Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood [Anime Review]

FullmetalAlchemistBrotherhood-Group-PictureFullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood is an anime that for me possesses what I would call the ‘best climax in anime’. I say ‘best climax’, referring to the final big conflict of the series, not to be confused with the ‘best ending in anime’, which for me still belongs to Code Geass R2. To be honest though, the climax is always my preferred part of a story anyway.fma_manga_vs_fma_2003_vs_fma_2009__1_by_joaocouto-d4rk90iTo put the ‘Brotherhood’ subtitle into perspective for those who haven’t read the manga or watched the original anime, it not only stands to represent a common theme in Fullmetal Alchemist but helps distinguish it from the original anime which was adapted before the manga was finished. Because of this the climax and ending of the original anime, which I consider far less satisfying as endings go, was improvised by the anime writing staff to prevent having to wait around for the manga to be completed. On the other hand, because of the need to adapt as many episodes from the manga material which they did have, the first twenty-five episodes of the original anime has a much better pacing with a lot more extensive development for the minor characters. Having already animated this part of the story the episodes and time to tell it were halved for Brotherhood giving it a rushed and an inferior beginning, but having the inferior ending being in the original adaption makes it very hard to determine which of these adaptations to recommend as they are both very good. However, having most of the story content of the manga present, it is the general consensus that Brotherhood is still the one to go for. On the other hand the follow up films are another story all together.

fullmetal-alchemist-brotherhood-anime-tribute-gallery-amv-video_663509Now with that out of the way, onto the main plot; Fullmetal Alchemist takes place in a different world to our own but is set dominantly in the land of Amestris with references to the lands of Xing, Drachma and Ishbal, each with their own religions and political structures. Two elements that make this world unique are the use of armor-like artificial limbs known as Automail, the ‘Fullmetal’ part of the title, and the use of Alchemy obviously for the ‘Achemist’ part. Alchemy is a kind of magic that relies on circles to break down matter and then recreate it as something else. Despite being seen more as a complex form of science in this world, complex enough that only certain prodigies can use it effectively anyway, it is still one of coolest systems of magic I’ve seen in anime. A key taboo in Alchemy is the resurrection of humans. In the original anime the reasons for this are a tad contradictory to the plot, for it is this that creates the Homunculus, who are essentially the main antagonists of the story who are manipulating the government and making this practice forbidden (even through it would essentially help their cause let alone create more incentive for people to find a Philosopher’s Stone). Returning to Brotherhood, the Homunculus are also manipulating things but with a leader who holds not only a more interesting back-story but relates both to the mysterious events surrounding the two main character’s estranged father and the key plot tool of the Philosopher’s Stone.

fullmetal alchemist alphonse elric edward elric 1400x862 wallpaper_www.wallmay.com_11Edward takes the leading role of the ambitious older brother but because of his height difference with the giant suit of armor he sealed his younger brother’s soul in (after failing to resurrect their mother) he sports a Napoleon Complex along with an auto-mail arm and leg, both of which are used as combat and comic-relief advantages during the anime. Alphonse plays a bigger role in Brotherhood than in the original anime, his character having been developed much better in the manga. He goes from being just a follower of his brother’s leadership to being a major player in his own right, creating relationships and taking on baddies just like his brother, which is awesome. Essentially being a giant suit of armor it’s also funny to see people treat him as an adult despite being the less mature of the two brothers. As I mentioned in my Fate/Stay Night Review there are so many supporting characters that it would take another post just to list them all. Roy Mustang, who I would consider the adult role model, is one of my favorite anime characters and not just because he can ignite explosions by clicking his fingers but because of his sly contempt toward the political ladder he is climbing. Alexander Armstrong is a rather unique muscle bound alchemist whose character was extended further in Brotherhood by the introduction of his sister. Other key characters added in Brotherhood from the manga were those from Xing including Xio and Lee, Lee in particular playing a pivotal role in the climax and throughout the story. Also for those who really liked the characters of Scar and Izumi I would suggest watching the original anime as well for their characters get twice as much development and screen time.

