Netflixing: Fullmetal Alchemist

in tv •  2 years ago 

Before you run away in horror, let me assure you that today's review does not concern the live-action version.

Because I'm done putting myself through the torture of watching live-action adaptations of anime.

No, this review shall confine itself to the animated version.

But, of course, we then have to ask ourselves,

"Which animated version?"

A Tale of Two Fullmetals

Because Fullmetal Alchemist, like some other mangas, has received more than one anime adaptation over the years. And---surprise, surprise---both of the animes are now on Netfix.

And as I was mostly unfamiliar with the series, I found myself tasked with deciding which series to review first.

It wasn't the easiest question to answer, since opinions about each anime vary among other critics. The rebooted series, which I will refer to as Brotherhood, was made with the intention of staying faithful tot he manga. The first series is not so different as to be unrecognizable, perhaps, but it is very much its own beast.

Wanting to get the most out of my FMA experience, and to maximize my personal enjoyment, I eventually settled on watching the original series first. My reasoning: if Brotherhood turned out to be worse than FMA, then I would still watch Brotherhood to get an understanding of the original manga. But if FMA turned out to be worse than Brotherhood, then I would have no reason to watch it after watching Brotherhood, and would thus miss out on it.

Having answered that, I dug in to find out what all the fuss was about.

Totally Science

Fullmetal Alchemist is a fantasy anime about people who use magic.

Yes, magic. What they do in this series is not science, no matter how much they make that claim.

Still, since the series at least touches upon the subject, we should at least familiarize ourselves with what alchemy is.

Alchemy is a medieval pseudoscience that acted as a precursor to modern-day chemistry. Like chemistry, it concerned itself with manipulating the properties of various substances.

However, alchemy was primarily concerned with the idea of purifying matter and awakening hidden properties said to be sleeping within it. And its search for new elements was mostly focused on the search for one in particular: lapis philosophorum---the Philosopher's Stone.

The Philosopher's Stone was a fabled substance that could purify nonliving materials into their ideal state (believed to be gold) and purify living materials into their ideal state (immortality). The possessor of the Philosopher's Stone would therefore have dominance over the entire material world.

Many alchemists claimed to have succeeded in creating the Philosopher's Stone, but, in true shyster fashion, they would only reveal their formula as a series of cryptic instructions without any definite measurements or descriptions. These often took the form of intricate geometric designs.

The idea being that only a worthy practitioner would be able to decipher the master's formula and recreate their results. If you failed to replicate the master's results, then that was only proof of your own unworthiness.

A number of other feats were considered alchemical, including the creation of homunculi---artificial humanoids conceived in the laboratory that would then become servants of the alchemist.

But even while alchemy strove to make real achievements, and alchemists ended up discovering many useful chemicals, it was no more legitimate than any other kind of magic, and was rampant with fraud and false hope.

So They Made It into an Anime

In the world of Fullmetal Alchemist, alchemy is more of a mystical force than a scientific discipline. Alchemists change the composition of matter by putting that matter inside a magic circle and performing some hocus pocus (in this respect, the show's "alchemy" more resembles Renaissance conjuring techniques than anything alchemical).

However, the story claims that this form of alchemy is limited by the "Law of Equivalent Exchange", which prevents the creation of objects without the requisite amount of raw materials. When creating nonliving objects, this process is easy enough. But if an alchemist tries to create a human being...well, there's going to be trouble.

Enter the Brothers Elric---Edward and Alphonse.

They love their mama. Their mama dies. So they decide to recreate her using alchemy.

They gather the all the elements, in the proper quantities, that compose an adult human body. They put it all in a magic circle and...

Scary demon things come to eat their flesh.

No kidding. That's what happens.

Edward loses an arm and a leg, and Alphonse's body is taken away completely. Al is only saved at the last minute as Ed seals his soul into an old suit of armor, which functions as his new body.

And after fitting Ed with some artificial limbs, the pair now seeks out the philosopher stone, which will allow them to ignore the law of equivalent exchange so they can restore their human bodies.

In the meantime, they will have to make their way in the world, but since their only skill is alchemy, that means working for the military. Because in a world where magic is real, it is going to be used for martial purposes (obviously).

Ed lands a job as a state alchemist, serving in the army of the Fuhrer.

