Obsession is a very strange thing indeed, and may be one of the few human traits that so clearly falls between heaven and hell. What one does with their obsession though, well, therein lies an altogether different proposition, especially as people often define their "obsessions" in terms of what they love and hate, or even what brings them hope and fear.
Isn't it strange then, that such a well known human trait can so easily be mistaken for something else entirely?
Or is it simply a case of people not seeing what they don't want to see, especially if there something new and shiny to watch?
fans are currently raving about the new series of Full Metal Alchemist, especially as it is an almost direct adaptation of the manga, however in the light of all this new found glory, the original adaptation has become the topic of much debate and controversy, especially by those who once praised the show for being something ... a little different.
Now unlike many, the fact that the original adaptation didn't follow the manga for much of its run was something that I wasn't overly concerned about, and there's a very good reason for this too. One of the issues I had with the manga, and in turn Brotherhood, was the fact that the tale is far more "shounen" than the original adaptation, and this difference in not only plot and story content, but overall perspective as well, is noticeable in a number of areas.
As far as pacing, plot, and depth of story goes, Full Metal Alchemist does lose out somewhat to Brotherhood, however this is partly due to the fact that Arakawa Hiromu had far more time to produce a story that worked, whereas the writers for the original adaptation only had part of Arakawa's work to play with, and had to make up the rest.
Normally this would be the cause for a number of issues, not the least of which is continuity, however Full Metal Alchemist never really suffered from those except where the numerous, and unnecessary, comedy moments were included. That said, what the writers achieved was actually quite remarkable, as they produced a tale that is very clearly about one thing only - obsession - and in that respect, they actually managed to score quite a major coup over Arakawa's tale.
Some of you may be a tad confused by where this is all going, but fear not, it will become clearer as we get into more detail. Let's talk more about the actually show itself for a moment though.
In terms of looks, the original adaptation managed to transpose the characters fairly well, and while they didn't really require any bouts of creativity in general, there were a few new faces as, at the time, the manga hadn't actually introduced all the players. As for the various locations in which the characters find themselves, the first adaptation generally followed the path laid down by the manga, however there were also some surprisingly original and inventive additions to the various locales, many of which are unique to this particular adaptation.
Strangely enough though, the quality of the animation is almost the same as that of Brotherhood, and given the large degree of crossover in both adaptations, this is actually surprising as usually one version is greatly superior to the other. That said, the new series does have the advantage of seven years of improvements in animation, so one would be forgiven for thinking the margin between the two would be bigger.
Where sound and music are concerned, one might expect more pronounced differences between the two adaptations, however this is not the case. The selection of music for the first adaptation is actually very good throughout the series, and also gave rise to one of the catchiest opening themes in shounen anime - "Ready Steady Go" by L'Arc-en-Ciel. The aural effects are well chosen and choreographed, and while there are many occasions that feature frenetic clashes and lots of noise, care has generally been taken to modulate this to a level that won't unnerve the viewer (admittedly there are some minor overwhelming moments, but they're not really worth going into any detail as they don't really affect the story in any way).
As for the acting, granted there are some different seiyuu between the two adaptations, but the series' big guns are in force in both. That said, while there is some acting continuity between the two, the actual quality is a little better in Brotherhood, however this may be due to an increased familiarity with the characters, and also because Brotherhood is far more a straight forward shounen tale than the original adaptation- something which actually shows in the acting.
And now to the most interesting bit - the characters.
Unlike both the manga and Brotherhood, the original anime adaptation of Full Metal Alchemist featured some surprising and unique characters, not the least of which is Edward Elric himself.
But before we get into that though, let's talk Homunculi.
One of the most overlooked aspects of the original series was the nomenclature given to the homunculi, and although their names and purpose have been "clarified" by the manga and Brotherhood, the writers for the original adaptation didn't have this knowledge, so they actually made them work in a completely different way. The whole deal with the Seven Sins is very different in the first anime, as the writers used the homunculus to highlight the aspect of obsession throughout the series. This is why the first anime adaptation had them being "born" in a particular manner, rather than the more trite reasoning given in the manga and Brotherhood much later.
The homunculi are effectively born from the obsession of humans, a theme which is also present in Arakawa's version of the story, even though it has been downplayed a lot.
So what does this have to do with the characters? Well, rather a lot actually. Throughout the whole series, there are very few characters who don't show any of the visible signs that one would normally associate with obsessive behaviour, and this is because they're cleverly hidden for the most part. From Maes Hughes' constant babble about his daughter, to Winry's love of automail. From Izumi Curtis' longing for her baby, to Dante's desire for immortality (incidentally, one has to wonder why that particular character was called Dante).
And right at the top of the list is Edward Elric.
In essence, his obsession with being better than his father is what starts the whole chain of events, which then turns to his obsession with the Philosopher's Stone, and so on. The surprising thing though, is that Ed never actually lets go of his desires in the same manner that others who attempted human transmutation did, and there is actually proof of this too. One look at the manner of Alphonse Elric's return to his body, as well as the nature of that return, will highlight just how very different this show is to Arakwa's version, and how different the mentality is come the end.
And if you want more clarification on this, then feel free to ask.
The characters are actually pretty well developed throughout the series, and it's a testament to the writer's and seiyuu's abilities that they turned out as well as they did. That's not to say there aren't any problems, however the flaws with the characters stem mainly from a difference in goals and perspective rather than any real lack of talent.
In all honesty, it's difficult to decide which version is actually better as the differences in plot, theme and character development make this version and Arakawa's two very different tales. That said, there will be those who fall on one side or the other, some preferring the darker nature of the first adaptation while others like the more direct approach of the manga and Brotherhood. Personally, I found both versions to be very good, especially as the route that Arakawa's tale takes bears almost no resemblance to this one. While there are some broad similarities between the two in terms of locale, characters and basic plot, in actuality these are only skin deep, as the original adaptation of Full Metal Alchemist deviates quite a lot from the typical shounen sensibilities come the end of the series. The obsessive theme of the first adaptation is a far cry from what one is given in the manga and Brotherhood.
Regardless of which version one prefers though, the simple fact is that we, as anime fans, have been given two great takes on the story, and we should count ourselves lucky to have such a wealth as all too often we must suffer through mediocrity and crap just find some entertainment.
It just a shame that so many people feel the need to side with one version or the other ...
To be honest, I’m somewhat baffled by the mixed reaction this anime has received after the release of Brotherhood. Because prior to Brotherhood, this anime was often considered a classic by most anime fans. In my opinion it’s still a classic and essential for all fans. I’m probably in the minority here, but I feel as though the original FMA and Brotherhood are equal in terms of quality. Enough of that, lets get into the review.
Now I’m sure most of you already know the story. The Elric brothers, Edward and Alphonse attempt to bring back their mother and as a consequence for going against the law of equivalent exchange, Ed loses his right arm and left leg. And Alphonse loses his entire body to only have his soul become bonded to a suit of armor. With the help of their childhood friend Winery, she constructs an automail leg and arm for Ed. Soon, they learn about this special artifact known as the Philosophers stone, it has the ability to defy the laws of alchemy and perform the taboo known as human transmutation. Eventually they come to the conclusion that their best bet in hopes of finding the stone would be to join the military. Although, Ed is the only one who joins because he insisted on doing so. And so they embark on their journey. Along the way, the brothers encounter corrupt government officials, homunculi, chimeras and more.
As far as the story goes, it’s fantastic. Especially considering the fact that this anime is a shonen. FMA has a far more intricate and complex plot then shonens like One Piece, Fairy Tail, Naruto or Bleach. Thematically, it delves into area’s that you wouldn’t expect a show of its kind to do. What’s a life worth? An arm? A leg? An entire body? Can human’s play the role of god ? Should we even be allowed to play the role of god in the first place? Can we disrupt the flow of nature? So yeah, Fullmetal Alchemist is smarter then your average shonen!
Also, the setting of the anime takes place in a fictionalized version of early 20th century Europe during the industrial revolution. The majority of the show takes place in Amestris. A key part of the plot that I almost forgot to mention involves the neighboring nation of Ishval. Long ago, after the tragic incident of when an Amestrian officer shot an Ishvalan child in cold blood, a chaotic war erupted between the two nations. In the midst of the war, state alchemists were brought in to exterminate the Ishvalans through horrific acts of genocide. This is where the revenge driven Ishvalan named Scar comes in.
Speaking of characters, character wise, FMA is just as good. From Roy Mustang, to Riza Hawkeye, to the Elric brothers. All are given considerable amounts of depth. Take for example, the Elric brothers. Ed feels as if he got off easy because he still has his body and is burdened by this. Alphonse is constantly questioning his humanity, existence and whether or not he was a human to begin with ( his memory was erased when Ed bonded his soul to a suit of armor). And I just barely scratched the surface.
When it comes to the production values, yet again, this anime doesn’t disappoint. The animation is very crisp and fluid. It never lets up, character designs are good and remain consistent until the very end. The OST is also worth mentioning here. Michiru Oshima did a very good job. One track that stood out in particular was “Brothers.” Simply put, it was a beautifully done string instrumental over some harmonious Russian vocals. In regards to the opening and ending themes, they’re solid. Opening 4 was my personal favorite. Lastly, the voice acting. I’ll tell you right here and now that it is mandatory that you watch the dub instead of the sub. Why? Because, hands down without a doubt, Fullmetal Alchemist has one of the best dubs you’ll ever here in anime. It’s definitely one of Funimation’s best efforts. All the performances were fantastic from Vic Mignogna, to Aaron Dismuke, to Dameon Clarke, to Colleen Clinkenbeard.
Unfortunately, there are a couple of flaws here and there that prevent Fullmetal Alchemist from achieving perfection. Most notably the first 15 episode, these episodes were unevenly paced and it really didn’t get interesting until Scar showed up. Episodes 4, 5, 10-12 were completely unnecessary and felt very fillerish (I’m not sure but I think they were actually fillers, but don’t quote me on that).
Now of course, I can’t write a review without addressing the ending because it’s one of the reasons why anime fans have such a polarized reaction for this show. I personally liked the ending, it was very bitter sweet. It wasn’t like every other ending for a shonen where everything works out in the end and all the characters hold hands and sing Kumbaya. Plus there are no beach episodes (Jesus Christ, I f**kin hate those g**damn beach episodes in anime). Well, time to wrap this review up, all in all, FMA is an amazing anime. I highly recommend it to anime fans and non-anime fans alike.
"Humankind cannot gain anything without first giving something in return. To obtain, something of equal value must be lost. That is alchemy’s first law of equivalent exchange. In those days, we really believed that to be the world’s one and only truth."
