Story: You know the story, right? If not then let me introduce you to Fullmetal Alchemist. Brothers, Ed and Al once lived in a small village called Risembool with their mother, Trisha. Trisha dies from a strange disease and Ed + Al tries to resurrect their dead mother using magic called Alchemy, they failed as Ed loses an arm and a leg (haha get it?) and Al loses his whole body. Ed manages to attach Al's soul to a suite of armor and decide to search for the Philosopher stone that is said to allow the user to break the laws of Alchemy. And thus begins the journey.
Let me just say that this is my favorite anime of all time. It really draws you in like no anime I have ever seen before. So let me get the repeated praise out of the way. Fullmetal Alchemist is has a lot of suspense and build up! It is also really funny when it wants to be! The dark moments work really well and has an amazing power to bring you to tears! But what I think really makes Fullmetal Alchemist so great is its powerful moments. The direction is spot on, giving you memorable scenes that are both haunting and oddly beautiful. Some moments that stand out for me is when they used music from Beethoven and Chopin, I'm surprised that not a lot of animes are drawing inspiration from this (I digress.) Another thing I like about the show is it's philisophical undertones, the philosophy used seems to be very Existensialist (Good and evil are a grey confusing both.) So if you are into philosophy you may find the philisophical elements in FMA very interesting. For me I personaly didn't really learn anything from FMA but it was a nice touch.
Okay now that the praise is out of the way I can finally talk about what is wrong about this series (Even though I love this series with a passion but no show is with out its faults) So if you are looking for a straight forward story then move along, move along this anime is not for you. You may be confused while watching the series, the story does have a ton of plot holes and really asks a lot from your Suspension of disbelief. If you can put up with it then you will love FMA.
Another thing that may annoy viewers is that it does take a long time to actually get into the meat of the story, in the mean time there is a lot of filler to distract you, you will either love the filler for their fun story line or hate it because it has little to do with the plot. I personally love the filler because it really gives the feeling that Ed and Al are on an adventure.
Overall the story asks a lot out of you but if you can look past the flaws you will find a very unique and interesting story, taking place in a fantastic fantasy world that is easy to get drawn into. 8/10
Animation: So the animation looks like it has character models ontop of a painted background. For the most part it looks great, the painted background look very nice with some nice CG effects for the more important plot points. On the other hand they really cut corners with the action scenes, dropping frames and often using speed lines but that's okay because so much more goes into the more the dramatic moments making them alot more powerful. The angels used for the series is perfect often using visual effects to make the scenes more engaging.
Overall the animation is top notch but nothing too spitacular. 8/10
Sound: Okay, so the soundtrack for the series is absolutely fantastic, one of the best soundtracks for an anime. The music almost always fits with what's going onscreen, the music has fantastic melody and it's own unique style. If you listen closely to the music when it's playing during the anime it sounds like it's being played on an old-style radio or something, that's a very nice touch. I would give the score for the sound a perfect 10 but there are only a few tracks that don't really stand out but it's near perfection with the way the music is used. 9.5/10
Characters: For me this is what makes the show. Ed and Al have a very strong bond, it's rare to see these two seperated, and when they are seperate all Ed can think about is getting Al back, that's a very strong brotherly relationship thats very admirable. That isn't to say that their relationship isn't perfect, they fight like any brothers would but in the end they are still brothers.
The Homunculus are also worth mentoning for how morally conflicted they are (with the exception of Envy of course >_>) Characters like Lust and Wrath are very complex and shows that they aren't completely evil, they aren't without sympathy or emotions, it brings up the question of just how human are the Homunculus, what does it mean to be human? The characters often bring up some very deep questions, the questions that don't really have any answers.
The problem with the characters though is that it they can be a bit too melodramatic and even can come off as soap opera-ish, but never to the point where they just might as well have the characters cut themselves while listening to old Linkin Park songs.
All in all the characters are well done, they would of done it flawlessly if it weren't for the fact that they are a little melodramatic at times. 9/10
Overall: For all the flaws that exist within the world of Fullmetal Alchemist, try it out anyways because you will never experience anything like it! It's a truly unique world that is easy to get sucked into. Is it overrated? A little, but that doesn't mean it doesn't have the substance to back-up it's praise.
I give FMA a 8.5 out of 10
Sorry if this review feels a bit choppy. It's like 1.30 AM over here. I'm tired *yawn*