statealchemistsIn both Fullmetal Alchemist anime the animation is fairly decent and though I preferred the color scheme of the original, being slightly less beige in tone, Botherhood’s character designs are closer to the manga which is fitting for an anime that was to be a closer adaption. Honestly, though I liked the different OPs and EDs about the same, I preferred the BGM of the original anime better, the track ‘Brothers’ by Michiru Oshima was a great addition to the series and I was disappointed that they didn’t bring it over to Brotherhood. Despite how it’s portrayed it would be very difficult to mess up a story as epic as Fullmetal Alchemist, both its characters, world and magic system being extensive and relying heavily on one another. When it comes to the plot structure, the search for the Philosopher’s Stone, discovering of the mysteries of the Homunculus and the final conflict in Central, each story arc builds on the one before it, introducing plot elements that lead up to a final battle that is well worth the fifty or so episodes it takes to get to it. Just to note a bit of trivia, the mangaka, Hiromi Arakawa, originally published under a male pen-name, Hiromu, to write a non-romantic shonen manga, thinking that no one would read or publish a shonen manga written by a female. After considering how popular it was, and for good reason I think, we need to wonder at her success and learn from it that females can write epic and even ‘manly’ manga also.

fullmetal alchemist brotherhood I would say that Fullmetal Alchemist, Steins;Gate, Code Geass and maybe even Attack on Titan, depending on if the manga ends well, are what I would consider to be modern classics of the anime media to fall into the ranks of Evangelion, Cowboy Bebop  and Berserk. In the end I guess this review was for both Brotherhood and the original anime, maybe even the manga considering it’s the foundation for both narratives. For this reason I’ll give a rank for the story and world as a whole like I did for my Berserk Review. Along with the ones mentioned above this is definitely among my favorites.

Final Rank: 9.6/10

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19 Responses to Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood [Anime Review]

  1. Kai says:

    Funny how you rated the same score I did.

    After watching FMA: Brotherhood, it easily slides into my list of favorite anime too. It is just such a great show, one greatest aspect of the show I really like is it’s characterizations and developments of their characters. I also didn’t really like the identities of some of the Homunculus in the original anime since, I don’t know, it just doesn’t make sense. The identities of some of said Homunculus in Brotherhood changed obviously, and made more relevant sense to the plot. Some of my favorite characters only appear in Brotherhood too, for example, the one and only Ling Yao/Greed 😀

  2. You even had my favourite AMV to finish off the review! Couldn’t agree with you more!

  3. Lambda says:

    FMA:B is amazing. It not only had great characters (Greedling!), but I also endorsed and was invested in every single main couple. That doesn’t happen often (still disappointed about lack of Roy x Riza endgame). As a shounen fan, too, I enjoyed it, cause it would breach some depressing issues but kept its sense of humour (which is actually a minus in some people’s eyes, I guess), and the fights were awesome and blood-pumping. The fact that Arakawa can do things like gradually age characters so they grow without you realizing it really speaks to her skill, I think.

    As a fan of Code Geass, have you seen Valvrave? I saw it while it was airing and it was a lot of fun~

    • Lazarinth says:

      I watched the first episode but I was watching so much at that point that it fell by the way side. The thing about this blog is that it will rarely have a reviews of a recent anime on it, which I’m sure is going to be a major downside for readers. I usually wait until the beginning of next year and look up all the top anime lists of the previous year as possible to find a consensus and watch those ones at the top of each list. This saves a lot of time from experimentation because for all I know an anime that starts off average and I drop may end up to be amazing. Was that the case with Valvrave?

      • Lambda says:

        Hm…. I think Valvrave starts pretty quickly. I mean, within the first four episodes, you get (Obviously spoilers for the first four episodes of Valvrave): Space vampires that body swap and a genius child soldier one-man army living in a high school which decides to become its own country. If that doesn’t sound exciting and/or crazy, then maybe you shouldn’t watch it? It’s by the same guys who did Code Geass and a lot of L-Elf’s plans try to use the same manipulative style Lelouch is fond of, if that’s more what you’re for. If you can take it as a little insane, then you can have a lot of fun with it (also Coffee/Sugar ended up being a very real ship for some reason, but that’s my fujoshi opinion).

