Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Final Impressions

Among the shows I never thought I’d watch, this one was right up there. I especially never expected to enjoy it as much as I did.

The only shounen shows I have experience with are Soul Eater and Inuyasha. I’ve seen all of SE and all of Final Act. I’ve seen some Shaman King, a bit of the terrible dub and a bit of the actual show. I wish it could get the same treatment as this. A remake completely true to the manga. I might actually watch that. Hell, I hope that happens to Soul Eater eventually too. Maybe. I always hear things about the manga that sound interesting but it’s far too long for me to catch up. Anyways, I don’t have that much experience with these kind of shows so I might just be easily impressed when they aren’t that bad.

I expected the plot to be more shounen fare like tons of filler (but there wasn’t any at all, pretty much just all plot all the time) and a journey to make new allies and upgrade their strength. The conspiracy behind it all that linked almost ever character also really helped. It did give an air of unease that annoyed me but I guess in a way that’s good storytelling. For awhile, there was a hopelessness to everything what with the ruler of their country and almost the entire military being actually evil. In that regard, the bad guys were really effective. They gave something to be afraid of. It was easy to dislike them and wait eagerly for their downfall. Likewise, it was easy to root for the good guys.

In a broader sense, it was easier to root for everybody not sided with Father. Ed and Al were okay for the most part but they did get a bit tiring sometimes. I’ve heard the first series casts Ed in a darker light and people prefer the original series for that. I didn’t really care until later episodes where Ed was more vocal about his intentions to not kill anyone and it had dire consequences on him and others as a result. Al was a lot more interesting than I ever really imagined him to be, too. I always thought he was just the lumbering second-spotlight character who was important but just not as important as his brother. But he had a lot of personality that I was always happy to see. Some of the scenes revolving around his drama were a little boring but his english voice actor does such a good job with him that you can actually feel the frustration he must feel most of the time.

The development of most characters from enemies (or at least hostile towards each other) to allies also contributed to what made so many character great. Roy, for example, was kind of a dick at first (though even I knew he was an important main character so he was actually good) but went show that off as sort of a facade and eventually orchestrating the good guys movements, being calculative and in control. Despite that, there was still a weakness for his men and for Riza that was exploited by Bradley. Even characters like Olivier and Scar who were morally ambiguous and downright murderous had their own progression and reasons for eventually helping out with the good guys that was a pleasing transition to watch. While most of the back story for the extermination war was kind of boring, when it came to their dad’s back story I was actually quite happy. Seeing he was actually a really good guy was one of my favourite character revelations. He ended up being of the best characters to me (alongside Greed for most progressive, I guess) and I actually kind of almost teared up during the end of episode 63 and his credits.

Though I had a hard time warming up to Olivier, I really respect her as a character. It was always exciting to see her take charge and not give a flying flip about anything. Olivier is no doubt strong but I appreciate the emotion that Riza shows but that Olivier ultimately lacks. When I try and list a strong female character example, I don’t just look for characters who only kick ass and take names. I don’t think that’s all it takes. This show has lots of badass ladies in charge though. Such as Izumi. Another I’d list among a top SFC. Possibly my favourite character of the cast too (though it’s so vast that it’s hard for me to pick a favourite).

I’d really love to go a bit more indepth on why so many ladies from FMA are so nicely done and good SFC but I think that’s for another time. I’m not sure if I could write a coherent post about something like that though without just gushing about how much I just love all of them, instead of actually backing up my claims. Maybe another day though! I have a feeling that topic (especially with this series) might have been done to death though.

Bad guys aside (though I did like Lust and was disappointed she died first and by the end I liked Envy a lot too), there wasn’t anybody I could dislike.  Characters I didn’t care for eventually got fleshed out and even minor bit characters had definable personalities and quirks that helped make them endearing.

Actually, the last two episodes that feautured Envy really made me like him a lot. Even though he had killed Hughes (which I’d think did not have the same emotional impact it did in the first series because he only lasted ten episodes here), I had never really disliked him that much. He was arrogant and a jerk but there was something about his character that I couldn’t help but like. When he turned into his tiny true form, he was adorable too. I liked the Riza/Mustang scene but it was everything Envy said (“This woman has the arrogance to claim the sight of a hawk! She shot her buddies left and right!”) and did following  that that made the episode for me. Though he was an inexcusable villain, one of the only times I teared up was when little tiny Envy give in and kill himself.

I was shocked that for a series so old (though the first series had a different ending, I imagine) that I wasn’t spoiled for most of this. I was kind of shocked when King Bradley turned out to be Wraith and then I was actually genuinely surprised when Selim was Pride. Though, I kicked myself for not realizing that since I had been trying to imagine who it was and it didn’t occur to me until he actually went up to Riza. Pride was also my favourite villain. Everything about him was super creepy. Though all of the bad guys had an undefeatable air about them, his was the worst. I guess that is a typical shounen thing but it still annoyed me.

A lot of other little surprises caught me off guard and I liked that. Usually, I won’t watch a show until I see spoilers and decide if there is sufficient amount of drama for me to get invested in but this one was kind of spur of the moment. I had seen stuff on tumblr over and over and I grew more and more curious until I decided, what the heck and gave in and watched.

