Anime Review: Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood
February 20, 2011 5 Comments
So it’s been awhile since I wrote a review, and I know that this was already reviewed by Ven and Racc on a show we did, but I’d like to share my thoughts on what I thought about the series.
Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood, is one of the most highly praised series of anime, reaching the the top ranked charts of anime sites all over the web. It first made its debut in 2009, revitalizing the series as it remained close to the manga adaptation. There was a lot of buzz floating around about how the series had changed its course from the original material, and how it set out to tell the story of FMA as it was meant to be told.
The premise was this: Two brothers have conducted the ultimate taboo of alchemy, as they attempt to perform human transmutation to bring their dead mother back to life. This costs one of the brothers, Ed Elrich, to lose his left leg, and his brother, Alphonse Elrich, to lose his entire being. In an attempt to bring his soul back, Ed binds his brother’s soul to a suit of armor. Now to get their bodies back, the brothers decide to join the military, in search of the philosophers stone, which holds the key to getting back their bodies. In the midst of their search, the Elrich brothers are met with various people who assists them or stand in their way of reaching their ultimate goal.
Of course, I was reluctant to view Brotherhood when I first heard about. Not due to the hype, but rather because of the comments I heard from its viewers that it was crucial to read the manga to understand the story. However, this is not the case at all. In fact, Brotherhood can be completely understood without having read the manga, or having viewed the original. So a few friends who highly recommended it, suggested that I see it, and not be a stubborn fool about it.
After watching the first episode, I’ll admit, I wasn’t too impressed. It was interesting to see how the Elrich brothers are introduced, but the episode merely shows a day in the life of a state alchemist. However, the second episode on, begins the true story of the Elrich brothers. From there begins their long and epic journey to obtaining their bodies, but along the way, an even larger fiasco erupts, as they discover a mysterious man hunting down the state alchemists.
Of course, this being a shonen series, the animation can get a bit lazy sometimes, but it’s excusable since some of those scenes weren’t so necessary to animate. When the true battles are shown, they’re displayed with high details, beautifully showing every clear movement of the characters, as they dodge, punch, and perform alchemy. Again, not quite the best action sequences I’ve seen, but pretty damn good. Character design-wise, it’s pretty good, but not too special. There’s certainly no disproportionate body parts that stand out or seem bothersome to the eye.
The soundtrack is one of the most notable parts of Brotherhood, where it excels above all others. It isn’t necessarily the kind you put on an ipod, but rather the quality you’d hear as you see a movie in a theater. The music brings scenes to life, as it boasts through your ears, building up the tension of a battle, or creating a sense of despair during a tearful scene. It allows the audience to become more engaged into what’s happening on screen, and gives an even more profound effect to the action occurring, than a music track played on loop.
Where Brotherhood truly excels is in its cast of characters. Not so much Ed and Al themselves, though their relationship displayed in the series, is one of its strong points. But rather, how fleshed out its characters are. Almost every significant character is given enough screen time to justify their existence, and create a role for themselves as they are caught in situations that build up to even bigger events. So many of them interact with each other, and manage to build a relationship with the people they meet. Even the characters that I thought I wouldn’t care so much about, I actually gave a damn whether they lived or died by the end of the series.
By the time I finished the series, I felt like I just finished this long journey and adventure. Looking back, it’s amazing to see how the characters went through so much, meeting so many people, and having fought an unbelievable amount of battles, to bring back their bodies, and bring peace to everyone. It’s a similar feeling to how I felt at the end of Code Geass. Lelouch, starting out as a mere high school student, had met so many people, and experienced so much despair and loss, in order to reach his ultimate goal. It’s a good feeling, to see all of these characters manage to accomplish so much in the time span of a few years.
The voice acting in Brotherhood is done well, both in english dubbed, and in japanese voices. I viewed the series about half in dub, and half in sub, to compare the voices, and see how they pan out. The VAs are just about on par with each other, adding great effort into their roles as they bring out the character in themselves. I do think, however, that Vic Mognogna, the english dub voice actor for Ed, makes his character sound more manly and less boyish, but the Japanese VA isn’t too shabby either.
Brotherhood does face some flaws during the series. As great as it is, it’s not perfect. I was bothered by how often some characters would find themselves in a sticky situation, and are aware they cannot win the battle, yet another character we haven’t seen for awhile, pops in to save the day. It happens quite frequently, which relieves the tension of the battle scene, and makes it just a little bit less special. There are some questions left unanswered by the end of the series as well. Some I could fill in the blanks myself, but some of them are too bothersome to ignore.
Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood is a great shonen series. Perhaps the best. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good action, shonen series, with an absolutely fantastic story.
I give FMA: Brotherhood: 5 stars out of 5. ★★★★★