Anime Me! #6: Fullmetal Alchemist

Anime Me!  #6: Fullmetal Alchemist (Brotherhood)

For the sake of this review this week, I am combining the 2003 anime (known as Fullmetal Alchemist) and the 2009 anime (also known as Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood).  They are both based off the 2001 manga of the same title.  The only difference being, the 2009 anime follows the manga story arc much closer and is currently still ongoing, as the 2003 anime was altered due to being produced at the same time as the manga itself.  Thus there are some major changes in the story arcs.  Believe it or not this was done on purpose and with permission from the creator, Hiromu Arakawa.  In an interview she explains that “…she would not like to repeat the same ending in both media, as well as to make the manga longer to work more in the development of the characters…”

Simply put I felt the original anime, even though it differed quite a bit from the finished manga, was one of the top notch Shonen anime of all time.  The 2003 anime spanned 51 episodes, and even culminated in a theatrical film that ended the story arc.  It was very engaging and exciting through out.  That being said, I was hesitate when I learned that a “reboot” of sorts was planned in 2009.  I was worried that the reboot was going to altered too many things, as is the “new” wave of Hollywood remakes in this day and age.  I was gladly and pleasantly surprised to find that the 2009 anime was following the manga much better than it’s original did.

The series itself, in both versions, follows the story of two alchemist brothers, Edward  and Alphonse Elric, who want to restore their bodies after a disastrous failed attempt to bring their mother back to life through alchemy.  You see, in their failed attempt, they paid a heavy price.  Edward loses a leg.  Alphonse on the other hand loses his entire body, nearly dies, and is only saved by his brother quick thinking.  Unfortunately by saving his brothers life (by affixing his soul to an empty suit of armor), Edward also loses his arm.

As you can tell, this anime is not exactly for anyone young and the scene above is very graphic and may not even be for everyone.  Such is life, and I am glad this pivotal scene remained as the common running theme of having consequences for every action (even well intended ones) still rings true.  As we pick up the story we find that Ed has equipped himself with metal prosthetics with the help of his mechanic and childhood friend Winry Rockbell, and Al is still affixed to the suit of armor.

Speaking of the suit of armor.  A common running gag within the series is Ed’s reactions to people calling him short, or people mixing him and his brother up.  Some people they meet already know of the Elric brothers and know that Ed is the oldest of the two.  But when they see Al’s very tall suit of armor, they just assume he is Ed because of his height.  Since Ed has a short fuse when it comes to his height, there is always an argument over the subject.

A few years after their failed attempt, the boys get involved with the State Military, because of their talent with Alchemy.  In this world, you soon realize that Alchemy has become much more prominent and relied upon scientific technique.  They take the opportunity to learn as much as they can in order to discover a way to return their injured and broken bodies along with their deceased mother.

Now if you are watching both anime, you will notice quickly that exact scenes and characters are changed in Brotherhood, but pretty much remain identical to the 2003 anime.  That is until you start reaching the 17th-18th episode.  You will then be treated to an entirely different story arc.  Some seemingly minor characters from the 2003 anime become much more prominent in Brotherhood, and some others are killed off.  After the stories diverge it really does become 2 separate animes, both very enjoyable.

As of today’s date, there are 57 episodes (60 that I know about) in the 2009 anime version, with many more to come.