TV Tropes Org
site search
Fullmetal Alchemist back to reviews
Comments
My Impressions the First Time
It's often hard to talk about the anime of Fullmetal Alchemist without mentioning the manga, and how the two versions compare to one another, but this review will evaluate the anime on its own, as it is a fairly good show with some noticeable flaws. This review is about what I thought of the anime before I read the manga.

The series has an interesting overarching story that touches on questions such as how to use power, how people can atone for their mistakes and whether the world is at all fair. The world is well-developed and has a rich history, making it an effective setting for the story as past events have implications on several regards in the present.

Many of the recurring characters are well-developed, with personal conflicts that often relate to the broader themes in the story and their world's issues, although some of them, like Roy Mustang's subordinates, are not as well developed as they could have been, and others, like Dr. Marcoh, disappear from the story far earlier than they should.

The system of alchemy works well in the battles, allowing for a variety of uses and tactics in battles, such as making weapons or altering the environment. The characters have a variety of alchemy specialties and fighting styles, allowing for a variety of exciting battles, but some of the secondary protagonists, like Armstrong and Mustang, could have been given more chances to fight.

Unfortunately, the plot often gets sidetracked on diversions that do little for the main story. These plots are significantly less interesting than the main material, and often involve characters who, like the Elrics, resent someone close to them without understanding the entire truth, and the villains in these episodes tend to seek power with no compelling motivations. Such stretches can go on for several episodes at a time, undermining viewer interest.

The climax is somewhat disappointing, as it sets up some potentially epic battles and fails to deliver, particularly in the case of the main villain, and has a somewhat inconclusive ending that is a Sequel Hook for the movie. One may be led to wonder why the writers didn't remove some of the filler episodes to address these issues.

Overall, Fullmetal Alchemist is worth a look, but I personally recommend also viewing the manga or the Brotherhood anime.
Watch the first anime and read the manga, but you really shouldn't be encouraging people to watch Brotherhood, unless they really, really like over-the-top and poorly timed Super Deformed comedy. Oh yeah, and there's also the scenes in Brotherhood where they add things like the soldiers pointing guns at Scar but not shooting, and remove fairly plot important things like how Bradley knew where Greed was.
comment #1780 silver2195 31st Jan 10
Unfortunately, the plot often gets sidetracked on diversions that do little for the main story. These plots are significantly less interesting than the main material, and often involve characters who, like the Elrics, resent someone close to them without understanding the entire truth, and the villains in these episodes tend to seek power with no compelling motivations. Such stretches can go on for several episodes at a time, undermining viewer interest.

Your Mileage May Vary

With the exception of maybe two episodes, these diversions provide important Character Development for the Elric brothers, and help to put their later decisions into perspective. If all you care about is how quickly the plot is moved along, then I imagine these episodes will bore you. But if, like me, you're watching as much to see how the Elrics overcome their shortcomings, these episodes will be very entertaining.
comment #1781 amarielah 31st Jan 10
Those episodes are rarely brought up again, with a few exceptions (the Tringham brothers showing up shortly before the climax, among others), which make one wonder how much the Elric brothers changed as a result of those encounters. While they're technically part of the anime canon, they often seem like Filler and could have been used better, primarily for developing the main plotline and some of the other characters (One character only gets outed as a homunculus- and a different one, at that- around 10 episodes before the end, leaving relatively little time to explore the implications of this beyond how powerful the villains really are in Amestris, and the secret unit of chimeras that helped incite the Ishbal war seems to be a bit of a wasted plot).
comment #1788 Rampulus 1st Feb 10
Character Development doesn't have to result in immediate changes. Sometimes, all it has to do is establish characterization and show the potential for change, which those "side" episodes very much did.

It is in the side episodes that Alphonse' tendency to Freak Out is first revealed, as well as his naive ability to forgive those who have hurt him. This makes decisions made later in the series (like his encounter with Shou Tucker) consistent, as opposed to ass pulls. It is in the side episodes that Edward is first made to question what he and Alphonse are doing, as well as its implications for other people, which also explains decisions that he makes towards the end of the series. Furthermore, if every encounter with every person was flash backed to, it would become grossly Anvilicious. We don't need to be reminded of where every bit of characterization is established.

One thing I like about the anime is that it's actually fairly subtle when it comes to character development. Many anime and manga have a tendency to make the changes happen so quickly and so obviously that it seems like the creators are going, "Look! Look! This character has been more developed now!" The problem is raised and resolved within a single episode or over a few chapters.

So, Your Mileage May Vary. I was glad that they sacrificed exposition for the sake of characterizing the main protagonists, and I thoroughly enjoyed those episodes. And the last reveal concerning a homunculus was certainly foreshadowed more than enough, and neatly explained that character's actions throughout the series.
comment #1796 amarielah 3rd Feb 10 (edited by: amarielah)
I *love* the "filler" episodes. They not only develop the main protagonists and show us how they tick even better than the manga did, but they also expand on the show's underlying themes quite a bit. The manga did the same thing in the very beginning; the first few volumes serving as a prologue of sorts to the real story that, while not as in depth as the anime, did a great job of introducing us to the characters. This is also why I think Brotherhood is a lot weaker: it cut all of that excellent development out of the series, as well as important plot points, in favor of fast-paced action and stupid slapstick comedy involving excessive "LOL ED IS SHORT" jokes.
comment #4612 SomeDeadGuy 29th Sep 10
In order to post comments, you need to Get Known
TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from thestaff@tvtropes.org.
Privacy Policy