鋼の錬金術師 (hagane no renkinjutsushi
[Alchemist of Steel])
|Abbreviation(s):||FMA, Hagaren (from the Japanese)|
|Date(s):||January 2001 - present|
|Country of Origin:||Japan|
|External Links:||http://www.hagaren.jp/ (JP)|
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Fullmetal Alchemist, or Hagane no Renkinjutsushi, is a steampunk fantasy manga by Hiromu Arakawa, set in a world that resembles early 20th Century Europe with working alchemy. It has also been rendered as an anime, produced by Studio Bones, as a novel, in drama CDs, three video role playing games and a trading card game. While the series is generally consistent with the shounen genre, it has attracted many adult fans as well. In addition, Arakawa is female, which some fans feel gives this shounen series a broader, more gender-balanced appeal.
This series follows the adventures of two boys, Edward and Alphonse Elric, as they search for a way to restore themselves after a dreadful alchemical accident. Over time they become increasingly involved in national affairs, both political and alchemical.
Anime and Manga
The anime is based on the manga, and follows it closely for a time, but at about the middle of the anime run and around volume seven of the manga the stories diverge. Arakawa consulted on the creation of the anime, but did not assist with the writing. The ending of the first TV series and the manga (which has, in fact, not finished its run) differ greatly after the appearance of the character Greed.
This has led to a similar split in the fandom. While the early fandom regarded the two versions as renditions of the same story, later discussion and fanworks have had to distinguish which continuity they are dealing with. This made the common divide between anime oriented fans and manga oriented fans considerably deeper than usual.
Some fans feel that parts of the two versions can still be reconciled. For example, the manga reveals that an early, minor character is the grandfather of a main character, Hawkeye. This is not indicated in the anime, but as there is nothing to absolutely contradict it, some fans fee it can be assumed. Others feel that, since the late anime diverged so greatly, no real continuity should be assumed unless it is directly confirmed in the anime.
Fullmetal Alchemist has had a very active fandom since late 2003, largely centered in LiveJournal comms. The central, general community is fm_alchemist , but the fandom has quite a few strong factions or sub-fandoms. Some of the more active comms include the major sexually based divisions fma_gen , fma_yaoi  and fma_het , and the manga-specific comm hagaren_manga .
FMA has a number of quite active pairing-based fandoms. Since the pairings often involve a single character with different partners, this makes for a lot of acrimony between staunch adherents.
One of the highest profile pairing-based conflicts is between RoyEd and RoyAi(Roy/Hawkeye). The prevalence of RoyEd among a handful of prolific fans early in the fandom's expansion may account for the intensity with which some RoyAi fans support their preferred pairing. In addition, RoyEd itself was the center of a different conflict. Some fans felt that, given Ed's youth and Roy's maturity, pairing them was an exercise in pedophilia. Some of the fans that held this view, notably elffromspace, were also involved in the creation of the fma_het comm, feeling that fm_alchemist was acting as a functional yaoi comm.
Ed x Winry
Elricest, also Ed x Alfons
Roy x Havoc
Sheska x Winry
Roy x Hughes
Some conflicts, of course, have nothing to do with the pairings.
One came up fairly early in the fandom's expansion, among fans who felt that the influx of new fans was resulting in a distressing amount of bad fanwork and discussion. This is not an unusual phenomenon, but in this case the fans in question put together a closed-membership community dedicated to fanworks and discussion they felt were of good quality. This was the hagaren  comm, active throughout 2004-2005. This led to a certain amount of bad feeling, but not a great deal of active fighting.
Names, fan vs. official (Winry/Winly, Riza/Liza/Lisa, etc.)
FMA produces a high volume of fanwork, the majority of which is fanfiction with fanart running a close second.
Stories or series:
Quite a few archives were started early in the fandom expansion, but only a few have been consistently maintained. One of the only FMA-specific archives that is still active is Scimitar Smile . Most fans appear content to have their fic publicized primarily in LJ comms and/or fanfiction.net, or else to make single-author archives for themselves alone.
Given the complexity of symbol and reference in FMA it is not surprising that a major category of fanwork was the informational site.
Some of these sites are generalist, and contain synopses, purchasing information, media clips, character profiles, background information and forums. Hagane no Renkinjutsushi, Full Metal Alchemist  is one of this type.
Other sites focused more closely on tracing out the historical and symbolic background behind FMA's alchemy, military and political organization, and even character name derivations. Fullmetal Alchemist Indepth  is one of this kind.