Journey of Favorites: Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood
June 18, 2012 2 Comments
I watched Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood for the first time in late 2010 after it had finished airing. My co-host Vensito (though at the time I was not a co-host/blogwriter yet) had finished it a month or two before I had and would not stop raving at how it was one of the greatest shows he had ever watched. After listening to my overzealous co-host vomit words of pure elation for weeks on end, I gave in and picked up the show myself. And it is a decision that I’m glad I made. Because Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, in my eyes, became one of the greatest shows I have ever experienced.
The story of FMA is like a group of adventuring children. These children go along their merry way through the woods, doing whatever it is that children who actually venture outside their homes do these days, and they stumble upon dead bodies. And being the simple minded individuals that they are, they decide to investigate these findings further. The Elric brothers start off their adventure by trying to bring their mother back to life using the one taboo in alchemy, human transmutation. In doing so Alphonse loses his body and Ed loses his leg; the process of equivalent exchange. In Ed’s desperation to bring back his brother, he bonds Alphonse’s soul to a suit of armor (why they had a random suit of armor in their house I do not know) and in the process loses his right arm. I won’t go too much into more minor details about Ed joining the military as a State Alchemist or his process of gaining automail. I’ll just mention that they become fixated about getting their bodies back by researching the Philosopher’s Stone to which they discover that PHILOSOPHER STONE IS PEOPLE!! They then agree to find an alternative solution which leads them to discovering the dark secrets of Amestris, the homonculi, the story of Van Hoenheimen, and the Dwarf in the Flask. All these discoveries persuade the Elric brothers to finding away of stopping the Dwarf in the Flask, or “Father”, from creating an new transmutaion circle and opening the Door of Truth again. Of course if you are reading this then you don’t need me to tell you what happens in FMA: Brotherhood because you have more than likely already watched the series. Alright, moving on.
Bear in mind that I have not watched the original Fullmetal Alchemist series. Whether that diminishes or strengthens my experience with Brotherhood and Fullmetal Alchemist as a whole, I’m not entirely sure. I do have plans to watch the original series not just because I love the FMA franchise from Brotherhood alone, but I also want to have an opinion on what others believe to be Brotherhood’s most fatal flaw: it’s pacing. I will admit that the beginning parts of Brotherhood do feel rushed. The massive jump from the end of episode one where Ed is in a hospital bed to the beginning of episode 2 with Ed and Alphonse on a train to investigate about the Philosopher’s Stone is just one example. I suppose the reason behind the pacing issue was Bones thought anyone who was going to watch Brotherhood had watched the original series beforehand and already knew the events that happened in the beginning of Fullmetal Alchemist. That way they could breeze through to the events that they recreated in the original series and present them as they were in the source material. Or all of that is false and Bones just pulled a Lucky Star. Either way, the beginning parts of the show are the only real complaints I have. The pacing throughout the rest of the show was actually well done. There was so much going on all at once, yet they never veered off for too long from any of the main events going. One of the best examples of this is during the final arc. At that time you had Ed, Mustang, Hawkeye, Scar, and the two chimera traveling to the underbelly of Central, Mustang’s gang held up in the Amestris radio station with Mrs. Bradley, everything that was going on at the front gate of Central, and the fight with Sloth, the Armstrongs, and the Curtis’. But it never felt that the show drifted too far off from any one of these events. It always gave each one enough screen time to where you knew exactly what was going on at all times.
I thoroughly enjoyed the action in Brotherhood. It was all well animated (unlike how The Sacred Star of Milos looked), energetic, and each fight felt as if it had weight to it. What I mean is that I felt that each fight served some purpose in the overarching story of the series. My favorite fight in the series has to be the Sloth/Armstrong/Curtis fight. I’m completely serious when I say that I cried during this fight. And not because anyone of importance died during the fight (although they do kill Sloth), but because of how over-the-top it got at the very end. There is a moment where Alex and Olivier Armstrong are against the ropes and out of no where Izumi Curtis creates a fist through the wall, sending Sloth flying, and she steps out from the fist entering the fight. Small introductions are exchanged before Sloth comes charging towards Izumi at full speed to which she tosses him across the room. On the other side of the room is her husband Sig Curtis and he punches Sloth, sending him flying to the other side of the room. The scene that follows is where I cried in tears of joy at not only how ridiculous the fight ended, but just at the sheer bromance that was created.
There is a good amount of comedy in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, but it doesn’t really detract or add anything to the series. They are just there to break those moments of tension that are oh so prevalent in the series. I never really found myself laughing at these particular moments, but I did have a chuckle or two here and there because of silly moments between characters. Most of those moments being Ed getting picked on for his small stature, Ed and Alphonse getting in trouble for something stupid, or that moment where the Greed version of Ling Yao yells at Bradley and he gives off one of the best shocked faces ever.
The most important aspect that I’ve taken away from the series is how everything that occurs serves some purpose in the story. Ed and Alphonse had a small scuffle early on in the story where Alphonse questions whether he really is who he is and if Ed didn’t just make up his whole existence. After that whole argument was resolved with a good ol’ brotherly fist fight, Alphonse brings up a memory he had of when they discussed who would marry Winry. Alphonse then tells Ed that Winry said she wouldn’t marry Ed because of how short he was. Ed has no recollection of such a memory. Fast forward some and we are at a point where they are questioning whether Alphonse’s body still exists somewhere. Ed relates back to that Winry discussion they had and comes to the conclusion that his body still does exist based on the fact that Alphonse still retains memories of when they were children and also retains memories he experienced himself. This is just a small example of how everything serves a purpose in the story of FMA. And that is one of the things I enjoyed most about the series.
To close with I would like to say that Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood has ruined anime for me. As I stated previously, I watched Brotherhood way back in 2010. And about 200 anime shows later, nothing has been able to top it. It is a truly incredible anime. When rewatching Brotherhood I marathoned it and finished within 2 1/2 days.
Brotherhood is some of the most fun I’ve ever had watching an anime. I just hope that I can find an anime to top Brotherhood. Not that I don’t want to have the show as my #1 anymore, I just want to find another anime out there that I find to be just as incredible as Brotherhood. Maybe LoGH will once I decide to sit down and watch that series.
Just like my last post I am leaving the decision for which show to watch next up to you guys. The voting stands as such:
Arakawa Under the Bridge
Kimi ni Todoke-1
Neon Genesis Evangelion
The Tatami Galaxy
My next post for Journey of Favorites will be Cowboy Bebop since I am still in the middle of rewatching that show. So the voting will apply to the post following Cowboy Bebop. So please, VOTE ON!!! I also have plans of rewatching series that I have had differing opinions on when it comes to the rest of the anime fanbase. Those series being Madoka Magica, Death Note, and Code Geass. So during the summer season I am going to skip over a majority of those airing shows and put time into rewatching those three series. So vote on those as well and I will make posts for each.