on 20 June 2012
I haven't bought this complete DVD collection yet, but I am going to. I already have it all separately, but want the whole thing, just because!
Summary: FMAB is the story of two brothers; Alphonse and Edward Elric. The boys lose their mother to illness, and they try to use alchemy to bring her back. This goes horribly wrong because they neglected the basic rule of alchemy, the principal of equal exchange. To gain something from alchemy you must give something of equal value. The brothers' disastrous experiment costs Edward his left leg and Alphonse his entire body. Ed manages to affix Al's soul to a suit of armour, at the cost of his right arm and the two maimed boys are left alone to study alchemy in the hope of restoring themselves to normality.
A little while later a colonel in the military, another alchemist named Roy Mustang, invites the brothers to become State Alchemists, an offer only Edward accepts, giving them access to the enormous resources of the military that brothers hope will help them to recover their lost body parts. The brothers set off in search of the Philosopher's Stone as a means to restore their bodies. Throughout their journey, they meet allies and enemies and discover the true nature of the Philosopher's Stone, and an awful secret plan that they must fight to prevent.
Review: FMAB contains that wonderful thing, a totally original, self-consistent universe different from ours, but familiar enough not to be off-putting. The characters are all distinct, fully-formed and convincing; you will love most, hate a few and not care much one way or the other about others. The story is brilliant. It begins in a relatively small way with the brothers travails, and expands into something magnificent I will not go into.
It's mood is finely judged. There's some light comedy, some tragedy, a lot of action and something to think about, and all the while the character development is gripping. The relationships between the characters are complex and changing, and the brothers grow up during the series, adding more levels. There are those wonderful moments when you see one of the enemy attacking the wrong person and you think "That was a mistake", because the relationships are clearly enough defined that you know retribution is on its way. A lovely example is Roy Mustang, the Flame Alchemist, explaining to a homunculus that has just attacked his 'dearest subordinate' how he uses one hand for macro effects like burning an entire room and the other for pinpoint attacks, like evaporating the fluid in the hapless homunculus' eyeballs. It is the minute attention to detail, all detail, that makes this special.
The graphics are excellent. I really like them for both technical quality and art. I have recently seen 'better', but that was because the goalposts moved, and techniques improved. FMAB still has 10/10 graphics.
I recommend watching in Japanese with subtitles. It's just better. The American voice actors did a good job, but it's just more characterful with Japanese voices. The voice acting is truly excellent; it's taken very seriously in Japan, and they do it very well.
As I said in the title, I think that this is probably the greatest animated entertainment ever made. If you only ever watch one anime make it this one. If you watch anime anyway and haven't seen FMAB, do so. It would be a complete waste of your life if you were hit by a meteorite before you saw it. When was the last time you saw a cartoon 25 hours long and couldn't stop watching, despite the fact that life would be somehow empty after it was over?
Do yourself a favour, buy this. It's not a lot of money for the epic adventure you are about to experience. It may well be the best money you ever spent.
on 25 October 2015
When it comes to watching anime, I haven't seen too many. Prior to watching Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood I'd only ever seen three anime shows, Yugioh and Avatar, The Last Airbender (both from when I was a kid, though still dear to my heart,) as well as Attack on Titan, that I had watched earlier this year. For whatever reason, even though anime seems to have always been around, I never really watched much. Only really through what seems to be it's growing popularity and increasing availability to stream did I decide to try and get into watching anime (suggestions would be welcome,) so after asking some friends, looking at anime reviews and suggestions online, and after watching Attack on Titan, which I quite enjoyed, I decided Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood would be my next anime venture and boy am I glad I did!
Brotherhood is a perfectly crafted, unbelievably well balanced, as close to a complete television programme as you're likely to get. It's very well voiced by the actors, has action, adventure, comedy, romance, and is fantastic at going very dark yet can keeping you hopeful at the same time. It does just about everything, and it does it pretty damn well. It not only shows you an awesome adventure but also brings up a huge amount of issues: War, religion, racism, genocide to name but a few. If you like a bit of everything you should love FMAB. Imagine a greatest hits album that has some of the very best of every genre, pop, rock, rap, dance etc. Fullmetal is almost the TV equivalent of that. You may not like very aspect of the show, it is by no means, without it's flaws either, however it has a little bit of everything for just about everyone, and I loved it. I'd be very surprised if somebody didn't at the very least take one thing away from Brotherhood. Like many other brilliant shows, it began to consume my life and now I'm a little sad it's over.
The story starts around our two main characters, brothers Edward and Alphonse Elric, on a quest to regain their original bodies after a failed alchemy experiment to bring their mother back from the dead goes horribly wrong, literally costing Edward an arm and leg, and his brother Alphonse to be stripped of his entire body and his soul bound to a suit of armour. Alchemy is essentially the science (magic) that resides in this world that they live in, it works through equal exchange, you get out what you put in, basically. In order to restore their bodies back to how they were, the brothers search for a Philosopher's Stone (shame Harry Potter doesn't live there) in hope that the stone will indeed return their bodies back to normal. From here on in the story changes and develops in fantastic fashion and takes you on a colossal journey that I for one, don't want to spoil for you.