I'm typing this review, and i wonder to myself, "Why am i doing this? What can i say about a show that's been talked about to death?", and you know what, i don't exactly have a clear answer. Fullmetal Alchemist premiered a decade ago and is still to this day, one of the most beloved and well known anime of our recent generation. It's
so well known that talking about it almost seems redundant as about 90% of anime fans have already seen it, and if they haven't seen it then they at least have heard of it, know the premise, and might even know some of the more shocking twists in it. But over the past few years, more and more people have begun to disregard it all thanks to a little thing called Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, to the point where i've heard Brotherhood fans say to people on several occasions that they shouldn't watch the original series and just go watch Brotherhood, which i answer to with a big, "Huh?". But this isn't about Brotherhood, i'll cover that elephant in the room if i ever choose to do a review of it. No this is about the original Fullmetal Alchemist anime, and why if you haven't already seen it, then you should check out as soon as possible.
As i said it's almost pointless to sum up the plot that everybody already knows but, formulaic procedure wins. The story is about the two Elric brothers, Edward and Alphonse, who try to use a blend of science and magic called alchemy to bring their mother back from the dead. Things go terribly wrong however, and in the process Edward loses an arm and a leg, and Alphonse loses his entire body, being forced to fuse his soul with a body of armor to survive. They soon join the country's militia, the state alchemist division to be precise, in order to search for a item of great power called the philosopher's stone, in order to revive their bodies back to their original forms. The idea of two brothers setting off on a journey is already a concept that could fill an entire show, but then there's also the story of the them joining the military and how their more childish outlook and views clash with the military's actions, which is also enough to fill an entire show. But then there's also the military itself and it's mission to reform the country, and also the soldiers that wish to change the military to better the country, and then there's the evil forces that the Elric brothers encounter with their own mission and backstory, and so on and so forth. Fullmetal Alchemist has enough plot lines to fill up 10 different anime, which could easily just make for a cluttered mess of ruined potential, but the story in Fullmetal Alchemist is a well written, perfectly paced, and air tight. But even so this seems like a lot for just a battle shounen, but you can't really call it just a battle shounen as it seems like the show has just about every genre you can think of all in one. There's action, adventure, comedy, drama, supernatural, super power, military, romance, mystery, thriller, horror, shock jock, fantasy, and sci fi, all in one. Once again, having so much in one show could easily be the death of it, but all of these genres are performed well and at just the right moments, even having them clash at times just to prove a point. And if that wasn't enough, this show completes every plot point and every character saga, and still has room for filler. To some the concept of adding filler is a bad thing, but in this case i find being able to have filler more of a compliment than anything. If you haven't gotten what's good about the story of FMA from this, let me sum it up for you. Fullmetal Alchemist is an emotional, action packed, well written saga and above all, is fucking big, displaying a vast world of different cultures, inventions and religions that just sucks you in from the very beginning.
Fullmetal Alchemist was made by studio BONES and is probably the show most responsible for the seemingly endless pockets of money that the studio had for many years. But this was an early work, so it's not exactly perfect. The show didn't have all that much of a budget to work with, and there were times when it showed, inconsistent character designs, jagged edges, and one or two episodes in particular that looked fairly cheap. But the show is still overall a good looking show. What impressed me most was probably the shading in it and how perfectly it was used to represent different emotions and foreshadowing. The character facial designs also helped this, done well enough at times that two characters could just share a scene together, with zero dialogue, and in just one stare, convey all the emotions they need to get across. Of course this is a battle series, and you can tell that this is where a good chunk of the budget was spent, with fluid animation and splendid choreographing that kept your eyes firmly glued to the screen. Fullmetal Alchemist is a good looking show with some dents here and there, but the moments of brilliance shine right though.
The soundtrack is comprised completely of orchestral pieces, all of which compliment their scenes quite well. It's in the background, always noticeable but never overpowering, a perfect accompaniment to the show. But, to tell the truth, nothing on the OST really sticks out on it's own and it's not really a soundtrack that you listen to on it's own. A good soundtrack nonetheless but nothing spectacular. If i was only judging the sound based off the soundtrack then i'd probably only give it a 7 or 8 out of 10, but there's one more important thing to talk about. The dub. This was an early Funimation show, but i'm guessing that they knew ahead of time how big the show would be, because they really brought their A game for it. Talking about Vic Mignogna as Edward Elric is almost as redundant as telling people about the plot to FMA, he's great as the role, and it's the number one reason why he has so many fangirls. Plus this was also the show that launched Travis Willingham's career for his performance as Roy Mustang, which is well deserved. And i'd be remiss to not mention Christopher Sabbat's performance as Major Alex Louise Armstrong who just does the role complete justice as though IT WAS A PERFORMANCE HANDED DOWN THE ARMSTRONG FAMILY FOR GENERATIONS. There are plenty of other big names like Johnny Yong Bosch and Luci Christanson playing ver small roles which are always nice to hear. But the thing that really impressed me about the dub is that they had actual kids playing the kids including a 12 year old Aaron Dismuke doing a bang up job in his first performance as Alphonse Elric. It's definitely a show worth checking out dubbed.
A story as big as Fullmetal Alchemist need a big cast, and not only is this cast supplied, but their also just as well written as the story itself. First off we have out two main characters Edward and Alphonse Elric. Edward is the prodigy of the two, the genius who often makes the decisions of what the two of them will do, which can proof to be disastrous at times, considering that with great intelligence and curiosity comes an overwhelming temptation to the dark side. He's the one who decided to resurrect their mother, he's the one who decides to join the military, and he's the one who constantly has to struggle with doing the right thing and doing the things that most benefit them. But he's still just a kid, and with so comes a certain naiveté towards things. He's quick to learn from his mistakes and often feels guilt for what his actions have causes, and is driven with a strong determination to set things right, making him the ideal protagonist. Alphonse on the other hand is the philosopher, usually being the moral compass of the two and keeping his older brother grounded to the right side. Between the two brothers, he loses the most, but instead of being angry and bitter about it, is often friendly and optimistic and hates to see people suffer for his sake, giving him great guilt as well for what his brother has to go through for his sake. These are of course, only the two main characters, and Fullmetal Alchemist has nearly 40 supporting and recurring character, meaning characters that show up for more than two episodes and have a role in the overall plot. And you know what, each and every one of them is left unresolved. Like the story, the characters of Fullmetal Alchemist are memorable, well written, and big. But the most important thing that these characters do in the series, is acknowledge and represent the importance of family bonds, from the relationship between the Elric brothers, to the relationship between the military soldiers, and event he weird relationship between the Homunculi of the series that form their own little family in a way. From the arrogant but gentle hearted Colonel Roy Mustang, to the incredibly manly glittering Major Alex Louise Armstrong, to the Homunculi that oppose the Elric brothers, all of the characters of Fullmetal Alchemist are fleshed out and memorable.
Enjoyment and Overall (10/10)
In case you haven't been able to tell, i love Fullmetal Alchemist, very few series have made me love them this much. I'm not really sure what i can say about this series that i haven't already said. It's an epic tale of love, determination, and passion that every one should check out. We never needed a movie, the series ended fine on it's own, and just because Brotherhood now exists, doesn't mean we should disregard this series, personal tastes aside. Fullmetal Alchemist is a series that is completely on par with the original manga and proof that a series doesn't need fidelity to succeed. I'll leave off with this quote, which is technically from Brotherhood but screw it, it works.
"There’s no such thing as a painless lesson. They just don’t exist. Sacrifices are necessary. You can’t gain anything without losing something first. Although, if you can endure that pain and walk away from it, you will find that you now have a heart strong enough to overcome any obstacle. Yes…a heart that's Fullmetal."
Fullmetal Alchemist is often considered an essential viewing for any anime fan and a stepping-stone for many newcomers to the world of anime. It's received universal acclaim and if you were to ask any anime fan about Fullmetal Alchemist, chances are, he/she probably has some knowledge of this series.
*Review may contain minor spoilers, may hint at things, and will not be reviewed as an adaptation of the manga and how it compares, but as a standalone anime*
The basic basic synopsis of the story is about "The Fullmetal Alchemist" Edward Elric, and his brother, Alphonse Elric, and their quest of searching for the Philosopher's Stone
in order to bring back what they've lost and fix a mistake made in the past.
From the synopsis that you might read on the back of a DVD cover or so, an anime about a quest and a siblings' search for a treasure sounds something light and fun, but in actuality, the story of Fullmetal is very dark. Right from the beginning, we're introduced to a gruesome nightmarish scene depicting what would be the major mistake Ed and Al make with Ed screaming in horror; it's almost as if the director wanted to point out "This isn't going to be some happy nakama anime about fighting, this is a dark anime about redemption, tragedy and the story of two brothers who will do whatever it takes to fix the mistake they've made." The story knows where its going and there's a good sense of direction, though the series does lose a bit of focus as it reaches its end, it still manages to finish strongly with what I think to be one of the most creative and nicely done anime-exclusive endings to an adaptation of an on-going manga. They could have just dumped it like Inuyasha, but they didn't, and actually formulated their own anime ending, which I think is commendable.
Art and Animation: 8/10
The character design is simplistic and kind of quirky, but decent. Character designs vary enough that you can clearly differentiate who is who and most of them have their own sense of individuality versus 'slap a different hairstyle on the same model' designs (ex. Gundam Seed). And having one of the main characters as a walking suit of armor is definitely a unique idea and the Homunculi are just great antagonists, design-wise.
The animation quality for the series is top-notch. The colors are vivid and characters are detailed with no shortcut taken in the animation and the fights are fluidly animated. Unless you pay extra attention, shortcomings in animation is something you won't find in this series.
The music fits so well in conveying the emotion and feelings of the characters and scenes, and invoking the atmosphere and sense of wonder in Fullmetal, its music is what ultimately captures the spirit of the show, and brings the world of Fullmetal to life. With pieces like "Brother" "Homunculus" and "Dante", Fullmetal easily has one of the best OST's I've heard in any anime series.
For such a large cast, Fullmetal manages to characterize most of the characters to a decent extent. But the most well-developed characters are without a doubt Edward and Alphonse, and their selfless brotherly relationship. What I see Ed as, is the Shounen archetype ( Loudmouthed, hot-headed, and proud), but done right, and with more depth than any of his counterparts. Despite his quirks, and his stereotypical Shounen characteristics (Acting arrogant? Check. Hot-blooded personality? Check. Childhood romantic interest? Check.), Ed has proven to be an extremely mature character, with the resolve to do whatever it takes to protect his brother.
Besides Ed and Al, Mustang also has a very well-written background to his character and shows that, in actuality, his arrogant personality is just a facade to cover-up for his doubt in what he did in his past.
Now the main quirk I have with the cast of Fullmetal is the lack of development for the antagonists. They're such a colorful cast of characters, and yet we know little or nothing about them. Yes, we have Scar, who's pretty well characterized, but what about Lust? Greed? And Gluttony? They may be artificial beings but they should have their own history and character right? The series only manages to touch on those characters and give us a small taste of the stories of the Homunculi.
