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Anime recommendation episode 2: FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST: BROTHERHOOD

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Welcome back to another anime recommendation. I’m having a lot of fun doing these. However, revisiting some of my favourite shows has increased my desire to rewatch them… and there are only so many hours in a day. This one is a big one. When you discuss anime with someone I’m willing to bet that Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood works its way into the conversation.

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is pretty much a direct adaptation of the manga series written by Hiromu Arakawa. It follows little Ed and Al who have dreamed of becoming alchemists like their father. After a tragic accident, messing with the laws of transmutation and equivalent exchange, Ed loses an arm and a leg while Al’s consciousness is bonded with a suit of armor. The brothers go on the hunt for a Philosopher’s Stone in hopes of getting their original bodies back. Along the way, they discover a dark secret about the Philosopher’s Stone and their own government.

I was fairly nervous about watching this show to begin with. At that moment in time I had only watched short series that spanned 12-25 episodes. 64 episodes was a massive commitment. However, once I got started I soon realised why this show held a special place in so many people’s hearts.

What I think worked so well was that despite its length, each episode adds to the overall narrative. A lot of shows deal with filler but Fullmetal does a fantastic job at maintaining a constant story that continuously escalates with a fulfilling resolution. While that is all down to the fantastic work by Arakawa, the transition from page to screen is absolutely flawless.

Fullmetal Alchemist had a series in 2003 which deviated away from the manga. Brotherhood was released 6 years later.

I don’t think it’s an exaggeration when I say that this show has everything. But it does. It really does. This show is able to balance so many different themes brilliantly. On top of being one of the funniest shows around, it also has many hard hitting moments that can make even the most veteran anime watchers cry. In addition to that, Fullmetal is not afraid to deal with the harsh reality of war, even in such a fictional landscape.

Considering the very dark tones surrounding war, brutality and government conspiracies, it’s surprising how fun this show can be. What’s fantastic about anime is that the animation becomes an incredibly powerful tool that can create comedy. A show like Pokémon is a prime example of a series that uses the animation style to create humor. However, I believe Fullmetal is the show that does it perfectly. There are moments that will just stay with you because of how certain characters appear. The writing is fun, the animation is implemented masterfully and all the characters have their own fun moments… even the villains.

Edward Elric and Mustang annoying eachother, yet again.

That’s what makes this show special. There isn’t a single bad character. There are bad characters but you end up liking them. Their mannerisms, their humor, their strengths and their convictions. Even if they are bad characters, there is always something that you can get attached to. Ed and Al may be the stars but the entire cast shine through in their own unique way.

While Ed and Al are brilliant together, I love seeing the interactions between Ed and Roy Mustang, they are simply amazing together.

Mustang and Armstrong are probably my two favourite characters. Again, there is this nice balance between being fun and serious. At their core, these two Alchemists are absolutely hilarious but when they’re pushed… You quickly learn why they’re given names like “The Strong Arm Alchemist” and “Flame Alchemist”. These characters are incredibly powerful and the show does some amazing things to put their powers on display. This applies to all the Alchemists and powerful beings in the show.

One scene that comes to mind is when the Flame Alchemist loses his cool. Never mess with Roy Mustang is the lesson in that episode.

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood feels like a show that can be enjoyed by all. It’s not overly graphic, it can be fun, sad, exciting, there are a broad range of characters for people to engage with, it stays focused and the pay off is worth it. You go on a journey with these characters and even if they aren’t their for the entire ride, their presence is still felt. Seeing characters like Ed and Al change and grow is part of the fun. But, no one said it was going to be easy.

If you’ve watched the show, I also highly recommend checking out the original manga which consists of 27 volumes. It may take you a while but it’s definitely worth it. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood can be enjoyed in all of its glory on Netflix! Check out more from James here:


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