ISSN: 20403232
First published in 2010
2 issues per volume
Volume 4 Issue 1
Cover Date: April 2013
Transmutation of worlds: Adaptation and transformation in Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa
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Authors:  Tien-yi Chao 
DOI: 10.1386/stic.4.1.159_1

Fullmetal Alchemist,parallel universe,animation,comics,Japanese ACG,adaptation

Fullmetal Alchemist, a Japanese manga series by Hiromu Arakawa, has achieved global success since its debut in 2001. The work has numerous multimedia adaptations, ranging from animations (including two TV animations and OVA), films, radio drama, PC games and light novels. Not all the adaptations follow the original story; many of them contain alternative or even original plots. If the manga series serves as the kernel of Arakawa’s masterpiece, then some of these adaptations may have become the author’s ‘official fan art’ of the manga, given the extent of changes to the contents and the characterization.
Within this backdrop, my study focuses on the intertextuality between the manga version of Fullmetal Alchemist and the film Conqueror of Shamballa (Mizushima, 2011). I argue that Conqueror of Shamballa deviates drastically from the manga in terms of both the setting and the visual narrative. The film features an alternative ‘parallel universe’ to the universe in the manga; this parallel universe (the Earth in the 1930s) appears more like the real human world in history than the hometown of Edward and Alphonse Elric. The two worlds, one accommodating the wandering Edward while the other inhabited by his friends and family, are linked by nothing but the Gate of Alchemy. In order to explore the representation of alternative reality and parallel universe in the film, I apply theories of adaptation to my study of Fullmetal Alchemist and Conqueror of Shamballa. I contend that the film adaptation orchestrates ‘multiple realities’ by means of duplicating, recreating and parodying the characters, the space and the plot of the original manga version.
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