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FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST #1 - - Special Review

Should somebody who's seen BROTHERHOOD even bother with this?

That's the thing about Hulu. It makes watching anime just so damn easy. So even your idlest thoughts get seen through.

I've already reviewed all 64 episodes of FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST BROTHERHOOD, as well as the FMA:B movie, as well as the special OAV set. I'm searching for a fitting analogy to describe how redundant giving the first anime series the same treatment feels. Is it the equivalent of re-playing a game on Medium Difficulty after you've already beaten it on Hard? Maybe it's akin to watching the theatrical cut of a flick after you've already watched the director's cut?

Hm. Neither of those really correspond to directly so, to state it plainly, I feel like watching this iteration of FMA wouldn't be worth my time. The animation, while certain capable and stylish, is unmistakably behind the polished and more expensive work of the remake. And fans' distaste for the "gecko ending" this plot leads up to was pretty palpable while I was in the face of the remake's more faithful adaptation. Indeed, this episode opens with what I believe was the second arc of the BROTHERHOOD and, even past the repetitiveness of seeing the same plot again, I'm already feeling like this is the superficial and slightly de-clawed version of the material (graphic images of Ed's bloody, severed limbs notwithstanding).

Even Vic Mignogna's take on Edward's voice seems a lot more general and less distinctive than what he achieved with his performance in BROTHERHOOD. This almost feels like his audition reel for that series - - recorded while he was still working out his ideas for the character.

Honestly, to a fan with the unusual position of coming into the FMA fold through BROTHERHOOD first, there isn't much appeal to watching the rest of this (outside of maybe needing something to kill a huge chunk of free time on an idle Sunday - - and I never get those any more). It just feels like the rough draft, and thus, it doesn't warrant a proper review.

Actually, maybe that's the better discussion point - - should somebody who's started with FMA: B even bother with FMA? Do some of you prefer this iteration to the next one? Why? I'd really be curious everybody's take on it.

Watch this episode, "Those Who Challenge the Sun” here and decide for yourself.

Tom Pinchuk’s a writer and personality with a large number of comics, videos and features like this to his credit. Visit his website - - - - and follow his Twitter: @tompinchuk

rubberluffyon Nov. 8, 2012 at 3:51 p.m.

Don't bother unless you want to watch all the well-treated females from Brotherhood get treated like crap.

FoxxFireArt moderator on Nov. 8, 2012 at 3:58 p.m.

I think a more fitting analogy is it's similar to playing ASSASSIN'S CREED II & AC: BROTHERHOOD first, then going back and playing the original ASSASSIN'S CREED. A decent game that has a lot wrong with the mechanics, and it's not even necessary to any of the plot.

I don't want to say this original series was at all bad. It just goes off into some weird places that were never intended by the original creator. It starts off semi-canonical, then starts telling a wildly different story. Even the finale of this series was incredibly frustrating.

If this was a shorter series. I'd say go for it, but there are probably a lot of newer things you could be enjoying that have more meaning.

metalsnakezeroon Nov. 8, 2012 at 3:58 p.m.

I think it best to not watch it since you have already seen Brotherhood. You would have to go back in time to watch FMA when it first came out to get a better first impression of it.

Lurkeroon Nov. 8, 2012 at 6:13 p.m.

Unless you want to waste time it is not worth watching. If you are really curious though you should find out which episode it was where the anime diverted from the manga and you can compare the different endings. I don't remember the episode or I would share it now.

sickVisionz moderator on Nov. 8, 2012 at 6:42 p.m.

The story and characters are significantly better in the original series imo. There's no nonsense of a generic shonen baddie trying to transmute the planet so he can rule the world, the humongulous are actual developed characters who do more than just provide awesome fight scenes for AMVs, there is no moe side kick and pet animals thrown in for extra genericness and to sling toys to 6 year olds, and the series doesn't end in more rainbows, lollipops, sunshine, and ultra cheesiness than a Pokemon film.

Most of the hatred for the original comes from this idea that people who make action shonen comics aimed at 13 year olds are the only valid storytellers on the planet, therefore any story told that wasn't in a comic book must be a bad story.

rubberluffyon Nov. 8, 2012 at 8:02 p.m.

@sickVisionz said:

The story and characters are significantly better in the original series imo. There's no nonsense of a generic shonen baddie trying to transmute the planet so he can rule the world, the humongulous are actual developed characters who do more than just provide awesome fight scenes for AMVs, there is no moe side kick and pet animals thrown in for extra genericness and to sling toys to 6 year olds, and the series doesn't end in more rainbows, lollipops, sunshine, and ultra cheesiness than a Pokemon film.

Most of the hatred for the original comes from this idea that people who make action shonen comics aimed at 13 year olds are the only valid storytellers on the planet, therefore any story told that wasn't in a comic book must be a bad story.

