This review if for the Fullmetal Alchemist series of 2003. A review of brotherhood will come but im starting with this as it was the first one i saw.
The basic story is a tale of two brothers, Edward and Alphonse, who is one year younger. When Edward was ten, their mother died, and one year later, they tried to revive her using alchemy. The result was that Edward lost an arm and a leg, and Alphonse died, though Edward was able to implant his spirit into a suit of armor. Regretting the consequences of their actions, they set about to recover what they have lost, no matter what the consequences. They discover that an object called the Philosopher’s Stone may have the key to their wish, but the making of the Stone comes with a terrible price, and they aren’t the only ones after it.
The basic story as described was interesting enough, and certainly an original take on the magic genre, but what really made it outstanding was the way it was paced. Throughout the series there were climaxes, down times, and occassional comic relief to keep the edge off. Each crisis that the brothers face is carefully set up, and with every challenge overcome, the mysteries of the world slowly start to unravel. Bit by bit, the show gives you just a little more knowledge of what is going on, keeping you at the edge of your seat, an amazing feat for a series of this length.
Besides the overall development of the storyline, I was also impressed by the way they mixed in everything else. Members of the supporting cast came in and out, and you never quite knew what was going to happen next. Comic relief was mixed in very well, enough of a prescence that it made a difference, but not so much that it took away the seriousness from the crises and the moral dilemmas when they came up.
When i saw this series back in 2003 the story was great in my eyes(if you never read the manga until after) The start is great, and they are keeping the red line trough the story. One thing i liked was that they where going back to places where they been before.
Another aspect that shines is the characters. To make is simple, most of the major character have some sort of a burden that they must bear – and they struggle immensely to ease the burden. The Elric brothers, Ed and Al, are the protagonists. After a tragic alchemy experiment, they try to gain back their lost parts of their humanity all, their emotional pain only enhanced by their physical handicaps. Colonel Mustang bears the mental and emotional scars of war. Winry’s heart aches for the loss of her parents, and longs to ease the pain of the Elric brothers. Even many of the minor characters bears a Atlas-like burden – while most are merely quirky and serve their purpous as comic reliefs. And that may be one of the weak points in character development. Although the Elric brothers are well formed, much of the other more minor characters have little or no depth at all.
The animation was very solid, the characters always look very good, and the scenery and backgrounds are varied nicely. Still, there isn’t anything here which really stands out as exemplary either, typical Bones nature. The only slight let down in visuals is the fluidity of animation at times. Some of the action scenes especially are not handled as well as others – missing a few frames etc, but generally the sensory experience for your optical nerves is very very pleasing.
Overall I really enjoyed this series. I would have probably felt better about the series if the ending had had more resolve too (please see Movie). But there is an undeniable coolness to the whole of Full Metal Alchemist which seems to radiate over its minor flaws.