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Full Metal Alchemist is an up and coming anime that is causing a lot of buzz. Its mix of historical and fastasy elements are creatively combined to appeal to those from all genres. While it is a longer anime (51 episodes), very few of the episodes should be missed because of the anime's progressive nature. Everything in this anime, no matter how confusing, adds up to deliver something different, crazy, and unique.
Set in the early 1900s in a modern world where Alchemy developed as the primary science, the story focuses on two brothers: Edward (Ed) and Alphonse (Al) Elric. After an alchemy accident in which Ed lost his arm and his leg and Al lost his body, the two brothers set out in search of the Philosopher's Stone, a legendary object that will restore the two brothers to their original bodies. Along the way, they meet a collection of characters who help them or hinder them on their quest for the Stone: the boy's childhood friend, Winry Rockbell; Auntie Pinako, Winry's grandmother; Roy Mustang, a colonel in the army; a collection of demons called Homonculus, and a mysterious man named Scar. Most of the episodes focus on Ed and Al in their quest, but others focus on Mustang and other members of the army and the origins of the Homonculus.
Grade: A. The characters are popular, and many have elicited their own 'fan clubs' - particularly Ed and Roy. The series ends on a happy note, despite the fact that some of the loose aends never get tied up properly.
Full Metal's art does a good job of making sure to change with the characters - i.e., if the character grows up, they are drawn to look older. It manages to stay true to the art in the manga, a mix of cartoon outbursts and free-flowing art that fits well with the story. Each of the explosions, transformations, and fights are all well drawn and well coreographed.
Grade: B+. While the art is reflective of the nature of the anime, it's something we've seen before, but still appreciate. If you really like Hiromu Arakawa's art, there are two Full Metal Alchemist artbooks that are very cute and give additional insights about character designs. :-)
The music for Full Metal is a mix of catchy pop and rock songs along with classical instrumentals. Many of the main themes in Full Metal carry a classical connotation (many using a choir for vocal) that is remniscent of composers popular in turn of the century Europe, while others have a bouncy, pop nature that reflects the happy moments in the anime.
Grade: B+. The music isn't necessarily unique, but it has a sort of mass appeal that listeners enjoy.
While the anime can be depressing, it posesses enough charisma to keep viewers enthralled in its magic. As action animes go, it is more on the flashy side with regards to its explotions and transformations, but it keeps the viewer entertained. Though it moves slowly at times, the anime moves fast enough to keep the viewer on their toes. It possesses a number of elements that elicit attention, particularly in relevance to the story line. It's a great anime for fans of other action animes like Rurouni Kenshin and Bleach and for those with an interest in history. There is also a movie that comes after the anime, which helps to wrap up the series (sort of - the attempt to wrap up the loose ends from the series is overshot), along with a few OVAs that explore a different side of the storyline. There is also a second series called Full Metal Alchemist:Brotherhood that is airing right now that more closely follows the plotline of the manga.
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