Don't you just hate spoilers? I do, too. That's why I always try to include warnings. However, I sometimes ramble a bit too much here or there and maybe a few (or many) key plot points slip without me giving proper notice. So I'd like to include a blanket spoiler warning for the weary internet travelers of the world: Here There Be Spoilers. You've been warned.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood (Hagane no Renkinjutsushi Furumetaru Arukemisuto)

Alright, good people, let's hit that reset button. Forget everything you knew or thought you knew about the original 2003 Fullmetal Alchemist anime series. This 2009 64-episode remake is far more rooted in the manga and very much superior than its animated predecessor. 

How superior? Well, the original anime is a classic so you would think this particular version would have some big shoes to fill. However, the manga was extremely successful in its own right because it had a riveting story. The original anime chose to go its own way and it did a good job, but the manga just had more bite (pardon the pun) and this second animated adaptation proves that. 

You should know the story by now. If not then you get to get introduced to it all new. Edward and Alphonse Elric are searching for the Philosopher's Stone so that they might be able to reclaim the bodies they lost when they tried unsuccessfully to bring their mother back to life. 

In order to do that Edward Elric becomes a State Alchemist, a so-called dog of the military, to gain more information about the Philosopher's Stone. However, he soon learns that there are inhuman creatures called homunculi that always seem to pop up when Philosopher's Stones are involved. Their names are the same as before (Pride, Sloth, Gluttony, Wrath, Greed, Lust, and Envy), but this time the roles and origins are a bit different. 

Envy, Gluttony, Greed, and Lust are mostly the same, but it's the other three that are vastly different. In the previous series King Bradley was Pride, Juliet Douglas was Sloth, and Wrath was an incarnation of Izumi Curtis's son. Reset button, folks. King Bradley is still a homunculus, but this time he is Wrath and not Pride. Izumi Curtis's son is not a character this time around and neither is Juliet Douglas. Pride's identity is that of {you'll have to find out for yourself} and Sloth's identity is that of a hulking behemoth that is unseen for most of the series.

As you can see the original anime did take its own turn, but that's not where the only differences occurred. The identities of the leader of these homunculi are also extremely different. In the original we had a character named Dante that commanded the faulty attempts at human transmutation that eventually became known as homunculi. This time we have the evil character of Father in charge of the creations of his own flesh. Different leaders, different origins. 

No disrespect to Dante, but Father is in a league of his own when it comes to villains. He is one of those "be all, end all" villains. They don't get much more villainous than Father.

All of this being said, the first dozen or so episodes of this series are very similar to the first half of the original anime series. In some ways the original series is better at building everything up and in some ways it isn't so much. FMAB definitely moves at a faster click and sacrifices some of the early nuances from the original. It's all a matter of preference for the early material, but once FMAB gets on with its "new material" it really isn't even close in my estimation.

Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood isn't just one of the best anime to come out in the 2000's decade, but it's one of the best anime have ever come out, period.

A lot of the Japanese voice talent was different this time around, but the voices were the same for those of Edward, Alphonse, and King Bradley. Not only is that a big plus, but having Maes Hughes be the same Japanese voice is a big plus, too. Maes Hughes still meets an unfortunate end in this series and in much the same fashion, but his character is definitely a buoying factor of this series although his appearance in this series much more brief. Having Maes retain his original voice is comforting although it sucks watching him die a second time. Nooo!!!!

The introduction of "new" characters like Olivier Armstrong and Lin Yao is also really neat because they become incredibly endearing. It'll tough for me to watch the previous series again knowing they don't make an appearance. Hohenheim is also much cooler in this series.

I could go on with comparisons, but I won't. Just know that this series has a great reputation for a reason.

It really is one of the best.

P.S. - Be prepared for some feels, too.

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