Last summer, like most in Scotland, the weather was rubbish and I was bored. Therefore, I decided to start a new anime series (bet you never saw that one coming). Since getting into anime, I’ve always been aware of what Fullmetal Alchemist was; I recognised some of the characters and had a fair idea about the plot, but for some reason I always pushed it away. It just didn’t really appeal to me despite its popularity. The fact there was another edition to the franchise, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood pushed me away further as I immediately thought that it was going to have a convoluted storyline with half decent animation and silly characters. Turns out I couldn’t have been more wrong.
The reason I decided to go with Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood was a no brainier. It’s basically the manga (which was originally written and illustrated by Hiromu Arakawa); except it’s been beautifully animated page for page by the good people at Bones. Within the universe, Alchemy, exists allowing alchemists to transmute one object into another so long as they follow the basic rules. A young and talented Alchemist, Edward, and his younger brother, Alphonse, are both mourning over the loss of their mother and so attempt to bring her back to life using their abilities in the subject. Like most things in life, nothing is straight forward and the same applies here. Ed ends up losing an arm and a leg (seriously, no pun intended) and Alphonse’s soul is fused into a suit of armour. Fast forward a few years later and after honing his alchemy skills even further, Edward is now a well-respected State Alchemist working alongside Alphonse within the State Military. Edward promises to Al that he will have his soul returned to his body one way or another but with other forces at work, it may take longer than he originally anticipated…
I’m not going to beat about the bush here; this is quite possibly one of the best things I have witnessed in my life. I could talk about how brilliant this series is for a good few hours but instead I’m going to pick out my personal highlights and then leave it up to you to watch all 64 episodes yourself. Its western feel makes it ideal if you’re looking to try anime for the first time without being scared of some of the more unusual series’ out there.
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood has an abundance of qualities that will suit everyone’s tastes; from its violent fight scenes to subtle romance, to its excellent humour, and each of these are executed perfectly. It always finds a way to lighten the sometimes fairly dark plot whether it’s someone slagging Edward for his 149cm stature or Armstrong dramatically whipping off his shirt when entering combat. The characters are fantastic in their own ways and develop beautifully throughout the course of the series with some of my favourites being Alphonse, Envy and Olivier. I particularly love the relationship between the military personnel, mainly gunner Riza Hawkeye and the flame alchemist Roy Mustang. You can never fully read Mustang’s character until you watch it. I thought he was bit of a dick to start with, but my opinion changed after a memorable plot twist involving Maria. The villains do their bit as well and offer some great action and downright evil shenanigans to boot.
As for the soundtrack, it’s also excellent. The main opening song performed by Japanese artist, Yui is a gorgeous mix of fast paced lyrics and alternative rock. The combination of her lovely voice and the equally lovely opening animation sets the scene perfectly. As soon as you see it you know you’re in for something special.
Unless I haven’t stressed this enough, go and watch Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. I can’t give an opinion on the original series and honestly, I don’t know if I’ll ever watch it as I’m scared it will cloud all the positive things I have to say about this anime. But if you’re prepared for a charming and epic adventure that will stick with you for a long time afterwards then what are you waiting for?