These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
Alternate Character Interpretation: Both series have this in spades. Both canons have their own takes on the characters and themes of the story. Add the multitude of fandom interpretations and head canons to that, and you have a colorful hodge-podge of different (and sometimes conflicting) ideas and analyses. This in addition to both versions of the story being very good and having passionate fanbases, has caused many a flame war.
On top of Rose, Winry has also been on the receiving end of anger from Yaoi Fangirls because of this trope - although the fact that she's close to both Elric brothers means some of them will just ship her with the other one instead.
Mostly subverted with Riza, perhaps because her relationship with Roy is close enough to the line between platonic and romantic (in the manga/Brotherhood - it doesn't get elaborated on much at all in the 2003 anime) that fanfic writers can easily shift her into the former role if they'd rather Roy be with Ed or Hughes.
Gateway Series: Both series can easily be this as no matter which adapation you watch, both are part of the reason anime has become more mainstream in the west. The series being aired on Toonami also helped give Toonami the much needed views and both became many newcomers first anime.
Memetic Sex God: Roy Mustang often has this effect in fanfiction, which, to be fair, is not that dissimilar from his character in the actual show ( although, it gets subverted in the manga/Brotherhood). The difference is in fanfiction, he tends to have this effect regardless of gender, whereas in the anime we only see it happen to women (and in fact, many of the men around him can't stand him for stealing their girlfriends).
Moral Event Horizon: Shou Tucker turning his daughter and the family dog into a chimera. Some even believe he had already been past the MEH back when we first met him, as he had already done the same thing to his wife.
Only The Creator Does It Right: Some fans of the manga feel this way about the 2003 series; conversely, part of the 2003 anime's fanbase considers it the far superior work. The majority falls somewhere in the middle, but the flame wars tend to drown them out.
Portmanteau Couple Name: Royai for Roy Mustang/Riza Hawkeye, Edwin for Edward Elric/Winry Rockbell, Royed for Roy/Edward, Hyuroi or Hyuroy for Roy/Maes Hughes, LingFan for Ling Yao/Lan Fan and AlMei or AluMei for Alphonse Elric/May Chang.
Ship-to-Ship Combat: Royai vs. Royed, Edwin vs. Royed, Edwin vs. Alwin, Royai vs. Hyuroi...let's face it, it's all over this fandom. But particular mention goes to Edwin vs. Ed/Rose, the mother of all FMA ship wars coming off of the 2003 anime.
Did Bradley's last words show that he really did care about his family or that he didn't care about them at all? It's actually fairly obvious but people love to argue. On Bradley in general: Is he evil? Or just a Punch Clock Villain that fully embraces what he is?
4 Koma Theater. Scar. Winry’s Parents. Will never be able to look at Scar the same way again. We need a “Crowning Moment of Ridiculous” page, but “Funny” will do for now.
Was Miles actually right about Grumman planning to let Roy and Olivier take the heat as traitors, while he swooped in to take over the government?
It's generally agreed from The Reveal about his spy network that Roy Mustang is exaggerating his reputation as The Casanova at least somewhat. But the degree to which he is - whether he's actually completely hopeless with women who aren't Riza (or even not into any women at all), or he just dates about the same amount as a typical affluent, attractive, single 29-year-old - is a question that's caused a surprising amount of Internet Backdraft among the fandom. Roy's sex life is apparently Serious Business.
Base Breaker: Much like Dante below, Father qualifies as this. Is he a threatening villain that nearly succeeds in his plan, or is he just a Generic Doomsday Villain that lacked the charm Dante had.
May became disliked by some fans during the last arc. While understandable that finding a Philosopher's Stone to save her clan is important, the fact that she listened to Envy and was guilted into going back to Amestris by a Homunculus who she has seen turn into a monster and has shown not to be trusted, made it hard for some fans to stay attached to her. Yet, at the same time there still some fans that admire her for choosing to save Hawkeye, rather than pursuing the stone which can save her clan and protecting everyone against Father when there Alchemy was rendered ineffective and they we're all vulnerably against him at the time.
Is Brotherhood's animation style bold, crisp, and original, or ugly, washed out, and far too cartoony?
Was the manga's ending incredible or did it feel like fanfiction?
