Wednesday, July 22

Bruthaz in the Hood

Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood: Bringing the manga original to animated life.

I was a big anime fan a few years ago. These days, I still consider myself an otaku, but I don't have the time to watch as much as I want to. When I actually get to watch and stay glued to something, I must really like it. These days, that's Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood. This really isn't a big surprise- I was also a fan of the original anime FMA series, and watched it right to it's bittersweet kinda-ending. When I heard there was going to be an all-new, all-different Hagaren series based on the actual manga source of the franchise, I was easily hooked up. Thanks to Animax (and some great subbing groups online), I've been able to enjoy this refreshed, redone title the way it was originally meant to go.

Set in a fantasy world where alchemy is a kind of super-power given to a select few, Full Metal Alchemist is all about the adventures and events of and around the Elric Brothers- Edward and Alphonse. Two pure-hearted, kind but courageous and adventurous kids born with alchemy in their veins, they commit a terrible taboo- trying to raise their dead mother back to life. The act fails and instead takes away Ed's arm and leg, which he eventually replaces with mechanical prosthesis called Automail and thus giving him the title Full Metal Alchemist. Alphonse, or Al, has it even worse- he loses his entire body. To save him from oblivion, Ed is able to bind Al's soul to a suit of armor, and since then both brothers have been walking the road, seeking a way to restore what they have lost. It's this personal quest at redemption that brings the Elrics into encounters with various groups and individuals, including their country's military, other alchemists, foreigners and most dangerous of all, a group of inhuman enemies called the Homunculi.

In the first several episodes, FMA Brotherhood seems very similar to the original anime series... However Brotherhood eventually reaches a point where it diverges from the first anime version, and from here on in it's unfamiliar (well, to me who hasn't seen the manga) and intriguingly addictive territory.

So far, I've got nothing but praise for this new incarnation. The animation is flawless, the characters familiar but seemingly even more likable than before, most of all the two leads, Ed and Al. They're not as 'clueless' all the time as they seemed to be in the original anime, which is refreshing. Ed is even more sensitive about his height, which gives to tons of hilarious moments and the usual wonderful performances from seiyuu Romi Paku. The secret conspiracies, this time more up front and deeper, are more insinuative and it's great to see various characters in totally different roles than before. What I have been enjoying so much recently though is how the series so wonderfully handles things like grief and loss, guilt and heavy emotion so well- the heroes feel the weight of their actions so profoundly, and there is heart and soul backing the action and the comedy ladled onscreen.

Again, it's something so familiar yet pleasantly different, and every week now is such a treat. As much as I loved the original series, it had so many flaws and the ending and resolution really let me down... I'm hoping that Brotherhood fixes all of that in Spades. And so far, I think it's going great. I can't get enough of this awesome new anime.

With the manga still ongoing, I'm hoping Brotherhood goes all the way- which means I've got a LOT of alchemical adventures in store for the months ahead. Awesome.

Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood is shown locally on Animax every Friday.