One Fan's Opinion: Which Fullmetal Alchemist anime was better?

Topic started by ethan on July 22, 2010. Last post by Tiferet 2 years, 6 months ago.
Post by ethan (887 posts) See mini bio Level 15

You see new versions of comic book storylines all the time from Batman to Spider Man, but how many times do you see the unrelated second season for a manga franchise? Fullmetal Alchemist, unlike other manga series that have been turned into anime, was actually very different from the rest. Even though the original series lasted for 51 episodes and a movie, it only took the first seven manga volumes of material for influence. The result, despite still being superb, was actually quite different from where the manga version went where things like the true nature of the Homunculus and the actions of certain characters were severely different. In that respect, it’s no real surprise that Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood was created in order to provide an anime with the “real” story straight from original author Hiromu Arakawa. But now that Brotherhood finally ended with the full retelling of the manga after 64 episodes, in what aspects was it better or worse than the original FMA that was already beloved worldwide? Keep in mind that this is all my personal opinion and I’ll be referencing major plot points of each, so spoilers ahoy!   

Which had the best beginning?
  (the events before Hughes' death) 
 This is your Fullmetal Alchemist...
 This is your Fullmetal Alchemist...

 ...and this is your Fullmetal Alchemist on post-Soul-Eater syndrome. Any questions?
 ...and this is your Fullmetal Alchemist on post-Soul-Eater syndrome. Any questions?
The main problem studio Bones had when making Brotherhood was when having to cover the manga material that the  original series actually covered. Although there were plenty of different moments that led to the different ending, the first 34 episodes covered the universe Arakawa created really well. In fact, the storylines of the battle on the train and the events in the mining town were done so well that Bones had no choice but to axe them  entirely in Brotherhood. Compared to the first FMA where it took its sweet time introducing the world of alchemy and giving great side characters like Winry and Hughes with more screen time in the first 25 episodes, the first thirteen episodes of Brotherhood feel like everything has been put in fast-forward. Moments like the story   in Lior and the Fifth Laboratory are practically mediocre with storylines that were confusingly fast and full of goofy humor. Seriously, what was wrong with Bones in their adaption of the first part of Brotherhood? I guess they were still in their Soul-Eater-mode when starting the series, but that's still no excuse for having so much cheap, badly-drawn humor in such a serious story. 
Winner: The original Fullmetal Alchemist 
Which had the best middle? (the events after Hughes' death) 
 The added cast to the first FMA had all the ingredients for filler characters, but the stories were so good that no one really cared that Arakawa didn't create them.
 The added cast to the first FMA had all the ingredients for filler characters, but the stories were so good that no one really cared that Arakawa didn't create them.
For all the people who haven’t given up with Brotherhood after watching the first thirteen episodes, all their patience payed off beginning with episode 14. The off-put humor was still sprinkled here and there, but once Brotherhood went to the manga material where the first FMA left off  it became something truly fantastic. The pacing still seems a bit off where Ed and Al will go from Central to Briggs in a  heartbeat, but ultimately this is where Arakawa’s work starts to shine with great fights and an ongoing plot well worth following. In the meantime, the middle-area of the original FMA  was also great stuff. It had a fair share of standalone episodes to give more time for the side characters (though they were more like add-ons to the story), and also began  its version of the Homunculus as soulless transmuted humans who desire the Philosopher's Stone to become human  again. Despite being radically different than Brotherhood's version of them being the seperated seven personalities of Father, it was a clever idea that made you  relate to these beings who are forced to act in their born persona while desperately wanting to be normal. The battle in Lior was actually very mature in retrospect with Rose having a baby after being defiled by military soldiers and the whole town in absolutely destruction by human hands instead of alchemy. Compared to the pre-Promised Day arc of Brotherhood that was full of adventure and action, the first FMA aimed to be more thought-provoking and serious. Both are somewhat different, but both were executed very well 
Which had the best ending? 
 The finale of Brotherhood was masterful with countlessly epic moments and had the full cast involved in the best way
 The finale of Brotherhood was masterful with countlessly epic moments and had the full cast involved in the best way
The whole idea of the plot of the first Fullmetal alchemist was that Hohenheim's former lover is also a being made up of Philosopher's Stone who needs more of the taboo in order to continue living. It certainly paved the way for a final battle, but ultimately it wasn't nearly as drastic as the events of Scar in Lior. The same also goes for the alchemy-crazy Nazis in the  movie from being just a group of ignorant power behemoths. The beauty behind the Promised Day of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood was that everything came together in a truly epic way. Father wanted to fully understand the world after being trapped in a flask for so long, leading to a desire to sacrifice an entire country of people to give him godly powers. It was also great because all the main characters actually played a role here. While only a few handled the bad guys in a still-ignorant Amestris from FMA, all the characters from Mustang, to Olivier, to all the rest of the still-living alchemic powerhouses played their role with a battle that was long, but never felt like it lasted too long. The problem when creating a seperate story from a different author is that it's hard to know where to go after all the influentially material ran out.  

