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Halex

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Fullmetal Alchemist - Watching Guide

My favorite way of watching these series.
1 Fullmetal Alchemist

Fullmetal Alchemist

This is a great series that has remained at the top of the charts due to their amazing story that has managed to perfectly balance action, comedy, a meaningful well-plot story, and character development.

If you are wondering if you should watch  FMA or  FMAB, or both, well, the truth is that they are different stories. They use the same characters and they have the same personalities, but the events, the antagonist and the main focus differs for each story, the way alchemy works is also different, as well as some character's roles.

FMA story is about redemption, trying to fix their mistakes while FMAB is about learning to stand by yourself and don't depend on magic or miracles to fix your problems.

FMA is better at the first part, which FMAB, condenses too much, in less than 10 episodes, so you don't get the same emotional immersion. FMA ending is ok, FMAB ending it's outstanding, but in my opinion, both stories are worth watching. FMAB closely follows the manga.

Both stories have themes of war, crime, scientific progress, the real value of life and taking responsibility for your actions. These series are a must watch and I think everyone will enjoy them.

If you want to see a more in-depth comparison between the manga and both anime adaptations you can watch this video, just know that it contains spoilers.

The dub is great for both series.

HOW TO WATCH:

Since both stories diverge greatly, you have 2 options to watch them:

1. Watch each series in full from beginning to end.

In this case, watch FMA (2003) first for the best experience. They were released this way and FMA 2003 won't spoil anything from FMAB, while FMAB condenses the content too much, spoiling parts of the story that were done way better in FMA, for example, if you really want to find our why Shou Tucker is the most hated character since FMA release in 2003, then it's best to watch FMA (2003) first, this is one of the most notable events within the series that shapes the lives of the main characters and is way better in FMA, while in FMAB it goes down in one episode spoiling the surprise if you decide to watch FMA later, so I strongly recommend you watch in release order for this reason. In this case, the order will be:

  1. Fullmetal Alchemist (2003)
  2. The Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa This is the sequel & conclusion to FMA 2003.
  3. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (2009)

2. Watch the beginning of FMA (2003), then jump to FMAB

This is my favorite way of watching the series as it's the full manga story encompassing the best parts of both shows. Note that watching this way won't spoil anything if you decide to watch each series in full later. However, note that you will notice slight differences in some character's personalities. In this case, the order will be:

  • Watch Fullmetal Alchemist (2003) From Episode 1-25. The anime is faithful to the manga up to this point, only starting to diverge on Episode 26, so it's the best possible point to jump to FMAB.
  • Optional Brotherhood Episode 1 - This is a side story / extra mission to hunt down the "Freezing Alchemist", which was not featured in FMA. It can be watched at any time as it's not essential to the main story.
  • Watch Brotherhood Episode 2 - Personally, for this timeline, I think this episode fits best between Season 2 & 3 of Brotherhood (Between Episodes 26 & 27), as that is a good part to insert this story within this continuity, but you could also watch immediately after coming from FMA if you prefer. This is a flashback that expands on the story for how the Elric brothers learned alchemy, shows their mom's death and what happened while performing human transmutation, then goes into how Edward decided to become a state alchemist. It's rather important to start to mark the differences between FMA & FMAB rules of the world.
  • Skip Brotherhood Episodes 3-10. These episodes condense what you saw in FMA, some events are slightly different.
  • Watch Brotherhood Episodes 11 to the End (Episode 64). Note that Episode 11 continues at the exact point you left the story in FMA Episode 25, when they arrived at their destination after taking the train.

Differences with Brotherhood (Contains Spoilers)

============================================

Regarding as Why to Watch FMA, this is an extract from sothis review:

"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.

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." -sothis

2 Fullmetal Alchemist The Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa

Fullmetal Alchemist The Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa

Watch. This is the Sequel & Ending to the FMA 2003 Story Line.

3 Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

Watch.

If you are coming from FMA (2003) Episode 25, then watch in this order:

  • Optional Brotherhood Episode 1 - This is a side story / extra mission to hunt down the "Freezing Alchemist", which was not featured in FMA. It can be watched at any time as it's not essential to the main story.
  • Watch Brotherhood Episode 2 - Personally, for this timeline, I think this episode fits best between Season 2 & 3 of Brotherhood (Between Episodes 26 & 27), as that is a good part to insert this story within this continuity, but you could also watch immediately after coming from FMA if you prefer. This is a flashback that expands on the story for how the Elric brothers learned alchemy, shows their mom's death and what happened while performing human transmutation, then goes into how Edward decided to become a state alchemist. It's rather important to start to mark the differences between FMA & FMAB rules of the world.
  • Skip Brotherhood Episodes 3-10. These episodes condense what you saw in FMA, some events are slightly different.
  • Watch Brotherhood Episodes 11 to the End (Episode 64). Note that Episode 11 continues at the exact point you left the story in FMA Episode 25, when they arrived at their destination after taking the train.

==============================================

Although this series is advertised as a remake of FMA (2003), in truth, only Episodes 2-10 are the remake of FMA 1-25 (Episodes 26-27 are similar but the original story starts to emerge in FMA), after that, FMA starts to diverge greatly to the point that it's a completely different story, different focus, and different antagonists, therefore FMAB after episode 11 is all new material from the manga story.

4 Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Specials

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Specials

Watch at the end of Brotherhood. These are good side stories, some expand on events that were not shown in the series, including backstories of "The Teacher" Izumi, Mustang's & Hughes' past.

5 Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos

Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos

Optional side story, not in the main timeline, but its an ok watch. It's best to leave at the end of the Brotherhood series and consider it independent of the main story, since it takes what we knew about the way philosopher's stones worked, and rewrites it, rather than adding to it. Is for this reason some people don't like the movie at all.

The dub is good.

6 Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos Specials

Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos Specials

Skip, they are just pathetic comic relief with awful animation.

7 Fullmetal Alchemist: Reflections

Fullmetal Alchemist: Reflections

Skip, this is just a Recap.

8 Fullmetal Alchemist: Premium Collection

Fullmetal Alchemist: Premium Collection

Skip, these are just boring explanations of some concepts of their world and short stories that are mostly comedic relief or slice-of-life.

9 Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood: 4-Koma Theater

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood: 4-Koma Theater

Skip, this is just silly comic relief.

Comments

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Halex May 13, 2019

Answer to Raksesaurus:

Hi, I personally haven't read the manga, but I've been told that FMA 2003 do follow the manga closely up to episode 25, then it goes into its own story. FMAB condenses those 25 episodes into just 9, so you don't get the same emotional immersion, especially in the Show Tucker Arc, which I think get's spoiled if you watch it in FMAB first in just one episode, for me at least, it was done way better in FMA, hence my recommendation.

Raksesaurus Apr 10, 2019

I would say that you should watch FMAB first 'cause that follows the manga the closest. You watch it to get an overall view of what the story is about and then you can watch FMA were some things are changed compared to the manga.