The single biggest strike against this anime, in my opinion, is how doesn’t quite stand entirely on its own. It was made quite awhile after its predecessor, and, though it is truer to the source material, it seems to assume that people have watched said predecessor already. Not necessarily in any single big way, but a scattered handful of smaller ones, where a moment, some background characters, or some previous event is most appreciated in the light of having watched the one, and then the other. That might have been generally true at time of publication, but as the years go on, that will be less and less true.
Outside that little detail, however, we can still enjoy this show for itself, and only itself. It is similar to the first show which was inspired by the manga, but it remains a very different beast.
(and if that is the biggest strike against it, then it’s doing pretty good!)
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood tells the story of the Elric brothers, Edward and Alphonse, and of all the people around them (small distinction from the original FMA, as that show focused almost entirely on the brothers, and only the brothers). The two of them were born in a country a bit like Germany around the time of the World Wars, and they are particularly skilled at alchemy. They are so skilled that they thought they could overturn life and death (they were exceptionally young and stupid at the time), a choice which wrought terrible consequences upon the both of them. Setting out now to undo their mistake without repeating it, the Elrics will journey all around the country, meeting a colorful cast of characters, battling a multitude of dangerous enemies, including monsters, learning more and more every step of the way, and walking straight into the heart of a deadly conspiracy authored by an ancient, nefarious evil. The struggle will be for much more than their own lives long before the end.
It’s an epic story, with a tight, focused narrative, from start to finish. The early episodes might be a little off-putting, perhaps even depressing, and a number of pivotal moments are there and gone in a flash, with little time to prepare for them and little ado about them until later. Generally, though, the plot follows a number of threads and skillfully weaves them together as a whole. There’s plenty of action, lots of adventure, triumphs and tragedies and losses and complications. It’s a story of many people coming together, contributing in different ways, to overcome evil and safeguard the population of an entire country and then some.
In a word, it’s about humanity.
It has several subtle, running themes about man and God, both science and religion having their place to benefit society, and both having significant dangers attached to them. It asks questions about the worth of human life in our eyes, as well as the sins which plague us, and the determination with which we overcome such. It speaks of truth, and finding it, for truth is simple and intricate and powerful all at once. Those who defy truth do not come to good ends, but those who accept it, in full, can achieve amazing things. And, a bit less subtly, it rings with the truth that no human is “special” and automatically set above any other human.
That’s quite some worthy material, I say! 🙂
Everything technical about the show is beautifully done, be it the design, the animation, the fighting, the comedy, the characters, the casting, the soundtrack, the scenery, the world-building, the alchemy… it’s all very exceptionally well done. There’s a reason the show is far, far, far in the forward ranks of all my favorites. 🙂
There are so many great moments in the show! There are particularly good fights and badass moments, of course. There’s also lots of laughter and tears. There’s an obvious, but not overdone, love story, culminating in one of the cutest mutual confessions ever, and one of my most favorite ships ever, in the form of Ed and Winry. I love how it tied up all the loose ends, as well, letting people have their happy endings (unlike the original FMA). This world became more beautiful, rather than more horrifying, the more time you spent in it. 🙂
Basically… it’s easy to see how this show is so widely loved, as it has something to appeal to most people across the board, and it simply tells a very good story in a very good way. 🙂
Rating: I give Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood full marks, 10 stars out of 10!