 The ending to the first FMA on the other hand was riddled with unsatisfying despair and had only a few members of the main cast truly involved
 The ending to the first FMA on the other hand was riddled with unsatisfying despair and had only a few members of the main cast truly involved
Compared to the Promised Day full of the greatest action and raw emotion with a poetic way to send off Hohenheim, the original Fullmetal Alchemist only focused on the important Homunculus facts without taking advantage of the whole wonderful society of great characters.   The ending of the first Fullmetal Alchemist anime was essentially a lesson of despair with the message of "make the best of what you got." Whether it was in the finale of the series, or the finale of the movie, the writers, for whatever reason, didn't want Ed to have the most happy ending. It was arguably awful in the anime because Ed and Al were forced to seperate, which is like a big  kick in the pants since the most compelling thing about Fullmetal Alchemist is the bond between the Elric brothers. The movie ended with Ed and Al together...but in pre-WWII Germany without any else of their friends. I can understand why the writers wanted to make something "different," but the result was full of so many unsatisfied feelings that the amount of fans who actually liked it were few and far between.  
The whole parallel universe was basically begrudgingly accepted at first, but utterly despised all these years later. In contrast, it's hard to imagine anyone  who wouldn't be utterly satisfied with the ending of Brotherhood. I t held onto the depiction from the manga even in the final image of a pleasing photo album epilogue, meaning that Bones actually were  able to tell the full story, even  when the manga ended just one month before the anime. Everything came together in the end with all the surviving cast with a big smile without any of the beloved characters being royally screwed. Arakawa showed that there truly is something to the "And they lived happily ever after" kind of the ending without having to be "original" and make the audience feel like crap. So while the first Fullmetal Alchemist took the  mature themes too seriously that led to a despised finale, the version that Arakawa was set to make was beautifully poetic  in its execution that'll set the standard for other anime endings for years to come. 
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood 
 You'd have to have a heart of stone to not have a big grin on your face after seeing the final episode of Brotherhood
 You'd have to have a heart of stone to not have a big grin on your face after seeing the final episode of Brotherhood
Overall: Whatever version of the Fullmetal Alchemist story you do watch, you'll still experience an absolute masterpiece of storytelling that you'll most likely always treasure. The first Fullmetal Alchemist will always have a place in my heart as being one the first series that made me into anime to this day, but if I had to choose, I would go for Brotherhood. But it's not just because the greatest kind of ending that will make everybody go "aww..."   This was Arakawa's universe where everything like Father and the Homonculi, the characters from the Xing, and everything else that was exclusive to the second anime, actually added to the FMA universe instead of feeling like obvious add-ons. The beginning and some of the pacing was certainly flawed, but otherwise it's impossible to see how Bones could've made a more perfect anime to watch than Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood with the rare story that truly earned the "Fin."            
Post by ethan (887 posts) See mini bio Level 15
If you are reading this from the forums, the post is credited to the wrong author.  JBog wrote this brilliant piece of prose.
Post by sickVisionz (4,327 posts) See mini bio Level 24
I like the first series more overall. 

Good Guys

I'll give a slight edge to Brotherhood because of Ling, although they radically altered his personality pretty early on and basically removed him from the series.

Bad Guys

They reduced Lust from a fleshed out character to someone who existed solely to make Mustang cool, as if he was lacking in that department.  New Sloth blows compared to it being the Elric's mother.  The Fuhrors are about the same to me.  I like old Greed more than new greed.  Bradley's son as a humonculous was a cool concept but I didn't like his character anywhere near as much as the kid humonculous from the first series. 
I like Dante more than Father.  When he was just a thing in a flask I thought he was a pretty awesome but once he got a human form he seemed like any other over powered bad guy in a shounen series. 
When they took the psychotic edge away from Kimblee they took away everything that I liked about him as a character. 