Is Brotherhood a better adaptation of the manga or not? Somewhat of a separate question from the "which canon is better" debate, since even a lot of people who preferred the manga found things to dislike about Brotherhood adaptation-wise.
Being an Ensemble Darkhorse has been passed down the Armstrong line for generations!! Both the Major and his sister are definite favorites of the fandom.
Amongst the bara fans, Scar is a big time example. Darius and Heinkel were also popular enough in fanart to get a doujinshi.
Greed is probably the most popular Homunculus behind Envy, especially considering how minor of a character the former is compared to the latter.
In the manga poll, Greed I and II were ranked the 12th and 13th most popular characters respectively (the highest ranked Homunculus, only behind Envy). If they were both ranked as a single character (since they are the same person), then Greed would have scored higher, maybe even higher than Envy.
In one of the omake after Pride consumes Kimblee, Pride is seen spitting him out in disgust. A few volumes later Kimblee ends up depowering Pride from within and allowing Ed to reduce him to his true form in disgust.
Any moment where Ed's shortness and his sensitivity about it is played for laughs, after the revelation that it's because Al's body has been drawing nourishment from him to survive.
Genius Bonus: Van Hohenheim is named after Paracelsus, a.k.a. Phillippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim. In-story, the dwarf in the flask i.e. Father names him Van Hohenheim but initially suggests he take on the name Theophrastus Bombastus.
The scene in Brotherhood where Ed and Al see Bradley while talking with his wife and son is already quite unsettling for them because they know that he’s a homunculus, but it gets even worse if you know that his son is a homunculus, too. One has to feel sorry for Mrs. Bradley.
In a flashback to Xerxes, the king ordered a "waterway" to be dug around the kingdom. One of the workers comments "Nothing less to be expected from the King of Xerxes, he even thinks about commoners like us!" Eeeeugh.
Ed mentions that if he ever went to see God, he'd probably get sent right back to earth. Guess what he does twice; once to escape certain doom, and again to save Alphonse in the final chapter. And that's without accounting for the very start of the story in the first place, meaning he's secretly speaking from experience and then it happens again.
Travis Willingham and Laura Bailey, who are the dub voices of Roy Mustang and Lust respectively, are now married. With that knowledge, just try to watch episode 19 without laughing at some point. This also makes Mustang talking about bringing Lust onto her knees into a whole 'nother context...
Bradley not only headed Amestris during the rebellion, but rejected Loug Lowe's proposal to sacrifice his own life to end the violence, saying one life is only equivalent to one life (and presumably intending to kill all the Ishvalans).
Envy killing Hughes and almost getting Maria Ross executed for it, and starting the Ishval rebellion by killing a child and framing an innocent soldier for it (who got court-martialed and presumably executed) and if the later wasn't enough, when Ed and Al find out this from him, he proudly gloats about this act.
After Father swallows Hohenheim, he looks like he's pregnant. This is offset by the fact that Father's One-Winged Angel is absolutely terrifying.
Father's appearance before swallowing a god also qualifies. How ridiculous it looks only makes the shit that much crazier.
The aforementioned eyecatches actually manage to come off as pretty badass in episode 44, where they're played just after the title character's triumphant and unquestionably awesome reentry into the series after being missing for an episode.
Nightmare Retardant: If something terrified you in a volume, chances are the omake will make fun of it in a such a way you'll never be able to take it seriously again.
Paranoia Fuel: The Homunculi; they control everything. Everything. The massive war that happened years ago? The Homunculi started it. The horrible human experiments? The Homunculi started them. The president? He's one of them, and so is his son. There is almost nothing horrible happening in Amestris that the Homunculi didn't cause.
Rule of Symbolism: When Roy is talking about how all his loyal men (and woman) have been taken away, while going over the chess pieces representing them, the bishop in the panel is tipped onto its side.
The English dub is widely considered so, like its predecessor before it—possibly moreso as nearly all the original cast is brought back and have experience for the roles. Even the newcomers for Al, Scar, etc. manage to capture the spirit of their characters. In particular, Travis Willingham's deeper and more confident delivery as Mustang is considered a big improvement, as he'd had several years to hone his craft since doing the first series.
