Full Metal Alchemist
Episode Guide :: Review and Summary
Number of Episodes: 51
Number of DVD Volumes: 13
English version by: Funimation/SquareEnix
Created by: Arakawa Hiromu
Directed by: Mizushima Seiji
First Available: February 8, 2005
L'arc~en~Ciel - Ready Steady Go! (2nd Opening Song)
Yellow Generation - Tobira no Mukou e (2nd Ending Song)
Sowelu - I Will (4th Ending Song)
Porno Graffiti - Melissa (1st Opening Song)
Asian Kung Fu Generation - Rewrite(4th Opening Song)
Crystal Kay - Motherland(3rd Ending Song)
Nana Kitade - Kesenai Tsumi(1st Ending Song)
Cool Joke - UNDO(3rd Opening Song)
Full Metal Alchemist is the story of two brothers and coming-of-age. From the start, Ed and Al Elric were very close growing up and were very close to their mother, due to the fact that their father left home. After their mother died, the boys swore they'd get her back and find their father. Together, they found a master and learned the ways of Alchemy from her, and returned home on a stormy night to attempt to resurrect their mother. Ignoring the fact that the attempt was violating a taboo of alchemic law, they paid the price, and Al lost his body, while Ed lost an arm and a leg.
Al, quite shocked to learn that he has become a suit of armor, drags his brother's injured body to their neighbors, the Rockbells, and Auntie manages to patch Ed up. While Ed lies half-conscious, a passer-by named Colonel Mustang notices the strange light from the alchemic reaction and comes to the Rockbell's to investigate. Mustang expresses his interest in the brothers' talent and opens an invitation to come to Central to become Nationally Certified Alchemists. When Ed awakens, he states that he wants to become a certified alchemist and pays Auntie to fix him up with auto-mail, replacing his arm and leg.
And so, Ed and Al set forth from their hometown to fulfill their dreams. On the train, the boys foil a hijacking and save the life of a top government official and prove that they are worthy enough to take the certification exam. Since the brothers were interested in human alchemy, they were assigned to study under a man named Shou (like show) Tucker, who had created a Chimera who could speak human words a year ago. The boys were very curious to learn about his chimera, but their studies took first priority, and Ed ended up becoming certified. After the exam, someone is brutally murdered in the street, and a mysterious man with a scar on his face shows up around the city. The homunculi take interest in the extraordinary talents of the boys, and keep twist his discoveries to work for them, slowing twisting their fates together with the boys' and the mysterious man's...
I don't think I've ever seen an anime such as Fullmetal Alchemist. The story is much more than two brothers' coming-of-age, it's also about how they discover what really drives them, and it forces the audience to ask questions. Are they really out to find their mother, or perhaps their father, or the Philosopher's Stone? Do they want to succeed as Alchemists or humans?
Elements that make it great
Ed's facial expressions: During the development of this series, a lot of attention was put into making Ed's expressions look compelling, and compelling they were. Even before you get a chance to hear his voice, you can almost read what he's going to say in his face. This element is very hard to portray in anime, and once you watch FMA, you'll never get the same feeling of excellent facial emotion from other shows.
Surprise! They're back!: A lot of characters from earlier in the show manage to appear later in the show...except using them actually makes sense! A lot of holes are filled in by bringing these seemingly one-episode characters back, and overall they manage to tie the story together quite nicely. They add a lot of flavor and each character brings out a different side in Ed. Like that crazy guy in episode 8? Remember him? That's all I'm going to say....
Funk so Brother: (Incredibly lame!) The relationship between the brothers isn't always perfect, and the creators did an excellent job portraying the times when this happens. Of course, they always manage to pull through times when they don't really get along, and each brothers' fault is compensated in the other brother in some way. Their limits are portrayed realistically and viewers can relate to one of the Elric brothers in some way as they watch...perhaps that's why I like this show so much.
The music: Perhaps the lameness in the last title compensates a bit for the un-originalness of this one, but whatever. Anyways! Music is always a really important part of any show...just try watching a pivotal scene from any show with the sound muted. I bet you're not going to get the same effect. The music in FMA was done wonderfully. It's the perfect mix of orchestrated sound with synthesized music, and that knocks it up a few notches in my book. Anime with music that's completely synthesized drives me nuts, but to skillfully mix synthesizer with orchestra is quite a feat...
The suspense!: All right, so I couldn't really think of anything I didn't like...but being on a one-episode-a-week diet is hard! Especially towards the end of the series... I was earnestly waiting for each Tuesday or Wednesday because the end of the show takes some nasty twists. Urg, just thinking about how much I wanted to see episode 51 irritates me even now! ....Mmm....
The...English?: Not really the story's fault, but after watching all 51 episodes in Japanese and then seeing episode 1 in English...I was a little dissappointed. I don't really know what it was...there's a difference between the voice actors in the Japanese and English version that I don't like and I can't put my finger on it. Sincerity, maybe? I'm not sure....but it was just about the only thing I didn't like.
In other words...
To sum it up, Fullmetal Alchemist is definately an anime worth calling great. I'd rank it up with Evangelion and InuYasha. It has a good balance between seriousness and humor, and because of this balance, viewers can watch the boys turn from children to adults, perhaps even before they should. Any anime fan should see this series...I can't imagine calling a collection complete without it.
Episode Guide :: Review and Summary