One of the Greats – Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Anime Review

“After a horrific alchemy experiment goes wrong in the Elric household, brothers Edward and Alphonse are left in a catastrophic new reality. Ignoring the alchemical principle banning human transmutation, the boys attempted to bring their recently deceased mother back to life. Instead, they suffered brutal personal loss: Alphonse’s body disintegrated while Edward lost a leg and then sacrificed an arm to keep Alphonse’s soul in the physical realm by binding it to a hulking suit of armor.

The brothers are rescued by their neighbor Pinako Rockbell and her granddaughter Winry. Known as a bio-mechanical engineering prodigy, Winry creates prosthetic limbs for Edward by utilizing “automail,” a tough, versatile metal used in robots and combat armor. After years of training, the Elric brothers set off on a quest to restore their bodies by locating the Philosopher’s Stone—a powerful gem that allows an alchemist to defy the traditional laws of Equivalent Exchange.

As Edward becomes an infamous alchemist and gains the nickname “Fullmetal,” the boys’ journey embroils them in a growing conspiracy that threatens the fate of the world.” – MAL Synopsis

Episodes: 64 – Studio: Bones – Dub/Sub – Premiered: Spring 2009 – Finished – MAL Rating: 9.15 – Genres: ActionAdventureComedyDramaFantasy

This is the anime that really kickstarted my love for the medium. I’d watched and loved Pokemon and YuGiOh and anime of that nature since I was a kid. I had already loved Dragon Ball Z, Naruto, and Inuyasha. But FMA: B was really what fully immersed me into the medium and I’ll never forget that period of my life when I first watched this anime. Since then this was my #1 favorite anime ever for years. Pretty much only recently dropping, not because of me having waning feelings towards it but just me watching more anime in general. So coming close to me doing my newest top 10 list, I had to rewatch this, and man did it hold up.

This is the highest-rated anime on MAL for a reason (well also because everything else gets review bombed but hey). This story has it all and is instantly captivating. The earlier episodes admittedly are pretty fast-paced and I’ve seen that be used as a sort of minor con against this adaptation of the manga. I’ll say that it works. The first few episodes are fast-paced but it’s not jarring. Everything is presented well within that pacing and the world and everything that the show is gonna throw at you is introduced in a nice way within the first 10 or so episodes. I love the way the story evolves from these two brothers journeying around the country of Amestris to find a solution to their problem. Into a story about loss, sacrifice, true desires, god vs science, understanding one’s self, and a lot of political and racial stuff. There’s even a hell of a lot of espionage, spying, and people creeping around which all of that I had completely forgotten about but watching it again I absolutely loved it.

I have very few negatives about the story at all. Every theme and topic that was brought up in this anime was addressed and fleshed out really well. The comedy worked. The moments that were intended to hit hard hit like a truck and the story arcs were overall really great and flowed together well. I have two nitpicks though. The second to last arc kind of dragged on a little too long for my liking. It got sort of boring the last couple of episodes. Also, this anime does that thing that American tv shows love doing and I’ve come to hate over the years. That thing where a character is thinking hard about a solution to something or trying to remember something and they just can’t get it. Then someone else in the room will say a word or phrase and cause the other character to have an “aha!” Moment and figure out the problem. That was done here a fair amount and it just feels too convenient to my liking.

So this is a completely spoiler-free (ish) review, but I have to give props where props are due. Endings are hard to write. Especially when writing an ending to a long series with a lot of complex characters, themes, etc. Most media I consume have fine to good endings with every once in a while a bad one will sneak in there. And especially with this medium of manga/anime where stuff is constantly getting canceled, or on hiatus, or anime not getting full or respectful adaptations. It is a testament to the Hiromu Arakawa and also to Bones for writing and animating a full, faithful adaptation of this series. Because Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood has a great ending. In terms of anime, it is by far and away the best one I’ve ever seen to date. So props have to be given when there due.

Alchemy is easily one of the best power systems out. Not only is it cool and used in unique and diverse ways throughout the story, but it is deeply embedded into the themes of this story. Sacrifice and equivalent exchange and also the idea that some things just can’t be recovered. Alchemy as a philosophy is so interesting and it’s used to its full potential here.

Edward & Alphonse are a great duo. They manage to be light-hearted and somewhat cheerful while also having their eyes on their goal and never forgetting their mistakes. Their bond not only between each other but with Winry and everyone else they know and encounter throughout the story is amazing. Their resolve to reach their goals while also not forgetting for even a second the things they’ve sacrificed and the people they weren’t able to save was admirable. In lesser written series stuff like that could come off as grating but it works really well here. It’s easy to forget that they’re just kids undertaking all this with the way that they carry themselves and the burdens of their sins. Their character moments are some of the highlights of the entire show. Whether it be Alphonse’s self-doubt about his situation and how he overcomes that or Ewards’s deep guilt and issues with his father. There’s a large maturity in their characters yet they still retain their youth. It works really well and they carry the story excellently.

Scar is a very interesting character. Simultaneously a victim of war and a perpetrator. His situation is unique in the story as he’s introduced as a mad man killing state alchemist then more time is spent focusing on him and his people and the pain and suffering they had to endure at the hands of the country of Amestris and specifically the state alchemist. The plight of the Ishvallan’s is a very real one. I also really dug his ideology behind alchemy and how he believes creation is only up to god so he only destroys with his alchemy. It’s a really interesting ideology that has some good pay off character-wise at the end of the series.

I love the Seven Deadly Sins as a concept so whenever they’re used in some sort of way in media it’s basically instant approval from me. This anime is easily the best rendition of them I’ve seen so far. I love how unique their character designs were and how much personality they each individually had. Even though they were basically the main antagonist there were a lot of moments where I couldn’t help but feel bad for them. A few of them got some really great and deep character moments that explored their true intentions and why they were said sin. The execution of their characters and concepts was done beautifully.

There are so many other characters that I could write about all day that I loved in this series. From Hughes, Mustang, and the Armstrongs. To Winry, the boy’s teacher, and Ling. There are a plethora of characters here and they all get their moments to shine and their characters are all very well fleshed out. Easily one of the best casts in anime.

The animation is really good with moments of being absolutely amazing. Bones did amazing. The real star of this section is not only the beautiful soundtrack but the sound effects. I could listen to the sounds of transmutation in this show all day. That sound effect is amazing. The soundtrack is great. The first and last openings are easily my favorite. But rewatching this I realized the best song in this series is easily the second outro “Let it all out.” The song by itself is a really beautiful and somber mid-tempo track, but the way it’s used multiple times as a transition from a super emotional scene at the end of the episode was nothing shy of great. It enhanced both the song and the moment.

Briefly, I have to mention the great voice acting. This is one of the best dubs I’ve watched and it’s often regarded as one of the best by others. I think across the board the voice acting is really good with some standout performances like Mustang and Envy.

So Yeah FMA:B was everything I remembered it to be and more. There’s a reason why this is considered one of, if not the, greatest anime ever. It hits on all basis. Great story, characters, themes, wrapped inside really good to great animation a beautiful soundtrack, and one of the best dubs in anime history. I absolutely adored this anime when I first watched it 9 years ago, and here I am gushing over it almost a decade later. FMA: B is truly one of the greats.

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood – 10/10

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