a.k.a. Hagane no Renkin Jutsushi
Edward and Alphonse Elric are two brothers with an affinity for alchemy, a scientific practice based on the principle of equivalent trade. Then one day their mother died. To bring her back, they used the forbidden science of “human transmutation”, and things went horribly wrong. Ed wound up losing his arm and leg, and Al’s soul now resides in a suit of metal. The two brothers must now go out and find the legendary Philosopher’s Stone to help fix what they have lost.
summary by Ender
Highs: Wonderful characters; nice mix of drama, comedy and action; quality animation; lovely soundtrack; thoughtful progression
Lows: Dialogue heavy
Normally, hype works against any story. Expectations are built up, and when they are not met, this leads to a big mess. Fullmetal Alchemist is one of those series that has had a lot of hype surrounding it for quite a while now, and somewhere down the line the producers must have done something right. I can wholeheartedly say this is one of the best anime I have seen in a long time.
The show starts off with a mask that shows a conforming shounen-action series not unlike One Piece or Naruto. But by the third episode, the viewers know they’re dealing with something more than a “long-running-butt-kicker” of a series. Instead, what we get is a long, almost poetic, story about purpose, retribution, anti-heroes, anti-villains and consequences that plays with the viewers’ feelings and emotions. Adding to this is high-quality art and animation; seeing Bones’ previous works such as RahXephon and Wolf’s Rain, it is safe to expect a “colorful” story, to say the least. Also, considering that this is a 51-episode series with no recap episode and almost no re-used footage, the money for the animation was not wasted. This and the nicely done soundtrack that mixes light only add onto the series atmosphere.
There is also a certain love given to the characters, each one as different and as interesting as the last one, and none of them are wasted presences (a problem common in most anime of this length). All the respective seiyuu do great work with their given roles, and listening to them interact with one another is fun. The only down point being the massive amounts of explaining characters often go through. Occasionally, the dialogue does threaten to confuse viewers, especially those who haven’t been paying close attention. In fact, those who expect this series to be copious amounts of fighting and very little talk will probably be left desiring more.
Still, for an anime with production values, a well-written script, well-versed characters, soundtrack and a plot that rivals shows like Zeta Gundam, I have to say this series will definitely feed anyone’s need for quality anime.
Highs: Rock-solid cast and story; driven strongly by action and dialogue; no crap whatsoever; animation never stops shining
Lows: Some untimely comedic moments
I could summarize Arakawa Hiromu’s Fullmetal Alchemist with a drop of my jaw and an astonished “wow”, but it deserves far better. Upon first seeing pictures of this anime, I thought that it would be another Scrapped Princess (a.k.a. a hyped waste of Studio Bones’ talent), but was I ever wrong!
Coming from director Mizushima Seiji (Generator Gawl, i-wish you were here-), I wouldn’t have expected a cast that’s easily connected to on an emotional level and a well-orchestrated story. The characters are properly developed according to their importance, and many of the nicely rounded personalities allow them to be involved in a multitude of situations without feeling forced. From Edward to Hughes, each character is distinct and will have you equally engrossed in their deep conversations, the fights they find themselves in and even their comedic antics. Even the well-paced storyline, which pulls you in the more you watch, is driven by excellent use of dialogue and action. Numerous important plot twists and elements are perfectly introduced through action scenes and discussions. This brings up an aspect I loved just as much as the characters: there is no crap here. There’s no fan service, once-and-done characters, cheesy one-liners, needless fights, or even excessive blood. At 51 episodes in length, Fullmetal Alchemist doesn’t even have any filler; instead, it wisely uses everything (and I mean everything) at its disposal to tell the best damn story it can. All of this is done with animation that never thinks about taking a dive. Character designs and background art remain so consistent that an obsessive-compulsive would be happy. Even the CGI blends in so unnoticeably that you’ll never know it’s there.
The only quirk I found was the use of comedy at particular instances, namely in the middle of very tense situations. This happened very rarely, but seeing characters suddenly turn super-deformed at these untimely of times made me raise an eyebrow even while I was cracking up. The purpose was to take a bit of the edge off of these situations, but the atmosphere was harmed in the process.
I won’t mince words: see Fullmetal Alchemist. With protagonists you’ll desperately want to see live on and a storyline that never stops building upon itself, this is an anime that comes only once in a blue moon and is a strong contender for anyone’s Top 10 list.