Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood – Review

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood:

Original Air Dates: April 5th, 2009 – July 4th, 2010

Maybe he was talking about your ‘short’ temper.

Synopsis: The Elric brothers, Edward and Alphonse, are on a quest to find a way to change their bodies back to normal after performing a failed alchemical transmutation to bring their mother back from the dead. The two boys do everything they can to uncover the existence of the philosopher’s stone and the dark and horrible truths about the country they live in, as well as the very nature of alchemy itself.

Review (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):

Tom: Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is one of my favorite anime, above many a seasonal series as a story that stands the test of time and remains enjoyable no matter how many years pass. It’s the second adaptation of the original manga, this one staying truer to the original work. It’s this adherence to Arakawa’s original narrative that allows Brotherhood to feel more poignant, more meaningful and relatable than the first adaptation’s anime original plot that highly diverges from the manga’s events. The first FMA provides a more focused take on some of Brotherhood’s core aspects, choosing to forego later developments, while Brotherhood, in turn, feels more like a sprawling world, bringing greater life and reality to the realm of Alchemists and kingdom of Amestris.

Linny: FMA: Brotherhood has been criticized by some for being a little too comedic but that doesn’t mean it’s a laugh out loud story all the way through. The show has plenty of touching and serious moments that make you pause for thought and will even have you in tears. While it does tend to insert comedy often, especially in the earlier half, there’s also a perfect blend of suspense, action and emotion accompanying the storytelling.

Wouldn’t be an anime without a missing parent or two.

Tom: Compared to the first adaptation, Brotherhood has a huge cast of characters. But that wealth of cast members doesn’t mean Ed and Al, along with the rest of the core, don’t get plenty of development. It’s clear how much effort Ms. Arakawa put forth in crafting compelling leads for her work, as Ed and Al find their beliefs and ideals challenged time and again through the series, always making sure that no matter the development, no matter the change in the status quo, it always come back to Ed and Al. But beyond our leads, the rest of the cast is just as compelling, just as interesting and just as moving. There isn’t an event that goes by without pulling at your heartstrings as your favorite characters, large or small, suffer time and again. It helps that so many feel three-dimensional, few characters coming across as truly evil, but rather misguided and tainted by various sins and questionable ideals. Even the primary villain himself, introduced towards the middle of the series run, has reasons for being the way he is, even if those reasons don’t become apparent until the very final episodes.

Linny: Brotherhood’s supporting characters are so well written that they often steal the spotlight and might even end up winnning you over more than the main cast. The ‘good guys’ in the story all have strong personalities that leave an impression on you, rather than feeling like just a lazy spot filler. And as Tom has already pointed out, even the villainous and ‘grey’ characters are so well written that the viewers should be able to atleast get a good understanding of why they choose the ‘evil’ path even if they do not approve of them.

Those are some way too happy faces for such dismal news.

Tom: Brotherhood sports a truly incredible dub that captures much of the feel and attitude of the original Japanese soundtrack. Few voices, if any, feel miscast, bringing to life Arakawa’s characters with personality that bubbles over and allows each character to feel wholly memorable. Dubs were looked down upon during the early years of Anime localization, but Brotherhood is a testament to how far the industry has come, standing as a beacon for the sheer quality many should be aiming for. If you find subtitles a chore, know that Brotherhood’s dub is more than a match for the original Japanese, and stays true to the series’ personality and attitude.

Linny: The brilliant dub voice acting combined with a story that features well rounded characters and a good mix of fantasy, action and comedy makes FMA:Brotherhood an ideal starter show for introducing new people to the world of anime. Whether you prefer sub or dub, Brotherhood is one of the more famous shows that can be enjoyed equally in both forms.

When the cuteness hits you out of nowhere.

Tom: Not to be forgotten is Brotherhood’s incredible soundtrack. The background music is a perfect match for the series, and sells the ominous and horrific moments of our heroes’ struggle. Almost all of the music is a perfect fit, save for a few of the various opening and ending songs that don’t quite work (This show changes its OP/ED themes frequently and often.) It’s perhaps even thanks to the music that certain scenes become capable of moving the audience to tears.

Linny: As someone who is less picky about animation quality unless it looks downright atrocious or rushed, FMA:Brotherhood’s animation held up throughout, especially as the action picks up. For comedic scenes and purposes, the characters often transform into a chibi like/generally weird art style, which might annoy you if you prefer your art to remain consistent.

Tom: Brotherhood’s animation is generally top notch, and while there are no significant dips in quality, it doesn’t always feel entirely up to snuff in certain mid-run episodes, as if budget was running a bit tight here or there. There’s also a difference in quality between Brotherhood’s first few episodes, and the original adaptation. Both cover much of the same content, although Brotherhood cuts a few pieces here or there to hurry the story along. But the original FMA seemed to have more atmosphere, more personality in these opening episodes, where as Brotherhood’s opening might feel a tad ‘by the books’ as it tries to rush viewers through content they may have been overly familiar with at the time. It’s perhaps not a huge problem if you’ve never seen the original adaptation however. Besides a ‘lame duck’ filler episode, Brotherhood generally captures the feel and atmosphere of the manga, particularly once it moves past any content it shares with the first adaptation.

When the entire family has accepted the severity of your sibling rivalry.

Linny: Running at 64 episodes in total, FMA:Brotherhood definitely sounds intimidating to those who are still new to the world of anime, especially when seasonal anime usually run 12-13 episodes per season or 26 at the max. However, thanks to the quick paced narration and large cast, the show rarely ever feels stagnant and the mystery and comedy help to make the experience feel light hearted and fast paced. As FMA:Brotherhood follows the original canon material, it might be the better way to experience the FMA story and thanks to its shonen roots, a story that can be enjoyed by all ages without worrying about fan service. Though, I would like to point out that while not excessively gory, the story does deal with human sacrifices and massacres so that might make it an unsettling watch for some. Other than that, FMA:Brotherhood is a show that I usually recommend to anyone new to anime or anyone who hasn’t seen it and wishes to try something that deals with the darker sides of humanity’s lust for power while packing in plenty of action, emotion and laughs.

Tom: Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is best described as one of the solid ‘must watches’ across the entire medium. It makes a perfect entry point for newer fans, it holds up for older ones, and offers better story telling and characterization than your average seasonal anime. While the show can be a tad violent at times for more sensitive audience members, it never feels exploitative. Brotherhood is something just about all types of anime fans can appreciate, and it’s a good thing it’s back on Crunchyroll, making it easily accessible for even the most casual of viewers. 

Tom Recommend Badge

“Recommended: Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood offers deep, complex characters confronted with tough questions in a sprawling world that feels both alive and real.”

Linny Recommend Badge

“Recommended: Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood may feel, and often play out, like a light hearted shonen but contains a dark story brought to life by well developed characters.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.com

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