The characters are brilliant. Our heroes Edward and Alphonse are very likeable, three dimensional, real and believable. For characters around the age of 16/15 they show both great maturity for their age as well as an immaturity or naivety at times that you would expect to see from people of that age. They're also relatable, like everyone in the world, they have their flaws and make mistakes at times. The brothers also complement each other very well: They have perfect blend of having enough in common to work well together yet at the same time, the few differences these brothers have help them to get through obstacles that could quite possibly be their downfall if not for their siblings different input or perspective on the matter. Not only that but the other "heroes" in this show are all pretty fine characters, nobody is completely black and white which I love, grey characters are much more interesting. I also have to give a mention to Roy Mustang, who will more than likely be on your list of favourite fictional characters come the end, he's awesome.
Not only are the heroes good but the villains, know as The Homunculi, are also fantastic. They are just so evil. They get stuff done, they commit atrocities and cause our main characters endless trouble. The Homunculi are by no means invincible, either, and are culpable for making some mistakes, which is good, if a villain is indestructible, then usually the only way a hero can defeat them is through sheer dumb luck alone or deus ex machina, both of which can be a bit of a kop out, especially the latter. They're fun, memorable and as group of bad-doers' go; very unique in terms of the way they are formed and as far as their personalities are concerned. I don't want to mention names because that would give the game away as to what they're all about but a certain number of these villains develop in ways that you wouldn’t have thought possible given the nature of their existence and who they are. However I was very pleasantly surprised at their emotional capabilities and development, given that they should have been both emotionally and personality speaking, one dimensional.
Now I do have to also give a mention to the female characters in the show. Books, films, and TV shows that are predominantly of the action/adventure, fantasy/sci-fi genre do tend to have a lack of female characters, both in quantity and/or quality, even in greats such as the Lord of the Rings and Star Wars; there are only two women in an entire world/galaxy. Brotherhood goes against this, not only is there probably a similar number of male and female characters in the anime, but they're all great characters. Strong, independent, funny, bravery, stubbornness, at times, as well, and have a few individual flaws that certainly doesn't make them less likeable but a lot more believable and realistic. They absolutely nail the women characters and it's always nice to see female characters in this type of genre that aren't just there to be Princess Peach.
The animation, for the most part, is very good. It's bright, crisp and colourful. The action sequences are fantastic, flames and alchemy are used to great effect. To be honest, the only problem I had with the animation was that, at least to begin with, every now and then, when a character felt a quick, sharp force of anger or irritation, they'd be purposefully animated as if a child had drawn them, which, to begin with, did happen in some serious scenes and was quite distracting. It would just pull you out of the moment and leave you wondering what the show was doing. However as the show went on they cut down on doing that, you become a bit more used to it and they only use it for more comedic lines and emotions which actually did work quite well and would sometimes make a scene that bit funnier.
The soundtrack is also pretty great. They do repeat songs for the scenes with the same type of emotional situation, which some may get bored of, however each song is very well composed and sticks in your head, by the end of the show, you'll probably be humming along with the tune.
Overall I would say Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood is a fantastic show and I would recommend that you give it a try, regardless of whether you're into anime or not, it's a show that simply can't be missed. It did take me around twelve episodes or so to become completely hooked by the show but I believe there are two reasons for that. Number one is that generally, it takes me around half a dozen or so episodes to really, really get stuck into a show, even shows as fantastic as Sons of Anarchy, Orange is the New Black and House of Cards took me around that number of episodes to get properly into. So what with Brotherhood's episodes being half to a third of the length of the episodes of those shows, a dozen or so episodes to get into it didn't really surprise me. The second reason is that, in the beginning, it does feel as if you're thrown into the deep end, a bit. Almost as if the creators expected everyone to have either read the manga or seen the original adaptation of the manga, Fullmetal Alchemist (2003). If, like me, you hadn't then it may take a bit of time, getting used to the world and characters. I'm not saying you should definitely go and either watch the original adaptation or read the manga before watching Brotherhood, I didn’t do either before watching Brotherhood and I loved it, yet at the same time, taking a look at the previous Fullmetal material may help ease you into this series a little more comfortably if to begin with you are a little overwhelmed.
To conclude this very, very long review, and I thank you if you have stuck with it. Fullmetal Alchemist is a brilliant show that contains just about everything anyone could ever want in a show but also juggles all the different aspects, aspects, emotions, story and characters pretty well. It's exciting, fun, inventive, original, and quite frankly, a television masterpiece.