The same applies for Latin American dub. The voice acting for the series is considered great. And many voice actors reprised their roles in both series.
They Just Didn't Care: A criticism frequently leveled at Brotherhood, mostly on account of the "rushed" early episodes, which are an unfortunate side effect of the 2003 anime, which is more well-known, slowing down the events of said episodes to stretch them out, making the manga's quicker version seem like not enough time was spent on them.
Then there's the reincarnated Xerxians. Even the characters got a bad vibe when they showed up.
Wangst: Al's serious consideration that he might just be a fake-soul-in-armor that Ed created, and Winry and Pinako are in on the joke.
What an Idiot: When the heroes, after long enmity and a fight, finally reduce Envy to a mostly-helpless larval green thing, they... put him in a jar and give him to May Chang so that she can save her family's fortunes with the secret of immortality. There are several problems with this.
Although May, Ed, and a reforming Scar are not the kind of people to kill a helpless opponent, the soldiers and Yoki should have fewer reservations, particularly as Envy has been incredibly dangerous, and immediately demonstrates that he is only mostly helpless.
The secret to immortality that Envy knows involves some really nasty, evil things and there's no good reason to think that he knows a better method. Edward has already refused to use a Philospher's Stone because of it, as has May herself, not to mention how most of Scar's people were literally killed for it. Thus, none of them should be okay with it being given to an Emperor who May had said earlier wouldn't hesitate to use it. If Envy did know a better way, it's doubtful he'd tell her because he likes nothing better than to see people tearing each other apart.
They're sending Envy off with an unsupervised kid. May can handle herself in a fight, yes, but she is soft-hearted and Envy is an excellent deceiver.
In conclusion, nobody at all should be surprised that Envy talks May into a nest of zombie-like abominations that he uses to regain his full power. It's an Idiot Plot to ensure that both May and Envy will be in Central in the final arc.
When Al is trapped in the dome with Pride and allows Pride to beat out morse code on his head for hours until reinforcements show up to free him. Al is naive and trusting to a fault but surely he's been around the military enough to figure out there was some kind of foolery going on there.
The Woobie: Half of the sympathetic portion of the cast need hugs.
Woolseyism: Xing's answer to alchemy (renkinjutsu) is rentanjutsu. This word refers to Chinese alchemy, but actually using something like "Oriental alchemy" or "Xingese alchemy" would get pretty stale and unwieldy after a while. The rentan refers to the goal of Chinese alchemy, the elixir of life. Drawing off of this, Funimation dubbed it as "alkahestry", after alkahest. As a universal solvent, alkahest was another hypothetical goal of alchemy and would have had valuable medicinal applications; if you understand the reference, "alkahestry" manages to convey Chinese alchemy's greater concern with medicine than with gold and sounds exotic next to "alchemy". The substance was supposedly invented by Paracelsus, whose birth name was Von Hohenheim, and the fictional Von Hohenheim was the inventor of Xingese alkehestry.
Ass Pull: It's hard to think of the Alternate Universe twist as anything other than this, considering the complete absence of any foreshadowing, and the amount of Fridge Logic it raises in regards to the Gate of Truth and how Alchemy functions.
Envy, Wrath and Rose are among the most polarizing characters. In the case of the latter, this is probably why she suffers Die for Our Ship more often than Ed's other love interests (with the exception of her double in Conqueror of Shamballa). In Wrath's case, he and Pride are not well liked as "replacement Homunculi" (ironically, they're little more than a flip-flop of the manga version, where Wrath is the president and Pride is a creepy little kid), and Pride/King Bradley in particular is hated for going through a mix of serious Badass Decay and Adaptational Villainy. Sloth, however, has caught less heat from the fandom.
Dante as a Big Bad is often a lightning rod for the debate over which anime is better. Some fans of Brotherhood believe that she's less interesting and imposing than Father; however, just as many prefer her over Father, praising her abhorrent selfishness and her role as Edward's Shadow Archetype. Most fans seem to agree that each fits their respective continuities, and that which one you prefer ultimately comes down to personal tastes.
Was the 2003 anime's ending excellent and original, just passable, or a convoluted mess?