At the end of the series, the Fuhrer turns out to be a bad guy. And no, that's not a spoiler, because even if you ignore his eye patch and his black moustache, the guy's name is literally THE FUHRER. You can see his badness and betrayal from a hundred miles away.

But he's not the only villain in town. The brothers are also being tailed by a mysterious group of homunculi, who keep killing innocent people wherever they land. A strange man called "Scar" also keeps showing up, and his hatred of all alchemists manifests in deadly ways.

Trapped by their obligations to the military, Ed and Al get lost in a history of conflict and conquest, all strangely connected to the Philosopher's Stone.

When all their questions are answered, an impossible choice will still await them.

The B-Plot

A disproportional amount of FMA's runtime is dedicated to characters who are not the Elric brothers.

Chief among these are other military members, some of whom have only little contact with the brothers. Colonel Mustang is their commanding officer, and he has his own arc as he tries to unravel the secrets the Fuhrer is hiding.

Major Hughes is another character, who performs most of Mustang's investigations, even though he technically does not answer to him. Their long and twisted relationship is explored in the series almost as much as Ed and Al's is.

And the A-Plot and B-Plot have hard time communicating with each other. Certain discoveries will be made by the brothers, and certain discoveries will be made by the Colonel. But they won't tell each other what they know until the series is almost over.

This causes problems when one of the parties discovers something that the other party has known for twenty episodes. The audience is, in this way, submitted to a "shocking revelation" that they already knew about, yet the story still treats it like some huge event.

And What was with that Ending?

I won't spoil anything here, but I found the ending of the series perplexing. I know only a little bit about Brotherhood, but I knew enough to realize that FMA's ending comes completely out of left field. And it doesn't exactly jive with the rest of the series. It felt like the show was building up to something that should have been more satisfying.

My Judgment

Fullmetal Alchemist was poorly plotted.

It has the makings of a good anime in there somewhere, but it just gets lost in subplots that aren't as interesting as what's going on in the main story, and when the time comes to wrap up that main story, it drops the ball.

It has fun moments, including some welcome humor. But the action, by anime standards, is sub par. They don't show off the magic in cool and eye-catching ways, and every potential action sequence is interrupted by exposition. Exposition was the guiding force in this show from start to finish, and that makes for poor storytelling.

The characters were also rather subdued, by anime standards. A lot of traditional anime characters have larger than life personalities. The more subdued approach of FMA came off as lukewarm.

It's on Netflix, if you're interested. But if you have Netflix, then you also have a lot of better alternatives.

Previous entries in the Netflixing series:

Past Years

TV Shows

  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Season 2
  • Revolting Rhymes
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Season 1
  • The Polka King
  • Little Witch Academia
  • Movies

  • Jaws
  • Phantom Boy
  • The Boss Baby
  • Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie
  • Strictly Ballroom
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    Actually i have missed cartoon TV series in long time back! I think it's time to try this one! You made an in-detailed review of it! Thanks friend!


    wow amazing post really nice post sir

    This is one of my favourite anime, great story!
    Thanks for sharing!

    Again smart review by @talanhorne sir....
    Fullmetal Alchemist ( "Alchemist of Steel") is a Japanese shōnen manga series written and illustrated by Hiromu Arakawa. It was serialized in Square Enix's Monthly Shōnen Gangan magazine between August 2001 and June 2010; the publisher later collected the individual chapters into twenty-seven tankōbon volumes. The world of Fullmetal Alchemist is styled after the European Industrial Revolution. Set in a fictional universe in which alchemy is one of the most advanced scientific techniques, the story follows two alchemist brothers named Edward and Alphonse Elric, who are searching for the philosopher's stone to restore their bodies after a failed attempt to bring their mother back to life using alchemy.
    Thanks sir...

    I really love this type movies.Thanks @talanhorne for sharing this movies review.
    100% upvote and resteem done.

    @talanhorne sir...
    Actualy I'm reslly interesting your review...I'm always like watched 3D animation films with my kid...
    What is your review of Fullmetal Alchemist?


    Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, is one of the best, if not the best anime, ever created.
    Brotherhood is set in a world , where the dominant science is one called “Alchemy”, which the process of transforming an object into something else using symbols called Transmutation Circles. The series follows two brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric, in the fictional country of Amestris, who commit a grave taboo in trying to bring their mother back from the dead using Alchemy. As a result, Ed loses his right arm and left leg, and Al loses his entire body, with his soul being bonded to a suit of armour. FMA:B follows their journey as they attempt to return their bodies back to normal, with the help of a legendary object called the Philosopher’s Stone. Along the way, they encounter supernatural creatures called Homunculi, and also learn shocking truths about the very nature of Alchemy in Amestris.

    The entire series, is , to put it simply, absolutely brilliant. By far the best anime I have seen. The themes of love, brotherhood, and courage that are portrayed are really touching. And I don’t mean it in a cheesy way; you get attached to the characters fairly quickly, and the way they overcome the trials they face, while at the same time, putting others before themselves, is really nice to watch. There are plenty of light moments in between so the story doesn't get too dreary. It builds up very steadily, and is not rushed through in any way; you can watch 5-6 episodes together without it feeling "heavy" the way Death Note does . At the same time, the story doesn’t proceed so slowly as to bore you cough DBZ cough. The complex , but interesting, storyline , will keep you interested throughout the 64 episodes. There are plenty of cool fight sequences too. As an added bonus, Brotherhood has one of the most epic characters across all anime: Colonel Roy Mustang. Yep, Brotherhood, is pretty close to perfection...

    Oh yeah, you're absolutely right, the idea of the Fullmetal Alchemist is not bad, and there are interesting moments, but in general it's very mediocre, so it's boring to look. Thank you @talanhorne

    Finally someone who agrees. This series is good, but it is way overrated . It is ranked no. 1 on imdb . I never found it that good.

    Excellent review. You made an outstanding article of it~

    its really helpful post........////////

    the characters are well defined and looks cool anime thanks for sharing about it :)

    Many interesting characters are in it looks great to see them :)

    very good job....
    my dear friend @talanhorne..
    i like your all post..thank you for sharing your post..

    its amazing to see i will watch it just for fun haven't seen anything in a week

    Great work sir. @talanhorne
    I really like netflix all movies and tv shows because this all are really awesome.

    FUHRER seems to be the bad boy of it hahh i will watch just for him lol

    One of the most incredible anime series ever. It became so popular that 67 million volumes were sold worldwide. The concept is amazing and you fall in love with the characters. I love full metal Alchemist.i have seen a lot of anime series but this one was totally different from the rest. Have you watched one piece, if not I recommend. Thank you

    Because I'm done putting myself through the torture of watching live-action adaptations of anime.

    Me: Yeah totally, live actions suckkkkkkkkkkkkk...such a waste of time!
    *Bleach liveaction is announced
    Also me: But maybe this one will be decent I mean Miyavi is in it...:'(

    Bleach was my favorite for a long time.

    If a live-action adaptation rekindles interest in the anime, so be it.

    Mine too :(
    PD: If you haven't seen this maybe you'll like it

    Well buddy I have seen it full but as it seems I do liked it but was not able to watch the whole season !

    Thanks for the review will take a look when possible ;)

    Good jop friends @talanhorne

    Thank you for your efforts. it is interesting tv series and great work.And you are very good at writing articles.
    100% like and resteem

    the plot is the only negative thing of it otherwise everything looking great

    Excellent TV Series review & nice judgement.

    Great TV series . wonderful experience @talanhorne

    For your post propagation.

    That's glorious story of Netflix movie series. You've nice introduce whole story. I can get clear idea. Thanks.

    thanks for no spoilers haahha that's made the review perfect

    Excellent tv series, Great post. @talanhorne
    Upvote Resteem

    Interesting review of Fullmetal Alchemist Netflix series. I agree the choice on Netflix is huge and thanks for this review. There are probably better series that this one based on your judgement.
    Very well written though.

    This is very cool

    i better find some alternatives to watch this time around thanks for sharing :)

    This is very interesting article and this is a great netflix.thanks for sharing.

    ((((((( Resteem Service )))))))

    @talanhorne, Fullmetal Alchemist is a best story to me. You've better explained whole summery there. Good one.

