Friday, July 9, 2010

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

The original Fullmetal Alchemist adaptation was already perhaps my favorite anime series ever. So when you take that existing greatness, and then change the plot so it more closely matches the source material, improve the quality of the art and animation, and provide it with an ending that actually feels cohesive and fits the story... well, you have my new favorite anime series.

Not that the entire thing is amazing. There are a few issues tied into the whole deal of it redoing the story to fit more closely to the manga. So here's the deal: Hiromu Arakawa started the Fullmetal Alchemist manga in 2001. It was very popular, so they started up an animated series in 2003 After about half a year, they were already caught up with the events of the still-running manga, so they made up the rest of the story on their own, and the second half deviated greatly from the source material. Then last year, as the end of the manga finally came into view down the line, they made this series, which blasts through all of the content the original series got right in about half the time. It then strictly follows the real story through to the end, where it only finished about a month after the manga. It mostly worked out, but there are a couple hiccups. For one, that beginning section where they're basically speeding through the early plot simply isn't as good as the original series. It definitely feels rushed, and it was a necessary evil so they could establish the story without wasting too much time. Also, the series got in danger of overtaking the manga yet again maybe two thirds through, and there's a bit of a lull as they wait around not doing much so it doesn't happen. It's only a bit of filler, but it's a noticeable drag and kills the momentum a bit.

But it's okay, because everything else about the series is fantastic. The studio did a pretty good job of coming up with a story after Arakawa specifically told them not to do what she was planning, but the real plot here just works better. Lots of details and characters change, generally for the better, both in terms of what's interesting and what makes sense with the overall setting and mythology. One of the major changes is the real origin of the Homunculi, and while the original explanation might have actually been a bit cooler, the real one just fits the plot great. And that's what the new things tend to do. The real climax and resolution don't come out of nowhere, and all of the characters get more fitting and conclusive ends to their stories. And I mean... all of this would have been fine, and the series would have been very good, if the action was just decent. But it's... I mean... I'll put it like this: practically every fight scene from this series would have been one of the top five fights in the entirety of any other show that I've seen. Maybe top ten in a really good show. But every fight! It's absurd how creative and well-animated and unique and just cool every single action scene in this show is. And it's not like they find something that works and sticks with it, there are tons of characters that all get their moments to shine. With great characters, amazing action, an interesting plot, and a fair amount of humor thrown in, it's pretty much all you could ask for from an anime.

1 comment:

Inasnum said...


The big metal guy isn't a robot.