Is Winry's and Edward's relationship familial or romantic?
Contested Sequel: Some fans view The Movie as a touching send off to the characters that ties together most of the loose ends left over from the series. Others see it as a kick in the junk that resolves nothing and simply screws everyone over worse than they were screwed in the series.
They used Chopins etude 10.03 for the final scene at the Gate and for Edwards last appearance in the show. The piano piece is accompanied by strings and it's heartbreakingly beautiful. (and the etude often goes by the handle "tristesse". Well played, Oshima, well played.)
Deader Than Disco: Has sadly become this among many anime circles that prefer Brotherhood. Averted for the most part, though, as Brotherhood didn't get the high ratings or the status as a Gateway Series that the original did in the West. In fact, there's still quite a fanbase for the 2003 anime on some sites like tumblr.
Designated Villain: Ed temporarily plays this role in "The Phantom Thief"; he's supposed to seem like an Inspector Javert for wanting to track down and arrest Psiren, but given the fact that she's a thief, a liar, is causing property damage and tries to kill him later, it's hard to see his actions as unjustified.
Draco in Leather Pants: Envy gets even more of this than he does in Brotherhood, likely due to his more sympathetic motivation of being the failed transmutation of Dante and Hohenheim's son, and resenting his father and half-brothers. But it's to the point where some fangirls seem to forget that he's so evil; some of them even ship him with Ed!
Foe Yay: Because Greed is the incarnation of one of Dante's lovers, he involuntarily feels affection towards her and is drawn to her home, despite the horrible things she does to him.
Germans Love David Hasselhoff: Brotherhood completely eclipsed this series in its native Japan, but the first anime remains the more popular and influential series on American shores. It's hard to tell whether it was simply due to it falling during the aforementioned Anime Boom while Brotherhood came after the bubble burst, or because the first anime captured something in Western audiences that Brotherhood just didn't.
However, the past few years have shown many people becoming more accepting of Brotherhood over the original.
In episode 22, Envy asks Ed if he wants him to turn into a taller version of Ed. Then comes episode 50 and we find out Envy was Hohenheim's first son and looks a lot like a taller version of Ed.
Selim Bradley. A human boy in the first anime and King Bradley (Pride)'s adoptive son. Bradley kills him in a fit of rage in the finale. In the manga and Brotherhood, Selim turns out to be Pride (Bradley is the manga's Wrath), oldest and deadliest of the Homunculi, and Bradley works for him.
In one of the flashbacks, a young Ling Yao can be seen, wearing sunglasses similar to Greed; while he has no important role in this anime, he becomes the new Greed in Brotherhood and the manga.
At the end of the (non-canonical) OVA "Kids", there is a prominently displayed photograph of an elderly Ed shaking hands with an important-looking, formally dressed man who bears a moderate resemblance to Barack Obama. (The OVA was made more than three years before he was elected President of the United States.)
Incest Subtext: There's significantly more of this in this version than in the manga/Brotherhood, which is a large part of the reason that Ed/Al is as popular of a ship as it is (probably the second most popular slash pairing after Roy/Ed).
It Was His Sled: The twist that behind the Gate is "our world" has long since stopped being a spoiler, expected as the series is a major Gateway Series and one of the most popular anime (especially shonen anime) of the New Millennium. The Movie only made it less of a spoiler.
Launcher of a Thousand Ships: Envy was a big one for this series, despite being even more evil here. Ed in particular is even more of a "fandom bicycle" among the 03 fans, since he never got a canonical love interest in this version.
Envy, of all characters, seems to be this among certain parts of the fanbase.
Moral Event Horizon: Crossed by both Scar and the Homunculi. Envy crosses it with the murder of Hughes and enjoys dancing over it again and again. Depending on who you ask, Bradley's came with either Marta or Selim's murder, or The Reveal that he engineered the Ishvalan War to try to make a Philosopher's Stone, and wants Lior to be a repeat of Ishval.
Narm: Scar standing up to an absurd amount of punishment in his swan song episode, until it starts to feel like Monty Python. Plus he apparently carries Kimblee's body to a rooftop in his teeth.
Cyborg Archer. The design is ridiculous, and it stretches Schizo Tech to the absolute breaking point.