I loved how the first series might spend an entire episode dedicated to the science and philosophy of how the gate worked and they would devote a lot of time to people visiting the gate.  They didn't do that as much in the second series and it was a let down for me. 


I don't know why they didn't bring back the original lady.  It's almost like they made Brotherhood out of absolute disgust for the first series and wanted to distance themselves from it in every way possible.  I love a lot of the music in the original series but not so much in the second.  It's straight but there was one dramatic them that they constantly reused over and over and over again that I always noticed.  It was a cool theme, but they could have made more. 


I like a lot of the events that happen in the first series more.  The reveal of the underground city, what happens to Rose, Wrath as a character and his arc, Sloth as a character, Lust's story arc, all of the alchemy tech talk, and the connection between their world and the real world... nothing in Brotherhood made up for the removal of all of that imo.   The train station fight where the little girl saves the day and Ed seeing Al's body at the gate were nice additions but not enough to make up for everything that was lost imo.
If I had never seen the first series, I'd like Brotherhood a lot more.  But for me it was like... they took FMA and removed or lessened everything that I really loved the series for.  If you started off on the manga though, I guess you'd see the first series as doing that.
Post by frsty13 (30 posts) See mini bio Level 5
Great write-up.  Spot on.
Post by sotyfan16 (1,342 posts) See mini bio Level 20

Don't they have the same intro? I really like it. 
I am now further interested in seeing Brotherhood to the end. I was disappointed as well with the original FMA's ending but I also got to thinking there would be some beyond rational sequal. The homunculi are cool and interesting but freak me out at the same time. Lastly, I want to be able to perform alchemy. Where's the Devil Fruit for that?

