Fullmetal Alchemist

Alt title: Hagane no Renkinjutsushi

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sothis's avatar
Oct 25, 2004

Full Metal Alchemist takes place in a world that seems similar to our own, but not as technologically advanced. Trains and steam powered engines are used a great deal, and the science of alchemy is far more prevalent than machines of our time. In alchemy, there is the rule of equivalent trade: you must give something of equal value in order to get something. And above all else, human transmutation is against all rules of alchemy, and does not work... or so it seems. Rumors have it that the Philosopher's Stone can give the alchemist the ability to even raise the dead, but it is long since sought after and never found. Enter Al and Edward, two young boys who attempted this heinous act once their beloved mother died. The act failed, causing Ed to lose his arm and leg, and Al to lose his body, trapping his soul in the body of a machine. Full Metal Alchemist follows Ed and Al as they search for the Philosopher's Stone to get their bodies and lives back... and that's just the beginning.

Full Metal Alchemist is, in a word, brilliant. It's hard to explain exactly why it was so good, so you'd probably just have to see it for yourself. There is a perfect blend of comedy, action, intrigue and excitement all in one. Filler episodes are wonderful and fly by quicker than a bullet train. I never at any point in the series was bored, even for a second. In the beginning, there are a great deal of mini-arcs that deal with events in a certain town or location, but all are still somewhat involved with the main plot. Once the end of the series rolls around, you realize that all of these seemingly unconnected events or places really ARE connected, or come back into play somehow. This comes down to FMA's epic nature at heart, and maybe that's why it was so good, who knows.

FMA is an extremely dark series, with plenty of very messed up scenes and ideas. "Wow" came to mind many a time when something gruesome happened yet again, and this continues throughout the entire series. There are plenty of twists and turns along the way (with one really major one near the end), most of which will surprise you and catch you off guard. There is also a plethora of character development and characters in general, all of whom have a rich background and history. The empathy we feel when a character is killed, for example (or hurt in any way) is present throughout the entire series because of how well the character interactions were presented in tandem with the plot. Truly, there aren't enough good things I can say about the story... it reels you in in the first few episodes and holds on tight till the final act (which is a very beautiful yet open ending, setting itself up nicely for the movie). There are barely any series I see that make me want to watch the next episode so badly, and this is one of them, for 51 episodes in a row. A 10? Can't give it anything less.
The animation style for FMA was superb, and held a perfect balance of serious scenes and comedic chibis. Let's face it, the comedy played a big part in the series, and comic relief was badly needed in harsh scenes. The longest running joke was Ed being called short, and his irritation always manifested itself by him turning chibified for a few minutes. Whereas this would annoy me in most series, it seemed totally appropriate in FMA. Colors used were incredibly bright and vibrant, and character designs looked, well, normal for a series in this time period. The alchemy was definitely the most impressive part, showing us beautiful special effects and sequences. I believe a bit of CG was used, and was seamless, but I could be wrong on that point. Backgrounds were gorgeous, monsters were creepy, and the violence and disturbing parts were animated in a very... well... disturbing fashion as well. I can't think of anything that could have been done better in this case. Fantastic.
There are barely any series that I see that make me want to get the soundtrack, and this is one of them. There was a piano tune in the later half of the series that was haunting and gave me chills every time it was played. Every piece fit the series in some way, from the upbeat lighthearted tracks to the moody depressing ones. Orchestral music dominated the series, mostly piano and violins.Even the intros and outros (except the last two outros, which were pretty terrible) shone. I don't usually rate the music score on the intro/outro, which is why this still gets a 10. Flawless music all the way around, and enchanting enough to make me want to buy the soundtrack, which is a really big deal in itself.
I honestly can't see how anyone could think the characters score should be lower than a 10. All the characters, even the secondary ones, were developed extremely well. Al and Ed, obviously, had the most revealed about their pasts and motivations for the future, but even the bad guys and non-important folk seemed to have twists and depth attached to them in some way. We see characters grow close and drift apart. We see characters born, and characters die unexpectedly. We see masks cast aside from familiar faces, showing us that what the people we thought we knew, we really didn't at all. Everyone has layers that are peeled back and shown to us slowly... and in general, it was done in the most effective way possible.
I can't say enough good things about this series, but I feel like watching it for yourself would make you understand why I gave it a perfect score. Everything about the series is flawless, from the epic and involved story to the pacing and mood, to the music and animation and depth of characters. It really is rare for a series like this to come along that not only succeeds at keeping your attention for 26 episodes, but for 51. What are you waiting for? Check this out as soon as you can.
10/10 story
10/10 animation
10/10 sound
10/10 characters
10/10 overall
mahius's avatar
Sep 14, 2014

