Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood – review

July 7, 2010 at 5:13 pm 10 comments

“One is all, and all is one”

Domestic violence - FMA says YES!

Back when the first season of Fullmetal Alchemist (the one of dubious canonicity) was aired, I was impressed by the quality of animation and the imagination that was instilled in it. While the ending we received from that season and the subsequent movie The Conqueror of Shamballah was not well-received by many, I felt it was a very human and somewhat ‘realistic’ end to the saga.

They clearly shat enough brix to build a house...

When Brotherhood first aired last year, I thought it was mere milking of the series. Turns out I was wrong. Brotherhood improved on the firsts season significantly and gave great depth and development to all the characters we wanted to see them in. While the ending sometimes feels like a big cop-out, it is definitely more satisfying and finally the series can end with little to bitch about (well not quite: apparantly there’s going to be another movie O_O).

Evidently being a ninja does not require (1) skill; (2) subtlety

Few bad words can be said about the work done by Bones. Fight scenes are very well thought out and executely nicely. The character models look great as well. There’s also a lot of variety, so the viewers are seldom bored. The only thing I can say regarding animation is that there’s nothing that makes it look spectacular. Sure, movements are fluid and there’s no distortion, but it’s hardly unique-looking.

Apparantly Envy makes you happy 😛

Sound is another strong point. The background music was very fitting, and I enjoyed most of the OP tunes. The seiyuus do a great job at handling the characters too.

The power of a Philosopher's Stone (not Harry Potter, newbs)

Brotherhood was well-paced at 64 episodes, which gave this season a rather epic feel. This gave sufficient time to see the development we wanted, and at no point did I feel they were rushing. It goes without saying that the first 16 or so episodes were pretty testing on viewers who had watched the first season, but I felt that Yasuhiro did a good job on including only the necessary segments with enough fluff for the newcomers.

"Hey, I'm not THAT fugly!"

The thing that keeps most viewers back is the engaging narrative that was revealed on the way. It just goes to show how important the quality of an original work is for its anime adaptation to work. However there weren’t too many differences between the manga and Brotherhood, be that bad or good. One surprising thing to note is the fact that Lan Fan was noticeably absent from the last episode, which kinda sucked. On the contrary Hohenheim’s little segment at the end of episode 63 was fleshed out beautifully.

Pops is angry~

I think everyone’s pretty happy with what they managed to do with Winry. At the end of The Conqueror of Shamballah, she looked as if she had drawn the short end of the stick. However in Brotherhood, we get a more of her development. Heck, a whole ED is dedicated to her. The comedic elements in Brotherhood were pretty funny as well, and they were definitely appreciated in between some heavy dialogue and action.

Armstrong - what a beautiful man

Brotherhood has definitely been one of the best watches of this (and last) year. It successfully combines individual character development with an overarching plot of epic proportions. With some decent comedy, great action and a fantastic yarn, there’s lots to like for newcomers and fans of the series alike.

Animation: 9/10

Sound: 8.5/10

Story: 9/10

Characters: 8.75/10

Enjoyment: 8.75/10

Overall : 8.8/10

Farewell to a heck of a manga/anime series~


Entry filed under: Anime.

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10 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Baka!  |  July 7, 2010 at 8:09 pm

    I feel sad that the series has ended….Definitely one of the most entertaining anime series I’ve watched.

  • 2. Hans  |  July 7, 2010 at 9:22 pm

    I thought the first series was generally better, mainly because it was more focused on central themes and didn’t feel like a shounen show. Of course, FMA is a shounen manga and I thought it showed in this new adaptation.

    The only place you can really compare the two is the first arc leading up to Hughes’ death, and I thought even though it was really drawn out in the first series, it was just better. Brohood just inserted horrible non-funny funny parts and used really generic background music. They could’ve sped through it without keeping the poorly timed humour…

    That said, it picked up around the middle and it got good enough to make me watch it again after dropping it at episode 13 or so. The overarching story was a little too “epic” for me though. I think it suffered from having too many characters and a lack of focus in characterisation. It was entertaining though. I was a little disappointed in the finale after having that excruciating lead-up. After reading the manga, it did stuff a lot better. Pacing was horrible in the last arc. I did like the epilogue though. Good epilogue.

  • 3. ippius  |  July 7, 2010 at 9:24 pm

    mmm i get ur drift. hughes death was definitely more pronounced in s1. however, as i watched s1, i didn’t rly need that sobby stuff again.

  • 4. jeremyl  |  July 8, 2010 at 4:15 am

    I should begin by noting that its impossible to be completely objective in reviewing this series, as my brain will always conjure comparisons to the original.