Dietlinde Eckhart's convoluted Motive Rant at the end of Conqueror of Shamballa might count
Rewatch Bonus: Everything "Lyra" does after Greed comes to Dante's mansion.
The Scrappy: Noah from The Movie. It turns out it's a pretty good thing the writers didn't create the Ed-Noah-Alfons love triangle originally planned for the film; hardly any fans like her, and instead they ship Ed and Alfons together.
Squick: The scene where Izumi Curtis eats that crumb off of the the island boy's face was done in a manner that suggested it was supposed to come off as sweet, but it ended up more gross than anything.
Stoic Woobie: Lust. Mustang can give off this impression sometimes, considering his guilt over his part in the Ishvalan war.
Strawman Has a Point / Hannibal Has a Point: The lecture Dante gives Ed and Al about how Equivalent Exchange (in terms of being a principle for life, outside of its use in alchemy) is crap. The fact is that, yeah, she's right that there are a lot of times in life where the effort you put into something is disproportionate to what you get out of it (for example, she talks about how Ed, as a Child Prodigy, passed the State Alchemist exam with flying colors on his first try, while others had been slaving away and repeatedly failing it for years). Hohenheim later gives Ed a more optimistic take on it.
Superlative Dubbing: Formal reviews of the series rarely pass up mentioning the overall quality of the voicework in the English version. It helps that all of the actors involved loved the series to death and put their hearts into it.
They Changed It, Now It Sucks: It's notable that many (though certainly not all) of the complaints about the series come from fans of the manga, rather than from fans who saw it as a stand-alone series. Conversely, it's not unheard of for those exposed to the franchise through the 2003 anime to sometimes have this attitude towards Brotherhood.
Watching Brotherhood first causes this reaction, as the changes in the 2003 anime make it difficult for them to watch.
Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Psiren. Meant to be a Classy Cat-Burglar with sympathetic motives for her crimes...except each and every time those motives are shown to be lies, and she even tries to murder Ed. Her motivation for wanting to give the town visibility (and even then, it's ambiguous whether she actually cares about that) is kind of drowned out by that.
Values Dissonance: Izumi's domestic violence against the Elric brothers; Ed and Al abusing each other.
Viewer Gender Confusion: Envy. Although, unlike in the manga/Brotherhood, he does get a canonical gender at the end.
Villain Decay: Envy was pretty much reduced to a plot device in Conqueror of Shamballa.
Wangst: Some people find it excessive the way this version handled Al's identity crisis after his confrontation with Barry the Chopper. In the manga and Brotherhood anime, Winry gives him a stern talking-to and he quickly snaps out of it. Here, he gets an additional episode to stew over it and even when he comes to his senses, it has lingering effects on his later Character Development.
Wrath takes Ed's sample of Mrs. Elric's remains into himself to deny Ed using them on Sloth. Wrath fuses with Sloth. Ed and Sloth figure out what is very stupid about this immediately. Sloth even lampshades it!
Sloth: Wrath...you fool...
Pride when he strangles Selim for bringing in his Achilles' Heel - giving Mustang the chance to use it against him - rather than telling Selim to run away with it. The fact that he had it in his house and trusted Selim with the key to the safe holding it without any knowledge that it could kill him is full-on Bond Villain Stupidity.
Rose in the 2003 anime had a lot of those moments. A priest says he can bring her BF back to life. She believes him. She later sees the disturbing, horrid, disgusting body that was clearly made out of parrots (who had all their feathers plucked out) that's going to be used to make a replacement for her dead boyfriend and she's still on the fence about it.
Al has two of these in the final third, like stopping Martel from killing Kimblee, thus making him responsible for everything Kimblee does afterward, holding on to the idea that Sloth is his mother long after it's clear that she's trying to kill both him and Ed. To be fair on the second one though, even though he knows it's not his mother, Sloth still looks and has memories of her. She even acts like her to toy with the Elric brothers and it happens to work far better on Alphonse. Another instance was in Conqueror of Shamballa. Why didn't he just transfer his soul into a suit of armor again and seal the gate on the other side? It's not like there weren't any lying around. It would have seriously saved the Elric Brothers the trouble of having to leave their loved ones behind.