It’s been a long time, friends, but welcome to another edition of Friday Flix. This week we’re doing it anime style in the foreign fantasy lands of Amestris, something like the European industrial revolution as far as setting goes. For those unfamiliar to the anime scene, there are actually two series titled Fullmetal Alchemist the first premiering in 2003, the second in 2009.
Why two series? Well, the original only followed the manga (Japanese comic) story line for half of the series, then went off on its own tangent. Now, I should note I was a HUGE fan of the original series. And when I was in Japan, it was still quite popular. I found me one of these.
I own the original series on DVD and there are bits of the story I think they do better than the new series (of course, the contrary is also the same). But, that having been said, is the 2009 series worth watching? You bet your sweet bippy it is!
The description from Hulu.com:
Brothers Edward and Alphonse Elric hoped to resurrect their mother’s corpse when they attempted human transmutation, but their reckless defiance of alchemy’s Law of Equivalent Exchange resulted in no miraculous reunion. Their experimentation with forbidden science plunged the boys into a hellish nightmare; half of Ed’s limbs were torn from his body, and Al awoke to discover his young soul transferred to a suit of armor. There is but one way the Elrics can restore what was lost – find the fabled Philosopher’s Stone. In a land marred by war and persecution, where truth comes only with tragedy, they undertake their desperate search. Every step closer to the mythical Philosopher’s Stone brings the broken brothers deeper into the darkest shadows of reality. Sinful abominations, both unnatural and human, will try to keep the boys from their redemption – but the Elrics must forge ahead if despair is to be transmuted into peace.
There are English dubs available as well as Japanese language with English subs. I tend to do original language and since I once heard the original series’ voice for Edward and vomited, I decided Japanese it is.
WHY IT’S AWESOME
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (aka Philosopher’s Stone) briefly touched on this idea of alchemy, and FMA runs full blast with it. Much like Voldie wanted the stone to get his body back, so do the Elric bros. That’s the power of a Philosopher’s Stone. Although when the Elrics realize what it takes to get a Philosopher’s Stone, they’re faced with major moral dilemma. So think scientific wizardry at the turn of the century.
One of the main characters is an empty suit of armor. Try working with that characterization. Even better, the massive, intimidating suit of armor has a little boy’s voice. Alphonse Elric quickly became one of my favorite characters (although the Elric bros tie on favs).
Seven deadly sins run amok throughout both stories. It’s interesting to see how each character plays out their sin, be it Greed, Lust, Envy, Gluttony, etc. This is some serious creativity, taking old things and making them new. And above all, you come to love these Elric brothers as if they were your own siblings or kids. You want them to succeed no matter what, despite any flaws or difficulties that come their way. That’s some good storytelling!
2004 vs. 2009
So are they both worth watching? Purists will say skip the 2004, go straight for 2009. I say don’t count 2004 out. Even though they did their own thing with the story, the idea is still interesting. Plus it makes for an interesting study on how a story can go two separate ways depending on choices we make. What a perfect case study for us writers to see what worked better for each storyline.
I liked Barry the Chopper from 2004 better than 2009. The former was much more terrifying and left our boys in a lot more trouble. 2009’s BTC seemed too juvenile, reminiscent of Pokemon episodes. And that’s another complaint I have about the 2009 series. It seemed a lot more juvenile in the beginning. I felt like 2004’s was a bit more mature throughout, although 2009 does get crazy awesome in its ending. For those of you who are in the know, compare Rose’s story line between the two.
I liked Hohenheim from 2009 better than 2004. Good gracious, Hohenheim 2004 is almost completely useless to the story except that he’s the Elric bros dad. He’s shows up like he’s late for rehearsal and gives a half-baked performance before leaving the bros to do what they could have and would have done on their own in the first place. 2009 Hohenheim? He’s a bad a** mambo jambo who knows how to use alchemy like a boss. And did I mention he’s a big part of the reason the story is happening in the first place? You really dig Hohenheim 2009. 2004? Meh.
Something that bothers me about anime in general is going off on side character stories just as soon as the plot is getting good so they can drag it out. Ugh, I don’t care about the half animal dudes’ backstories and everyone’s brother and sister and cousin and so on. Maybe I’m remembering 2004 with rose-colored glasses, but good gracious is 2009 riddled with filler bits all over the place. Sometimes I wondered when the Fullmetal Alchemist of the show would be back on screen again. It got a bit Peter Jackson for me at times.
But all that being said, the ending of 2009 is beyond your wildest dreams and makes everything worth it. Well, minus a really long wrap up. Please, don’t do this in your novels. It kills the satisfaction.
Also, I just missed this video from the 2004 series, since it was my fav closer.
I really think it’s worthwhile watching, not only for the pure awesomeness of the story, but to compare different paths the story took and understand that our novels may do the same thing. I know with SHADE it started on a very different path than it’s on now—and that’s okay. Think parallel universes. Which one is better? Whichever one gets you to the strongest story.
Have you seen either of the FMA series? Do you agree or disagree? Any other series you would recommend?