Like the magic system of the series, what you get out of Fullmetal Alchemist is governed by the law of equivalent exchange.
Fullmetal Alchemist came to my attention back in 2009 with the announcement of the English dub of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (FMAB). I remember watching the first episode but, for whatever reason at the time, I just didn’t commit to following its run. Recently, I decided to have another crack at it and I can see why it gets such high praise from both fans and critics…
What is Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood?
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is an anime series produced by Bones (also known for Space Dandy, My Hero Academia & Mob Psycho 100) and adapted from the manga, Fullmetal Alchemist, written and illustrated by Hiromu Arakawa. The manga was published between 2001 and 2010 with English translations published by Viz Media.
**It is worth mentioning that Bones produced two FMA shows, the first being Fullmetal Alchemist which aired from 2003 to 2004 and features an ending different to that in the manga. The second show is Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood which ran from 2009 through to 2010 and is a much more faithful adaptation of the manga.
The story follows Edward & Alphonse Elric are two brothers on a mission to restore their bodies after a failed alchemy ritual to bring their mother back to life. Human transmutation is a taboo among alchemy and follows the law of ‘equivalent exchange’ – to obtain something, something of equal value must be lost. The ritual causes Edward to lose an arm and a leg, while Alphonse loses his entire body which results in his soul being bonded to a suit of armour. This act in itself is enough to be drawn in. However, when you see the lengths the two brothers would go for each other you can’t help becoming invested. After all, the only family they have is each other.
What separates it from the crowd?
While I wouldn’t hold it in such high regard as critics, FMAB’s positive reception is well deserved. The overarching story is well paced and gives plenty of time to develop both its cast of characters and the world. The fighting that takes place in the show is never thrown in for the sake of it, it serves as a means to an end and I was definitely pleased to see that not all the greatest fights were given to the main character. The show deserves a special mention again to its cast, not one character is wasted as they all receive attention, becoming fleshed out and believable over the show’s run.
I will go out to say that I haven’t seen the original Fullmetal Alchemist series so I can’t compare the two, but Brotherhood was well worth the watch and I feel you’re rewarded for the time you put into the show. I found the comedic moments balanced nicely with the serious and dark tone of the story, and I found myself caring for a lot of the characters and enjoying how they reacted emotionally to the events that unfolded before them. The animation is great and looks its best during the fight scenes, while the score accompanying it does a terrific job at setting the mood and conveying emotion. I recommend Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood to anyone who has yet to see, especially newcomers to anime – plus I dare you not to fall in love with Roy Mustang or Alphonse Elric.
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is available on Netflix & Crunchyroll (depending on region) and the complete collection is available to buy from most retailers.
Written by: Robb Davis