Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
is one of my favourite anime of all time. So I figured I owed it to myself to read the source material. I love that the (arguably) most popular shounen of all time is written by a woman. She gives voices to female characters that too often are left on the sidelines. They become powerful, well-rounded people who stand up for themselves and are heroes in their own right. There's not much of that in this first volume, but I hope that subsequent ones will as well, just like the anime does. At least the treatment of Rose in the manga isn't as terrible as in the first anime adaptation.
Like other manga I've read in comparison to their anime counterparts ([b:Princess Jellyfish, Tome 1|13354244|Princess Jellyfish, Tome 1|Akiko Higashimura|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1327311150s/13354244.jpg|14532562], for instance), the franchise's humour comes across a lot better on paper. Where I sometimes find Edward over-the-top and grating in the anime, he's really charming and funny in the manga. I think this has a lot to do with lack of sound. I hear the voice actors from the anime in my head instead of out loud. Arakawa's art and writing speaks for itself, here.
With that said, this series flourishes best when it is dramatic, emotional, and epic in scope. This first volume is fairly episodic and nearly self-contained in comparison to the rest of the series, so it doesn't quite get there. It gets close with flashes of brief backstory, but the rest feels a bit inconsequential and introductory. The short nature of manga volumes makes them difficult to rate; there has
to be an introduction of characters and set-up, just like the first few chapters of a novel. Otherwise, there would be no basis for the drama and poignancy later on. Ah, well. This is how the story is broken up, and I can't rate the entire series in a big chunk like on MyAnimeList, so that's how it goes.