- Screenplay and direction9
- Characters development10
- Plot pacing9
FMAB is definitely a bit different from what we have seen so far. Of course, unless you’re different, you cannot hope to hold the first place in MAL for 4 years straight.
Introduction and rating
This is a review of the anime Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. It’s a bit of love, a bit of hate, a bit of joy, a bit of despair, and a bit of hope. Some greed and gluttony; some lust; some envy; some pride; wrath and some sloth – all stewed in the sauce of life, that’s what this anime is. All in all, this is definitely a bit different from what we have seen so far. Of course, unless you’re different, you cannot hope to hold the first place in MAL for 4 years straight.
Matthew, Bible has aptly said, “Judge not, yet ye be judged.” Unfortunately, I’m forced to do something I dislike so much. But I dislike purple prose more, so let’s be precise in what we say. Firstly, I’ll try to make my standings clear.
My layout: I’ll try to look into the following parameters to come to my conclusions. The x/10 numbers you’ll be seeing are mostly garbage for you (opinions differ), but they can give you my personal insight on the subject.
- Animation: Dealing with the quality of animation and art. How I perceived it to be. Mostly depending upon the dps (drawings per second), coloring, and artwork.
- Music: I actually have a pretty lot to say in this field. However, due to space restrictions, we’ll just try to discuss a few of them.
- Screenplay: I’ll try to talk a bit about the direction, especially the action scenes.
- Characters: Somewhere in between, we’ll talk about a few of the numerous characters (mostly the protagonists and the antagonists, because side characters are, well, left at the side).
First, the characters. The hero of the plot is Edward Elric, and his brother Alphonse Elric. The heroine, Winry Rockbell, is their childhood friend and an automail mechanic. Automail is a hypothetical procedure to replace lost body parts by mechanical equivalents. The main antagonists are the Father, and his seven homunculi Greed, Lust, Sloth, Envy, Gluttony, Wrath, and Pride. The anime also consists of the Colonel Mustang Squad, consisting of Roy Mustang, his assistant Lieutenant Riza Hawkeye, and a few other soldiers. Another important role is played by Scar (an Ishbalian) and his traveling party. The last main character is Truth, who is portrayed as something equivalent to a God.
The character development has been slow, and gradual. It was never rushed. It doesn’t bury you in a heap of information about each character, so you can take it in. I personally felt that the character development went all the way till the very end when Edward was finally able to face truth off.
Minor spoilers — extended anime synopsis.
The story begins on the backdrop of a deadly civil war in Ishbal. The country won the war with the help of a group of specialized people called the alchemists. The alchemists are people who can reshape matter with the help of the basic principles of alchemy – construction, destruction, and reconstruction.
The Elric brothers are prodigies in the sense that they are the youngest alchemists in history. However, they tried to perform a tabooed ritual called the human transmutation, where one could theoretically bring back the dead. Unfortunately, the brothers learned, the hard way, that it was not true, and had to pay a heavy price for attempting it. Ed lost one of his arms and legs, to be replaced by automail. Al lost the whole of his body and had his soul fixated to an empty shell of armor.
On this background, they find something called a Philosopher’s Stone, which can help them recover their bodies. So, they join the military and travel to central.
However, the theme soon turns dark when they learn that the state is involved in matters like chimera experiments, and mass production of Philosopher’s Stone by using human lives. They dig in deeper and recover a massive plot by Father to gain immortality by sacrificing the whole country. And to cover up his deeds were the seven Homunculi. As things slowly unwrap, we face one plot twist after another. In truth, this is a story worth seeing.
What I liked about it: Practically everything. I daresay I’m biased towards it. FMAB was everything an anime could be. Exceptional storyline; dramatic episode conclusions; breathtaking action; engulfing narrative; gasping plot twists; it had it all.
The plot was interesting and well thought-out, and every character had their role to play in the story. There was nothing coy about the story. It was straight and upfront, the kind that has nothing to hide, because it knows it’s so good, it won’t need to resort to deceptions and drama.
The plot described the importance of sacrificing to achieve something, and this slips in beautifully into real life, for we must always pay a price for anything in life. But though they stressed upon the above motto, they did not overdo it, so there was no melodrama.
The plot was tight, with eerily calm interludes and fast-paced revelations to keep one engaged.
The music of FMAB was phenomenal. It was definitely a part that supported and escalated the main story, not just augmentations in the openings and the endings. My personal favorite were the 2nd opening; Hologram (by Nico Touches the Wall) and the 2nd ending; Let it out (by Miho Fukuhara). Other personal favorites are the 4th opening Period (by Chemistry) and the 5th ending Ray of Light (Shoko Nakagawa).
The voices were extremely beautiful in all of them; the songs had powerful exposure and strong impact. Their opening leads complemented the episodic endings beautifully, and the post-ending narration was especially influencing. All in all, it can definitely be said that the music complemented the storytelling perfectly.
One definite departure from what I said, was the 2nd ending, Let it Out. It was more melodious, slower, and focused more on subtlety than on power. Perhaps that’s why episodes 15-26 were the pivotal moments of the series. The story definitely took a turn, and the plot thickened fast. It was certainly one of the best spans of the story.
The action sequences are very good, and they don’t go overboard with it. The story never lost tracks among the action. And most of the fight scenes were brief, with a clear aim of storytelling. Even the fight of Ed and Al with Scar was to develop the characters of Ed and Winry and the relation between them.
Other than that, the dramatic scenes were arranged accordingly, often during the conclusion of an episode to leave an urge in the viewer to keep waiting for the next episode.
This is the only point where I’ll be a bit more critical. The coloring is good, with a standard dps of 12/sec. And I’m not saying the drawings are bad, they’re just … different. Maybe it does have a benefit, it definitely was not intended to make flashy handsome heroes and cute loli heroines.
All the characters looked really human in appearance. Even the main character Edward had a quirk, in the sense that he was shorter than almost every other character out there. I personally have nothing against the style, just more people have complained to me about it than appreciated it. I’m trying to be fair and point out all of the views.