    Anime and drama an interesting combination so i have to watch it. Regards

    Hello @talanhorne,

    Extraordinary good TV series review & incredible writing of 'Fullmetal Alchemist' anime.


    I like your post

    Such an amazing content,glad to be your follower.

    Hey! I am here.

    Perfect day to come up with an review of the nexflix flick lets see i can watch this or not but thanks for your opinion and a great review

    you always great post.....

    that anime is very good .. I only saw 1 single chapter, now the one I'm watching every Saturday is dragon ball super.

    Wow it’s another review of Netflix movie .... I am waiting for this Netflix article review..... because it’s inspired me to seeing the movie...thank you so much for sharing.

    This is valuable post. very Netflixing movies and good think.
    Have a great day.

    Wows! İt is wonderful. You are awesome @talanhorne

    This is amazing story,belive me you are gonna become one of the super duper blogger here,this is my favorite blog as of now,lots of love.

    Good friend

    This is valuable post and excellent writing with hopefully tv series .thanks for sharing.
    Upvote Resteem

    @talanhorne - Sir it's a boring to watch... Specially I'm boring to watch animation movies (not 3D movies) Sir... But you made a excellent review of this TV series Sir...


    impressive review & outstanding writing. @talanhorne

    reteemed & upvoted

    Yes sir,It wasn't the easiest question to answer, since opinions about each anime vary among other critics.

    Amazing , sucsess alway my friend

      ·  2 years ago (edited)

    Scary demon things come to eat their flesh.
    No kidding. That's what happens.

    That’s fine with me. Even though I don’t watch these kind of series anyway. Afterall your final judgement confirms it. As you said there is lot Of a better alternatives if you have Netflix.

    Congratulations @talanhorne
    Now you are in the MinnowsPower Loyalty Member List...!!!

    Exceptional TV Series review & excellent writing...!!!

    100% Upvoted by @MinnowsPower

    Anime movies are a great thing to watch in doubt for the first time to watch it or not

    well if they could correct this mistakes then it will be stunning to see again :)

    Very interesting movie review @talanhorne. You do best your job. Basically I'm less interested this movie. It's being 50-50 to me. However I appreciate your effort. Introduction superb. Easy to understand everything you wrote.

    Cool friends

    In general, I liked the Fullmetal Alchemist
    A finished, well-researched story. Originality. Drawing. There are also
    disadvantages: Sometimes psychologically difficult scenes (for those who do not like this) and nasty creatures. The presence of bloody scenes.
    The world is an alternative to ours. Thank you for giving a full review of anime.

    Wow i want to watch this movie . sci fi .
    But i not found in market . and i do not have much net to watch it online .
    @talanhorne thank you telling about this movie and its look so cool . i will try to find it .

    Thanks for this great post,,,,
    i liked........///////

    Wow @talanhorne sir so nice post

    great one post
    i appreciate your post
    incridible work you have done

    I really excited for this movies. l love this type movies.
    thanks @talanhorne, like this post

    I am new steam it. your post is very nice and helpful for me.i hope you to UPvote me on my and post [email protected] follow me thank you so very much

    Great work @ talanhorne
    thanks for sharing with us

    Wow good TV series review & incredible writing of 'Fullmetal Alchemist' anime.thanks for sharing sir.. @talanhorne

    very helpful information.thanks for sharing.......//////

    This great post, i appreciate your blog. keep it up

    Awesome review sir @talanhorne. I really like all movies and TV shows of netflix. Its really amazing. Thank you so much sir for sharing.

    Awesome review Sir @talanhorne. I love all movies and TV shows of netflix. It really amazing. Thank you so much for sharing sir.

    Rnice post friend

    thanks for your information
    i like tv series

    when there are alot of good alternatives why to go for it !
    overall very good review

    This is such great blog post can see you that the time you have spend on this post.always a big fan of you,this is such a wonderful blog,i had a great attachment with your blog.

    Very nice,,

    Love this video pic.gif

    That's glorious story of Netflix movie series. You've nice introduce whole story. I can get clear idea. Thanks for sharing.....

    Great job keep it up you are doing well

    Nice one, it seems too awesome to me. Thanks for the links @talanhorne
    You have explained it very beautifully.

    This is valuable post and excellent writing with hopefully tv series .thanks for sharing. @talanhorne