use formulas and drawings to pretty much cast "spells." Not really spells, and more like changing the chemicals and materials around them to other substance or objects. Since alchemy follows the Law of Conservation of Mass and the Law of Natural Providence. In other words, the basics of alchemy is "Equivalent Exchange." Meaning that to obtain something, something of equal value must be lost. Equivalent Exchange is a big part of the alchemist's, and the Elric brother's, lives. For example, Ed can convert part of a stone floor into a weapon. Or make part of a train into a cannon. The author really does inventive stuff with alchemy and really makes the world more interesting.
The story is very well paced with humor and action blended in together well. It also manages to get serious for a panel or two before the story gets in a joke which is followed by some action. That just an example and even though it might sound weird, the author pulls is off so well, especially with the help the art.
The art in FMA is very well done. The characters are nice looking and detailed. They show emotions very well too. Even when they do something funny and the characters are drawn in simplistic form, they really still feel like they belong. The art can go from very detailed to a circle and two dots and that never gets you feeling like something is out of place.
Fullmetal Alchemist is a great and fun read. Its well paced so readers get some story, action, and humor evenly through out the volume. Its a great intro to the world and series. This first book really sets how the rest of the manga will be set up, so if you like this one you should read the rest of the series.