If you don't understand why FMA should have a happy ending than you probably haven't actually put any thought into what the series beats into your head about Equivalent Exchange. After all the crap Ed, Al, Mustang, Scar, etc had gone through, EE/The Universe/God/Truth/Whatever pretty much makes them deserve a happy ending in exchange. Even then it's not perfectly happy, but some are better than where they were before, particularly Scar and Mustang, who might never accomplish what they want but at least have the opportunity.

Trying to paint the manga/Brotherhood as some series for kids (I'm sure also implying 2003 is some mature show for grownups) is hilarious. Also seeing you that Arakawa is a legit good storyteller or else FMA in either animated form wouldn't exist is pretty good too. She did create that whole world and those characters. Implying she somehow is worse with them then some dude at BONES is pretty insulting to all the work she did over 9 years.

zaldaron Nov. 8, 2012 at 9 p.m.

Wow sickvionz I mean seriously the "moe kid' is actually a pretty interesting character and the baddie trying to transmute the world is handled pretty well and the reason for the baddie in the first serious isn't that much better really.

If you want to watch this go about what 10 episodes in and then start? I think that is where the changes start may even be able to go farther. It would be interesting from an academic perspective to see what you think of the differences and it may be interesting to you from a critics perspective to see the differences and what you think of them.

View it as a remake perhaps, one that most people think is inferior to the original.

Om1kronon Nov. 9, 2012 at 4:02 a.m.

It's not bad, but it's not great either. It's like the same thing they're trying to do with the evangellion franchise only that it's way too much of a commitment.

sickVisionz moderator on Nov. 9, 2012 at 4:46 a.m.

@rubberluffy: Bleach also got animated but that doesn't make Tite Kubo some amazing author.

I just think it's crazy that a series that was once universally praised suddenly became universally hated and is "waste of time" with the sole reason anyone ever brings up being that it isn't closer to what was written in a comic book. Not because the story is better, the writing is better, voice acting, music, etc... it wasn't in a comic therefore it must be worse.

Also, writers at Bones have made a lot of quality anime series not based off of manga. The idea that they suck by default because of this is equally as insulting to me as folk who say anyone who writes comics (because comics are the peak medium of literary talent, right?) must be better than anyone else.

@zaldar: I don't find her anywhere near as interesting as characters unique to or different in the original series like Wrath, Lust, and Hoenheim. Selim has potential to be an interesting character but they never used him for much more than fight scenes and he certainly didn't get the same level of development as characters like Envy, Lust, Wrath etc. And Sloth... Sloth is just a retarded person who exists solely to give Muscle Dude and his sister a good fight scene. He's not developed or anything.

That's what Brotherhood is for me. They took all the good characters and either completely got rid of them or made them throwaways. What did they replace them with? Some moe little girl and people who don't bring anything interesting to the story other than unrealized potential (Selim) and cool looking fights.

It's obvious what I think about the qualitative differences, but for your comparison of what it's like... it's like two different arcs in a comic book. I'm most familiar with X-Men so I'll use that. If you read the Days of the FuturePast arc, would you say reading Operation Onslaught is a waste because they're both about a team of mutants at a school? The two FMA series diverge and become significantly different to each other. Major characters in one don't exist in the other and the characters that are in both have their stories play out very different.

There are some earlier scenes that play out better in the original (Hughes's death stands out to me as one) but if you're pressed for time I'd start with episode #20, which is where the two become radically different.

Fat_Magnumon Nov. 9, 2012 at 8:14 a.m.
As a man who's only seen Brotherhood, I've not once felt compelled to give this show any of my time. Even reading opinions for it just induce a shrug. I feel like the manga narrative was how the series is meant to be understood and dissent from that narrative feels like little more than fan fiction, to me.
Petiewon Nov. 9, 2012 at 8:58 a.m.
@Fat_Magnum: I've not watched Brotherhood, since I felt reading the manga and seeing the first series was enough FMA for me.
However, lots of people say the beginning episodes are handled much better in the first series than in Brotherhood. They apparently skip over a lot of them since its already been covered before. Things like the Elric's relationship with Nina had more episodes devoted to it in the regular series. 
What even was the plot for the first anime series? All I remember is the old lady that had been in 1 or 2 episodes turned out to be the big bad, eternal youth maybe? Also nazis?
The only character I can see that was better in the oroginal anime was Lust. They gave her a decent enough story and redemption.
Greed is miles better in the manga
I don't think anyone really made the claim that the first anime series is some sort of horrible abomination. Also they're both stories written for 13 year olds. I prefer the manga, I found it a lot more exciting, preferred the characters and direction it took.
Hypeathonon Nov. 9, 2012 at 9:51 a.m.