Aside from that, overall, the "good" side of the cast is pretty well-developed while the Homunculi are developed to only the minimal extent. Which is passable considering this was an adaptation of the manga when it was still in its early stages. And while I do commend the anime team that worked on Fullmetal to cook up its own original villain, I find her to be extremely uninspired, incompetent, generic and just a poorly done villain in general.
Not much to say besides the fact that Fullmetal is very enjoyable, it's one of those series that keeps your eyes glued to the screen from the start and manages to keeps you entertained through the whole ride with its revelations and twists, and ends leaving you speechless.
Is Fullmetal Alchemist an essential viewing for every anime fan in the whole wide world? No. But is it a good stepping-stone for newcomers, or just a very enjoyable anime for anyone who wants a good equilibrium between great action and a well-written story? I say hell yes. For such a critically-acclaimed anime, it isn't anything that's overly groundbreaking nor does it escape the clutches of standard Shounen cliches. But for what it is, it's a bloody well done anime.
Too long didn't read version:
Story (A) : Well-crafted, intriguing, original and overall, very enjoyable and intelligent.
Art and Animation ( B+) : Good character designs, fantastic animation. Homunculi are interestingly designed.
Sound (A+) : Wonderful soundtrack, conveys the mood and scenery perfectly.
Character (B) : Military cast is developed nicely, Homunculi gets the short end of the stick and the main villain is disappointing.
Overall (A) : An enjoyable anime that has a colorful cast, fantastic story and great music. Would recommend.
FullMetal Alchemist follows (to a certain extent) the manga made by Hiromu Arakawa. Taking place in a different world, where alchemy is commonplace, the story follows the brothers Edward and Alphonse Elric's quest to regain their normal bodies, by creating the Philosopher's Stone.
The concept - in my eyes - is very fascinating. Some people may say that alchemy is no more than just another form of magic from just another series, but it's not really like that. It's not like they just draw out some hidden power and poof, they've made something from nothing. They use alchemy by decomposing, restructuring and rebuilding materials. For
example, they can take normal sand, decompose it, restructure the materials it's made of, and build it up again as a hard rock wall. That's what separates alchemy from magic/etc. as seen in other series; it's more a science than, well, magic.
The story of the series is enthralling, captivating and deep. It starts out simple; two boys wanting to regain their original bodies, which were lost due to something that went wrong in their past. However, it soon goes much deeper, with the military coming into the picture; who's good and bad there, conspiracies, ulterior motives etc. There's also the deal with the Philosopher's Stone; the hidden motives, the dark secrets, lots of stuff which will often leave you on the edge of your seat, wanting to know the truth behind things.
It is important to note that the story differs greatly from the manga from around episode 32 or so. So if you've read the manga, you'll have to adjust to that fact. However, the ending of the series is actually very good in my opinion. A lot happens, and there are some loose ends, but it's really great. I think it's the kind of ending you'll either love or hate, having read the manga or not.
I liked the animation in FMA. It's very flawless, and the color palette is varied. Light effects are good too, during transmutations and such. However, something that drags it down is that it's pretty simple. I'm not a fan of "simple is good", but if you don't mind it, you'll have no problems with the animation of this series.
The music in FMA is very good; it has very good OP/ED themes, and the background music's very good, setting the mood perfectly, while at the same time being great as stand-alone songs (I'm especially fond of "Brothers"). The soundtrack of the series simply cannot be missed.
The characters are okay. There's a lot of good characters, but not that much character development; how they are when they are introduced is pretty much how they are at the end as well. But as said, they are good when they start out, and that somewhat makes up for the lack of character development.
All in all, this was a series that I enjoyed a great lot. I'm not really a fan of giving popular series high scores, but this is one of the series that just deserved it.
To 'Not Helpful' voters (and you 'Helpful' voters too): Feedback greatly appreciated =)
I'm a big fan of Fullmetal Alchemist, so it's a-must for me to write a review.
Fullmetal Alchemist takes place in a world that seems similar to our own, but not as technologically advanced. Trains and steam powered engines are used a great deal, and the science of alchemy is far more prevalent than machines of our time. In alchemy, there is the rule of equivalent trade: you must give something of equal value in order to get something. And above all else, human transmutation is against all rules of alchemy, and does not work... or so it seems. Rumors have it that the
Philosopher's Stone can give the alchemist the ability to even raise the dead, but it is long since sought after and never found. Enter Al and Edward, two young boys who attempted this heinous act once their beloved mother died. The act failed, causing Ed to lose his arm and leg, and Al to lose his body, trapping his soul in the body of a machine. Full Metal Alchemist follows Ed and Al as they search for the Philosopher's Stone to get their bodies and lives back... and that's just the beginning.
Full Metal Alchemist is, in a word, brilliant. It's hard to explain exactly why it was so good, so you'd probably just have to see it for yourself. There is a perfect blend of comedy, action, intrigue and excitement all in one. Filler episodes are wonderful and fly by quicker than a bullet train. I never at any point in the series was bored, even for a second. In the beginning, there are a great deal of mini-arcs that deal with events in a certain town or location, but all are still somewhat involved with the main plot. Once the end of the series rolls around, you realize that all of these seemingly unconnected events or places really ARE connected, or come back into play somehow. This comes down to FMA's epic nature at heart, and maybe that's why it was so good, who knows.
9 / 10
The animation style for FMA was superb, and held a perfect balance of serious scenes and comedic chibis. Let's face it, the comedy played a big part in the series, and comic relief was badly needed in harsh scenes. The longest running joke was Ed being called short, and his irritation always manifested itself by him turning chibified for a few minutes. Whereas this would annoy me in most series, it seemed totally appropriate in FMA. Colors used were incredibly bright and vibrant, and character designs looked, well, normal for a series in this time period. The alchemy was definitely the most impressive part, showing us beautiful special effects and sequences. I believe a bit of CG was used, and was seamless, but I could be wrong on that point. Backgrounds were gorgeous, monsters were creepy, and the violence and disturbing parts were animated in a very... well... disturbing fashion as well.
10 / 10
There are barely any series that I see that make me want to get the soundtrack, and this is one of them. There was a piano tune in the later half of the series that was haunting and gave me chills every time it was played. Every piece fit the series in some way, from the upbeat lighthearted tracks to the moody depressing ones. Orchestral music dominated the series, mostly piano and violins.Even the intros and outros (except the last two outros, which were pretty terrible) shone. I don't usually rate the music score on the intro/outro, which is why this still gets a 10. Flawless music all the way around, and enchanting enough to make me want to buy the soundtrack, which is a really big deal in itself.
10 / 10
I honestly can't see how anyone could think the characters score should be lower than a 10. All the characters, even the secondary ones, were developed extremely well. Al and Ed, obviously, had the most revealed about their pasts and motivations for the future, but even the bad guys and non-important folk seemed to have twists and depth attached to them in some way. We see characters grow close and drift apart. We see characters born, and characters die unexpectedly. We see masks cast aside from familiar faces, showing us that what the people we thought we knew, we really didn't at all. Everyone has layers that are peeled back and shown to us slowly... and in general, it was done in the most effective way possible.
10 / 10
I can't say enough good things about this series, but I feel like watching it for yourself would make you understand why I gave it a perfect score. Everything about the series is flawless, from the epic and involved story to the pacing and mood, to the music and animation and depth of characters. It really is rare for a series like this to come along that not only succeeds at keeping your attention for 26 episodes, but for 51. Whether you like action, adventure, comedy, a good story, interesting and multi-dimensional characters, etc. you’re bound to find something you like. And that’s part of what makes Fullmetal Alchemist such a great series. So what are you waiting for? Check this out as soon as you can!
5 WORDS OR LESS REVIEW: Heartwarming, fun and Exciting. Recommended.
Fullmetal Alchemist is another one of the series I wish I’ve seen sooner. The reason why I didn’t watch it right away was the number of episodes. Usually, I prefer series that have a maximum of 26 episodes, because series with 50 episodes or more tend to lose its juice somewhere around the middle. It was not the same for Fullmetal Alchemist.
Fullmetal Alchemist definitely kept me entertained. I don’t think there was a time during any of the episodes that I felt bored – there was always something that caught my attention. The storyline definitely had
a lot of depth to it and had something for everybody. It had me laughing, crying, and sometimes feeling like I was having a heart attack. Watch it and you’ll know what I’m talking about. A word of caution though – sometimes it tends to be bloody, and possibly cruel (SPOILER – A lot of unexpected deaths). There's also the scientific aspect of it that I like. Alchemy, the law of conservation and even the food chain is embedded in the storyline.
I love all the characters. They too, had a lot of depth to them. Ed can be cheeky and rude sometimes, but he has his morals. I didn’t think he was charismatic at first, but after a few episodes, I started to like him. I like how he gets mad when people made comments about his height. He’s such a good big brother to Al. And Al! He’s probably my favorite characters from the series. I know he’s huge, but he’s just so cute. I really believe that he’s a kid even if he doesn’t look like it. The villains are really convincing too – they really made me hate them. My favorite has to be Envy, because he’s really sinister, and Wrath. He’s a cute kid, but he’s kinda psychotic. Other characters I like are Winry and Hughes.
I think the voice acting contributed a lot to the likeability of the characters. I love the fact that they picked female seiyus to portray the 2 main male characters. As always, Romi Paku did a good job of portraying Ed. Romi Paku’s voice is perfect for teenage boys with a lot of personality. I absolutely love Rie Kugimiya’s depiction of Alphonse Elric. All throughout the series, I kept saying how cute Al’s voice was and how it was one of the most clever voice acting ever. Rie Kugimiya should do less loli roles and choose roles that are more like Al.
One trait I noticed in BONES productions I’ve seen is that their art style is always simple. At first I was disappointed, thinking it was too simple, that the characters looked too stubby, but I learned to appreciate it after a short while. I guess they focused more on the story, which is more important than the art for some. I also realized that Winry is really beautiful, even though her design is not perfect.
The music was good too. I love all of the BGM tracks. They were all beautiful and nicely done. As for the opening and ending themes, I am amazed at the roster of class acts that were involved with FMA’s music. My two favorites would have to be the second opening song, “Ready Steady Go" by L'Arc-en-Ciel and the other would be the fourth opening song, "Rewrite" by ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION. "Tobira no Mukou e (To the Other Side of the Door)" by YeLLOW Generation was also nice.
One of the resonating themes that went on throughout the series was the importance of life and being human. Living was important to Ed and Al, and it was the same for their enemies. I also like how they said that life (or the world) isn’t perfect, but that’s why it’s so beautiful. There’s also the importance of family. The characters (especially those with brothers) were all very family-oriented, which is something you don’t see in the real world. It’ll make you cherish your family more.
And with that, I strongly recommend Fullmetal Alchemist to everyone who reads this review. I think that almost anyone will like this anime and will definitely enjoy it. I can confidently say that I haven’t seen an anime like this before.
This is probably one of the last anime series that actually needs another review. But I suppose I can write a little something on it, though I doubt I'll be able to add much to the conversation that hasn't already been stated better elsewhere.
