Great characters, amazing action, and strong storySomewhat hurried start


There are just some series that when over you say “this was a great anime.” Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is that kind of series. There are times when remakes just don’t work (like the remake for the PSX game Wild Arms), but this is a remake that does pretty much everything right and as a total package is a great series. The original Fullmetal Alchemist was a good series that many enjoyed. Of course the ending and subsequent movie rubbed me the wrong way. But, I don’t think anyone can say it was a bad decision to go back and remake the series following the original manga to the finish. The problem for the first Fullmetal Alchemist was that it started back in 2003. For those who didn’t know the manga finished alongside Brotherhood which ended in 2010. That is a lot of material that the original series could never cover. The only options available to Fullmetal Alchemist was doing an original story or stopping and waiting. Regardless of how that decision turned out that left a lot of material untouched and thus more than enough reason to do a remake. Of course if there is one thing I’m glad they remade the series for it was the EdxWinry relationship. The thing that didn’t really even happen in the original series with how it ended. This time it was done right and you are left smiling at the end.

The early episodes had to be tough on some people since it was a lot of familiar stuff. For that reason the early part of the series was just trying to rush itself forward so it could get to the new material and get everyone’s attention. It’s kind of amazing when you think of the new things that could be covered. Xing, “Father”, Briggs, vengeance for Hughes, etc. The homunculi were also extremely different in terms of identity and where they came from. The original series tied their origins to the human transmutation while Brotherhood made them parts of Father that he discarded. A lot of time could be spent going on about the major differences between the series, but the point I’m making here is that there was good reason to make this series and I’m damn glad they did.

It is tough to decide where to start when you are reviewing a massive 64 episode series like Brotherhood. Even more so when Brotherhood did such a good job of fleshing out characters and making a vast world. So many got their moments in the spotlight and you grew to care about them. Of course the Elric brothers were at the core of everything, but the other characters weren’t just background pieces in their tale. But still the best place to start is with these brothers. Edward and Alphonse Elric really went through an amazing journey in the series. The flashbacks give you their background when they were simply children living with their mother and Hohenheim. Of course it all went bad after their father left and mother passed away. Two kids having suffered such a loss delved into alchemy which they had talent (no wonder being children of a human philosopher’s stone) and tried to revive their mother. Of course they didn’t realize what the series would tell them later in that human transmutation can’t work. It was simply an impossibility from the beginning and the cost of that attempt was beyond belief. “Truth” truly did unleash painful punishments on everyone who attempted human transmutation. Alphonse of course paying the highest price in losing his very body. Of course they grew from this point going through painful experiences and unraveling the terrible truth about the existence of their own country Amestris. By the end they had grown physically and mentally and their beliefs grew from simply wanting to reclaim their bodies to wanting to save everyone. You can’t just summarize up the entirety of their journey. They really are tied together with the bonds they made with characters like Ling Yao and developing ones like with Winry.

Of course the story wasn’t simply about these two brothers. At the core of it was Hohenheim, who was so critical to events. They condensed his history into an episode, but one can imagine the kind of life he had to lead. You could really feel sympathy for all the suffering he endured, but by the end he was proud of the life he lead.

It can just continue on with characters like Roy Mustang, Riza Hawkeye, Scar, Greed, Ling Yao, May Chang, etc. In terms of characters Brotherhood gets an A+ since there were so many good ones that anyone who watches the series could have different top 5s. In terms of action a lot of characters outside the main leads got serious battles. Characters from Mustang to Ling had some great fights that are easy to remember even after the series has ended. In terms of serious battles it wasn’t like the leads did all the work at all. The best fights in the series probably would go to Mustang and Wrath. They received so many GAR moments it’s hard to believe. I liked how many of the characters really had their motivations tapped into so we could understand where they were coming from. Mustang had the desire to change the country and protect everyone while the powerful motivation to avenge Hughes also drove him on. Ling and May had the future of their respective clans on the line in the battle to curry favour with the Emperor of Xing and become Emperor or Empress. Everyone had things that were driving them forward and the main characters were just part of the whole thing. It’s not like you didn’t care about the leads since they were well developed, but you could care about other characters and no one would fault you.

