Reviews: Full Metal Alchemist

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2003 Fullmetal Alchemist
There will never be anything like the 2003 Fullmetal Alchemist. It did something very different from anything else ever made.

First off is the way it was directed. The music sounds inspired by Classical Music which fits perfectly in a Fantasy .Most Fantasy settings have this huge epic Orchestra to back up it's setting which I find doesn't draw me into a Fantasy setting as a soundtrack with actual melody would. You can see that FMA-1 choreographs the animation to its music. I find a lot of Hollywood movies don't do this, instead it looks like the music is choreographed to the action on-screen instead. Not that there's anything wrong with Hollywood soundtracks but it seems like music in this format is just an after thought.

Fullmetal Alchemist has many themes that come into play as the story progresses such as Racism, War, Politics, Science, Religion, Death, To even Life itself. These themes and their morals may fly over your head during the first viewing but the more I think about what Fullmetal Alchemist was trying to tell me, the more it makes sense. Some people call FMA pretentious with no real morals, I say to them, please think back on the series. Alchemy is just one huge metaphor for Science. That right there should already be a huge hint.

So what FMA does differently than any other show I know, is actually really hard describe why I think this. You would expect this show to a typical Shonen but it's not. It's a Fantasy epic, but not really. Unlike a lot of Epics like The Dark Knight or even FMA: Brotherhood, it's not a huge over the top epic with lot's of explosions and flashy attacks. FMA is more homely and humble than that, I remember one episode where it was almost just like a nice day, and a lot of early episodes of the first Fullmetal Alchemist either start or end like a nice day and it contrasts really well with some of the more darker moments making them a lot more tragic. I think the show is taking this mature story and putting it in the perspective of kids. In the second season, this Kid-friendly feel drops and becomes slightly more darker. This is great because things get more serious. The action builds up at this point but so does the story itself. FMA will surprise, shock, make you cry and even make you think.

Fullmetal Alchemist really impresses me, especially for a series that is 90% filler.
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The entire series...AS A STANDALONE (no movie review sorry)
Pros:

Brilliant characterization for Edward Elric

Bringing up themes of religion, Grayand Grey Morality, and the notion of equivalent exchange is great

Most of the other characters are very believable in their motivations (especially the Homunculi)

Choosing the Russian Orchestra for the soundtrack (Yes, its the Russian Orchestra) helps to enhance the despair that is prevalent through the setting

Taking a dramatic approach to the series rather than doing full blown shonen action is a great change (and the main difference from this series to FMA: Brotherhood in my opinion)

The story, while it can be confusing at times, is very connected. It's not like you have to pay attention to every little detail, but little things in the beginning of the series turn out to be very important later on.

The world is amazing and the Worldbuilding is some of the best worldbuilding I have seen in a while. I especially liked the parallels to Nazi Germany (Yes, Nazi Germany) although....

Cons:

Making the world an Alternative History to Nazi Germany, while it makes sense, was barely foreshadowed. Like the notion of it being an Alternate History was barely hinted at and kinda felt that it came out of nowhere.

(Personal Con) The ending for this series is known to be a hit-or-miss for some people. For me. It's a little bit of both. I liked how the equivalent exchange theme was resolved but I didn't get the part where Ed sacrificed his "Sweat and determination" to get Al back...{{What.}}

Leaving all those loose ends in the ending of this series. As a standalone, this is unacceptable. Even if there is a movie.

Some characters are also one or two dimensional. The most glaring offenders being Archer (one-dimensional) and Dante. Considering that they have been the main villains for a good portion of this series. I think that I should at least get a little bit more fleshing out than just a backstory for Dante (although her philosophy about equivalent exchange is rather solid)

Overall:

Yeah, it's not Brotherhood (getting to watching that) but it stands on it's own as a pretty good anime series. The themes, characters, story, and setting are all on point (most of them). But it shouldn't be glossed over just because "Brotherhood is superior"

Give it a watch guys. It may not be perfect but it's one of the best anime out there.

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