Fullmetal Alchemist is a well known anime about a fantasy universe where alchemy is real. It actually tackles a lot of serious issues, while providing a story about 2 brothers trying to fix their past mistakes.

I could write an entire essay on why this anime is good, but I'll put it simply. I'm not one to be hyped up by other's expectations. This anime is among the most popular but I went in feeling cynical as usual. I wouldn't have watched this if it wasn't 50 episodes as I have trouble watching long anime series. I almost gave up at ~45 episodes (not because of the anime itself) but the fact I was so close to end and the great story kept me going. After just a few episodes I realised that this anime is worth the praise its gotten. This has everything, comedy, action, sci-fi fantasy, seriousness and even heartwrenching sad moments. Dare I use realistic to describe this anime?

The story is very good, its not a simple good guy vs bad guy story and there are reasonable twists and turns. It initially takes a while to get going but even then the start has a lot of backstory. The ending was good IMO and even if you aren't satisfied, the very faithful movie sequel ties up all loose ends.

Animation was decent, nothing amazing, nothing terrible. I'm happy to say ecchi is pretty much non-existent, though they try to have a go with the Phantom Thief episode. It looks pretty cool TBH and for the time, the animation was up there.

The music during the anime itself is very good, getting the right moods with some epic sounds. Due to this anime being 50 episodes it has 4 intros/outros. The music in these are amazing. I got the soundtrack after watching this because I couldn't live without the awesome music. The voiceovers are also great and the english dub is done surprisingly well. A few odd people tend to find Alphonse's voice annoying but I liked it.

Characters are awesome. Again, like the story the characters aren't simple good/evil human beings, they make mistakes and have their motives. Even the antagonist(s) have some backstory/reasoning allowing the viewer to understand why they behave the way they do. Among my favourites were Maes Hughs *salute* and Roy Mustang who is a well fleshed out character.

One aspect of this anime that I enjoyed immensely was the subtext. It makes you think about various important topics like war, crime, killing, scientific progress, the value of life, the list just goes on. Despite going into this with a cynical mindset this anime is a must-watch for anyone who like anime, especially when followed up by the sequel movie: Conqueror of Shamballa. Definitely among my top 5 favourite anime of all time, if not the top 3. I look forward to eventually watching FMA: Brotherhood, I've heard its just as good.

Family-friendliness Rating: 2/5 Overall the characters are modest with a few exceptions like the Phantom Theif and some characters with large breasts (lower is better)

Overall Rating: 10/10 (higher is better)

10/10 story
9/10 animation
10/10 sound
10/10 characters
10/10 overall
Ladieburd's avatar
Oct 27, 2009

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.

The Story

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.

The Art

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

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.


Grade: B+

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.

Happy Watching!

9/10 story
8/10 animation
8/10 sound
8/10 characters
8/10 overall
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EvilCarrot's avatar
Jul 28, 2015

When it comes to this show, it seems the only way to not compare it to Brotherhood is to not watch Brotherhood. It seems like most people want to pick a side between the original and Brotherhood. A lot of people actually originally told me just to watch Brotherhood, but I felt the need to watch both and compare. I'm really glad I did, because honestly, rather than pick one or the other, I wish I could pick and choose elements of both and Frankenstein together my own cut of these shows. So I'm going to both try to review it as its own entity while also comparing and contrasting to Brotherhood.