FMA is the story of... well surely you know what it's about by now, don't you? I oftentimes refer to FMA as being the Star Wars of anime--even if you've never seen it, chances are good that you know who most of the characters are, what their allegiances are, what happens to them, and the general path by which the story progresses,
including many of the twists and shockers that occur throughout. Things did get a little confused when FMA: Brotherhood entered the picture, but most casual anime fans I speak with are considerably more familiar with the first series. Still, I guess if you've somehow managed to totally avoid exposure to FMA (maybe you've just decided to get into anime and remembered how big FMA was a few years back?), it tells the story of the Elric brothers, Ed and Al, who join a powerful military organization in order to make use of said organization's extensive research resources--the reason being that they are seeking 'The Philosopher's Stone,' a powerful artifact that will enable them to restore their bodies to them, which were mangled and/or lost in a desperate attempt to raise their mother from the dead. Ed and Al, you see, are 'Alchemists,' and they wield a powerful 'science' (we would understand it as a magic, albeit one that works on somewhat logical principles) that enables them to powerfully manipulate their environment.
The world in which they live (a steampunk-esque one that is parallel to ours in many respects) is a world where many of these alchemists exist. A lot of them choose to serve in various fields of research, or to support the military--and it's worth noting that those with the strongest alchemical gifts seem to come from the powerful military state of Amestris--a happy country with a nasty habit of frequently waging war on its less advanced (both technologically and alchemically) neighbors. Ed and Al join Amestris's military knowing full well that they'll be forced to commit unsavory acts for the benefit of their state, but they believe that the resources they'll have access to will be worth the sacrifice. They've never been more right--or more wrong.
If it sounds a bit complex, truthfully, it *should be.* FMA juggles a mind-boggling amount of important characters, themes, events, subplots, and moods. Generally any show that attempts so much comes across as schizophrenic at best, even when they're as long as FMA is. FMA largely avoids this trap by focusing heavily on the heart of the story: the relationship between Ed and Al and their trials and tribulations. Certainly, there is a lot more going on at any given moment, but the writers always find a way to bring it back to these two, even when they are occasionally reduced to supporting roles in their own story. Another key point in FMA's favor are the variety of memorable and likable characters; first and foremost for me will always be Riza Hawkeye and Roy Mustang, but everyone has their own favorites, and there are plenty to choose from.
It also helps that FMA is pretty great at nearly everything it attempts. Only a few things about it seem at all half-assed, with most of these problems only cropping up in the first half of the series--though certainly many people have expressed reasonable misgivings about the last fourth of the series, as well. I actually love how the last fourth draws explicit parallels between our world and the world of FMA--after all, a good chunk of the preceding material is all about drawing slightly less explicit parallels anyways, so for the writers to take that final step, for me, gives the potency of the tale some extra 'oomph' that it might have otherwise lacked. (Contrast and compare FMA with Grave of the Fireflies and Now and Then, Here and There to see where I'm coming from.)
Most of the problems in the first half come down to awkward pacing (especially the placement of some of the 'stand-alone' episodes, which are generally too rushed-feeling to leave any sort of favorable impression), some occasionally severe mood whiplash, and just some plain-old tropey writing. Some people have also accused the series of straying into displays of over-sentimentality too frequently--I'm not sure that I totally agree, but there are some occasional eye-roll inducing moments here and there, particularly if you're the sort that's not moved at all by big wet anime character tears. However, it must be said that at least the voice acting talent (in both languages) is more than up to the task of knowing when to ham it up and when to tone it down. The English, in particular, is fantastic--it's probably one of the all-time great English dubs.
Less memorable is the music--it certainly does the job while you're watching, with only a couple of themes being reused a little too frequently, but doesn't hold up well when divorced from the context of the show, nor is it likely to stick in your head afterwards. The opening and ending themes are (with one exception) also pretty unremarkable--I try to watch all the way through each once with each show that I watch, but frequently found myself skipping through the openings and closings here, though in all fairness, that might be due more to impatience to see what happens next than anything else.
And that's where this show shines: you'll always want to see what happens next. Even in between the lengthier arcs there is always something interesting going on somewhere--whether it's the ember of a new plot thread flickering to life or a small character moment or yes, even a comedic filler episode, there is always a lot to look forward to here--so much so that even at 51 episodes FMA almost feels *too* short, and that's coming from someone who tends to avoid series that drag on for more than 26 episodes. I think that most anime production teams could learn a thing or two about when and how to employ filler and how to manage pacing from FMA--yes, I did mention above that there are some pacing issues in the first half of the series, but no one could reasonably make any such complaints about the second half.
I haven't mentioned the art yet, though it's certainly deserving of mention. The background art is rarely impressive and is frequently lacking in detail, but it's not bad by any stretch of the imagination, and when it is impressive, it is *seriously* impressive. (I'm thinking specifically of a few moments towards the end of the series.) As for the characters, most of them have a slightly rounded look that may throw some anime fans off (particularly those who still worship the 90s), but to say that they are memorable is a massive understatement. The designs are attractive and clean, with each character getting a nice touch or two to help them stick out from the crowd--even minor characters are distinctive from one another. I particularly like the female designs, which range from the unashamedly sexy (the very appropriately named Lust, who may rival even Faye Valentine for in-your-face sex appeal) to the the more utilitarian and simple, but nonetheless attractive (Lt. Ross). (And I'm still convinced that the only reason anyone likes Winry is because she really can rock a skirt.) And that's not to say that the guys get the short end of the stick--if we are talking about just pure sex appeal here, then Mustang might just be one of the sexiest male anime characters of all time, despite not conforming 100% to the typical pretty anime boy stereotypes. (In all fairness, some of this might be due to Travis Willingham's performance in the English dub.) For my money, he *may* only be topped by Akio, of Revolutionary Girl Utena. (Obviously. ^^)
Also of note visually is the 'directing.' The FMA artists have a strong sense of how to effectively use lighting, with particular attention given to the time of day. When it's not being excessively cartoony, FMA gives off a very cinematic vibe, particularly during action sequences and several of the back-story episodes, especially the ones that focus on past wars and Ed and Al's early experiences with alchemy. There are very few anime titles I can think of where my memory of specific scenes is so directly tied to the lighting of the scene, or the time of day at which it takes place. Only some of the better theatrical titles have it beat in this regards, as well as a very small handful of other series (Paranoia Agent springs to mind).
When it's all said and done, FMA isn't a particularly challenging or insightful piece of work (though there is more than enough to dissect here for the more literary-minded), but as an epic work of entertainment it doesn't strike a single truly sour note. Romance, adventure, action, war, horror (of an often higher caliber than that practiced by straight horror titles), and comedy all come together to make for a well-rounded whole. There's a little bit of something here for everyone (which can all too frequently be a curse, but is mostly a blessing here), and may be the rare work that could actually do a reasonably good job of bringing people outside of the anime fandom into the fold. If you've got a friend who is stubbornly resisting watching your anime with you and you haven't tried to inflict this on them yet, I'd be pretty willing to bet that you'd get good results with it.
"Humankind cannot gain anything without first giving something in return. To obtain something, something in equal value must be lost. That is alchemy's first law of equivalent exchange. In those days, we thought that to be the world's one, and only truth."- Alphonse Elric
Ever since Brotherhood came out, I've heard constant arguing of which is better and which one a noobie should watch, or if they should read the manga. In my opinion, if you want a friend, cousin, or whoever to get into anime, show them this. The original will give them a better understanding of anime and what it can be. I love
both Brotherhood and this. I'm only going to be talking about the original because after the first half, it tells it's own story. Anyway I'll describe my favorite things about the show. This show just loves to play with your emotions like you're a puppet on strings. You will laugh one moment then cry your eyes out the next. It's the perfect mix of comedy and drama. This show tries to be all sorts of genres like fantasy, comedy, drama, military, etc. Surprisingly, it works out. That's probably why people love this show so much. You probably liked the anime differently then someone else did. That's because this show has something that everyone will love. Now let's look at why people consider FMA a classic.
Story 10/10 Standout(s) The back story of Ed and Al
The story is one of the strong points in FMA. Everyone can relate to what the Elric brothers have to go through. They have to find something that they want and have to deal with other things along the way. What I also love about the story is that it isn't just your typical shounen. Some examples being One Piece and Naruto. It's not just a hero and villain story, and while FMA has elements of that, it's mostly focused on what it means to be a human and the struggles that the characters have to go through. Everything about the story will be explained to you in the first few episodes. Especially the unbelievably good back story of the brothers. I loved this back story so much. It's what made the Elric brothers go on their journey. I love how the back story isn't forgotten, it plays a big part of our main character's quest. Overall, one of the best stories I've ever seen in an anime.
Art and Animation 10/10 Standout(s) The fight scenes
This is a Studio Bones show, so of course the animation is good. These are the same people who did the art for Ouran High School Host Club and Soul Eater. The character designs were very creative and expressive. That's really all I have to say about the designs. The animation for it's time was very good. It's a little outdated nowadays, but it still looks great to me. The fight scenes are easily the standout here. They were very fluid and just plain awesome! Just take a look at the fight scene where Ed goes up against Greed. It's a very good example of great animation. Now to the sound.
Sound 10/10 Standout(s) The soundtrack "Brothers" and the English dub.
This is one good soundtrack. They each fit the scenes they were placed. The standout here is the soundtrack "Brothers." It was very beautiful and fit the show perfectly. If you looked up the lyrics to this, you'd know just how sad it really is. It's kind of weird that this song is in Russian and the show was made in Japan. I still really love the song. It's one of saddest things I've ever listened to. Now let's talk about the dub. This is one of the best dubs I've ever listened to. Funamation did a great job with the dub. The dub was less cartoony and more realistic. They actually a 11 year old kid to do Al. His name is Aaron Dismuke. He sounded really good for a kid. It must have been hard for him to dub an anime. Now let's talk about Ed's voice. He sounded very mature for a 14 year old. Vic Mignogna did really fantastic. This is his best role he's ever done in my opinion. Sorry for going on too long, but the dub was one of the best out there. Now for the thing I've wanted to talk about for awhile, the characters.
Characters 10/10 Standout(s) All of them
These characters were all realistic and human. They may seem cliche at first glance, but they're more then that. Anyone can relate to these characters. Each of the characters have a personality. If I were to talk about all the characters, I'd be here all day. Let's just talk about the two brothers.
Ed is the older one out of the two. He is the taker of chances and is very intelligent. He is also very fun-loving and caring. He'll do anything to help out his brother. It's something to admire about him. He's very short tempered (No pun intended.) He hates it when people call him short. Most people hate that running gag, but I think it shows that Ed is still a normal kid despite what he had to go through. Life hasn't forced him to grow up yet. He also has to deal with some guilt because he pressured his brother to do the human transmutation. When you say Ed's name, I'll automatically think of who he is and not what he had to go through. That's what makes a good character in my eyes. Ed is an example of a real human being. He is one of the best main character's I've ever seen in an anime. He carried a lot for the show.
