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Fullmetal Alchemist – 2003-2004 series

Regulars of this website might have noticed I am a fan of cosplaying a certain undersized, midget whelp of a man called Edward Elric. It’s okay, he’s not here to defend himself right now. So what about the series he came from?

Plot

Without ruining too much, I’ll explain the premise of the start of the series:

Edward Elric and his brother Alphonse Elric are two gifted alchemists from a very young age. They lost their mother and wanted to bring her back to life, as two loving sons would want. They studied night and day to learn the forbidden alchemy – Human transmutation. The ability to bring the dead back to life, for one.

Upon activating the ritual, things weren’t quite what they seemed. They had gathered the ingredients which make up a human, sure – But they forgot about one important element: A life for a life. Alchemy is the science of equivalent exchange, what you give must be of equal value to what you get back. The ritual tried to take the younger Elrics (Alphonse’s) life, Edwards right arm and left leg are taken in the process. Edward using his own blood created a seal to bind his brothers soul to a suit of armour before it was too late.

Years later and the two had been taken in by the military, they became known as the Elric brothers; Edward being named “Fullmetal”, due to his newly made Automail arm and leg. They go in search of the philosophers stone and the secrets behind it; but what dark secrets await them?

Who’da thought this smiling kiddo would be a wrathful fellow?

Although well documented, it’s worth noting that this series doesn’t follow the manga story that well. This is because this series was being aired around the same time as the manga. Inevitably, this series started to speed past the manga, so they had to use a bit of creative freedom to guess what was going to happen. So we had characters unseen in the manga, such as this version of Wrath appear. For the record, I really liked this version of Wrath – It didn’t work as well story wise as the mangas version, but to give them credit, they clearly had a good vision for this character from the get go.

Art

The art of the series is beautiful with cleverly designed characters. From Fullmetal himself to his brother Alphonse and from characters such as Gluttony to Envy; there is a huge variety in the characters presentation.

There are the people from central who don their military attire, then there are the Homunculi. Not forgetting the Ishbal (Or Ishval) people such as Scar, another important character throughout, you see plenty of variety in the depiction of humans and the “creations”.

Scar. Named so for the scar on his head. See? Clever.

The art in this series isn’t quite as good as the art in Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood, but that’s a story for another day.

The backdrops in this series are some of my favourite in any anime ever made. Everything is so clean and so easy to follow, it doesn’t matter if you’re a fan of anime or not: This series sets itself apart thanks to its appearance and amazing special effects. It’s no wonder then that this was rated so damn highly on “top animated shows” lists, time and time again.

Music and voices

So as always, we’ll talk quickly about the opening theme tune of the original series.

This opening made the series feel like it was going to be a lot more than just a cartoon. The theme made you feel like you were watching an adventure which had deep meaning, an adventure of discovery and glory abound. Okay, perhaps not glory – but certainly an adventure of discovery.

The dramatic music within Fullmetal Alchemist always made me feel more tense and is one of my favourite mood shifters of any series I’ve seen.

As for the voices, they were cast well. With Vic Mignogna voicing Edward Elric in the English version, he made a good choice to play Edward. He certainly has one of the best “Young guy screams” in the industry.

From the chaotic sounding Envy, to the rather sexy voice of Gluttony Lust, you can tell each person was cast after a good selection period. I could be wrong, but it sounds like they put a lot of thought into their voice casting process.

 

Overall

With a brilliant contrast of funny and very serious moments, this series can appeal to just about anyone. It has plenty of action for those who want a good combat centric anime, yet there’s plenty of discussions such as religion, the lengths man will go for power and even the human condition. This makes it more heavy watching than a series such as Bobobo-Bo Bo-Bobo, which has no heavy-value at all, but the humour separates this series from other series that fill the action-hole.

Fullmetal Alchemist remains one of my favourite series of all time. I’d argue that for me, this was the anime that sealed my love for the art… However, there is a one up to this series. Many years later, they released another series of Fullmetal Alchemist which follows the manga way more to the book.

All in all then, Fullmetal Alchemist gets a whopping 4.5/5 from me… So what does the “follow-up”/”Reboot” get for its troubles? Join us again next time when we review Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood.

Have you seen Fullmetal Alchemist? What did you think of it? Was the story too dark, too light, or just right? It gets pretty graphic at times, but there are also way worse anime for being graphic, such as Berserk… But for the type of series it was; do you think it was “just right”?

Would you change anything about this original series? What would it be?

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6 responses

  1. I preferred Brotherhood. The early series took itself waayy too seriously: to the point where Ed was pretty much crying every episode. The villains were much better thought out in Brotherhood, and all of the side characters you actually care about got good screen time and development. Plus, as sad as it is to say, the action in Brotherhood blows the original out of the water. (Looking at you Lust vs Mustang fight)

    Best thing I can say about the original series? MUCH cooler openings and endings. Rewrite by Asian Kung-Fu Generation is one of my favorite songs ever (easily top 5).

    Like

    August 9, 2014 at 2:10 am

    • Well, I agree and disagree with you here. Brotherhood, truer to the manga, was a lot darker! As such, although Ed cries a lot in the original, it feels somewhat more believable. 15-16 year olds being forced to struggle with the human condition – I would have been crying.

      Brotherhood although the far superior anime in terms of quality and plot (More on that another time), almost -didnt- take its characters emotional states seriously enough……….. EXCEPT for that tragic ending of Envy. I was shaking my head and feeling so bad for him there.

      Like

      August 9, 2014 at 9:47 am

      • Yeah, I just shorts disagree with Brotherhood being darker. Only in certain fights, but the fact that in FMA the homunculus need their own dead remains to be defeated was pretty dark. Then king bradly’s son walks in with his own skull. And the lack of comedy (outside of calling Ed short, har har) which is in Brotherhood just kinda made the original show kind of boring with the constant tension.

        And the ending in Brotherhood was much more happy. Lol

        Like

        August 9, 2014 at 4:50 pm

      • Haha agreed the ending is happiee, but damn man lets not deny one thing: in both series: DAT HUGHES SCENE!!! D:!!!

        Like

        August 9, 2014 at 6:24 pm

  2. One of the best anime shows ever. I like both FMA and Brotherhood equally. Brotherhood ends better, but it’s still worth watching the original as Brotherhood rushed through a lot of stuff early on.

    Like

    August 9, 2014 at 7:42 am

    • Agreed here – they are two different stories too, with the same opening of course.

      I like to think of it as 2 DMs who have been given the same story sheet; one follows script, the other goes mad and delves deeper into the human condition!

      Like

      August 9, 2014 at 9:50 am

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