The story is that of two brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elrich, who live in a world of alchemy. Seemingly abandoned by their father, the two boys live with their mother and become promising young alchemists by studying their father's alchemy books. When their mother is stricken dead by an illness they try to use alchemy to bring her back, something strictly forbidden. Not only do they fail, but Edward loses his arm and leg, and nearly his brother, who he able to save at the last minute by bonding his body to a suit of armor. Edward, now with a mechanical arm and leg, known as automail in the show, sets out with his brother on a quest to regain Alphonse's body, doing whatever he can to achieve his goal.

Let's just get this out of the way: yes, the ending is awful. The manga wasn't finished, and rather than go on hiatus and wait or something that might have made sense, the anime took creative liberties and branch the story into it's own ending. Unfortunately, it seems that the writing team they had were incredible at interpreting the manga, but awful at coming up with their own ideas. I could probably rant on this for days, but instead I'll say that there is This Blog Post that I think effectively covers everything I could say in great detail, and leaves me with very little to add. 

All of that being said, I actually preferred FMA over Brotherhood up until the plot deviation. Sure, it may have been a little grimdark, but it told each story in more detail and gave more life to each character. It was a little slower, but to me, Brotherhood moved too fast, feeling like a recap that just wanted to get us to the story split in 13 episodes. And it's possible that was the point. Just remind people and highlight the differences (some people who lived longer die sooner, some people who died quickly lived longer...) before going all in on the new aspects of the story. And that's fine, some people probably wouldn't want to watch all that detail again. But as a first time watcher, I honestly feel I would have been thrown off by how quickly plots were resolved. I'll say FMA probably had more filler, but I felt invested and interested in the filler; the early filler at least.

The whole story is also dealt with in a darker tone, whereas Brotherhood seems to havea lot more comic relief and an overall lighter tone. However, the story itself is pretty dark, and although Brotherhood also works, I felt the darker tone of FMA was to its advantage.


The biggest problem with the animation is probably the fact that Brotherhood is so well detailed. Don't get me wrong, FMA has great animation, but Brotherhood is amazing. That said, I preferred the darker tones of FMA. Brotherhood seemed to have lighter colors to match its lighter story tones.


Discussing the dub: I'm not going to lie, when this show first aired, I avoided it because I hated Alphonse's voice actor. As I've grown to appreciate the show, I've come around, but it used to just drive me insane. I know it's supposed to be a younger child, but he just sounds somehow both whiney and wooden to me. After a little getting used to, I'm ok with it, but it could still be better. Otherwise, I can't think of any bad performances off the top of my head, and the background music is always good and fitting. The soundtrack is wonderful. I'll admit that I skipped the themes enough that I don't remember them though.


Throughout the first half of the show, all of the characters developed wonderfully. As I said before, the slower pace than Brotherhood really let you connect to the characters. Even the villains often had a story that made you at least understand where they were coming from. I know some people might disagree. When I talked about how sad the Hughes death was, I had a friend say, wait until you see it in Brotherhood. Well, I did see it, and with less character development, I felt less invested. I'd argue that without knowing him from all the screen time in FMA, it wouldn't have been as powerful. The same goes with the Tucker story. Although I prefer him dying in Brotherhood over becoming a somewhat shitty character later in FMA, I liked the detail in the FMA story. I'm not saying slow is always better, but the attention to detail in the early show didn't seem to drag at all.


While Brotherhood definitely gets better as it goes, FMA was better early on. And although it really dropped the ball at the end, I prefer the early FMA's tone and story detail to the almost recap feeling of Brotherhood's first season. It's hard to say whether or not I recommend all of it, when the ending is so lame, and Brotherhood was so necessary to fix it, but I without question recommend at least up until Dante's introduction to prime yourself for Brotherhood.

7/10 story
8/10 animation
8/10 sound
9/10 characters
7/10 overall
RogerSmith2004's avatar
Oct 13, 2014

Fullmetal Alchemist is from Studio BONES and based off the manga from Hiromu Arakawa. It was already a very famous work even before its airing on Cartoon Network's [adult swim] block in late 2004, which is where I had heard of it first. This anime is known for being a gateway show for loads of people, and for good reason, it's a very engaging show.


