Monday, 31 October 2016

Fullmetal Alchemist Volume 2 (Viz Media and Chuang Yi)

Happy Halloween Everybody!

Believe me when I say I've been meaning to get back into doing these posts for months and several posts about other titles are half complete. However, it was always a struggle to complete them as it was often a series I wasn't very motivated to look into. Last week I decided I'd had enough of my own laziness. I thought to myself, What series am I motivated to compare and the answer hit me immediately. And here we are.

I have kept collecting and am currently only two volumes away from my Chuang Yi Fullmetal Alchemist collection being complete. So now I really have no excuses other then I'm lazy and can't keep a consistent schedule. However, I still plan to do those other titles to mix things up.

Additional: Yes, I am aware of the Fruit's Basket Collector's Editions. I have bought the first omnibus so you can expect a do-over of that comparison in the future. I have also pre-ordered Yen Press's Twinkle Stars release for a future comparison with it's Chuang Yi counterpart.

Last Important Note: Because I don't own a copy of the Japanese volume nor have any knowledge of the language, I will not be comparing the English releases to the original Japanese. 

That's enough stalling, let us move on!

The Covers

As of this entry, I'm going to stop talking about the covers for Fullmetal Alchemist as I covered the main differences between the covers here and aside from the changes in images, there aren't really any differences between the volumes and translations aside from the Japanese version where the logo colour changes from volume to volume. Obviously, this was not carried over to its English releases.

What I will talk about however is the spines of all things and a problem I have with Chuang Yi's volumes. Their spines are very tight and rigid which can often to some of the text being cut off. When reading them, I sometimes feel that if I open the book too far I'll cause a lot of damage after only a few read-throughs. The spines of Viz's media's volume don't have this problem and are nice and flexible. For these reasons, I was able to scan in the Viz pictures but had to take the Chuang Yi ones with an SLR camera.


I'll just remind you of this briefly, but again there isn't much to go over.

Like the previous volume, the Chuang Yi version is darker and appears muddier than that of Viz Media with the finer details and the variations in tone a lot harder to make out.


The Flaming Hot Promotion Seeker

Still useless on rainy days. Seriously Roy, carry a lighter with you or something.

But darn if you aren't awesome!

And at times, he has far less to say in Chuang Yi's translation.

The Man Who Only Sewed Despair And Grief

Very little has changed about this 'man' between the two translations. At the very least his time was short. Who can say how many lives he would have ruined had he been allowed to continue?

The Picture of Innocence

Both versions change the font when the Nina-chimera talks.

The Grieving Doctor

Due to 'L' sounds typically being substituted for 'R' in Japanese; any word could be translated either way. It's also likely his name was written in Katakana, indicating a foreign name, so Chuang Yi decided to give it a more western spelling. I could be wrong though. These are just my thoughts.

His real name is the same though.

The ExPECtations of the Armstrong Line

Please forgive me, I couldn't resist.

The Too-Good-to-be-Normal Family Man

Oh Hughes, I'll never need an excuse to include pictures of you. Another then having a few more retorts for Mustang, he really isn't any different in either version.

Clamp's 'X' Manga's Biggest Fan

Scar speaks a little more eloquently in Chuang Yi's version.

Translation and Terminology

As I mentioned in the last volume, "Equivalent Trade" will henceforth be "Equivalent Exchange" from this point on.

Another name difference, though this time it's just for a character mentioned in passing. Struggling to find his name in Katakana so I'm unsure which is right but I'm leaning towards Viz on this one. Having said that, the scanlation I checked also calls him 'Gran'...and 'Grahn' so make of that what you will.

Also, Chuang Yi decided to go with 'Ishbalan' as opposed to Viz media's 'Ishvarlan'. Is that a spelling mistake? Every website I went to spelt it as 'Ishvalan'.

This, in turn, affects the spelling of their god.

The Fullmetal Editor at Viz: "We can't possibly get it wrong if we include an 'L' AND an 'R'. Everybody wins that way!"

Something else I've come across is that often Chuang Yi will use slang spelling's, particularly when it comes to Ed's dialogue. It's occurred to me that this may be to reflect something in the Japanese version; namely Edward's use of casual Japanese as opposed to the more polite dialect that Alphonse might use or the authoritative Mustang. It's just a theory, but we'll probably be seeing it more going forward.

BTW, I've decided to change the format I do the blog in and instead just present the differences chapter by chapter as opposed to trying to categorize one translation as better or worse than the other. It's highly subjective and especially with Fullmetal Alchemist, the differences are really just...different most of the time.

Love it? Hate it? Let me know down below.

Chapter 5

And right off the bat, there's a difference. Chuang Yi mentions what the colonel's gloves are made of while Viz keeps it vague. The scanlation I checked just called it 'spark cloth' so it's difficult to say who is correct. Further down, however, we can see that Viz makes it clear that Roy is adjusting the oxygen concentration with alchemy, Chuang Yi doesn't mention anything of the sort which could lead readers to believe no alchemy is being used at all.

