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FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST #2 - - Special Review

Well, BROTHERHOOD didn't have any AKIRA tributes, as far as I can recall.

Nobody gasp, now, as I pull back the curtain and reveal a startling secret...

My choices for these columns are partly determined by the likelihood that the selected shows will spur comments and attract views....!

And, surprise of surprises, there’s a handful of popular franchises that are quite reliable to that end.

So, like I said in my write-up of the last episode, I’ve got reservations about covering another version of a series I’ve already covered in exhaustive detail. The prospect seems redundant to me. However, there’s no arguing with results and, judging by the response the first episode’s write-up got, there’s no really no denying that FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST - - in any permutation - - continues to be topical and relevant.

So here we are. I was aiming to swap GALAXY EXPRESS out for FMA this week, but things got a little messy when the latest episode of the former proved to be so good. “Special Review,” if you haven’t noticed, is supposed to be my sampler column while W&L is the episode-by-episode log - - and this flies in the face of that a little. We’ll see how long this messiness goes on for.

Anyway… how about the episode, itself? Well, I feel like I should almost include a checklist of qualitative comparisons to BROTHERHOOD in every episode's review.

  • Cornello’s pocket-packed minigun was so silly. He’s a sillier villain than in BROTHERHOOD.
  • The reveal of Rose’s faux-boyfriend as bird monstrosity was creepier than any of the Chimairas in BROTHERHOOD. Eeesh. For damn sure.
  • Overall, this all feels poorly established in comparison to BROTHERHOOD. Both series get us to the good Alchemical action right away and then got to Elric Bros’ “secret origin” gradually. While BROTHERHOOD’s opting to start in media res felt like sharp storytelling instincts, this feels like key exposition has just been hopped over carelessly. How big of a shock is it to learn that Cornello’s Philosophe's Stone is a fake when we haven’t been told what a Philosopher's Stone is in the first place?

So far, so… mixed, I guess? Stay tuned for the next write-up - - either in Watch & Learn or as another Special Review.

Watch this episode, "Body of the Sanctioned" here and decide for yourself, then read my comments on the previous episode here.

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

kashif1on Nov. 21, 2012 at 4:15 a.m.

Hey Tom, thanks for doing this, seriously. You're keeping this site alive.

Anyway I think you'll like this quite a bit, especially with what they do using characters that die early in brotherhood.

KingSolomonon Nov. 21, 2012 at 8:12 a.m.

cant go wrong with fullmetal :D Though i will always prefer brotherhood.

tristenkw5on Nov. 21, 2012 at 3:12 p.m.

Good that you're giving this a shot Tom, but it'll be pointless if you quit before getting to the stuff that matters, and should prob skip a few eps as they only tread ground you've already seen.

I don't think the exposition is "hopped over", for example. Because you know what a Philosopher's Stone is from previously watching BROTHERHOOD, you may subconsciously be using that info to color your expectations. This isn't exposition that's skipped, rather it's being told through inference. The point isn't the twist of the fake stone, but instead the disappointment Al and Ed feel once they find out it's not the real deal.

This tells the audience that this is something very important to them, as well as something they've been looking for for a while (I think they say something along the lines of "another fake" indicating it isn't the first one they've run into, but I could be wrong, it's been a while). It also hooks us in with the mystery of what does the Stone do that's so important, in a way that isn't overly obvious.

I'm no writer however, so I could be wrong on all counts and the writing could be horribly done. I still feel like if you were watching it fresh though, you'd have a more optimistic view as opposed to the current mood of "does this live up to BROTHERHOOD".

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Fullmetal Alchemist is a tale of two brothers traveling the world seeking the cure to the physical afflictions they suffer as a result of their experimentation with alchemy.

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