The show's story is very well known. Ed and Al, disheartened by the death of their mother, try to use alchemy to bring her back to life. This leads Ed to losing an arm and a leg, and Al's soul being stuck in a suit of armor. The goal is now, to get both of their bodies back to their normal state. Ed, himself, joins the military, in hopes of becoming a better alchemist and having access to research materials that may help in achieving this goal of getting Ed and Al to their original states. The homunculi, human-like creatures created whenever an alchemist tries to bring a dead human back to life, are the villains of the show, and their plan is to pretty much cause chaos to the world, but it's a bit more complex than that. The whole theme of the show is sacrifice, and the story goes very well with that theme. The filler of the show, is also very well made. BONES did a genius job of fitting the filler right into the canon, and having it fit into the themes of the show, making it feel more important to Ed and Al's development as characters. The show's later half, which people tend to criticize, due to not being based off the manga, was in my opinion, really well made and still well paced. None of it feels rushed, some of the stuff, unfortunately does come out of nowhere due to not knowing beforehand they had to create their own ending to the series, however it still works well with the theme of sacrifice, and the ending to the series is rather satisfying, in my opinion.


The animation is beautiful, and still looks amazing and fantastic by today's standards. The colors are bright and vibrant, and I love the backgrounds. BONES always has great animation for their shows, and FMA is no exception.


The music is phenomenal, as each track gives the show an epic or haunting feeling. The opening songs are all amazing, but my personal favorite is "Ready Steady Go", which fits well with Ed and Al's search for the truth, and their determination as well. Honestly, the music is just perfect. There's only one ending theme I didn't like, ending 3, because that was boring as all hell, but honestly, I'm not going to deduct a point for that, because the rest were just so good.


The characters are just so likable in this show. You have Ed and Al, who are excellent main characters, whose thoughts develop and change. Al, though being the younger brother, is the wiser of the two, while Ed is more short-tempered than anything. You have Colonel Roy Mustang, who is sort of acts like a mentor to Ed and Al. He also changes and develops, and grows stronger from tragedies he has faced in the past. My personal favorite character, Maes Hughes, is legitimately one of the most likable characters I have seen in an anime. He's a family man, who cares about Ed and Al, looks out for them, but also shows lots of love for his daughter and wife by constantly bragging about them, and he does this all without coming off as a perverted character. Which is honestly, really impressive. Winry is somewhat of Ed's love interest, and her relationship grows throughout the series, too, but honestly, the focus is mainly on Ed and Al, and their journey and search for the truth. The villains of the series, the homunculi, are all revealed eventually, but some are a shock for the viewers, as we find a trusted figure is actually working for the enemy side. Also, some are indeed more sympathetic. I only dislike a couple of characters. Wrath, one of the homunculi, is an annoying brat who ruins the series, and Frank Archer, who is a total jerkwad and his Robo-Archer form makes no sense within the realms of the series (you'll know what I mean when you see the show). Other than that, the characters are fantastic.


Fullmetal Alchemist is such a phenomenal series because it is so accessible. It is not only such a well-made, and well put together work, but anybody can watch it and enjoy it. My father, who is certainly no fan of anime, watched FMA, and enjoyed and adored it. Anyone I have watched Fullmetal with has just enjoyed it. For years, I had lost interest in anime, however I had saw Fullmetal Alchemist on Netflix, and decided to give it another watch, and I was back to being hooked on anime. So, really, that is why FMA is such a great series, and such a must-watch. It is an addictive series, and it isn't like your typical popular anime series where it is just average but overhyped and overpraised, this is a show worth all the hype and praise that it gets. As for Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, I will eventually write a review on that series as well, but let it be known that I think the 2003 anime is the better series out of the two, and one of my first recommendations to anyone looking to get into anime. While not a perfect series, it is definitely a favorite of mine.

9/10 story
9.5/10 animation
9.5/10 sound
9/10 characters
9/10 overall