    Brotherhood is such a mixed bag. Don’t misunderstand– it is a fantastic series by any measure. However its sizable cast, plot, and accompanying themes don’t resolve themselves as well as one would like. Because this series does not deviate from the manga, I suppose I am reviewing that, in a way, as well…

    So far as characters, the manga/Brotherhood introduces way too many, starts strong and gets us interested/invested, then leaves most of them high and dry, without further development or resolution. The entire Xing party just felt superfluous to me. Mei-chan is introduced (as is eastern alchemy), and we learn of her desire for the stone to become empress and guarantee the security of her clan name. Ditto the Xing prince Ling Yao, as well as his entourage. Yet beyond the introductory episodes, they are not fleshed out anymore and we do not see anything of Xing at all. It is so hard to care about any of these characters because we just cant see the underlying motivation for what they are doing. The same applies to Sensei Izumi, we cared so much for her in the first series because we really got to connect to her via a fleshed out storyline. She was, a dynamic character, hard but loving with a tragic past… in brotherhood we see none of that Izumi, just the ass-whooping housewife…which works for eactly one episode until we become bored with it.

    Overall, the homunculi are much more compelling in Brotherhood , versus series 1. The first made up their own storylines for the homunculi. I liked it alot, but it didn’t make sense to me as to how they all knew of each other. Also how they all connected, and why exactly they were the seven sins was not clearly explained. The manga/brotherhood clearly outlines that Father created each in order to absolve himself of his humanity to achieve godhood. This made the homunculi fit so much better into the scheme of things. Obviously Lust suffered the most from series 1 to Brotherhood, as her attempt to resonate with her human side in series 1 was not part of the original manga. Series 1 gave her such a beautifully written arc, character construction that when she dies abruptly in Brotherhood, my heart sank a little and never recovered. Im not faulting Brotherhood at all for that, just reconfirming how impossible it is to review this objectionally. For the rest of the homunculi, Greed and Pride are the standouts by far, Pride becoming the homunculi we love to hate. He is so powerful and cunning, every episode featuring him was hard to turn away from for even a second.

    Just like in series 1, the overall antagonist of the series is not developed enough for him to realy work as an effective villain. Dante in S1 popped up last second, which really lessened the overall climax of events as well as the ending…Brotherhood introduces us to father much earlier, however it doesn’t focus enough on how he became what he was. With the exception of a small snippet into his time as a slave, we dont see much of him at all until the end. Good villains work because we see them doing evil, being evil, as well as how they became evil. We don’t get enough of that from Father so by the end of the series is isnt all that impactful watching him suck up souls, etc when he used his lackeys to do 99% of the series dirty work. Of course, that is much closer to real life, so it is hard to fault for that.

    Well I guess I could go on and on, but the overall feeling for me is that Brotherhood is an ecellent series. It is technically superior to its predecessor in nearly every way, from development to pacing and overall storyarc…

    But technically superior doesnt always mean its a better series. The original anime went its own way, and gave us a simplified story, much less characters, and a few more loose ends. However its theme rang clear: in life, we pay a price for everything. Its a simpler tale of lost innocence and the desire to connect with what makes us all human. Nearly everyone at the end of the series 1 had touched me in some way where I cared about what happened to them. By the end of Brotherhood, even Ed and Al feel so diluted down that I find myself just watching and enjoying but not passionate about what is transpiring.

  • 5. ippius  |  July 8, 2010 at 9:22 am

    i guess you could say that bout the Xing. However, I felt that they gave a different perspective that wasnt in the original.

    lots of well-noted points 😛

  • 6. Reltair  |  July 13, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    Great series, I’m content with the ending because unlike the original series/movie, Winry didn’t get left behind. I thought things were wrapped up pretty well, which makes me curious as to what the movie is going to be about.

    • 7. ippius  |  July 13, 2010 at 12:14 pm

      probably filler >_>

  • 8. Manga Therapy  |  July 14, 2010 at 5:16 am

    I wonder what your thoughts of Pride being the only Homunculus left. Pride being alive at the end of the series really highlights a big theme overall: “pride” keeps us going.

    A majority of the characters showed a lot of pride in themselves throughout the series.

    I actually wrote about how the series shows that pride can be beneficial for survival. You can read it at: http://www.mangatherapy.com/post/806561122/pridesymbolism-fma

    I also have some other FMA content on my blog if you like to see.

    • 9. ippius  |  July 14, 2010 at 8:29 am

      the decision to keep Pride alive is pretty interesting and definitely deliberate. i think pride is always present such as humanity’s pride in itself. Pride is also probably left in to suggest the possibility of a world where homonculi (well, homonculus in this instance) and humans can co-exist as Grummann ponders on. The homonculi weren’t necessarily bad characters to start off with, but rather became the way they were due to Father’s influence.

      Pride was the oldest homonculi out of all ye deadly sins, so it makes sense he represents all of Father’s products. With him reverted back to innocent kiddy form, a new world order where homonculi aren’t villains can be established.

      • 10. Manga Therapy  |  July 14, 2010 at 9:41 am

        That is a good point. All the Homunculi were influenced by Father to a huge degree. I think he was left alive in order to live a life for himself to develop his own sense of “pride” (Didn’t Hohenheim call him the “true essence of Father”?) and also to see whether he can exist in a world of humans completely.

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