Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood
As someone who has seen the original 2003 anime it was a pleasure to learn that Hiromu Arakawa's popular series, Fullmetal Alchemist, would be getting a remake that is faithful to the manga. When the first series aired back in 2003 it was praised by many as a masterpiece, so as you can imagine when Brotherhood was announced many people were doubtful as to whether or not it could live up to the first series. To many people’s surprise however, Brotherhood far surpassed their expectations.
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (from here on referred to as FMA:B) tells the tale of the famous alchemist Edward Elric, known as the Fullmetal Alchemist. When young, Edward Elric and his brother Alphonse lose their mother to terminal illness. Determined to bring her back they use restricted alchemy in an attempt to resurrect her – the attempt fails and Ed loses his left leg while Alphonse loses his entire body. Ed manages to affix his brother’s soul to a nearby suit of armor at the cost of his right arm. Now, determined to get back what they’ve lost Ed and Al set out on a search for the Philosopher’s Stone, a powerful object which is said to amplify the powers of alchemy greatly.
The story of FMA:B is intelligent, suspenseful, and action-packed. The mystery surrounding the plot will keep you wondering what is going on and how everything will play out. One of its faults, however, is that it is a very hurried during the first quarter of the series. To someone who has seen the first FMA this pace will probably seem odd and unorganized. On the other hand to someone new to the series it will probably seem rushed in the beginning, especially with the plot and character development. It does manage to set a steady pace after the first quarter; though for some people the initial rushed pace may seem disorderly. As for the plot itself, what is worth noting is how distinct the plot is from the first series. FMA and FMA:B follow the same path for the first fourteen or fifteen episodes before they take completely different turns – this is not just a remake, it is a whole new story. It is a great tale full of twists and cliffhangers that will leave you wanting more after every episode. Even at an impressive sixty-four episodes long the plot never seemed dull.
The music in FMA:B is composed by Akira Senju and is wonderful. From the exciting orchestral pieces to the beautifully sung Latin pieces, it is a well-scored series. The placement of the music fits the mood well and although some tracks are overused in the beginning, it evens out later on. The opening and ending themes are also quite good, no complaints there. As for voice acting, the original Japanese cast was excellent – the voices fit the characters and their emotions and personalities are portrayed very well. As for the English dub, the original cast was brought back (with a few exceptions such as Alphonse and Greed). It is hard to make a full assessment about the dub as it is still airing and many characters have yet to be introduced however as of now it seems to be more or less the same as the first series, which had a fine dub.
The animation in FMA:B is done by Bones, the same studio that animated the first series, and as with the first series the animation is very well done. The animation is very fluid and somewhat lighter than the first series. Character designs are good as well and emotions are displayed in a very good manner. The action scenes and fight scenes are well done and seemed to get better as the series progressed. The varieties of different techniques used in the battles were presented well and everything seemed to flow. All in all, the animation is wonderful – which was to be expected from a studio such as Bones.
FMA:B boasts a large cast of characters, each with their own stories and traits. While the story centers on Ed and Al, many other characters are explored, each with their own unique qualities. There are many new characters introduced this time around as well, such as the characters from Xing who introduce a new element to the story. There are also plenty of new antagonists as well, which makes for an even better story; the villains in this series being scary good. There are also the returning characters, such as Roy Mustang, Scar, Winry Rockbell, and Tim Marcoh, who take more active roles this time around. One of the key differences between that first series and FMA:B is that FMA:B goes into much more detail with the supporting characters and although this means less focus on Ed and Al, by further developing the supporting cast a stronger connection is made with the characters.
All in all Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is a very well done series. Its no-filler plot is fast paced, thrilling, and clever. The soundtrack is great and well-placed and the voice actors do an excellent job portraying their characters. The animation flows very well throughout the series, the character designs are unique, and the action scenes are considerably well done. The characters are each unique and portrayed well and they are all very developed throughout the series. It was a very enjoyable title and fans of the first anime will most likely be impressed by this new take on the series.