Seldom does an anime get a do over. The core story from the manga usually survives the transition to animation intact, though incredibly bloated. The longer the story, the more excess fat, be it slow animation or filler episodes. Occasionally, the story goes completely off the rails, not coming anywhere close to the ending from the source. Such is the case with Fullmetal Alchemist.
The FMA manga, written and drawn by Hiromu Arakawa, started in July 2001 and quickly found success. Shortly after, an anime was put into production by Bones, launching in 2003. Knowing the manga would run longer, Arakawa requested a different ending from the manga. The results were mixed. Much of the first half of the series followed the manga, albeit with a few filler episodes. While this certainly slowed down the pace, it was no less enjoyable, if this was your first exposure to the series.
Spoilers, though honestly, you should watch FMA: Brotherhood instead (more on that in a minute). The reveal of Pride (Wrath everywhere else) was truly shocking, at least for me. The Sloth reveal was descent as well. Dante, a new creation and ageless lover of Hohenheim, was the main antagonist. The boys quested for the philosopher’s stone, with Al becoming the stone by the end. The opening narration changing when the brothers finding the stone was a nice touch. The ending, despite it’s many flaws, such as the inclusion of WWII Germany, was odd to say the least, but the sacrifice Ed and Al made for each other was tear inducing. End spoilers.
The core of the story, the love these two brothers had, always remained, making the story a true classic. The ending, with the inclusion of real world elements was an odd choice, though it’s easy to ignore in spite of the human element. Holding the proper ending for a feature movie, Conqueror of Shamballa, a year later was a disservice to fans.
One inarguable element is the sound. Funimation handled the dub, bring with them their stable of rockstar performers. This was the show that introduced me to Vic Mignogna, one of my favorite performers. Adding to it was some great opening and closing songs. “Ready, Steady, Go!” by L’arc en ciel, “Rewrite” by Asian Kung-fu Generation, “Kesenai Tsumi” by Nana Kitade, and “Tobira no Mukou e” by Yellow Generation (particularly with the image of Ed holding a snowflake in each hand) were all amazing songs. Each were used effectively to convey the current emotion of the characters or story. These are songs I keep on my MP3 player (or whatever you kids are calling them these days) still, and introduced me to many new artists.
Here’s a fun anecdote. I didn’t catch this until it’s second run on Adult Swim, airing Monday nights (or Tuesday mornings) at 1 am. At the time, I was working a 70 – 80 hrs / week job putting up tents. It was brutal, I was exhausted (yes, yes, boo hoo). I would set my alarm, waking up to see the next episode (I didn’t know how the internet worked then). Finally, when the last episode was set to air, they didn’t show it, as it was too bloody. I lost my mind with anger. Eventually, I found a subtitled version online that night and watched it. I regret nothing.
Once the manga was complete, another anime was produced, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, following the events of the book. This second series was far superior to the first for a variety of reasons.
The original FMA had a lot going for it, considering the quality of the animation studio, the company handling the dub, a solid character foundation to work from, and an awesome soundtrack. While I connected with this on a person level I could never properly articulate, this series isn’t for everyone. Brotherhood though, not watching that is a crime.
Did the original FMA do anything for you? Did WWII break the store? Comment below!
Seriously angry when I couldn’t see the end.