I saw an ad for a Fullmetal Alchemist movie at the mall tonight, but now I can’t find it on IMDB. How odd. Ah…Okay, Wikipedia has it: Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa. The release date is August 25th.

Compare and contrast:

Not that I’m an expert or anything, but here’s my theory of U.S. vs. Japanese comics.

U.S. comics tend to focus on the theme “What does it mean to be an individual?” At its highest level, being an individual means accepting ones differences and using them to benefit others as well as oneself–being a superhero–instead of trying to “just fit in” or using one’s differences to hurt or control others for one’s advantage (or even to “improve” others by forcing them to do what you want them to do, thus denying them individuality).

Manga tends to focus on the theme “What does it mean to be human?” People mingle with robots, and the robots act more compassionately than the humans do. People are possessed by demons (or are demons or vampires or what have you) and still manage to be characters, rather than just monsters or bad guys. The bad guys are motivated by the same things the good guys are, they just don’t handle the situation as well. Being human means understanding that everyone (and sometimes everything) deserves empathy, even if empathy means you don’t always give people (or monsters or demons or robots) what they want.

Fullmetal Alchemist–I haven’t read it all yet, just a few volumes of the manga–is a good example. Alphonse is a soul in a suit of armor (who sometimes wonders whether he’s something his brother Elric made up to comfort himself after the loss of his real brother). Elric wonders whether his brother will ever forgive him for turning him into a monster.

Anyway, here‘s an online sample of the first issue at Anime Indepth.