Post by zaldar (1,340 posts) See mini bio Level 15
Online Now
Liking brotherhood so much more even in the beginning.  It got darker so much faster...I would say that the first one was lite and funny waay to long.  I actually stopped watching it because it looked like just another shoen action show, then picked it up again and was amazed at the 180 it had made and how much better it became.  Brotherhood never had that problem was serious from the beginning (and the funny humor was a nessecary foil to the extreme darkness really..)  I do think they would have been better served by including more of the things that were also in the first one for people who hadn't seen it, so they could spend time talking about the science of alchemey.  The bit where they were trained on the island and had to learn to hunt was done masterfully in the first series and could have bared repeating.
Post by metalsnakezero (696 posts) See mini bio Level 16
The first Fullmetal Alchemist had a good beginning since it felt natural and ran at a good pace, introducing characters that fit in to the world of FMA. However, everything else in Brotherhood had a lot more impact and meaning, not questioning our reality in some strange way. 
Post by SamJaz (13,103 posts) See mini bio Level 20
I actually dropped the first Fullmetal Alchemist anime around the episode where everyone started turning to wood. Maybe my memory has altered it, but it involved an alchemist who ditched his fiancée so he could find Lust, but he ended up turning to wood or something as his fiancée climbed onto him. My parents got me a guide book for the first series a few years after that, but I never picked it up again.
What I did do, however, was decide to give it another shot and read the manga. Now THAT blew me away.  And everything made so much more sense. I far prefer Arakawa's explanation of the Homunculi, of the evil plot, loir, and so on. I will happily admit that Brotherhood rushed the first 13 episodes, and that the first series fleshed the universe out much more, but there was also so much filler in there that in the end, I prefer the Brotherhood version.
I am, however, holding out for the epic 80 episode Fullmetal Alchemist Kai.
Post by Contra (28 posts) See mini bio Level 9
I have to agree with this article.
I like the first a lot.  But there were episodes where the series ate itself, or came to a grounding hault while they tried to find or wait for the next part ofthe plot to happen.
The single shot episodes I aloways felt were veru out of place.
And things like Barry the Chopper were at best, unlikely. What are the chances that a derranged serial killer who went afte your friend, is gonig to be transmuted into a set of armour for a building you are going to break into?  It always felt it was asking me to accept far too many coincidences which in the end turned out to be just that.
And the underground city in the first just broke my brain.  There is no way that someone could make a city on top of another, without someone noticing at tome point. Since they had water pipes etc, they do dig, and there were canals, and whole undergrounds complexes.  I always just had a hard time accepting it.  
While Brotherhood has it's own issues with thinks not working; I really liked now all the characters were interlinked this time, rather than in the first where bar the main 5 or so, pretty much stood apart 95% of the time.
Post by Mezmero (69 posts) See mini bio Level 10
Brotherhood is by far superior to the original series.  Both shows have plenty of naval gazing, but the first series' exposition can be unbearable at times.  On paper the first series had plenty of interesting explanations for the various methods of alchemy and such but most of it didn't really unfold in a way that felt integral to the end goal of the show.  Brotherhood struck a balance in the drama, storytelling, and action that kept me watching for the full run of the show.  
The characters in Brotherhood were a lot sharper too, not just in the actual drawing but in how well their personalities are represented in the writing and voice acting.  Most characters were about the same in both shows but the Homunculus really shine in Brotherhood.  Each one really felt like they were named after the sin that completely encompasses their motivation.  In the first series their names felt more like designations rather than actual character flaws.  So speaking as a professional anime watchologist, I say Brotherhood every time.
Post by Luffy (166 posts) See mini bio Level 7
No one who saw episode 62 of Brotherhood can say that the first series was better.
Post by chickdigger802 (39 posts) See mini bio Level 8
I liked the art design of the first fma better. The 2nd one feels more round and square (even more than the manga). Feels like the shitty artstyle of shippuden imo =P
Also the alchemy electricity looked way better in the first show.
Post by ShadowKnight508 (5,358 posts) See mini bio Level 19
As of now, the original FullMetal Alchemist is still the best of the two shows. For some reason, FMA: Brotherhood isn't warming up on me much and although the episodes are great (Having the brothers put up with the antics of Ling and watching that one Mustang-loyal officer deal with Barry the Chopper by keeping him in his house 24/7 made me laugh), the show just isn't as enjoyible as the original FMA was to me. 
Don't get me wrong...I love both shows, but the original (even with it's altered ending created by the writers at BONES) still stands out more.
Post by wwfunderaker (485 posts) See mini bio Level 15
Just finished watching Brotherhood and i enjoyed both of the anime versions. Sad that there is no more Fullmetal Alchemist.
Post by Tiwi (2 posts) See mini bio Level 2
@Luffy: i can and will.
Post by sjolle (24 posts) See mini bio Level 14
yeah ill totaly agree that this is indeed a verry recomendaboul anime to wach ... as anny anime it have filler episodes but they ain't that borring as most fillers are
the ending whas also how i had hoped it to be ... maybe a little afterstory as last ep would be good ... you do get a little afterstorry but a whole ep of just afterstory would be good ... well theres still tiem for that to happen tho =)
Post by Pleione (7 posts) See mini bio Level 3
While I have to go with Brotherhood, hands down, there will always be a special place in my heart for the first Fullmetal Alchemist series.  I wasn't an avid reader of the manga before the first one aired in 2004, though I had read it here and there.  So really, FMA the first series is what really got me interested in this magnificent work of art.  However, Brotherhood/the Fullmetal Alchemist manga really takes the cake here.  The depth, the darkness, the comedy, the complexity, it's just that much more powerful. 
Post by RichardJordan (4 posts) See mini bio Level 5
i like the storyline and openings of fma but brotherhood was more epic its a tie
Post by sauceatron (11 posts) See mini bio Level 3
i think both series are / were equally awesome. i mean the idea that past the gate in the first series leads to our world? awesome. the sadness and melloncollie of the whole thing? awesome. the way we weren't able to get any closure in the end cus the brothers are on the other side of the gate and everybody else is in their normal universe? awesome.  i love brotherhood too! oddly enough although i liked the first series ending, i thought it was awesome to get closure with the characters and seeing them happily ever after. you don't get that with too much anime. the only other one i can think of in terms of a happy ending is kenshin, but even that had a crazy ass last movie to it too. 
Post by Shisnopi (14 posts) See mini bio Level 6
I'm only giving it to Brotherhood because the story was tighter.
I enjoyed that action and the art style more in the First run but Brotherhood's story was just more gripping and enjoyable.
Top Editors
Top Posters
12 posts
12 posts
11 posts
9 posts
9 posts
8 posts
8 posts
6 posts
4 posts
4 posts
Mandatory Network

Submissions can take several hours to be approved.

Save ChangesCancel