Some context, Lieutenant Havoc is explaining to a soldier about Ed and Mustang being alchemists and they're abilities. The above line is the solder's response. It's unclear in Viz's translation whether he's talking about Ed or Roy while Chuang Yi makes it clear he's talking about them both. The scanlation is of little help in this case as it vaguely says "That ain't human."

Slight difference in what the original chimera says.

A different analogy from Edward. Same outcome though.

Viz, did you edit this speech bubble again?

My favourite line in this chapter. Have to give it to Viz this time.

Oops, Chuang Yi. The "S" on the end of "strays" indicates the sentence should have begun with the word "An". 

Chapter 6

Ed's mother speaking in the third person... because of reasons. This line would have worked with the word "your" placed before "mother".

Ehhh...I have no idea what they were thinking here.

Slight difference here though still worth noting.

Yep, Chuang Yi is definitely not frightened of swear words.

Chapter 7

I felt the different word choices was worth bringing up here.

No mention of a coin but carries the same message.

Red pupils? Umm..those aren't his pupils that are red, those are his irises.

More colourful language from Ed.

Really Viz?! Swears a lot does he? Who can tell from your translation?

Chapter 8

And again, poor major.

Never change Al.

Sage advice, Roy, but that was mean even for you.

Chuang Yi, whether intentional or by accident, turned Mustangs message to Ed into a rhyme. Another thing to note is the name Ed gives Mustang in his response. What's most bizarre about this page is where Chuang Yi turns Hughes quip about rude people being luckier into a "kids these days" comment. This is in slight detriment to the story as this was clever foreshadowing of Hughes ultimate fate.

The Philosopher's stone goes by many names and some of them vary between the two translations.

No mention of a bed of nails in Chuang Yi's version.

One hell of a predicament.

Marcoh's response in the Chuang Yi translation sounds like it belongs in Dragon Ball Z.

The first mention of the truth within the truth.

Kiri, the flower girl accidentally uses Marcoh's real name in Viz's version. Opps.

Bonus Content

Like the first volume, I expected all the extras to be included in both versions and for the most part that holds true though, along with the promotions of Viz Media's other titles, there was also another small drawing not present in Chuang Yi's release.

I doubt it'll turn up in a future volume. I mean, where else would you put it?!

Final Thoughts

While Chuang Yi has still not translated all the sound effects (they can often be found next to translated); not to mention the number of times Maes Hughes thoughtful dialogue was replaced with something more generic. Isn't he going to suffer enough later?!

Viz has made a few extras mistakes in this volume bringing down its overall translation quality. However Chuang Yi is out of business and out of the game and unless it's rescued by Shogakukan Asia, a new Singaporean manga publisher, it will slowly be lost to time. There's definitely nothing plot or character breaking about their translation job and ultimately it still captures the spirit of this fantastic story. Plus unless you fancy a treasure hunt; it's really your only option.

Next time...whenever that is.

Please comment if you have any thoughts or if I've made some tremendous blunder.


  1. Seems both have their strengths and their weaknesses. A shame the Chuang Yi version is OOP, though I suppose if you got the Viz Media version, it's nothing to lose sleep over anyways?

    1. It is a shame so don't be afraid to tell me to get off my ass and compare the rest of the volumes. I own all the Chuang Yi volumes, but reluctantly (not really) decided to purchase the new Fullmetal editions when I could get them cheaply. I might be a little insane to do so, but why shouldn't the internet benefit from that insanity. Thanks for commenting, it really helps motivate me if I can talk to others about this.

  2. Hi, just discovered this today. Disclosure: I was the translator for the CY edition. Was a time they didn't need full fluency too. If your looking for missing pictures in the CY edition, remove the dust jacket and check the spine. Well and good no one knows, huge spoiler on who buys the farm in the current volume.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Also, one particular sentence that you have commented on should go "Alchemist who strays from the path of God... judgement day is upon you!" in 2 separate text bubbles, which would be quite unusual if it were to be put as "An alchemist who strays from the path of God...".

      PS: I do admit taking a little bit more liberty with volume 1. As for names and terminology... it's complicated, the standardization (with other localisations) sometimes comes too late to go back and correct for previous volumes, sometimes in spite of actually checking with the author too.

      PPS: Also, I'm afraid you won't see Shogakukan Asia re-release the CY edition. The FMA manga is not a Shogakukan publication, it's a Gangan Comics publication, with all the IP rights wrangling it implies. Oh well.

    3. Wow! Thank you so much for commenting. Despite a few differences here and there, I still consider Fullmetal Alchemist to be one of CY's best offerings and your hard work played a huge part in that so I hope you're not too offended by my nitpicking. Thanks for explaining Scar's line, it was a misunderstanding on my part. It took a lot of searching to get all the CY volumes so I won't be giving them up without a fight though it is a shame that it may be lost to history. That's another motivation for this blog. The people must know!
      Someday I hope to get off my lazy butt and do the other volumes. Hope you'll continue to read and comment. It's always a treat to hear from someone who was directly involved. Thanks again.