You don't necessarily need to watch it. But if you're the least bit curious, it's really best to abandon the need to compare and see which of the two is better. I think that as old as it is and perhaps lacks some things Brotherhood has, it has some things unique to it's version worth seeing. Although to be fair the same could be said in vice-versa for Brotherhood as far as lacking some things. Lack of contrast in lighting, lack of soft & moody musical tracks through pianos and string instruments, some characters are probably somewhat better interpretted in the first version as far as being more sympathetic through having a man vs self conflict like Roy Mustang and Lust.

I can see why someone would say it wouldn't be worth your time. When a reboot of anything comes by, it makes it hard and complicated for people to look back on the predecessor. The instant a newer version of something comes out, the original version has an expiration date all of a sudden. But if nothing else, for a show that got as much praise as it did, I think it would be worth seeing just to understand why people praised this show in the first place, both in America and Japan. It may not have some things you would personally prefer out of whatever it is you prefer out of a TV show in general. But again, without surrendering to the urge to compare to Brotherhood, see it just so you can understand what was it about the show people thought it was great. Not just fans of the manga, but critics and anyone else who's seen it in general.

If it helps any (and you don't have to see this if you don't want to. It's optional.), Hope Chapman made a review of it as her all time favoirte anime to celebrate making 50 video reviews. You can see that and then see if you feel tempted to watch it.

sickVisionz moderator on Nov. 9, 2012 at 10:23 a.m.

@Petiew said:

@sickVisionz: The only character I can see that was better in the oroginal anime was Lust.

I like Wrath (Izumi's son) significantly more than any of the new characters in Brotherhood. Envy is equal in both. Kimbley is ruined imo. He's not crazy anymore. King Bradley is better in BHood because his fights are more kick ass, but that's about it for me. The original Sloth could be utilized more but she's a hell of a lot more interesting than the mentally challenged version in BHood. I'll give you Greed. What the original does to Greed is almost as bad as what BHood does to Lust, except Greed wasn't exclusively used just to give someone a cool fight scene.

I don't think anyone really made the claim that the first anime series is some sort of horrible abomination.

So what they really mean is that it's so good that it's a complete waste of time, shouldn't be bothered with, and not worth watching? I won't lie to you man, that line of thought makes absolutely no sense to me whatsoever.

tristenkw5on Nov. 9, 2012 at 11:07 a.m.

Speaking as someone who only watched an episode into Brotherhood at one point (and in light of recent events pondering watching all the way to the end just be able to make a fair judgement) I never felt the need to watch the rest after watching the first series, which I recognize is the direct opposite a lot of people here are saying.

I don't read manga at all, so I feel that the way all the anime I enjoy has to be judged on this extra unfair level of how "faithful" it is to it's manga counterpart is absolutely, unbearably ridiculous. As sickVisionz mentioned (though I don't think I agree with him to the same extremes on some points), manga aren't simply bibles for anime to reenact. FLCL is a perfect example of quite the opposite, with it's anime incarnation existing first before the manga followed, but you don't hear people shouting from the rooftops how much worse the manga is because of it's changes. They exist almost as unconnected entities. In contrast, why are all anime chained to their fate?

I'm probably going to back and give BH it's fair shake after shrugging it off before, but only because I want to see it's version of the universe and characters (that and I love Vic's voice acting in general). It won't be from some mindless/elitist need to "see the creator's true intent".

As for Tom....I would go with what others have said, skip some eps to the point where things are different, and do your best to see it in its own light. I do understand that time may not permit such things, although you would easily have a lot to talk about every episode since you have a whole series to constantly compare it to.

Oh and

Petiewon Nov. 9, 2012 at 11:15 a.m.
@sickVisionz: People were mostly just replying to Tom's query of is it worth watching after having already seen the canon ending to the series.
The waste of time part is somewhat valid. A lot of the episodes cover material that someone watching Brotherhood has already seen. I specifically didn't watch Brotherhood because I didn't want to see the same 20 episodes worth of material that I'd already seen before. It'd work in reverse too.
It's been so long since I've seen anything to do with FMA so I can't say much about the characters like Kimblee.
Manga Sloth was mostly pointless, I agree with that. Wrath I never cared for in either version.
thekokapellion Nov. 9, 2012 at 9:39 p.m.

