Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood, Part 1
2010 TV Series (episodes 1-13). DVD, bilingual, $49.98. Distributor: FUNimation.
As I’ve said before, Brotherhood is essentially a recasting of the original story found in the manga of Hiromu Arakawa. The Elric brothers, gifted in the advance science of creating objects from raw materials, are back on the road to find a magical artifact that will heal their bodies. Their first experiment with alchemy, a failed bid to revive their dead mother, left Edward with metal limbs and Alphonse’s soul permanently attached to a suit of armor. Now, as a fully sanctioned State Alchemist, Edward and his brother balance duty and their search for redemption.
I’m sure you’ve heard me rant about filler and the craptastic joys that often accompany a story’s translational journey from manga to anime, let alone the journey from Japan to Western shores. Sometimes, it just seems like the drama and seriousness of an original narrative is dulled and delayed to satisfy a marketing machine obsessed with parental dollars, or western misconceptions of the “cartoon” audience. But the contemporary otaku has grown more refined and sensitive to the vision of the original creator. They want to tap into the source.
FUNimation is fortunately ready to satisfy this appetite. Much like Dragon Ball Z Kai, Brotherhood follows the manga closely. Consequently, we see a more compelling and often darker story line. From a priest that uses alchemy to claim prophetic status and authority over a town, to a failing alchemist that physically combines his daughter and dog to earn renown, the Elric brothers are on a road littered with successive physical and emotional challenges. Episode after episode, Edward must use his powers to challenge villains, dispense justice, and gain wisdom. And there are very few rest stops on this path to regaining those original limbs.
But don’t worry, the comic relief and hijinks still make an appearance. The older, yet shorter Edward, after all, still hates to be mistaken as the little brother! But the jokes and fun now compliment the story. Never do they slow it down. Nor do we find useless and mundane story arcs created to simply elongate a series for ratings and dollars.
Take it from someone who was never all that interested in the Fullmetal Alchemist series, Brotherhood offers a better defined and more compelling narrative. Since it began airing on Cartoon Network, I’ve been watching religiously. I’m hooked. I’m emotionally invested in Edward and Alphonse. I too want to reach the end of the journey. I want to see them get their bodies back, or at least die trying!
A re-birth not to be missed, Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood is anime!
But I’m sure you’re already watching it.