:: Full Metal Alchemist ::Reviewed By: naomiathena
(Warning: this review has some minor spoilers, but nothing too significant)
This superb anime follows the misadventures of two teenage brothers, the alchemists Edward and Alphonse, as they seek out the Philosopher's Stone - a mythical stone said to be able to break the laws of physics. Fairly normal fare for an anime, with the minor complication that Al is a soul possessing a large suit of armour. Oh, and Ed has a metal arm and leg, earning him the title of 'Full Metal Alchemist'.
A little backstory. In the FMA world, alchemy insists almost entirely of 'transmutation', basically the act of turning something into something else. As is reiterated at the start of each episode, transmutation relies on the rule that something can only be created from something of equal material value. When the brothers' mother dies, the two brothers attempt to resurrect her using alchemy. This is considered an unforgivable sin; Al loses his body, while Ed loses one limb and then another when he seals his brother into a conveniently available suit of armour.
From there, the boys learn of and embark upon a quest to find the Philosopher's Stone, which they believe will allow them to perform human transmutation and regain their original bodies. This get them a to variety of places and a variety of trouble - not least Ed's entry into the National Alchemists, a reviled military wing who can be ordered to use their abilities to kill during war.
It is this status, and their quest for the Philosopher's Stone, which puts them at odds with most of their antagonists - such as Scar, a large frightening man with a murderous grudge against National Alchemists, and a series of sadistic villains named after the Seven Deadly Sins who have strange supernatural powers. Apparently on the side of good are a variety of soldiers and Ed's fellow National Alchemists.
I will say unreservedly that this had me hooked from the first episode and only gets better. The plot is absolutely intriguing, and gets deeper and deeper by the episode, consistently asking more questions than it answers whilst never being frustrating. Supported by a vivid, colourful cast of characters headed by the brash, slightly overconfident Ed and the somewhat naive but easily depressed Al, I could ask for nothing more from the script. The only weak point that comes to my mind (and this is only my opinion) is Winry, Ed's semi-love interest, who in 30 episodes has yet to prove her worth. Fortunately she's not a regular cast member.
However, for an anime that has bright colours and big eyes and is...well, so pretty...it deals with some rather dark and complex issues. Genocide, the nature of life, mass murder in the name of vengeance...it's all here. The world of FMA is populated by quite a few people with very sick minds. And while the violence isn't usually very bloody, there are moments. This may not be a bad thing depending on how you feel, but consider yourselves warned.
Otherwise, no complaints on the technical side of things; the artwork is clean and lovely and the animation is as you'd expect these days. I don't find the opening/closing songs to be particularly inspiring but that could just be me.
Last I heard, this series had just been picked up by Funimation. The second the DVDs come out, pounce on them.
:: alternate reviews ::
Alternate #1 - Kitsune_Freak
(spoilers are present)
FMA is about 2 brothers who make an attempt to get their bodies back to normal. This story has a great variety of genres such a.." (read more)
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