I understand it seems redundant, but I encourage you to stick with it, because it diverges significantly from the original source material shortly after it begins, and based on some of the stuff you've said so far on this series, I get the feeling you might dig this original version more. Why? Because the original is WAY better written, better paced and does tone and humor much better. Is it perfect? No, a few of the plot elements start to get shaky toward the end, and episode 10 is in fact completely useless. It doesn't even fit the tone of the show overall, so if you do stick with the show you won't miss anything by skipping that particular episode. But Brotherhood, while having terrific animation, in comparison is a soulless and mindlessly faithful adaptation of a great manga. I know fans of the manga insist Brotherhood is better because it more closely follows the manga, but I'd like to argue that basically copying the original almost word-for-word and panel-for-panel takes so little thought and creativity that it keeps Brotherhood on a level barely above average, in my opinion. That is not how you do an adaptation. A manga and an anime are two different media, just as a book and a movie are two different media, so stuff absolutely should change. Any screenwriter worth his or her salt will tell you the same. That's not good writing, and it doesn't take any creativity, and doesn't add anything. I'm definitely of the camp that believes that if I've already read the comics, I don't need to see them move on screen. True, it is cool to watch the fight scenes from the manga animated, but otherwise it's Brotherhood that is completely superfluous and redundant, not the original series. I feel the same way about film adaptations of books I like. I WANT things to change because I certainly don't want to see the same exact same story. I've READ the book, and now I want to see a good MOVIE, and if that means making changes I'm all for it, and I feel the same way about manga to anime adaptations, even though I know a lot of anime fans might disagree with me. What works in a book might not necessarily work on screen, and Brotherhood definitely proves that, especially with that infuriatingly preachy, saccharine and heavy-handed friendship speech that Greed made. (You know the one). No, I don't think Brotherhood is awful, and I don't hate it or even actively dislike it by any means, and again I would never say that the original is a masterpiece, but unlike Brotherhood it's intimate, thoughtful, well-written, inventive (and my complaint about lack of creativity applies to Brotherhood, but not the manga, to which it is virtually identical) and enjoyable on many levels. I'm a huge comedy snob who almost never finds anime funny, and I still crack up every time I watch Episodes 13 and 37, but the show also makes me feel real emotions and think real thoughts. Also, this isn't necessarily a sign of quality, but the original also has a lot of interesting moral ambiguity that I feel is somewhat lacking in Brotherhood, and is something I often look for in fiction. Also, I personally really like the ending to the original. I thought it ended fine for the series itself.

@rubberluffy: I don't know what to say to that except that I don't agree. True, Brotherhood has more action heroines kicking ass, but as a young woman and a feminist I never found the original remotely sexist. In fact I would argue it makes Winry a much more interesting and proactive character, whereas in Brotherhood she's nothing but the childhood friend/love interest. (Oh come on, like we don't already know everything that happens in both series, so it's not really a spoiler.) I mean, I love the manga and everything and Hiromu Arakawa is good at a lot of things, but writing romance is defintely not her thing. But I suppose standards vary for every individual.

Animeking96on Nov. 10, 2012 at 3:06 p.m.

I like some of the things that are in the first version of full metal alchemist and the brotherhood version. I would love if the could perfectly figure out how to fuse the shows together. like how the homonculus were really the things that the alchemist made when they open the portal of truth but then it ended way to shortly

J_D90on Nov. 12, 2012 at 3:42 a.m.

So Should I check out Brotherhood even after Ive seen the original series and its sequel film?

MsDivaon Nov. 12, 2012 at 11:51 p.m.

@thekokapelli: I'm one of in that same boat, too. I, too, am one of the individuals who had the opportunity of watching the original on first run several years back and still appreciate it for what it did. To be honest, til this day I still have yet to bother w/ watching Brotherhood, partly for many of the reasons you mentioned. I would find it incredibly a bore to simply watch just b/c it is "exactly" faithful to the Manga. If they had completely botched the Anime adaption then maybe I could get down with watching a reboot (in this case, Brotherhood). But that's not the case at all.

NickTapalansky staff on Nov. 13, 2012 at 1:08 a.m.

Gonna leap into the fray and offer some back-up to here. It's no secret to anyone that's read my OTAKU COMING HOME features that I love FMA in all its incarnations (manga, original series, and BROTHERHOOD).

While I disagree with his critique of BROTHERHOOD and the original manga, is right that the original FMA has the simple benefit of offering a different take on the story. Do I like it better than BROTHERHOOD? Nah, but I enjoyed it immensely and respect Studio BONES for the work they did, ending included.

And speaking of that work, I see a lot of people who prefer BROTHERHOOD solely because it's "true to the manga," but do keep in mind that Arakawa specifically wanted the first series to deviate from her work (which was also still in-progress at the time). I don't think it's fair to fault the original series for its differences when the mangaka neither had the material to provide BONES, nor the inclination to have the series follow her work.

For , my advice would be to seek out the subs - I wasn't a huge fan of the dub in either series, but the original was pretty much the pits. Watch it all the way through or pick up where the biggest deviations occur, it's your call, but if you like the franchise it's probably not something to be written off.

Dig Deeper into Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is the second anime series based on Hiromu Arakawa's original manga. Edward Elric with his brother Alphonse failed to resurrect their mother. Now, they travel across the country with their alchemy to restore their bodies as they hunt for the mythical Philosophers Stone and correct their mistake.

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