Al is the youngest out of the two. He is very caring and puts others before him. He really cares about others and will protect them from danger. He get's very depressed if he doesn't. There is a certain character who dies in the anime who he used to be enemy's with. It really broke his heart to see that character die. He keeps Ed from doing things that'll get him killed. He had his body replaced with a suit of armor after the human transmutation. He likes to keep everybody safe and living a happy life. Defiantly a good character and added a lot to the anime.
Positives: All of the show.
Negatives: None. I don't care what people say.
Overall 10/10 (Masterpiece)
People who will love this anime: Almost Everyone
People who will not love this anime: Fans of the original manga
This is an epic masterpiece that almost every anime fan should see. It's the best anime I've seen and that's saying a lot because I love anime. I love animation and good story telling. I'm glad I got to see this anime and I hope new viewers will love it to. My only regret was that I waited this long to watch it. I hope you enjoyed this review!
Holy shit! He's reviewing FMA and not FMA Brotherhood!!? Why would anyone want to watch that old piece of crap when we have the perfection that is Brotherhood!? I have a dark confession to make. Forgive me father for I have sinned. I liked the original FMA a lot more than I liked Brotherhood. I'm serious, I'm not trolling! Allow me to explain.
The story of FMA as most already know takes place in an alternate world where alchemy has advanced rather than the science of our world and now alchemy is the staple of technology and society. After the tragic death of their mother,
2 brothers that are alchemy prodigies attempt to bring her back to life with a forbidden ritual called the human transmutation. It goes wrong in a nightmarish fashion and the younger brother Al's body starts to vanish. In order to save his brother's life, Ed the elder Elric brother sacrifices an arm and a leg to transmute Al's soul into a giant suit of armor that very conveniently happened to be there. Now the brother's are on a quest for the Philosopher's stone to regain their bodies. To do this, they must join the military of a tyrannical and war hungry government that is apparently an alternate version of this world's Germany. The brothers learn the full horrors of war and see that even good men will do terrible things when ordered. They must make difficult moral decisions along the way and ultimately stand against the evil government that they originally supported for their own gain. FMA ends in a bit of rushed fashion and the ending wasn't entirely satisfying for everyone. However, I really like that FMA had the balls to consistently keep a much darker and more mature tone than Brotherhood and didn't give me as much mood whiplash going back and forth between the horrors of genocide and zany comedy antics. I don't need to have my heart ripped out watching the Shou Tucker episode only to see Ed's head transform into a crocodile 5 minutes later! The original series may feel more like a seinen than a shonen, but is that really a bad thing? I would argue not.
The Elric brothers are well developed and truly likable. There is a wide cast of wonderful supporting characters including the hilarious Hughes and Armstrong and the badass duo of Mustang and Hawkeye. We also have a great anti-hero with Scar, everyone's favorite skull exploding alternate world Arab super hero. The villain in this series is not Father, but rather Dante. Like Father, Dante also views humans as mere pawns to be sacrificed for her own selfish goals. Honestly both villains have about the same amount of depth and development, but I actually found Dante creepier and more unsettling. Perhaps because she seemed a bit more realistic than a perpetually loudmouthed cyclops ink blob. The original doesn't have any of the Xing characters, but I honestly didn't find that a big loss. The original character cast was well rounded and excellent even without the wonderfully stereotypical Xingese.
The art is a bit different from Brotherhood. It relies less on chibi animation and wild facial exaggerations in keeping with the darker and more serious tone. I honestly don't consider that a handicap! I don't want to watch a version of Monster where there is a brutal murder and Tenma's face randomly turns into a cat's face with whiskers while a giant sweat drop and throbbing veins appear on Johan! That would just be stupid and ruin the tone!
From that kickass opening by Le Arc en Ciel to the beautiful Russian vocals of the song "Bratya", the original FMA soundtrack kick's the Brotherhood OST's ass! There is simply no comparison in my mind between the two.
I really enjoyed this series when it first came out and I still enjoy re-watching it on occasion today. It is an absolute classic and although there are a couple filler episodes, it is very satisfying and enjoyable overall.
This series may not have entirely followed the manga, but it wasn't the worse for it. Sometimes the manga is best and the anime makes a huge mistake by not following it. A perfect example would be Hellsing the original vs. the far superior Ultimate. However, there are times when the manga has a lot of flaws and the anime is actually substantially better. Examples of this would include Trigun and Elfen Lied. I'm not saying that the manga of FMA was bad or that Brotherhood was bad. They are both great in their own right. What I am saying is that I personally prefer the original anime and think that the tremendous backlash it has received post Brotherhood is idiotic and totally unfair!
What I hate the most when it comes to anything remotely to do with science is science that doesn’t make sense (e.g. Doctor Who). I thought FMA would be like this, just spewing out any rubbish to explain the situation or how they saved the world and call that science. Fortunately, this isn’t the case with this anime. I was actually quite impressed with some of the science used behind it, e.g. the fight between Greed and Edward…and the use of carbon (won’t say anymore, trying to keep it spoiler free).
“Humankind cannot gain anything without first giving something in return. To obtain, something of equal
value must be lost. That is alchemy's first law of equivalent exchange."
Thus the concept of Equivalent Exchange; it’s a fundamental theory throughout the series and movie and that had constant speculation; whether or not if this was true - applying it to real life situations, without the alchemy business. I think I like this theory mainly because it’s a lot similar to the concept of Karma - “What goes around, comes around” which sometimes has me and many others asking if its true or if we just choose to believe it to make our own lives easier? Unintentionally, this anime has produced quite a philosophical theory giving it a real life sort of edge that has me thinking and intrigued at the same time.
The show was a bit slow for me at first, but strangely enough it wasn’t boring, and being the type to get bored easily with an amazingly short attention span this certainly was a spectacular job the anime had done. I’ll be fair - it does take quite a few episodes to get into it, but it’s time worth spent once you’re sucked into this world of alchemy.
I won’t go into the story that much since the summary does a good job of telling the gist of the anime. What the summary doesn’t tell you though is that there is a fair deal of dark themes, psychopaths and mad scientists/alchemists. I was surprised how bloody, warped and twisted it got especially around episode 7. The anime does a good job of using both dark and comedy/adventure themes and it does lean towards the latter most of time but still has the seriousness and tension that makes it exciting.
The cast of characters were very well ranged. It didn’t seem like there were too many characters or any useless characters - they were all pretty much important to the story and you get a mix of personalities, characteristics etc. Some may be there for comic relief, but none at all were boring and it didn’t seem like it was annoying to see them. Edward Elric, our protagonist of the story is sort of your average funny, short tempered, stubborn chibi hero but he doesn’t fall short there, he also brings along brains as well as brawns which he does use from time to time amazingly enough. He’s a likeable character and he isn’t too noisy to the point where you want to punch his lights out (e.g. Naruto, Ichigo), and I really do admire the bond he and his brother, Alphonse has. Edward is a little different from the typical super power shounen character in one aspect: Motivation. He’s not just a do-gooder who does it because it’s right; he’s actually doing it to repent for his past deeds and to restore his brother’s body.
For me, the art was a plus. I understand some people did not like the art but I liked the unique style it had; it didn’t try to make everyone look so pretty or with pointy chins etc. and Roy Mustang actually did look Japanese to me. This is probably my favourite art amongst all the anime I have watched because it’s so different yet it’s not an eye sore - it’s refreshing I guess.
I watched this over 6 months ago and still I can remember the music used - so it definitely isn’t forgettable. The openings were all amazing, especially the fourth one which I’ve even downloaded on my phone and have made me an Asian Kung Fu Generation fan.
I did think this show was a bit over hyped and overrated at first, and maybe it still is, but after watching the series I understand why it is so loved – It’s simply exciting. You have comedy, action, adventure, magic, tiny bit of blasphemy, some science, brotherly bonds, friendship, psychopaths, conspiracy theories, racial elements, political issues and even a little romance if you’re willing to look deep enough into it.
Full Metal Alchemist.
Synonymous to: Amazing.
Yes, I am well aware that there are probably more rave reviews for FMA than necessary, but I seriously could not help myself. It had to be said. :3
The plot is nothing short of brilliant. It twists and spirals more than a rollercoster, yet provides depth, and is easy to pick-up and follow. The introductory episodes, which can also be considered as the 'flashback' episodes, are sometimes bland, but once the real plot gets going, you'll get hooked immediately. Of course, even the flashback episodes themselves have their own merits, as they provide much appreciated character development and establish the foundations
of FMA as a whole (such as Ed and Al's quest, why they lost their bodies). Plus, they're usually high on action and are often times better than you'd think.
Once the real story does pick up, FMA spins its web of tales in earnest. Each show reveals little by little, the overall goal of the homunculi, their identities, and where the anime seems to be heading. Plus, the show does an amazing job in weaving the character relationships. Nearly every recurring character is somehow involved in the overall plot, no matter how random they might be. In the final stages of the series, all of these connected characters are brought together, providing the audience with a resolution that satisfies immensely. Though the occasional incongruity keeps it from being a true masterpiece, FMA does earn its 10 by keeping me hooked with a plot that's fluid and a pleasure to watch
I don't consider myself the best art critic out there, but I'd still have to give high marks here as well. Nothing in the anime seems ridiculously complicated or simplified, and everything is visually appealing. Unless you're a truly seasoned anime connoisseur, chances are that you'll be satisfied with the animation regardless of the reviewer's opinion.
Square Enix contributed to the production of FMA. And wherever Square Enix goes, good music is bound to follow.
This might be too much of a generalization, but for FMA, it holds true. The background music mends in seamlessly with the rest of the sounds such as the special effects and the dialogue, but also manages to help evoke emotions within the audience
However, the main reason for FMA's spectacular performance in the sound category are the opening and closing themes. In my personal opinion, one of the best anime song collections are the openings of this particular series. I mean, who hasn't gone crazy with an air guitar pretending to play AKFG's "Rewrite" ? ... or is that just me?
Finally, the area I believe that FMA truly shines in every aspect. I touched upon the characters somewhat while praising the plot, and I'll go into more depth here.
The characters encountered are probably some of the most dynamic and well-rounded ever created. I've heard many people complain about how Ed and Al never really managed to beat an enemy outright, and how their fights sometimes seem boring. Well, I'd hate to break it to those folks, but it would be even more boring if the protagonists won every single battle without a sweat. Not every encounter can be flashy and brilliant, and that is what provides a sense of reality here. In addition, most characters give the impression that they're actually simple and predictable, but when it really counts, you'll be surprised at how different they can be. It definitely adds to the personalities of the characters and makes them seem much more realistic. One of the most striking examples of this duality is Maes Hughes. He's the type of character who can knock you off your chair with laughter one second, then make you cry the next. And he's not the only one. Many of the main and supporting characters have different sides to their personality, and discovering each of those is quite the experience.