  4. Jazy says:

    Brotherhood is just…Man. I was a little disappointed that they rushed the beginning episodes a bit, but I do understand the reason — most people watching Brotherhood have already seen the first anime so know what’s going on.

    I prefer Brotherhood because it goes into the development of not only Ed and Al but the rest of the cast too. In the first anime, it feels like there was a “US against EVERYONE ELSE” when it came to Ed and Al — but in Brotherhood there’s a deeper sense of community, and man that’s awesome. I’m a sucker for intertwined relationships like that.

    Also I really liked the opening and endings for both anime, but you’re totally right about ‘Brothers’ — It was kind of the hallmark of the first series for me, and it would have been nice to see it carried over.

    • Lazarinth says:

      I know right, did you ever hear the English version of Brothers sung by the voice artists of Ed, Vic Mignogna? I didn’t know that the lyrics in it told the story of the anime until I heard that one.

      • Jazy says:

        Yeah! It was a very nice version — there’s one of Al’s VA doing it somewhere out there too. IIRC, a fan wrote the translyrics and asked Vic to record it. He did because he liked it, it got spread, and he actually got in trouble for it with FUNimation xD

  5. Silvachief says:

    Brotherhood is currently my favorite anime and I can see it remaining in that spot for a long time to come. While I have yet to see the original, it’s definitely on the table for future viewings.

    Since you’ve given FMA a 9.5/10, i’m wondering whether there are any shows you would give a perfect score?

    • Lazarinth says:

      For me perfect is impossible but the best of what I have seen anime-wise is what I would consider a 10/10. Code Geass, Steins;Gate and Cowboy Bebop would probably be the closest to 10 though, maybe a 9.8, a 9.9 or a 10, simply because unlike FMA, Eva, and even Berserk, there is one anime adaption I can point to for each and say ‘THAT ONE’ but for those other anime it’s kind of more ‘Mmm, well if you like this kind of thing then I would go for that series, but on the other hand if you like this kind of thing then maybe…’ if you know what I mean.

      Lol did you end up watching those honest trailers? I’m still curious on your highest view count if you’re willing to divulge, and to answer your question from before I’m enjoying Alternative now! When I said I’d nearly finished Muvluv I mean the two-parter first game, I found it so bad I almost gave up halfway through the 1st half, but the 2nd half redeemed my hopes in so many ways.

      • Silvachief says:

        I plan to watch through them tomorrow night when i’m on call. My highest view count is my review of Fate/Stay Night by a fair margin, followed by Saya no Uta (which i’m a little saddened by, since i’m not too fond of that review) and Sharin no Kuni.

        I’m glad to hear you’re liking it! A lot of people seem to hate Extra with a passion but I personally didn’t find it to be all that bad. I didn’t do all of the routes but the first one entertained me at least. I’m very keen to hear your thoughts on Alternative!

  6. I really need to watch Brotherhood. My favorite ending/climax to an anime has always been the gut-wrenching finale of Slayers Next. The only unfortunate thing about Slayers Next ending on such an epic note was that it made Slayers Try appear bland in comparison.

    • Desperado316 says:

      Do watch it. I watched it recently and it has automatically become listed as one of my favourites. In fact it is so good, I could re-watch immediately after having watched it once. And I watched it all within a couple of weeks.

      Plan to do my own review on this soon and 9.5 is not at all over-the-top considering how awesome this anime is.

    • Lazarinth says:

      Well it’s made me interested enough to look into Slayers, but yeah FMA is a winner.

  7. I love the two FMA shows. Like you say, the original series feels less rushed at the start, but Brotherhood has the more satisfying climax.

    • Lazarinth says:

      I’m glad you agree, it’s why I always have trouble on what one to recommend first because they both have their own merits and I’m not sure if they’d want to watch both. I’m happy that I watched both in the order I did, it made the characters in Brotherhood just a tad more convincing.

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