Fullmetal Alchemist is so good it's almost unbelievable. It combines an epic setting with fantastic characters, incredible fight scenes, and a genuinely intelligent plot. It sets the standard for all shonen manga, and few things come close, except what separates it is the fact that the battles tell a story, and are usually multiple fighters joining forces. Most shonen fights just have one guy duking it out while his friends commentate while he's dying. The comedy balance is brilliant, and the tear jerker moments are incredible. It's also got the best portrayal of women in manga or anime, they are badass with a feminine touch. They show that women are not just there to settle differences between the Hero and Lancer. Volume 15 is one of the best-written volumes ever written. Arakawa took a massacre and made both sides sympathetic; you are shocked by the brutality of war, but you also feel sad for the Amestrians as most of them clearly don't want to be there. The looks on the faces of Mustang, Hughes, Hawkeye, Armstrong, Marcoh, and Knox are incredible. Furthermore, it avoids the heavy-handed Fanservice and moralizing that can plague manga. This is the series to introduce your friends to manga, confident in the knowledge that there won't be an inappropriate Panty Shot or saccharine Golden Moment to put them off. In term of moralizing, it also deals with forgiveness. The scene with Scar and Winry basically tells us, yes, sometimes something is unforgivable, but that doesn't meant that you can just have your revenge easily. Sometimes, even if you can't forgive, you should endure. Yet another thing that makes it great is that it humanizes the extras. It shows civilians going about their lives and presents soldiers as realistic characters. In this way, we see the world the heroes are working to save and want them to succeed.
Let's just say Fullmetal Alchemist is one of the best Shonen manga ever and leave it at that.
One might not believe that there has yet been enough gushing about FMA. Not only does it include some far-reaching, deep themes and avoid many inane aspects of manga in general, but the premise is very creative, the plot is fantastic, and the characters are believable and likable. They even mature and change throughout the series, which is the mark of a truly talented author. Not to mention, when the Big Bad's master plan was unveiled, anyone's mind is blown completely. It's a shounen series, so it's very unlikely that it'll have a Downer Ending, but... when realizing the magnitude of the villains' influence and intentions, for a while there, wondering, just like the characters did: "How can the good guys win? How can they possibly overcome that?" The fact that not only does victory now seem possible, but the author did it believably instead of shoving in a Deus ex Machina makes the series even better.
This series is , all about the characters. Every single one of them is interesting enough for their own spinoff series. Arakawa took great care giving all those friends and foes their own memorable moments in the finale. It almost felt like Ed and Al got Demoted to Extra because there where just so many characters being amazing at the same time the heroes practically got lost in the shuffle, only to take center stage again for the final battle.
The first anime was good, but the manga is one of the most favourite pieces of fiction ever read. Consistant magic, great mythology, amazing continuity, sweet romances, hilarious when need be, believable, layered, sympathetic, human characters, badasses up the wazoo, has been upping the Holy Shit Quotient for TWO DAMN YEARS on a consistant, damn near exponential basis, protagonists that are intelligent and antagonists that force them to use every ounce of their merits, wonderful foreshadowing, great lore, subtly expansive and well-detailed world; Hiromu Arakawa, on the off chance you have suddenly learned perfect english and are visiting this site; well done, you are one of my favourite writers of all damn time.
Love, Love, Love FMA. Definitely one of my all time faves and in my opinion deserving all of the praise it gets. So many awesome, fantastic characters, great story, great art, filled to the brim with badassery, unique concept; This could go on but one (and any fellow FMA-lovers) has said enough.
It doesn't even have to be a major, always-in-the-thick-of-things role. In this series, you don't have to be a fighter to be important. Even non-action guys and girls had a hand in taking down the Big Bad, if indirectly. World of Badass, indeed.
The amount of foreshadowing is amazing, so much so that absolutely nothing in this series can be hand waved to mere coincidence. Everything happened for a reason, and rewatching the series and picking up all the hints made it somehow even more enjoyable the second time around. Seriously, this series has just about anything anyone could want: action, adventure, drama, comedy, mystery, fantasy, sci-fi, horror, thriller, and perhaps most surprisingly, romance. Yes, a shonen manga with an actual, non-last-minute romance arc with proper buildup. No harem, no Romantic False Lead, and no endless Ship Tease that ultimately amounts to nothing besides bait to string the viewers along (because honestly, that's how ship wars start). Just two characters who love each other, fight for one another, and (literally, in one case) give each other a leg to stand on. Again, is this really a shonen series?
Brotherhood is even better than the original, and that's saying a LOT. With a better ending that ends on a positive and emotional note, more character development (with almost no characters being left out- even YOKI of all people gets a crowning moment of awesome), higher quality animation, extremely well-composed (not to mention fitting) music, more intense fight scenes, several comedic scenes that don't feel out of place, and the fact it follows the manga very well, Brotherhood is a must see. It especially grows the beard during episode 19 when Roy Mustang gets one of the most memorable crowning moments of awesome of all time, and he only gets more badass from there. Even with 64 episodes, it feels like the fastest-paced show I've ever seen, which is a good reason why I'm proud to declare it my all-time favorite show.
Fullmetal Alchemist is a series with Loads and Loads of Characters. You would, rationally, expect that only the heroes, Ed, Al, Mustang, Hohenheim and the like, would be the ones to save the day. After all, it's not like the author could make nearly every heroic character be vital to the heroes' victory, right? What's that? She did it anyway? Yep. That's right. Nearly every single surviving ally the heroes have ever made (save for Denny, Pinako, Paninya, and the Hughes family) participates in the plan on the Promised Day, and every single one of them contributes in some important fashion. Without literally any of them, at the very least there would have been many more casualties, or a serious mess once the big fight was over. And all that works beautifully to prove the series' underlying theme: that Humans Are Specialbecause of the bonds we form with each other.