In terms of relationships between characters, FMA doesn't disappoint. Every character is in some way, shape, or form related to the others. And none of them feel like a stretch. Even though most of the characters are from all over the place and seem to be random additions, it always turns out that they were placed for a reason. In many anime, meetings between characters are often shown as chance occurrences, or fated encounters if you will. But FMA is deviously well-crafted to the point the audience would eventually think that it was obvious that a certain character was tied to someone else.
One of the main factors of enjoyment in FMA is the comic relief. It's extremely well done so you truly feel that it doesn't detract from the overall seriousness of the plot. This is probably because the hilarity and levity is well balanced by equally serious and slightly darker elements. However, you will literally fall off your chair/couch/sofa/bed at least once while watching this. I guarantee it... but don't take my word for it.
Perhaps in the far future, if anime still retains its popularity amongst western (and even eastern) audiences, Full Metal Alchemist will be one of those titles included in the "classic anime titles you must watch" section. It certainly deserves its place in history as one of the best fantasy/shounen anime of the early 21st century.
*please forgive any lapses in spelling, grammar, or sanity I may have had in the process of writing this review*
It’s hard to believe it’s been 3 years since my last review of Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso. Unlike other reviewers I don’t derive entertainment in taking out the piss on a show or its fan base. I could easily choose to write on how poor Citrus has been – spending hours intricately providing examples of how poor the dialogue has been, how stale the characters are, how forced the romance feels, and how nothing seems to naturally develop. I’ll leave this to the other reviewers who find such writing necessary. For me to write, I have to be genuinely motivated and/or inspired. That’s where
I stand with Full Metal Alchemist.
It’s very easy- not only as someone who watches and judges anime critically, but for anyone to suffer from a few unavoidable biases. I of course, am no exception to this standard. When reviewing people tend to suffer from what I describe as “recency bias.” We tend to over evaluate or under evaluate shows based on the emotional impact they left us – the last few episodes usually disproportionately weighing by far the most importance. Just look at “Erased” as a prime example of this. I’ve literally had prominent reviewers tell me the show was “as high as an 8” for them, up until the final few episodes, yet somehow managed to derive a score of 40%. Can an ending ever be so shocking as to literally cut a show’s score in half?
Why do I speak all this and why does it relate to Fullmetal Alchemist? I’m sure some of you by now are asking this question and expecting an answer. What I’ve done here is set a foundation of my own thought process and questions. Fullmetal Alchemist remains one of the first anime I’ve ever seen, and one of the first anime I’ve given to the perfect 10 to. That being said it’s been over 9 years since I’ve watched its original 51 episode run. Context is so important when taking scores into account. Scores are always going to be relative to what else you’ve seen/experienced, either within the medium; or within different relatable entertainment mediums; be it literature, television, or even video games. Nine years ago I was a freshman at North Carolina State University, walking around campus wearing a custom made “I <3 Hillary Clinton” shirt and wielding the power of the keyboard as a social justice warrior. Needless to say, Nine years is a significant amount of time & accounts for more than 12% of the average human lifespan. Nine years later – and more importantly, One Thousand Eight Hundred anime later, is Full Metal Alchemist still the unmitigated masterpiece I originally perceived it to be?
My unabated, unequivocal answer to that question is a resounding “YES.” What the original 51 episode run of Fullmetal Alchemist was able to achieve was always my baseline for what anime can achieve in a 4 cours run. For right or for wrong, when anime exceed 51 episodes my default is always to ask what was it able to achieve relative to the amount of time spent watching & instinctively contrast it back to FMA. It’s an unfair bar to set.
Fullmetal Alchemist wastes not even a minute getting into meaningful, philosophical dialogue. Look at this exchange from episode one, between Edward & Rose, an adamant religious believer;
“That is the material makeup of the average adult body if you were to calculate it. And even though science has given us the entire physical breakdown, there has never been a successful attempt at bringing a human to life. There's still something missing, something scientists haven't been able to find in centuries of research.” “Their efforts are more worthwhile than just praying and waiting around, wouldn’t you say?”
“By the way all these ingredients can be bought at the market with the spare change a child might have.” “Humans can be made cheap, wouldn’t you say?”
“Alchemists are scientists, so God is something ambiguous we don’t believe in” “It’s ironic since we’re the ones closest to God”
Rose: “You’re not a God”
Ed: “The sun isn’t a God either. It’s just a mass of hydrogen. If you get too close to the sun all you’ll do is burn up.”
Ed challenges her beliefs on religion and prayer, proclaiming that science/alchemy is the most effective way to find a solution to life’s troubles. He lists one by one the chemical composition of the human being but confesses that something remains missing, something even scientists have not been able to comprehend – despite centuries of research. Ed compares alchemists’ ability to “transmute” as being the closest to God, yet God being too ambiguous to have faith in. When confronted with the reality that he is not a God, Ed references the sun’s chemical composition as just “a mass of hydrogen” and when you get to close to the Sun (aka God) all you do is burn up. This is brilliant directing and is a direct allusion to Icarus of Greek mythology who infamously flew too close to the sun, and paid the ultimate price. Ed is subtly warning Rose of the dangers and pain facing her by too blindly believing in her faith, and rejecting the reality surrounding her.
Nothing is wasted in Fullmetal alchemist- neither a scene, a character, a plot point, nor any dialogue. Everything connects back to the centrifugal plot points of Fullmetal Alchemist, the theme of equivalent exchange, alchemy, and Ed & Al’s journey to correct the mistakes of their past. Let’s talk about the homunculi – the seven deadly sins, and how brilliant this concept was derived in the original series. This ties back to one of the shows central points about humans and their desire to play God. Either through alchemy, through obtaining immortality, or by the cardinal sin- bringing the dead back from the grave. Tampering with life- either by taking it, or attempting to resurrect has been considered a cardinal sin of humans since time immemorial. It’s no coincidence that as a result of this grave sin, the homunculi are unintentionally created, befittingly taking on the name of Roman Catholicism’s seven deadly sins. Envy, Gluttony, Greed, Pride, Lust, Wrath, Sloth.
Each homunculi is credited with playing an important role in the plot, and each plays true to their name derivative. Envy is constantly envious of Ed, of Hoenheim’s desertion of He & Dante – and being Dante’s birthright son, is aware of Dante’s manipulation of the homunculi. Envy doesn’t care if he is human; he doesn’t care if he is homunculus. He openly admits this and states that he is rooting for the destruction of mankind. Lust is the failed human transmutation of Scar’s brother’s fiancée. Initially portrayed as cold hearted, Lust’s one desire is to become human and die human. She’s the first of the homunculi to express any level of humanity, and is even willing to betray Dante to achieve this, blindly putting her faith in Ed absent of any promises. In the end Lust ultimately receives her desire, and perishes. Greed’s role is not to be understated either. In his fight with Ed, he teaches Ed two invaluable lessons. One is the lesson to kill. Without the will and ability to fight with an intent to kill, Ed would never be successful in stopping Dante’s agenda. In not only teaching Ed how to kill, he teaches Ed the mortal weakness of the homunculi. Sloth played the role of being the failed human transmutation of Ed/Al’s mom, Fuhrer Bradley (Pride’s) personal secretary, and acted as a “mother” figure to the other homunculi, specifically Wrath, who was the failed transmutation Izumi. Speaking of Pride, staying true to his name, Pride was Dante’s most prideful creation, and represented the ability to show aging, an unprecedented trait among the homunculi.
Fullmetal alchemist was seamless in its ability to incorporate so many different themes – be they religious, secular or philosophical into one series and not make it feel pretentious at any point. There is also the military and the role of expansion they played under Fuhrer Bradley. The show accurately depicts such themes as persecution – none better witnessed than the example of the Ishbalans, which leads into Scar’s character as a bringer of justice. When Ed is conversing with two young Ishabalans, they state to him “you hate us, everyone hate’s us”. Ed opens up and confesses that when “The first time he saw the red eyes of Scar he was terrified.” “That what you’re taught by your parents may not always be right, and everyone needs to find the answers for themselves.” This is Ed’s response to persecution and prejudice. That all humans are equal and all humans should be treated equal, irrespective of race, religion or culture.
When Ed and Al are first receiving training from their sensei, Izumi, they’re placed on an island for a month without food or water, and told to survive- and in doing so to find the answer to the meaning “One is all and all is One” After a tumultuous month fighting for their very survival against a myriad conditions they arrive at their answer.
“The World is the All, and you are the One. World’s existence, and ability to move forward is dependent on this law. With death, comes life, and with life comes death. The world is big, but little things like people and animals are what keeps it going. If you die, the world continues on, you will decompose, and become nutrients for plants, and herbivores eat those plants, and carnivores eat the herbivores, they die, and life starts over. The world always moves forward, a constant cycle. Life needs death and death needs life. It is the one thing that binds this planet together...One is All, All is one.”
Izumi never tells Ed & Al if their answer is correct, because the answer to that question could not be wrong. In fact she even giggles at their response initially. One of the grandest things in the show, is that the philosophical questions that are asked are left for interpretation not only to the characters; but we the audience ourselves.
So many shows depict death, and the affect it can have on us. I think fewer examples in anime history illustrate this as well as Colonel Mustang, upon learning the death of his best friend and subordinate Lieutenant Hughes. This exchange between Mustang & his subordinate Riza has stayed in my memory vividly for 9 years and never lost its power.
Roy Mustang: Getting a double promotion for dying in the line of duty... Brigadier General Hughes, huh...? You said you'd support me from below. Just what are you going to do now that you've gone up higher than me? You idiot.
Riza Hawkeye: Colonel. It's gotten cold. Aren't you going to go back?
Roy Mustang: Yeah, I will. Alchemists are horrible people, First Lieutenant. Right now... a part of me is desperately trying to develop a theory on human transmutation. Now I feel like I understand what those boys felt when they tried to transmute their mother.
Riza Hawkeye: ... Are you all right?
Roy Mustang: I'm fine. ... Oh, no. It's raining.
Riza Hawkeye: It isn't raini--
Roy Mustang: [a tear runs down his cheek] No. It's raining.
Even for Colonel Mustang, a hardened war veteran who has seen and witnessed the deaths of thousands, when it came to his closest friend dying its impact became real to him. It was no longer about simply being promoted, but the priorities of what was important to him came into reflection. In this moment he even confesses that he almost wishes he can perfect human transmutation, and comes to an understanding of what Ed & Al went through; one that could only be reached by the tragic death of a loved one.
Fullmetal Alchemist was a master-class through and through. Brilliant dialogue, brilliant characters, brilliant setting and world building, and touched on such a plethora of themes I’m sure I haven’t even begun to cover them all. Fullmetal Alchemist has not only redefined what shounen can deliver, but anime in of itself. There’s no crazy boss fights, no massive power ups, and no power of friendship. Just a harsh reality of some of life’s cruelest realities, & one of the most memorable journeys to ever grace the medium.
