Anime/Books: Fullmetal Alchemist: The Land of Sand (Volume 1)

Anime/Books: Fullmetal Alchemist: The Land of Sand (Volume 1)


imageThe Fullmetal Alchemist juggernaut rolls on, hopping from anime, manga, and video games into novelization form. The Land of Sand takes place in and around the brothers’ time in Xenotime, roughly episodes 11 and 12 if you’re thinking in terms of the series. My question was: “How well does FMA’s mix of action and drama translate to book form?”

Well, roughly…roughly. The transition to translated text isn’t the greatest. For one thing, lost somewhere in the translation is the snappy patter between the brothers. Edward and Alphonse no longer sound like the Ed and Al we know and love. They sound like any other character in the books, which really takes away from a lot of their chemistry. There’s other odd little details here and there that are off. Lieutenant Hawkeye is freuqnely referred to as Captain and Al’s armor is apparently made of bronze. How they manage to make bronze armor gleam like steel, I don’t know.

I’m guessing translation errors or problems have a lot to do with what I disliked about the book. It felt like someone (writer? translator?) hadn’t actually seen the show or read the manga, and it really lacked the energy of the series itself. There’s several ill-advised problems with the way it’s written, such as poor attempts to use slang. For example, Al telling Ed, “He’s playing you?” What?

The plot was alright and fans looking to fill in their knowledge of what happened in Xenotime may want to check this out, but the anime is the “short version” and it’s faster-paced and, well, it’s the series. Why settle for less than the best? The bonus story is a nice little supplement-the Phantom of Warehouse 13, from the hilarious “Flame Alchemist” episode-but even there, the characters don’t feel like the fun characters from the show. The best part of that episode was everyone goofing off, getting to know the people at headquarters, and watching Mustang act silly. The book just falls flat overall, and I suggest anyone but the hardest of the hardcore give it a pass.

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