In terms of the plot the series also delivered. I never would have guessed half the things that the series revealed to us. The very heritage of the main characters, the conspiracy behind the very formation of Amestris and how unbelievably badass King Bradley is. I mean seriously, people should watch the series just to see what that guy can do with a weapon. This series was epic without overstating how huge the plot was. Everything just builds up to the major battles at the end and you just get drawn right into it. It’s not like the journey there was boring either since you get to see characters figuring out the truth, dealing with painful experiences, and really growing as people. The potential of humans is easily shown here both in terms of terrible acts and also great strength. There was a lot of thought put into the story of this series. They really gave some focus to how Amestris had been a country of conquest and thus had different races. Race tension and the Ishbalan Conflict that followed is a key part of the plot for many of the characters. But this series wasn’t just about that one country and made note that Amestris was part of a larger world. The Xing characters played a huge part in the story after all. The series had plenty of serious moments and character deaths. Likable characters died and that helped keep emotions honest since besides the Elric brothers it was impossible to tell who might not make it.

Of course at the core this is also a series of action. The battles were absolutely well done and constantly impressed me. The series didn’t shy away from how ugly war could be with some of the action between soldiers. Of course the highlights were fights being major characters and the abilities of the Homunculi and Alchemists made it pretty crazy. As stated before the battles Wrath took part were all epic. There are just some characters so strong that you have to be amazed when they are on the screen. If people just want to see good action this series is well worth seeing. There was a lot more to the series than just action, but that aspect was strong.

One thing I think Brotherhood did well at was atmosphere. When things got really serious I completely got absorbed in the story and what was going on. A big part of that was the music which was top notch for the series. I didn’t have a complaint about any of the OP/ED combinations that this 64 episode series gave us. Considering they used quite a few over the course of the series that’s a nice accomplishment. Will also give them credit that past OP/ED weren’t simply left aside, but sometimes used for certain scenes. For those moments I thought they were a nice touch. Within the episodes the music was also great from action scenes (like the song leading up to Scar vs Kimblee on the train) to the emotional scenes (like Al refusing to leave Hawkeye when confronted by Lust). The series just found a way to keep me interested and drawn in, in part thanks to the music. No surprise that the series has some great OSTs that people should also check out. The voices all seemed to fit just fine by me. I know a couple changes were made between series, but by the end those were the voices I attached to each character in my mind. Probably the elite voice was Kimblee who was just an entertaining character in his own way.

Visually the series remained strong overall. It certainly needed a high level of quality for some of the battles and alchemy being shown off. I mean we have fire, swords, rock manipulation, shadow attacks, hand to hand combat, guns, tanks, etc. Everything was pretty smooth though the effects used weren’t really friendly to screenshots. With the almost electric nature of alchemy it’s much better to watch in motion rather than stopping at individual moments. There was a lot of different locals from Central, Briggs to the North, the East, and of course the Elric’s hometown. They did a good job showing the various locales of Amestris, a country that absorbed many of its neighbors to reach its current state.

In the end Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood was just an outstanding series. It lived up to its name ‘Brotherhood’ in terms of the obvious Elric brothers, but also the bonds between the various characters. No one made it to the end of that series alive without help. Simply put, Brotherhood was just a great series. Everything that you’d want from a series from sound to story came together for an amazing ride. If you want a series that will amaze you with action and make you care about the characters this is it. It concludes well and gives you a good picture of what happens to most characters. I have to give this series an A+, because it did so many things well from start to finish.

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An older member at 25, yet a new addition to Anime Evo. Recently graduating University and in the difficult point between school and a true career. Anime being a salvation and blogging a good way to put all those hours of writing essays to some use. Enjoys talking about series, yet not taking on so many that the quality dips. A Canadian who enjoys his anime and hearing what others think about the series he enjoys watching.