"Humankind cannot gain anything without first giving something in return. To obtain, something of equal value must be lost. That is alchemy's first law of Equivalent Exchange. In those days, we really believed that to be the world's one, and only truth."
This statement was narrated before the opening of each of the 51 episodes. It’s the centrifugal premise to Fullmetal Alchemist and their world. At the end of episode 51 Ed is conversing with his father, Hoenheim, where even that centrifugal law itself comes into question.
Hoenheim states “Law of Equivalent Exchange? There's something you don't understand. It takes more than equal mass to restore a broken radio. The energy used to put it back together must come from somewhere, too. And energy cannot be created or destroyed; only redirected.”
This initially shatters Ed’s entire perception of reality; that in order to gain something, something of equivalent value must be exchanged.
Edward: It's wrong. I thought I made an equal exchange--my body, mind, and soul for his. Yet here I am, still alive. So does that mean Dante was right, except to the opposite extreme, and I got something for nothing? Or does that mean that in reality Al wasn't...
Hohenheim: You boys had a long journey together. All the people you helped along the way, all the hardships, the pain of losing friends you loved, the determination, sweat, and blood, don't you think that may have been the price you paid?
At the very end Fullmetal Alchemist leaves us with an important lesson. That being that there cannot be a value put on the determination, sweat, blood and effort expended in attempting to accomplish one’s goals. Ed realises maybe equivalent exchange isn’t entirely true – that in having his life and Al having his, he didn’t have to sacrifice an arm and a leg, or his own life. And we the viewers? Well let’s just say we experienced 51 of the best episodes of anime ever constructed consecutively, at no cost other than 17 hours of our time. I for one, agree with Hoenheim, and watching 51 episodes of this show is all the proof I need.
Well.. In the beginning I didn't want to watch this anime. I thought, this is a pattern show, which has a lot of fan. Of course I was wrong. This is a wonderful anime, with such a great and unique story.
I think this anime is one of the best. You can't compare it to the others, well at least I can't. The story is so complex, it contains drama, mystery, action, romance and of course adventure. The characters (even the supportingcast) and their background story was perfect, not to mention the design and the music. I think within the characters eveybody finds his or
*Note* This review will not be influenced by Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. This review will be solely based on the 2003 dubbed version of Fullmetal Alchemist.
It's hard to criticize this anime if you've seen it start to finish. The story is super emotional especially at the end and the seemingly straightforward plot of the story unfolds into a complicated web of problems as time goes on. The only problem of it may be that it goes at a very slow pace in the beginning which may be a little disappointing for some viewers. In fact from episodes 2-10 it's all backstory and I didn't even
really get into the anime till episode 20, but it's a definite watch and on the last episode be sure to have some tissues.
So the art style wasn't really the best compared to the more "modern" style we have today, but luckily this anime is one of those animes where if you watch enough of it, you'll adjust to it's art style and it won't bother you. If you'd like an estimate than for me, it took me about 2 episodes before I was fine with it.
The sound wasn't actually that bad to be honest. It had a good soundtrack that seemed to fit the anime very well. Plus the openings and endings of the episodes were fairly good and catchy which is pretty important to me. However this anime lost points because of the overly loud music that would sometimes play when someone was talking thus making the things they were saying muffled and drowned out by the music.
The main characters (Ed and Al) really grew and matured as the story went on learning about the truths and the lies of the world they lived in, but even so they still kept their defining personalities, like Ed's stubbornness and Al's kindness, through to the end.
This is a really really good anime that is probably a must watch for every anime watcher. It may not seem like it but there are some seriously funny parts that have forced me to pause it just so I could stop laughing and I almost never laugh when I watch anime. However with the funny parts come the more serious and sad parts that is equivalency (you'll get it if you watch the anime :P)
If you haven't gotten it already (or you just skipped everything up there ^) this is a must watch. It has a beautiful story with great character development that will definitely make you wish for more.
The very first thing I can say about this anime is that its strongest foundation is its cast of characters that exhibit its multiple themes in relation to the concepts behind the story whether basic ones such as brotherly bond, or bigger issues such as ethnic cleansing, or crazy cults that make scientology look good. I feel that the bond that Ed and Al share is something that everybody can connect and relate to, especially if you have your own sibling(s). I felt their relationship does more than enough to exhibit a majority of its distinguishing qualities, as well as the other supporting cast
members and their motivations and relationship to Ed and Al.
At times, I did question what defines Ed’s idealistic views beyond just brotherly love. Despite his status in this anime as a teenage military officer, there are many times you can admire his stance on certain moral issues some people can think are simple and/or complicated, but during those moments, you do wonder what does motivate him to feel that way. Is it because of his age that gives him that kind of way to view things? Or is it because of his experience? Sometimes I felt it couldn’t have been a combination of both. To give some elaboration, I just thought that his mentality at times, even at the most idealistic of moments was just him being a naïve kid who has yet to fully grow up, or was it really because how he has faced so much adversity to give him that much hope. I felt Al despite being Ed’s primary motivation also serves as an excellent foil to Ed whenever he got out of hand. In a way, I feel those who are the younger sibling can relate to him. A lot of us know how bossy older siblings can be just because they’re older, and I think Al and his relationship with Ed does a great job of portraying this relationship in a realistic way, and yet so comedic at times.
Before I give some conclusion to what I felt about the story and characters, by the laws of equivalent exchange, I feel I do need to point out a flaw in conjunction to my praise until now, and which I will give again at the conclusion of the story and character part of this review. And that of course is that it at some point it loses track from the original manga source material which has inspired the April 2009 installment. Upon buying the DVDs, I started reading the manga with it. If there was one thing that upset me between the differences between the two mediums, it was definitely the handling of Barry the Butcher in the anime. This will be a spoiler, so skim to the next paragraph. What I liked in the original manga is that he was simply that sadistic soul in the crazy armor acting stupid. In the anime, he is given a different, but elaborate back-story in which he kidnaps Winry and Ed. I mean, the guy freaks Ed out to the point that he seemed to pee his pants and I felt it kind of cheapened that moment that Ed was scared for his life during their initial encounter in the anime. When Barry was reduced to being a comic relief character, I felt those moments in the anime were kind of ruined for me, and I felt it was the only time the comedy didn't feel right. I guess this is what happens when you adapt an anime from a manga in which there was limited material at the time.
Now that I mentioned the comedy aspect, what I also found unique about this anime was how it combines a dark story with some lighthearted comedy, especially with Armstrong who reminds me of Gai-sensei from Naruto, and the never ending jokes about Ed’s height. Despite my criticism of the anime handling of Barry the Butcher, it’s very rare to see this combination pulled off so effectively by still keeping a consistent tone in any medium whether American or Japanese animation, or even live action. I feel it does a great job that it can appeal to just about anybody who is either new or strongly familiar with anime.
The character design, specifically the faces, I’ll just call very fan art friendly. It’s basic and simple, but yet very distinct. What helps define that distinction first is the costume and clothing designs. I felt they were very appropriate for the time period it takes place in and compliments the frame of the characters. I really thought the design of Al was quite original, especially in use. It appropriately makes him unassuming and I like how the beads in his eyes convey that he’s an innocent soul thanks to the support of the voice acting (in both English AND Japanese) which I will elaborate later. The special effects are top notch, and the action sequences are timed and coordinated excellently. It’s easy to follow, and still elaborate. I like how it combines martial arts and the alchemy attacks. I like how this anime redefines the shounen energy action sequences to something more directly scientific and not over the top such as FF7: AC, or as technical as Rurouni Kenshin. The city designs are breath taking and I like how all kinds of environments are portrayed. In addition to old cities, you also got rural villages, forests, deserts, ghetto slums in which our heroes will explore.
The Japanese and English tracks are equally excellent. I feel this is one of those animes where you can watch it in Japanese for one episode, and watch it in English, or you can simply exclusively watch it in one language or another. I feel the English and Japanese respective actors for Ed and Al had perfect chemistry, and really brought out the qualities of them as individuals. I felt that Paku Romi and Vic Mignona did an excellent job of making Ed sound mature, idealistic, and appropriately childish and stubborn. While Kugimiya Rie and Aaron Dismuke accurately capture Al by being that eternal and yet mature child who always shows concern for Ed. It’s hard to believe that he played the role at 12 years of age, the same age as Al. He’s far more talented than a majority of dubs I’ve ever seen in my lifetime of watching anime. The anime in both Japanese and English overall share an all star cast of the best talent you can find.
The soundtrack is also an undeniable quality. The first two opening themes are performed by Porno Graffiti and L’arc~en~ciel, who also did the two opening themes to GTO. But their style to the songs they contributed to this anime brings a much different flavor from what those two bands contributed to GTO. For Melissa performed by Porno Graffiti, in comparison to Hitori no Yoru, the 2nd opening theme of GTO, it feels much more relaxing and laid back, but yet the imagery along with the song gives an adventurous and mysterious feel to it. I also somewhat feel the same about Ready Steady Go, the 2nd opening theme by L’Arc at some capacity as well. The last opening theme is Rewrite by Asian Kung Fu Generation, in which many of you may know as the singers of Haruka Kanata in Naruto. They also bring that hard and loud style to this song and reflects more on the action orientated nature. The background music is more generally grand and orchestrated and accurately reflects the mood and atmosphere of the moment.
Like I said before, I feel this anime can be watched by just about anybody whether you’re not just new or familiar with anime, maybe you don’t have to be an anime fan to appreciate its universal qualities and themes. I feel that the characters are people we can relate to for pretty much every reason possible.I feel by watching this anime, by the laws of equivalent exchange, you'll get something inspiring out of it.
EDIT: I realize now that I probably came off as elitist and that was definitely not my intention, so eventually I'm going to rewrite this and sound nicer.
Some notes before I get into this review:
-It annoys me when people compare 03 and Brotherhood so I'm not going to do that
-I'm not going to be very nice so if you genuinely like this series for some reason I wouldn't recommend you read this
-If you're planning on watching this show, don't (If you've already seen Brotherhood, stop there).
-This review is mostly spoiler-free (some vague mentioning here and there)
-This was the first anime I watched (excluding Pokemon), but
I actually finished Brotherhood first. This probably deserves a lower score than a 6, but I can't bring myself to knock it down further because of the nostalgia factor.
-I'm probably going to get hate for this, but you're not changing my mind
Now on to the actual review.
FMA 03 started out following the manga but caught up to it too quickly, so they had to make fillers and stretch out some stuff. 03's pacing was actually fairly close to the manga's, albeit a bit slower becauase of the wait for the manga. But after some time (it happened gradually), the anime started to take on another story and by the end it was completely different from the manga. The fact that the story changed direction from the beginning left a lot of things unexplained and/or twisted into something else, and the bits of foreshadowing they included from the manga were ignored. The "plot twist" they threw out near the end came completely out of left field (which, in this case, was a very bad thing) and was not foreshadowed at all. Not to mention that it didn't really make any sense. It seemed to me that they just wanted to rush and finish the show so they gave us something and didn't bother explaining it: Here you go, here's your ending, goodbye.
