“Humankind cannot gain anything without first giving something in return. To obtain, something of equal value must be lost. That is alchemy’s first law of equivalent exchange. In those days, we really believed that to be the world’s one and only truth.” – Alphonse Elric
And so began my experience with anime; let’s talk about Full Metal Alchemist.
Full Metal Alchemist is an anime series that ran from 2003 to 2004 that follows the adventures of the Elric brothers, Edward and Alphonse (Al) as they try to learn more about the secret art of alchemy in order to regain what they have lost. These two live in a world which has one key difference from ours: instead of advancements in scientific knowledge resulting in industrialization, alchemy has become a legitimate and powerful science.
Since this series was focused on the adventures of these two brothers, I knew that if the show couldn’t make me care about their relationship, it would lose me. Thankfully, the interactions between the brothers and the feelings they have for each other are incredibly believable and make for some very entertaining moments. Another great part about these two characters is the voice acting behind them. Edward’s voice actor captures his personality perfectly, both in moments of distress as well as in moments of happiness. Al’s voice is also done quite well, with a haunting and soft voice that comes from the suit of armor that he uses as a body.
There are also a number of memorable side characters that the Elric brothers run into during their journey and, while I can’t address each of them, I will discuss a few of the more prominent ones. First off, we have Colonel Roy Mustang, whose arrogant personality often clashes with Edward’s. While initially I didn’t care for Mustang, as the series goes on, his backstory is revealed and he becomes one of the most memorable characters in the show. Another memorable character in this series was Major Armstrong, who might be one of the most flamboyant characters I have ever seen in anything. He was absolutely hilarious, and he stole every scene he was in. The last character I will mention is Scar, who happens to be my favorite character in this series. Scar is a walking tornado of death with one of the coolest origins I’ve heard in a long time. His moments with Al later in the series are touching and made me love him even more.
Strong characters in a series count for nothing if they are not part of a bigger and more interesting plot. Not only does Full Metal Alchemist have an original and cool premise (alternate world that uses alchemy), but it also has an unpredictable plot, full of twists and turns that will keep you intrigued. As the main story arc is slowly revealed, so too are the true motivations of those involved as well as a few sudden and shocking deaths. This is simply one of the smartest written things I have ever seen, from beginning to end. A minor complaint I have with this show is that in the last few episodes, a small aspect of the plot is a bit strange and, honestly, a bit confusing to me. This aside, everything is wrapped up pretty well (they made a movie to finish it up), and I liked the way it ended.
Now, let’s talk a little about one of the best parts of anime: the violence. The fights in this show, ranging from sparring matches with other alchemists to epic episode-long battles with the Homunculi (the villains of the show), are all breath-taking. Battles are truly epic and should not disappoint you.
Memorable and convincing characters? Check. Cool and original premise? Check. Intense Action? Check. This alone would have made a great series. The creators of Full Metal didn’t stop there.
The thing that stands out as being so original about Full Metal Alchemist to me is the themes this show tackled. The series addressed things such as what it means to be human, playing God, racism, and so much more. I’ll admit that this really surprised me when I first started watching the show, because I had always assumed that an anime series couldn’t be thought provoking. I was 100% wrong, and it could be said that watching this made me fall in love with anime.
THE VERDICT: The CLASSIC Award
This is not only my favorite anime but also one of my favorite shows. It has everything going right for it and it is definitely worth your time. Watch them now if you have Netflix, whether you are a fan of anime or not. You won’t be disappointed.
*It should be noted that I watched the English-dubbed version of this show. I can’t vouch for the quality of the voice acting of any other version.
What do you think of Full Metal Alchemist? What did you think of this review? Comment below or send me an email to let me know what you think. As always thanks for reading and don’t forget to check back soon for lots of new and exciting entries.