Thursday, November 24, 2005

Fullmetal Alchemist

Genre: Action / Adventure / Shounen / Supernatural
Parental Guidance Recommended
2003 Hiromu Arakawa, Seiji Mizushima, BONES, Animax, Bandai Channel, Mainichi Broadcasting, TBS, Aniplex, Square-Enix

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MarkPoa's Description:
The principle of equivalent trade governs the practice of alchemy: for everything gained, something of equivalent value should be given up. Two young brothers find themselves giving up more than they expected when they tried to perform a taboo: human alchemy. Now, trying to regain their lost humanity, the brothers search for the Philosopher's Stone, a treasure that would allow them to perform alchemy without giving up something of equivalent value. But finding the Philosopher's Stone might end up costing them a lot more.

(51 episodes)

It won't cost you an arm and a leg to enjoy this! >>> by skysenshi
Over the past few months, I had lost interest in catching up on the latest anime series. Generally speaking, the last few series I've managed to catch were pretty crappy, featuring nothing more than rehashed plot threads, harem-comedy antics, and uninspired storylines.

Then, I was introduced to Fullmetal Alchemist.

Suffice it to say, this series was one of the best anime series I've seen during the past year... possibly ever. It's not often that a series just does almost everything right.

Art-wise, Fullmetal Alchemist boasts of gorgeous character designs and a distinct world view style. The world of FMA mixes visual design styles from European locales and speculative historical fiction. It's a pretty nice original take. The art appropriately changes depending on the mood: colorful and bright during light moments, appropriately dark when needed.

Sound-wise, Fullmetal Alchemists' opening and ending themes are quite apt and highly addictive. The series background music, while sometimes sparse, helped accentuate the storylines.

Fullmetal Alchemists' plot and storyline is also very engrossing, surprisingly intelligent, and, best of all, interesting. The concept itself was already unique, though obviously inspired by "alternate history" fantasy stories, that it came out as quite refreshing in the current crop of anime stories. There are quite a few twists and turns during the series' run: at times poignant (e.g. the day the brothers left their home), at times shocking (the action of the alchemist Tucker who created a human-like chimera stands out in particular) and at times quite surprising. Action fans would also love the way the fights are presented: frenetic, furious, and often fatal (hey, alliteration). The series doesn't skimp on the gory details as well. Best of all, actions in early episodes and the past of the characters have an impact on events until the end of the series. Even though there are 51 episodes, it really feels like a single epic storyline.

The series theme is surprisingly complex and a great many ideas are presented for rumination... without giving the series a preachy tone. The principle of equivalent trade is discussed at length, though the series wisely didn't provide any conclusions... just the points of both sides of the argument.

And with its characters, Fullmetal Alchemist scores a homerun. This series sports some of the more complex multi-faceted characters I had ever seen. The characters, protagonists and antagonists alike, were given enough time to shine. While the Elric brothers, Edward and Alphonse, were given the most exposure, I was interested in the motivations of Scar and the mysterious past of the homunculi; I was repulsed by the actions of Archer and Tucker; and genuinely amused by the antics and actions of Roy Mustang and his men.

Personally, I found it hard to pick a favorite character, but in the end, the clear leader is Alphonse. Though trapped in a metal body, Alphonse, at times, acts with all the innocence and naiveté of the thirteen-year old boy that he is. This is someone who has every reason to brood and act all angsty. It's nice to see him be the voice of reason and compassion during many of the series' key points.

Overall, Fullmetal Alchemist was a great breathe of fresh air for anime fans sick of the recurring themes of maids, love comedies, and feeble male protagonists. Equivalent trade doesn't come into play when you watch this series: you're liable to be surprised and get more than you're expecting.

Individual Rating: Art: 9; Story & Plot 9; Characters: 10; Sounds: 8

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