This article is part of the “Stump The Party Planner” series where we take a suggested topic – generally something from the entertainment industry – and create a party plan around it. This can include thematic elements, food and beverages, decorations, etc.
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If you’re a fan of manga, you are probably familiar with the popular series Fullmetal Alchemist about the young Elric brothers who have alchemical talents. (See our article on “Top 5 Female Manga Creators” for more info on Hiromu Arakawa, the creator of Fullmetal Alchemist.) When they lose their mother and attempt to resurrect her, the ritual goes very wrong and leaves Edward without an arm and a leg and Alphonse as a spirit trapped in a suit of armor. Once Edward replaces his missing limbs with stronger, metal prosthetic limbs called automail, he and his younger brother leave their home on a mission to get back their missing body parts. Through their adventures, Edward becomes a state alchemist, leading to more missions as they continue to search for their answers.
For this theme I used the first three volumes of the manga, as well as the anime series, which is currently streaming on Netflix.
Because traditional manga is black and white, that would be the default color for anything themed around it. I would normally try to branch out from this into something more colorful, but even the anime version of Fullmetal Alchemist employs more neutral colors. For instance, Alphonse’s body is a grey suit of armor and Edward dresses in black and white with a red coat. There is also the grey of the state alchemist’s pocket watch and the red of the philosopher’s stone. This makes your party colors for this theme black, white, grey, and red; as with any theme, however, you do you and throw in any other colors that suit you, such as yellow for Edward and Winry’s hair or green for the country scenes they travel through.
Locations and Decorations
While your location can determine your decorations, you don’t have to use a particular one to make your party feel themed. Feel free to take decorative elements from any of the following locations and mix and match until it’s your own style. A few other locations not listed here could be a library (the characters are always looking in books and researching) such as Tucker’s library or the State Library, a creepy dungeon lab filled with bizarre animals (again like Tucker’s – that guy gets around), a mining town, etc.
- Train Car: Easiest. I lost track of how many scenes were on trains for the brothers, whether it was using trains to get from one place to another or having an adventure on the train itself. Either way, this theme should be the easiest to stage (place your seating in rows to mimic booths in a train car) and decorate (frame country scenes and hang them on the wall in alignment with the seating to imitate scenes outside a window). You can also hang a large clock and set up a ticket station to one side as a sort of train station platform.
- Burnt Farmhouse: Hardest. This is for those that have a darker sense of humor and flare for the dramatic, because you are decorating as if it’s the scorched remains of the farmhouse that Edward and Alphonse burned to the ground. Make sure you have framed pictures of the family as seen in the show, and keep stacks of books with alchemical-sounding titles scattered around your space. For the burned look, I recommend painted drop-cloths over the furniture (this takes more preparation but is definitely better than actually painting the walls) with greys and blacks as if they were covered in scorch marks. You can also hang partially burned or tattered pictures to echo the desolation at eye-level. And if you have an old rug where you can draw a large alchemical symbol, you should put that bad boy front and center.
- Winry’s Metal Shop: Most fun. This is my personal favorite, because you can really play up the robotic limbs and metal pieces. You can either go full-scale and buy actual robotic hands, arms, etc. on Amazon, which can be a bit pricey, or you can DIY-it by buying plastic mannequin body parts and spray-painting them silver. Need to go really cheap? Pick up hard-bodied dolls at a thrift store and spray-paint them silver … CREEPY, but effective. Any spare mechanical parts scattered around also really set the scene. One note of caution, though, I recommend keeping the tools displayed out of reach. If you have adults imbibing alcohol, you don’t want a bunch of tools right at their fingertips. This could lead to “Hey, watch this …” stories and trips to the ER.
Food and Beverages
I’ll be honest, the food and drink isn’t a large focus in the series, so this category is more wide open. There are a few times when they eat bread (probably Japanese milk rolls, but they don’t explicitly say), bowls of noodles (most likely ramen), and full traditional meals of steak, beef, vegetables, etc. I’d also use this as an opportunity to offer some fun Japanese snack foods if you can get your hands on any, not because they’re referenced in the series but because they put a smile on peoples’ faces. Drink is even less mentioned, which means you can choose to go with brightly colored Japanese sodas, saki, etc.
- Try a Fullmetal Alchemist Name Generator to find out what your state alchemist title is! You can have your guests do this before the party and design their costumes around their title OR you can do it as guests arrive and give them their name on a “Hello, my name is …” badge (which can also work as an ice-breaker if your guests don’t know each other). If you’re super creative, create your own titles and don’t stick to the formula. You may now refer to me as Teal Thunder. RAHR.
- If your guests are more hands-on, consider setting up an action figure station with miniature poseable mannequins, paint, fabric, and general art supplies. You can get the wooden mannequins at art stores and on Amazon. Just be prepared for impromptu alchemical battles in your living room (no drawing symbols on the furniture, please!).
Ultimately with this party, you need a lot of a) metal, b) alchemical symbols, c) books, and d) a few story elements to tie it all together. As long as you mix your machinery with alchemy and throw it all together with adventure, this will definitely be a Fullmetal Alchemist party for which even diehard fans will do a slow-clap. Whether you’re sweet like Alphonse or moody like Edward, you’re sure to win over your guests. Happy partying!
Featured image credit: Square Enix, Viz Media