Monday, 7 May 2007

Fullmetal Alchemist

Alright, now since that I've broken the ice with Chobits, it's time to look at yet another anime with slightly darker themes... No, it's not about nudity, but it is a slightly gory and scary anime. Yes, in this anime you may see violence, blood and death... Not a good idea for those below 15 years of age. So....

Fullmetal Alchemist is based in a world where alchemy is as highly developed, if not more advanced, than technology. For the unknowing, alchemy is an ancient art of turning or 'transmuting' an object into a different one. The most talked about example is the turning of lead into gold, which needless to say, failed. Hehehehe... Anyway, some practices of alchemy have brought about certain discoveries in the field of science, but that is a topic for next time... Anyway, the anime is based on the lives of the Elric brothers, two alchemists in an alternate Germany. Edward Elric, the younger brother, is a State Alchemist, in other words, he is an Alchemist in the employ of the military. He is given the name 'Fullmetal' beacuse of his steel mechanical arm and leg. Alphonse is the younger brother, but stands a full head above his brother... as a moving, talking steel suit of armour. They travel the whole world in order to find the ultimate holy grail of alchemy : the Philosopher's Stone.

You see, alchemy is a process that follows a very strict law : the law of equivalent trade. Lets say you want to make an iron bar using alchemy. Then you would have to present an item of equivalent value or worth to exchange for the bar of iron. Using the Philosopher's Stone, the user is allowed to negate that law for any transmutation, even those concerning the forbidden tranmutations : humans. The brothers search for the Stone, to return themselves to their original forms, and reveal a dark conspiracy from within the military...


The reason for the brothers' loss of their bodies and limbs are made clear in a flashback of their past. They were two budding alchemists in the care of their mother, after their father left them while they were young. Their mother died due to an illness and this drove them to do the forbidden : to transmute a living person. They failed, and as 'payment', Edward lost his right leg, while Al was completely absorbed. At that moment, Edward saw a strange gate, which opened to reveal the secrets of all alchemy, in exchange for his leg. When he returned to the present world, all that was left of their experimental effort was a pile of 'dying' bones and flesh, something that wasn't human. Edward, in desperation to save his brother, transmuted Al's soul into a suit of armour nearby using the knowledge he gained. He managed to do it, but at the price of his arm. Blaming himself for what had happened, he set off to find the Philosopher's Stone, to return Al to his former self.


Alright, after all the stories and the mystery, let's see my review! All in all, this anime is GOOD! Artwork that is easy on the eyes, great thought to plot and character development and intriguing concepts. It has a HUGE following in Japan, with an extra movie added to finish up the end of the anime story. HOWEVER, this is an unusual anime in the sense that the anime has been completed BEFORE the manga, so the story differs in many ways. I have not read all of the manga chapters yet, so I can't comment on it... yet. Well, all in all, an enjoyable, short anime (20+ episodes, if I recall correctly) that will be interesting to those wanting more serious, thought-provoking anime.
P.S. : There are actually TWO different anime with the name Fullmetal, that is Fullmetal Alchemist and Fullmetal Panic! I will be doing a review on the latter when I am done watching.

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