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Though no two adaptations are alike, these stories all center around Edward and Alphonse Elric, two orphans that attempt to bring their recently deceased mother back from the grave through alchemy only for their plan to go horribly awry. This leads to Edward losing his arm and leg, which are replaced by automail, while Alphonse loses his body entirely. While Edward is able to tie Alphonse’s soul to a large suit of armor to avoid losing him forever, their mutual goal is to find the magical Philosopher’s Stone which will theoretically return their lives to “normal.” Naturally, this is all more easily said than done, and Edward is convinced by Roy Mustang to become a state alchemist working for the government of this steampunk world.
The original series and the first animated film are a part of one continuity, while the “Brotherhood” series is generally considered a more faithful adaptation of the manga. At this point, “Fullmetal Alchemist” is easily one of the most recognizable franchises on the planet, and it has been adapted to just about any medium that you could hope for. Beyond the original manga, the anime adaptations, and the feature films, there is also a series of light novels, a card game, and video games, as well as other supplemental materials for the super fans to dive into. This is to say that even if you have read every issue and watched every episode of the series, there are still plenty of new elements out there to explore.