I only watched episode one with subs. The rest I watched with the dub version. I had watched a few episodes when it aired in Canada a few years ago so I was accustomed to those voices. Romi Paku’s Ed voice was just too childish for my liking. (Speaking of, though Ed got taller he seemed noticeably older in the last episodes and I thought that was a great touch)

The OST was pretty nice too. There were a few tracks I always enjoyed and looked forward to hearing while the rest kind of went unnoticed. The first OP and ED were my favourite though. I had liked Yui’s OP for a long time before but hadn’t heard the ED and fell in love when I watched it. I loved the 2nd ED by Miho Fukuhara but I absolutely detested the 3rd ED and tried to make sure I skipped it completely every time. The 4th ED was the best. There were SO many times when the the beginning of the song would start at the end of the episode while the scene was still going and it fit so perfectly. It got to the point where after the 4th ED stopped, I would still expect the lead in to play at the end of EVERY episode. I also have a soft spot for the 5th ED though because it’s by Shoko Nakagawa and I absolutely adore Shokotan. Aside from the 1st OP, I liked the rest of the OP’s equally. Though I’ll admit I was a bit disappointed by Sid’s OP because it was just too mellow. I’d expect the climax of the series which had SO much going on to be more exciting. Likewise, though I love Shokotan, her ED was another disappointment since it was a pretty mellow follow up to what was usually a dramatic cliffhanger. Not to mention, really short on the animation.

I watched the bulk of the show (the first ten or so episodes were watched a few weeks ago) during a week. It was a mixture of me being bored out of my mind (despite having P3 to play, Jormungand and Kamisama Kiss to watch, though not to mention being behind of Psycho-Pass and Chuu2Koi) and at some points being too good to put down. Around the end of the 20s, early 30 episodes it started to drag though. It just wasn’t as exciting. It started with Ling becoming Greed and losing that character and his connections. Though I’ll admit that when Ed joined Greed and Greed was working against Father, then I actually liked him as a character and was mostly just mad at Ling for his stupid choice. I ended up really liking Ling and Greed working together, switching bodies and Greed generally being one of the best characters. I was hoping that he and Ling really would go on like that when all was said and done. So, I was a little sad when he died. Also, despite the North having a bunch of new, good characters, they just didn’t have the same feel that made the earlier episodes so hard to stop watching. I kind of want to say it was because there was less of Mustang and his people because he had gone under control of Bradley and that was another move that had put a damper on watching.

I feel like this is true because when episode 50 (the 50s went back to being hype episodes) rolled around and Mustang lead his assault, it was one of my favourite episodes up until Ed and his gang showed up. Nothing against them or anything. It was just more interesting seeing Mustang’s assault with a bevy of characters like Maria Ross, Rebecca (who only showed up for one other episode but was really likable) and Havoc lending a hand. Seeing everything go according to plan (despite knowing in the back of my mind that it was bound to get screwed up) was exciting.

Likewise, near the end of the series and perhaps through the entire show, it was Mustang’s dramatic scenes that were more interesting and gripping. From trying to kill Envy to having Riza start to die so he could become a sacrifice and earlier on, the episode with Hughes death. Since he was older and more mature than the Elric’s, his scenes were more mature as well. Whereas most of Ed’s dramatic scenes involved a lot of yelling and such.

I’ll admit that before I watched this I always used to like Riza/Mustang (so I might have been biased before) and Winry/Ed but I was actually introduced to a new pairing I wouldn’t have ever considered. Well, that’s because I had never heard of May before watching this. She was one of those well kept secrets that I hadn’t had spoiled for me. At first I only liked May/Al jokingly but as time went on I came to see it as a better and better pairing. Still, I guess it might have been canon since she shows up in the picture with Al, Ed, Winry and their kids. I also didn’t mind Ling/Lan Fan but wasn’t as invested in it.

I had heard that the ending to Brotherhood was the worst thing of it and that it was extremely disappointing. I mean, I was happy Mustang got his vision back. I was sure he was going to decline it and I was going to be upset about that. But both he and Havoc got better through the stone. I can see being upset because this means pretty much everyone gets a happy ending and I guess that’s kind of a little predictable. I was happy that Scar joined Miles, though.

However, my favourite thing about the ending was though I was initially disappointed that Ed gave up his alchemy, Al went on to do new stuff and sort of have new adventures but first being the one to catch up with other characters. After trapped for so long, Al is free and sets on his quest for knowledge. Which, of course, is similar enough to the Dwarf in the Flask. I enjoyed that about the ending the most. I would have been disappointed if they stayed together even with everything over and not getting the chance to live their own lives. Ed’s ‘proposal’ to Winry was so dorky that I ended up loving that too. But they’re both so awkward that it just got cuter and cuter.

Worst thing about the ending though? Mustang’s stupid little mustache.

All in all, I guess I enjoyed this a lot. A lot more than I expected I possibly could! I had some bad experiences with weeby fans of this show over the years but I’m glad that didn’t stop me. It kind of got preachy at times and for awhile I was really bored with Ed and Al but the show had so many fantastic characters. I can’t say the story is able to stand up on it’s own but when you have a story that is overfilled with charismatic and interesting characters, it really helps. For instance, Zetsuen no Tempest has the balndest most uninteresting characters and that makes it downright painful to watch. So, I think that’s why this was hard to put down. It wasn’t longer than it needed to be (I’m sure it could have been much longer since I imagine a lot was cut out) and it was just right. I can’t imagine I’ll ever watch the first series even though I’m curious about the differences between that ending and this one but I’m looking forward to watching the movie that followed this.

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