This show didn't really touch on any deep and philosophical issues either. "Don't try human transmutation." Um, okay? I won't? Not like it exists in our world anyway.
Most of the faults in the story were just due to the fact that this was originally going to be a manga adaptation that they had to change into something else. So we end up with a shoddily explained ending as well as a bunch of filler episodes.
This anime was surprisingly visually pleasing for something made in 2003 (and probably in production in 2002 or 2001). It's not getting a 10 mostly just out of personal taste: the way Ed's hair is drawn, how Al's eyes are red (which makes him seem almost evil), and the way the alchemy is animated (different colors for no apparent reason. CONSISTENCY).
Most of the OST was rather good, with "Brothers" being a particular favorite. However, I was not a fan of the "soulful harmonica" track, nor were the OP's and ED's very memorable (with the exception of the last OP, "Rewrite", which I like a lot).
Oh boy, the category where the anime crashed and burned the most (though the story was pretty bad).
Disclaimer: A lot of the bad characterization was simply because the people making the show didn't have much to go on as a lot of important character development hadn't happened in the manga at that point. That being said, it was stil godawful. The only reason it's getting a 4 at all is because there were a lot of characters, and some of them were okay at best.
One of the things I hated most about FMA 03 is the complete and utter lack of character development. Literally none of the characters changed as the series went on.
Let's start with Ed. Ed was reduced to a pile of angst, and a lot of what he did was very angsty. His sole purpose in life was returning Al to his body. Not that there's anything bad about that, per se, but it cut out a lot of his ulterior motives (i.e. keeping everyone alive) from the manga. And as I said above, his character does not develop at all. He finds out the true ingredient to a Philosopher's Stone? Oh well, let's keep looking for it anyway! Maybe we'll find another kind of Philosopher's Stone with a different main ingredient!
He also ends up contradicting some of what he says are his most fundamental values just for the sake of moving the story along. He says he will never kill people, but 03 Ed definitely does.
Next is Al. Poor Alphonse was reduced to just a prop in 03. You could literally take him out of the show entirely (or just change him to a 2x4 or something) and not much would change. Ed would be motivated to regain his own body rather than Al's, but that's pretty much it. What's sad in this show is you can actually tell pretty much the same story even if you remove one of the most vital characters from it. Ed is always rushing to poor helpless Al's rescue. Al is pretty much something for Ed to target his countless angst at (it would look pretty weird to be talking to himself all the time). The only time Al bears any actual significance to the story is right at the very end, and that's only for one brief thing. It's really unfortuate that Al was so useless because he's such a sweetie pie that actually has a really great character. But alas, he was reduced to a prop in this show.
And now Winry. Winry's potential was pretty much squandered in 03 as she did almost nothing to contribute to the story (and Ed and Al's journey). She fixes Ed's automail a few times and investigates the military with Sheska on one occasion, but not much else. In addition, she was happy with the way things turned out in the end, while realistically she wouldn't be (staying vague because of spoilers).
Roy Mustang was pretty much reduced to a womanizing jerk. His personality isn't very well established to begin with, and then there was that whole thing with Hughes. Nothing ever came out of that. No exciting (and slightly scary) confrontation. He just forgets about it and moves on.
The homunculi weren't too bad, I guess. Their personalities weren't butchered from what I remember. I just think they gave too much screentime to Lust, Envy, and Wrath; and not enough to the others. Wrath in particular was just an annoying brat that I wanted to rip apart and scream NO ONE CARES at. The explanation of how homunculi come to be in 03 is more scientifically probable, but if the anime had kept following the manga, it would have totally ruined the idea that is stated over and over in the manga: human transmutation is impossible. However, this show didn't follow the manga, so this explanation is acceptable in the context of this show's story. It doesn't really explain why the homunculi tend to work together, though.
And the villain, Dante. We don't know her motives (except maybe jealousy?) or her goals. She's pretty one-dimensional and she doesn't even make an appearance until near the end of the show. All around she was pretty damn boring as a villain. Here, they don't have much of an excuse since Dante isn't in the manga at all, so it's not like she was undeveloped or anything. Villains should always be interesting (not necessarily likeable), but Dante wasn't interesting at all. She showed up, was an evil bitch, did some evil and bitchy things, and nothing else.
And don't even get me started on all the Ed/Rose shipping going on. Ugh.
I could go on all day about each of the characters, but I'll just end here so I don't end up with a really long review.
tl;dr A lot of the lack of characterization can be given some slack as the manga wasn't far along enough to truly establish the characters, but they could have at least written some development into the show. That ties into the sloppy story. If the events had been better written, development could have actually taken place.
Also backstories were completely thrown out the window for a lot of characters that deserved their interesting pasts and ideologies explained. The only backstory that was explained in depth was the Elric brothers', and they conveniently took a painfully slow, nine-episode-long flashback to do so. I did like how they gave Nina's story ample time, but she didn't really provide any material as far as character development later on. Also, they didn't need to (try to) bring her back. They really didn't.
The first time I finished the show I liked it, but the more I watched it, the more problems I noticed with it. That being said, every time I've seen the show, I've finished it fairly quickly, and without skipping episodes (except sometimes the very boring fillers. But the latest time I rewatched it, it was with a friend who hadn't seen it yet, so we didn't skip episodes even though I'd tell her which episodes were boring and pointless).
Some of the episodes were downright painful to get through, and the anime only really picked up its pacing at the very end. However, some episodes (13 and 37) were really funny and I always enjoy watching them when I rewatch the show. Some of the ending stuff is exciting, but the whole show is a drag by comparison. It's not worth struggling through the boringness to get to the ending which is full of holes anyway.
I think this anime is seriously overrated and a lot of the nostalgic babies that give this show high scores need to get their heads out of the sand and notice the glaring issues.
As I said before, it probably deserves a lower score than a 6, but since it was my first anime and I still remember it with some fondness, I can't lower it any further.
I feel like this anime could be a badly written fanfiction of FMA that some Ed/Rose shipper started writing while the manga was stll ongoing and said fanfiction somehow ended up into a 51-episode anime with a movie sequel that screwed up the ending even more.
Fullmetal Alchemist is honestly one of the best anime series you'll ever see. It's humerous, full of action, mystery, has some sad parts, and has a great list of characters. I used to love Naruto, but after seeing this show, that has become number 2 on my list and FMA has taken the number 1 spot. It's definitely worth seeing and buying on DVD. It's really a series that you can never get tired of watching and will want to watch over and over again. The plot is fantastic and you'll fall in love with the characters. If you haven't seen it yet...WATCH IT!! =
This is an example of an anime I categorize as a "well rounded shonen". Even though it is indeed included in the genre of shonen, action, steampunk , drama, adventure, thriller etc. this anime encompassed those fields emerging as an anime masterpiece, not imprisoned in those areas' stereotypes.
"You cannot gain anything without giving something in return. To obtain something, one must trade an equivalent value - that is the law of Alchemy and the law of the world."
That simple concept of alchemy gave way to top-notch anime action, character conflicts and heart-wrenching questions.
First of all, Full Metal Alchemist watchers will be excited with its
shonen attributes mainly: "what will be their powers or fighting skills?","Who will be their enemy?" or "When will cooler characters come?". FMA is like that yet I was amazed on how this anime is stereotypical yet does not feel like that at all: It mixed "coolness" with heartwarming and thought-provoking drama and philosophical thoughts like "what is evil? It is science or religion?", "What makes us human?" when it is full of action packed and with some suspense.
It portrayed the maturing of a boy as he encounters trials with his brother and how they sticked together as family as they repent for their sins. The story showed that sin does pay-and it can be very painful. It is the same with the sick world. Actions caused people to suffer and longing to get something unobtainable will make them lose more- alchemy as a tool of war and religion as an excuse for it.
And even in those hard times, one will be touched by the presence of kindness within the characters. People have different lives but all they want to live; but all has a price to pay.
The animation is very consistent, richly colored and vibrant. What I really liked about the characters are; because this anime only used realistic hair colors like blond or brunette, a lot of characters have them similar (Riza and Winry) yet they are still easily identifiable, characters are very distinct from each other. The places,clothing, car and cities' designs are based on the early 1900's, realistic and nicely detailed. The art of the transmutation circle are also worth appreciated and is very memorable.
What I also loved in its art is the distortion of the female or" kind" image to show evil and abomination in a intriguing way.
Opening themes rock and ending themes nice, appropriate and anticipated. Though the background themes are not very addictive, they give you the necessary mood; hatred, horror, military, farewells, happiness, mother etc. They are very Baroque/Romantic/Classical European with modern arrangements, therefore familiar and eerie at certain times.
My favorite song in FMA, "Bratya" the image song of Ed and Al, and will surely warm your heart and will make you curious what the lyrics are.
FMA is one of the animes with a strong character both in its plot and characters.The story was well portrayed, both in its succession and foreshadowing; well portrayed that humorous scenes are funny and serious scenes are serious and ungoofy. It is also very age and gender-friendly and very redeeming indeed.
The characters have well-composed personalities and developed that are quite "human" and unstereotypical. The story progresses with their interactions(that are unforced) as their dramas coincide with each others'.
The main protagonist. Edward Elric has a strong character which is a very good asset to the series. He balances his tough guy and confident shonen image to his maturity and sensitivity to others' feelings.
Enjoyment and Overall:10
No episode out of 50 is wasted in FMA, and every episode clearly show either story or character- it is really amazing.
I really enjoyed watching this (watched it 3 times) and I really recommend this to all anime fans, this show should not be missed nor overlooked. This anime deserves its awards as one of the best. My only criticisms are; first there were tini-tiny overuse of flashbacks in some episodes and because it is very well rounded, it did not appeal to some anime fans preference; example, a fan likes drama and found that FMA lacked it or a fan likes action and many fight scenes and thinks that FMA wasn't cool enough. It's like a circle.
Of the 30+ series that I've seen over the years, I've never seen an anime series so complete, so perfect, and so flawlessly done as FMA.
Honestly, this series is more complete and more "beefy" than even series with 200-300+ episodes. The entire series flows almost like a movie. EVERYTHING in EVERY episode has a meaning and relate to the ultimate story line. There is *not a second* in the series that doesn't have some ultimate meaning to contribute to the story or the ending. The story line is so intricate that you could probably write an entire thesis
To best describe the series as a whole without giving away too much detail.....the first 40 or so episodes are basically puzzle pieces. Alot of random information that can be confusing and you're trying to figure out the meaning and significance. After the first 40 or so episodes, the rest of the series puts all the puzzle pieces together.
In my opinion, FMA is the only series that you will find new things every time you re-watch the episodes. Its like the pulp fiction of anime.