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  • Anonymous

    One thing I just HAVE to get off my chest and say is that this -is- the original to me, despite there having been an anime about Fullmetal Alchemist beforehand. Yes, yes I know. Some people will argue with this on me, but I will forever hold Brotherhood to the highest standards as it is based off of the manga (which is really the original here in this case); therefore, triumphing over its animated predecessor. Okay, so the first anime was great and it got me into the series initially, but this review practically says it all. The series is wonderful, brilliant, hard-hitting and downright damn well done. I had the pleasure of writing episode blogs here for Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, so this is a fond memory for me. Great review. I agree 99%!


    • Anonymous

      Yeah, in the end this is the Fullmetal Alchemist anime that comes to mind whenever I think about the name. I have nothing against people who loved the original series and prefer it, but that’s just how I feel about it. The fact that Brotherhood is based from the full manga is just part of why it is so good.

      While not on this site, having blogged Brotherhood made writing this review easy. Glad to have a positive response from the one who covered this series here.

    • Anonymous

      I think even for those of us who LOVED the original, most of us found the new series to be very very much superior. Its not that the old series is bad, its just that Brotherhood is better.

      I remember the days when you blogged this series, those were some good old days indeed! =D

  • Anonymous

    I think you really hit the nail on the head, and covered everything while pretty much showing while FMA: Brotherhood was so amazing, and that’s no small feat.

    Ever since we wrapped up episode blogging the series a while ago, I’ve always wanted to have a review for the series up on the site. Its just been a mamoth of a task, and I respect you for not only tackling it but doing it justice.

    I don’t think the A+ for this series was ill-deserved, the one real flaw that I can point out is the semi-rushed start, but only people who’ve read the manga or watched the first series would really notice XD

  • aylithe

    The series for me was “meh” at best. This one was nothing compared to the original, that one spoke to me so much and Brotherhood just destroyed FMA for me. It was full of lazy animation, dull colour palettes, horrible voice acting and unimportant side characters. Yes, 2003 also had unessential characters, but it all totted up to something, ep 16 taught Ed about where was the equivalency when they transmuted Sloth, and 35 was a dawning question for Lust which persisted throughout the series.

    I wrote an essay a few months ago as to why I still stick up to 2003 and Brotherhood doesn’t do it for me. Brotherhood maybe more of an action based story than it’s 2003 counterpart which was more emotionally driven, but I would give Brotherhood a C at best. The story was good, I enjoyed the manga a lot, but that special spark was taken out of it when the series was animated. Animation was just butt lazy and I hated how it jumped around so many stories at the same time; five minutes of Ed, then Al and Scar, then Winry, Homunculi, Chimeras, Hohenheim, etc, that some people were just left very confused and saying “Who’s that again?”.

    I just recommend that if you’re new to FMA, watch the 2003 series first, and then watch Brotherhood and make up your own mind to the matter, it will make much more sense than just jumping right into Brotherhood which had little to no development at the beginning.

    • FlareKnight

      To be fair I completely expected a response like this the moment I finished writing the review. I knew that some who really enjoyed the original series wouldn’t enjoy this remake. I’m not going to completely deny this opinion since in the end what people enjoy is up to them. Besides what people see first will usually impact how they view things and of course someone who saw the first season will constantly compare Brotherhood to the original.

      I agree that for some of the Homunculus the original series did more for their characters. Let’s face it Sloth in Brotherhood had no character and was just there to be something to fight. Lust was killed rather early in the show so her character didn’t have much impact either (other than just being dangerous). On the other hand I think Envy had much better character development in Brotherhood. It’s tough to delve into Pride/Wrath when it comes to comparisons since they were different characters.

      I have to disagree with some of the points you are bringing up though. You say Brotherhood jumped around too much, but it had more compelling characters that it had to deal with. I found there were just fewer characters to even want more airtime for in the original. I think Brotherhood was emotionally driven and didn’t have to sacrifice action for it. Brotherhood may have jumped around a lot, but I thought it did just find in handing the focus on all these characters and making you care about the cast as a whole. I don’t remember a single moment where I had to recall who a character was. That they gave so much attention to the whole cast made it possible to keep them all in your mind in the first place. If you dove into the original series and brought up some characters you would have the problem of having no idea who the heck they were supposed to be.

