Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (Series Review)

Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood Title

Edward and Alphonse Elric committed the ultimate taboo by attempting to bring the mother back from the dead using alchemy. It cost Edward his arm and leg and Alphonse his entire body. Can they use alchemy to recover their bodies?

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (Series Review)

What did you watch?

Back in 2009, I wasn’t watching a lot of anime. I had spent most of the nineties watching everything I could get my hands on, but that died off after the turn of the century due to work and family life. So, I didn’t watch Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood when it came out. My anime renaisence began a couple of years later and the idea of tackling a sixty-four episode series was tempting, but also daunting. It was one that I had always meant to get to but never found the time. So, when I took a step back from seasonal shows, I decided I would finally do it. Now, some sixty-four weeks later, I have reviewed every episode. So, now for the big question – was it worth it?

Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood Episode 34 Major General Olivier Mira Armstrong scheming

What happened?

Edward and Alphonse were only children when they committed the taboo that cost them their bodies. Even so, Edward was asked to become a state alchemist by an aspiring officer, Roy Mustang. He told Edward that by being a state alchemist he would have access to the people, places, and funds to continue their search for their bodies. He agreed and became the youngest state alchemist. Alponse was not given an official title, but everyone accepted that they came as a pair.

As they searched for a philosopher’s stone, they uncovered a sinister plot that would impact the entire country of Amestris, possibly even the world. Soon they would learn the disturbing truth of the philosopher’s stone. As with everything in life, there is always a cost. In alchemy that is known as equivalent exchange and it’s one of the most fundamental principles. Will Edward and Alphonse be able to recover their bodies and will they finally learn the truth?

Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood Episode 1 Alphonse and Edward Elric

What did you think?

So, I loved this series. I loved how epic it was and how it was given the time to develop the story and the characters. The fact that it wasn’t squeezed into a twelve-episode season or even several seasons made the difference. The story flows throughout. There’s foreshadowing at early stages that would have been committed in a seasonal format because it would have been forgotten or deemed not relevant yet. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is as good as it is because it was made this way. As such, I don’t think it’s fair to compare it to other anime shows. It’s like trying to compare a movie franchise that was made over a number of years to the Lord of the Rings movies that were made as one thing. Personally, I’d love to see more shows made this way. This is a masterpiece and this approach paid a big part in that.

Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood Episode 60 King Bradley ready for a fight

What was your favourite moment?

I’m not even sure how I’m supposed to go about picking a favourite moment. There were so many great moments and for so many reasons too. I loved the fight between Scar and King Bradley, but Fu and King Bradley were also good. I loved the moment Hohenheim trapped Pride inside a prison made of dirt. Even the flashbacks were amazing such as the fall of Xerxes or the Extermination of Ishval. This series has it all. The most heartbreaking moment had to be the death of Maes Hughes. We had to live through that over and over again as different characters discovered what happened to him. Honestly, there’s just too much to choose from.

Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood Episode 10 Envy kills Maes Hughes

What was your least favourite moment?

I don’t think there was really anything that could have been considered filler in the series and that’s amazing for a show as long as this one. My least favourite was the moment that probably had the biggest impact on Edward and Alphonse. That was the moment that discovered that a state alchemist, Shou Tucker had used his daughter and his dog to create a talking chimaera. There was nothing that they could do to reverse the process and that hit them hard. It was the most shocking moment in the series and one that’s hard to forget.

Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood Episode 4 Shou Tucker

Who was your favourite character?

The easy answer is Olivier Mira Armstrong. She is amazing. If you’ve seen many of my reviews, you would have known that long before I said it. She is practically the stereotypical strong female character with a sword. I see a lot of similarities between her and General Esdeath from Akame ga Kill which obviously makes it an easy choice.

Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood Episode 45 Olivier Armstrong

Who was your least favourite Elric?

Normally, this would be my least favourite character and that would obviously be Shou Tucker, but the less said about him the better. So, I thought I should talk about the Elric brothers. If I’m completely honest, I don’t really like Edward. I think he’s a great character and I understand him, but I never really liked him. Alphonse on the other hand was far more interesting, especially as it explored the idea of whether he was real and how could he know that. He was also the nicer of the two and I felt like he made the tougher decision, even sacrificing himself to get Edward his arm back.

Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood Episode 38 Alphonse and Edward

Would you like some more?

I understand that there are a couple of movies and some spin-off stuff which I do plan on watching at some point. I’m also wondering whether I should give the original series a go to see how different they are. So, yes, I would like some more. The world was fascinating and there were some amazing characters that could all be explored in greater detail. This was a great series.

Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood Episode 55 Alex Louis Armstrong and Sig Curtis

What have you learnt?

I’m going to go back to the Lord of the Rings comparison again as I think it’s a really important lesson. The first time I tried to write a series of novellas, I wrote the first draft for twenty-six volumes before publishing any. I maintain that it was a good plan and one that I should have stuck with, especially as that was the halfway point in the story. The problem was I lost my resolve and started publishing them. It took the steam out of the project and I ended up stopping at volume eight, partially because of a family event, but only partially.

So, what I’m taking away from Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is the need to complete the story first. By doing that, you can put more foreshadowing into the edits, you can tighten up the plot and make everything work seamlessly. Sure, it takes patience and commitment, but I think the end product will be worth it. Just look at this series. At the moment, it’s an outlier because of the process behind it. I’d love for this to become the blueprint for how to make incredible shows.

Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood Episode 47 Lan Fan returns

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What did you think?