I recently decided it was long overdue to re-watch this series. I loved it when I first watched it and picked up the blu-rays a year or two back, but wanted to wait until I was in the right mood and had forgotten as much as I could about the plot. Well, now is the time, I’m looking forward to charting my second journey with Edward and Alphonse Elric on this blog…
Fullmetal Alchemist was a manga created by Hiromu Arakawa, originally released between August 2001 and June 2010. This anime adaptation is following on an earlier attempt at an anime adaptation that was flawed due to having to diverge from the manga storyline halfway through. These six episodes, titled “Fullmetal Alchemist”, “The First Day”, “City of Heresy”, “An Alchemist’s Anguish”, “Rain of Sorrows” and “Road of Hope”, respectively, aired between April 5th and May 10th 2009.
In the country of Amestris alchemists are often recruited by the military as “State Alchemists” and used for peacekeeping and war. They can create anything they desire from whatever they need, but only through the law of Equivalent Exchange, anything created must have something of equal value lost to create it. The one taboo among alchemists is human transmutation, bringing people back from the dead. Edward and Alphonse Elric, mere children, attempted to ignore this taboo in order to bring their mother back, but instead Edward lost a leg, and Alphonse lost his whole body. After giving up an arm in order to bond his brother’s soul to a hollow suit of armour, the two set out to find a way to get their bodies back to normal, Ed now supporting a metal arm and leg thanks to the process of “automail”, a field his close friend Winry excels at. Their best bet was for Ed to become a state alchemist and use their resources to find the fabled “philosopher’s stone”…
The first episodes see the Elric brothers visit Liore to see a cult based around “magic” that seems to be someone using a philosopher’s stone, meet a alchemist specialising in creating “chimeras”, and avoiding confrontations with a rouge criminal known only as “Scar”.
Note: Full Spoilers From Here On Out!
Funny how he’s called the Fullmetal Alchemist, really… he’s only get a metal arm and leg…
For a start, I love the character designs and general world that is present in Fullmetal Alchemist. The Elric Brothers are a sympathetic duo and gets you to really route for them, Winry is a fun support character and makes the duo and great trio. State Alchemist Roy Mustang and his various men and women are a great, more serious group to follow, with Roy’s “flame alchemy” matching the high-quality animation well. Maes Hughes is among the most likable characters in fiction (*sigh*…) and the villains are nicely designed and not too cliché.
Episode 1 is, ironically given one of the selling points of this series was that it was adapting the full manga story, a original plot surrounding the “Freezing Alchemist” Isaac McDougal, and it serves its purpose. It throws you headfirst into the world of Fullmetal Alchemist before pulling you back a bit for episode 2, which covers what happened to Ed and Al in the past, including brief scenes of Edward’s State Alchemist exam (more on that later…).
I think by this point “whoops” probably didn’t cut it.
The episode in Liore is not to different to how it was adapted in the original anime series, Rose is a sorrowful character and Father Cornello is a bastard, so it’s good watching. The two episodes based around Shou Tucker and his chimeras is… depressing as hell. He ends up merging his own daughter, not even in double digits, with her beloved dog and creating some talking, confused mess that keeps asking if it can play now. Sends shivers down my spine thinking about it. I’m happy Scar killed them both, no little girl should suffer that… weird fate. It’s good drama, but also quite unpleasant.
The Elrics’ fight with Scar and subsequent ride back home is great, a well animated fight and then a nice look at Winry and her grandmother. Plus Major Alex Louis Armstrong, the overly emotional and macho “Strong Arm Alchemist”, is great for some comic relief. Speaking of comic relief, I’ll never tire of Maes Hughes and his constantly badgering on about his lovely wife and little girl all the time… (double *sigh*…)
That poor child…
So, this anime was created to adapt Hiromu Arakawa’s full plotline, yet it leaves out several of the early adventures, including cutting Ed’s State Alchemist exam down to a single scene and cutting out corrupt First Lieutennant Yoki and his mining town scam and the story involving a hostages on a train entirely. These stories were shown in the original anime before it diverged into its own story, so I guess the Brotherhood anime team thought it would be best to get to the new stuff as quickly as possible, so only left the plot / character development stuff from the first series in to be re-adapted, but it’s still a little annoying. Especially since it does such a good job with the source material otherwise (well, apart from Episode 1 which was entirely original…)
Armstrong, Mustang and my favourite character, random brown-haired soldier.
I’ll get this out of the way, this is one of my favourite anime series ever. It has a few stumbles that I’ll mention when they happen, but in general it’s an incredibly strong series, probably due to being a pretty much straight adaptation of the manga, therefore not including any filler or stretching scenes out too much. I wouldn’t have started the show with a new one-off plot like it did, but after that it’s still the great mix of humour, tragedy and action that I’ve come to expect.