      I don’t think it really matters which series someone starts out with. Certainly might be easier to go from the original to Brotherhood if only because visually it’s easier to watch old and then new than go in the reverse. Of course in the end will stand by the opinion that Brotherhood overall did things better than the original and that starting with it is not a bad idea either.

    • *Guest*

      I wanna read your essay, sir. (Or Ma’am).

      Whenever I talk about how much more I love the original series (and how it’s weird that everyone is suddenly dumping on it since it was critically acclaimed and was really big and won a lot of awards when it premiered and even up until Brotherhood was created), people always tend to cite Brotherhood being “closer to the manga” so that makes it better. Uh… so fucking what?

      • FlareKnight

        I think it’s odd to just blast the original show, simply because a new one came out. Now liking Brotherhood more and for valid reasons is perfectly fine.

        And let’s face it source material respect matters to people. That’s why adaptations exist, because people liked that material enough for it to be seen worthwhile to adapt it into another medium.

        Of course doing a proper adaptation matters. If you don’t do a good job then being a bit more loyal to the material isn’t going to help. Brotherhood of course does a near perfect job so that’s not an issue.

        In the end comes down to what entertained a person more. I’m not ranking Brotherhood as the better show or giving it a high score based on source material loyalty alone. But on enjoyment, action, animation, character development, and a frankly much better ending. The original FMA is a great show, but Brotherhood is better.

  • dudeman3

    brotherhood was the worst crap ive ever seen. it wasnt even about the elrics, this anime was about everyone else BUT the elrics. ed was a joke through out the entire thing. the entire series took to everything as a joke too. every serious moment got pissed on by a retarded burst from ed or some other character. the whole time i was totally confused and irritated. the original had so much more then this dull crap.

    • FlareKnight

      Now this is more of the irrational hatred I kind of saw coming. There were some times when I thought the comedy didn’t quite hit the mark, but there’s nothing with inserting some comedy even into a series with a lot of serious moments. In the end not much one can say about personal tastes. Though no reason to hate on the series to such a degree based on that. Clearly haven’t watched much anime if this is the worst you’ve ever seen.

      Have to disagree as well that the serious moments were brought down. There were a ton of serious moments in this series without laughs or levity. Though suppose if you hated it that much probably didn’t get very far in Brotherhood.

      Seems like you wanted the series to be overly simple and only focus on the main characters. That can work fine, but it’s not what Brotherhood wanted to do. It gave a great deal more focus to the world and the supporting cast. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that.

  • Nosbelar

    A++++ Loved Brotherhood waaaaaaay more than the original. It actually put the spot light on Trisha and Hohenheim’s relationship. The Homunculous were way more deviant in every sense and the threat was much larger. I see people complain about the voice acting, I watched the Subbed version and have zero complaints about the voice acting, I thought it was amazing.

  • Yeah. I read the manga so I’m so happy that brotherhood was made. And if anime ever came back on Canadian televisions fma brotherhood should determinately be showed.

  • Jojo

    Watched whatever episodes I could on youtube. So far I’m not convinced it’s worth buying another full boxed set especially when I already own the earlier FMA.
    Yes it’s better. But enough of an improvement to justify another $200+ ? I don’t think so.

  • thnx for a really good review FlareKnight-san!!!

    • FlareKnight

      You are welcome. Was an enjoyable series to talk about in a review.

  • milo6

    Hi. Watching Brotherhood, for the first time. At the episode that introduces the prince of Xing. I’ve never read the manga. So far, i can’t decide which i like better. Brotherhood’s early episodes were a bit disappointing. While Nina’s plight was emotional, i thought the incident from the original FMA series was more emotional. Even Hughes’ death didn’t hit me as hard, in Brotherhood, as it does when i rewatch the original run. And the abbreviated introductions of Barry the slicer and the corrupt State official that was taken in by the Ishvalen refugee camp left me a little flat. And Martel’s passing was barely a blip on my radar this time.
    Perhaps Brotherhood was working under the concept that everyone who would be watching saw the original run and wouldn’t want to see the overlap all over again? Perhaps that is why all the early episodes of Brotherhood feel rushed, to me. Now that i’m past the overlap, I’m enjoying the series a lot more. Although, so far, i feel less invested in the characters and can’t determine why.
    That said, I’m still enjoying the series so much, i can’t stop binge watching Brotherhood. Break is over. Ed, Al, Winry and the Xing gang are going to Central. I don’t want to miss their train.

