“Hiromu Arakawa” is the male pseudonym of Japanese manga artist Hiromi Arakawa, best recognized for the Japanese shōnen manga series ‘Fullmetal Alchemist.’ Hiromi wanted to be a manga artist since childhood. Her initial efforts included drawing on textbooks, taking oil painting classes for years, developing dōjinshi manga with friends, and drawing yonkoma for a magazine. Her career in the field started as an assistant of Hiroyuki Etō. ‘Stray Dog’ marked her first work in the field. It won her the ninth ‘21st Century Enix Award.’ Following this, she wrote and illustrated the manga series ‘Fullmetal Alchemist,’ which was serialized in the monthly magazine of ‘Square Enix,’ ‘Shōnen Gangan.’ ‘Fullmetal Alchemist’ gained popularity both nationally and internationally and emerged as one of the bestselling manga series, fetching Hiromi the 49th ‘Shogakukan Manga Award’ and the 42nd ‘Seiun Award.’ It was later adapted into two anime series, two feature-length anime films, and one live-action film. She strengthened her place in the industry by writing and illustrating the coming-of-age manga series ‘Silver Spoon,’ which won her the 5th ‘Manga Taishō Award’ and the 58th ‘Shogakukan Manga Award.’ She also worked on the manga ‘Hero Tales’ and the manga adaptation of the fantasy novel series ‘The Heroic Legend of Arslan’ by Yoshiki Tanaka.
Childhood & Early Life
Hiromi Arakawa was born on May 8, 1973, in Makubetsu, Hokkaido, Japan, in a diary farm. She grew up there with three elder sisters and one younger brother.
As a young girl, Hiromi thought of becoming a manga artist. She once said that manga was still one of her hobbies and that she collected and read manga of different genres. She had a special knack for ‘Weekly Shōnen Sunday’ and ‘Weekly Shōnen Jump’ and mentioned ‘Kinnikuman’ as one of her favorite mangas.
She was fond of drawing on text books in her school days. Following her high-school graduation, she worked on her family farm and simultaneously attended oil painting classes once every month for 7 years. She also drew yonkoma for a magazine and joined hands with friends to develop dōjinshi manga. She mentioned being a fan of Mike Mignola's work. She was inspired by the manga series ‘Kinnikuman’ by Yudetamago and by manga artists Shigeru Mizuki and Rumiko Takahashi.
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During the summer of 1999, Hiromi relocated to Tokyo, where she commenced her journey in the manga industry by assisting ‘Hiroyuki Etō,’ author of ‘Mahōjin Guru Guru.’ Hiromi learned composition and drawing during this time. Her career as a manga artist began the same year, when her first serious work, the one-chapter manga ‘Stray Dog,’ was published in ‘Square Enix's monthly ‘Shōnen Gangan.’ It won her the ninth ‘21st Century Enix Award’ that year. The following year, she came up with a chapter of ‘Shanghai Yōmakikai’ in ‘Shōnen Gangan.’
She rose to prominence writing and illustrating the Japanese shōnen manga series ‘Fullmetal Alchemist.’ Its first chapter was published in July 2001. It was serialized in ‘Shōnen Gangan’ till the 108th and the last chapter (published in July 2010). The individual chapters of the series were later collected by the publisher into 27 tankōbon volumes. The manga emerged as one of the bestselling manga series of the time, selling more than 70 million volumes worldwide and winning Hiromi the 49th ‘Shogakukan Manga Award’ in the ‘Shōnen’ category in 2003 and the 42nd ‘Seiun Award’ in the ‘Best Science Fiction Comic’ category in 2011. She also earned the 15th ‘Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize’ in ‘New Artist Prize’ category in 2011.
‘Fullmetal Alchemist’ was adapted into an anime series bearing the same title. Produced by the animation studio ‘Bones, Aniplex and Mainichi Broadcasting System’ (MBS), the series was aired for 51 episodes, from October 4, 2003 to October 2, 2004. Hiromi assisted in developing the anime in its initial stage. The end of the TV series was, however, different from the original manga. In 2004, the anime bagged the 49th ‘Shogakukan Manga Award’ in the ‘Shōnen’ category.
Bones later produced another anime series, ‘Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood,’ which was based on ‘Fullmetal Alchemist.’ It was more of a 1:1 adaptation of the manga than its predecessor and was originally aired on ‘JNN’ (‘MBS’ and ‘TBS’) from April 5, 2009 to July 4, 2010. Media adaptations of the manga also include two feature-length anime films, ‘Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa’ (2005) and ‘Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos’ (2011); the live-action film ‘Fullmetal Alchemist’ (2017); ‘Fullmetal Alchemist’ light novels; and video games. The franchise garnered immense success, in both the critical and commercial spheres.
Meanwhile, she published works such as ‘Raiden 18’ (2005) and ‘Sōten no Kōmori’ (2006). She collaborated with ‘Genco’ and ‘Studio Flag’ as a unit called ‘Huang Jin Zhou’ to come up with original story of the manga ‘Hero Tales.’ She also illustrated the manga that was serialized from 2006 to 2010 in ‘Square Enix's ‘Gangan Powered’ and then in ‘Shōnen Gangan.’ She also worked on character designs of the TV anime adaptation of the manga that was aired from October 7, 2007, to March 30, 2008.
The cover of the Japanese edition of the 2009 novel ‘The Demon's Lexicon’ by Irish author Sarah Rees Brennan was drawn by Hiromi. She wrote and illustrated the Japanese coming-of-age manga series ‘Silver Spoon’. It was serialized in ‘Shogakukan's ‘Weekly Shōnen Sunday’ from April 2011. A more realistic story compared to ‘Fullmetal Alchemist,’ ‘Silver Spoon’ gained popularity fast, emerging as one of Shogakukan's bestselling titles.
Hiromi bagged the 5th ‘Manga Taishō Award’ and the 58th ‘Shogakukan Manga Award’ in the ‘Shōnen’ category (2012) for ‘Silver Spoon.’ The manga was later adapted into an anime TV series (2013–2014) produced by ‘A-1 Pictures’ and into a live-action film (2014) produced by ‘Toho.’
The second manga adaptation of the Japanese fantasy novel series ‘The Heroic Legend of Arslan’ by Yoshiki Tanaka, which was serialized in 2013 in ‘Kodansha's magazine ‘Bessatsu Shōnen,’ had illustrations by Hiromi.
Family & Personal Life
It seems that Hiromi prefers to keep her personal life away from the media spotlight. Not much is known about her personal life, except that she has three children, one of whom is a son born in 2007. It is also known that her third child was born in 2014.