    • FlareKnight

      I can definitely see there being a hard time choosing between the two shows especially early on. Though I think as a whole Brotherhood easily won out by the end. At least in my opinion.

      I felt both events you mentioned hit me hard enough, but can see the other side of it. The first part of the series definitely had a brisk pace to it. They probably were trying to get through the material we all knew in order to focus on the stuff that was never covered by the original series. With so much to actually cover I guess that was a fair decision on their part.

      Past that point things should slow down enough to allow more solid attachments to the cast. Enjoy the new stuff and the Xing gang.

  • Snot

    Brotherhood pisses me off to no end and a large part of it has to do with about the first 20 episodes, what a f&)!ing mess It would’ve been so much better if they wouldve retold what happened without condensing multiple episodes into one and leaving out some of the better episodes from the 1st series altogether specifically Barry the Chopper’s episode, leaving out the episodes that help make the plot make more sense like in youswell where you meet Yoki and why he ended up in the desert, the ridiculously shortened lab 5 section / Hughes death or the part where Izumi takes Ed & Al and teaches them about alchemy. Then there’s the forced “comedy”, the 1st series was actually funny when it clearly wanted you to laugh but in brotherhood nearly every comedic part felt more like sitting in a studio audience where they flipped on prompts for the viewers to applaud and laugh. The 1st chunk of the series voice overs were so corny I was actually embarrassed that I sat through it as I was watching those episodes. Running out of room to type before my stupid phone stops showing what I’m typing so probably will be continued In another comment.

    • FlareKnight

      Well hopefully you didn’t hurt the phone XD.

      They had two choices with the first part of the show. Either go into depth or hurry to the material that people had not seen animated. They chose the latter. I wouldn’t have minded giving more time to certain things to flesh it out more. But some things were at the level that you could just make references to it. How important really was the backstory with Yoki? Not very. You get he was a C-grade villain who got one-upped by the brothers and held a grudge. Could have spent more time, but didn’t have to. Even if you’d never seen the original series, you could understand that much.

      They ran a risk either way. People could have gotten bored if they just spent too much time on things people already saw. Having seen both I don’t feel what we lost was all that important or hurt the show in any serious way.

      Comedy is comedy. It’s hit or miss. It may have been a miss for you here, but doesn’t mean it was the case for everyone. The first series didn’t have innately better comedy. It had comedy, that you either responded to or didn’t.

      Can certainly see people having a different view on the show than myself. But in the end I still think this was an outstanding anime and one of the best made ever.

  • Snot

    I do think there are good things about brotherhood one being learning more about SOME of my favorite characters on the other side of that though a lot of the ones I like get screwed over like Lust, Nina, Martel, Greed (the cool version not Ling), and Rose. I like the backstory for Hohenhiem better in brothherhood. The switch in 3 of the humonculi was good (wrath, pride,& sloth), i didn’t like or hate izumi’s kid as wrath I think selim should’ve been wrath instead of pride. I would’ve kept Bradley as pride and the change in sloth made more sense from the original series to the 2nd. Much prefer how the humonculi were killed in the 1st series though. The ending in the first was much better if you don’t watch the movie afterwards at least I think so. Still as much as I hate brotherhood I’d love to see it redone fused together with the original series without cutting anything out that could only add more to the story and characters minus the big red thumb of the overdone comedy that appeared in brotherhood. If it would end up being over 70 episodes so be it id rather have a drawn out series instead of a shortened turd like DBZ Kai -_-. Obviously Fullmetal Alchemist is my preferred version of the anime i just can’t wrap my head around why people think brotherhood is better even though it follows the comics better, for me this is something that turned out better with the deviation from the source which almost never happens.

  • There are a lot of ‘Of course’s in the review xD

    • Flower

      But of course! :p