Fullmetal Alchemist: Transmuting Anime Into Gold
Xin    2005-04-27, 20:30 pm.

Two Brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric, gifted in the Art of Alchemy. Bound by the craft's Law of Conservation and the principle of Equivalent Trade, The brothers find out just how much must be sacrificed in order to gain, when they attempt the forbidden art of Human Transmutation, and attempt to resurrect their dear mother.

Now, with Ed having lost an arm and a leg, and Al's entire body taken beyond The Gate, the brother's set out to find The Philosopher's Stone to try and set things right once again.

Reviewer's Note: As our system is meant mainly to review games, we'll have to modify a few of the defentions of our rating system just this once. Gameplay for this review will be treated as Watchability, or how much you'll want to watch the series. Graphics should be viewed as the overall look and design of the series, and Music and Story are of course, self explanitory.

Initially aired in Japan in October 2003 under the name Hagane no Renkinjutsushi, Fullmetal Alchemist quickly gained critical and public acclaim for it’s inventive storylines, deep characters, and general quality not seen in most anime series. Spanning the course of 51 episodes, very rarely if ever did the series become bland or a bore to watch. Each episode connected in some shape, setting it apart from episodic series, even if the connections weren’t made until much later in the series. It’s outstanding and original character and setting design, the beautifully orchestrated soundtrack, and the journey of two young brothers and a well fleshed out supporting cast pull this series together as one cohesive adventure not to be missed.

The story of FMA is quite simple in premise, Two Brothers screwed up and want to set things right. But over the course of the series you find there is much more to it than that. Whether it be Edward’s struggle with his own guilt, for having “forced” his brother into this situation, or young Alphonse’s adult like determination to get his brother’s body back to him, it is very clear these are not one sided characters.

The same can be said for the supporting cast as well. This is one of the few series that treat the supporting cast as equal and integral parts of the show. Not one character introduced is forgotten, and play larger roles in the overall tale even if their part for the time seems tiny. It is great to see that this series not only doesn’t forget these characters, but let’s them grow, let’s them mature, and in turn reflect this upon the lead characters of the story. Even the series’ Villains are showcased through their inner and personal struggles, their pasts that led them to their current state, and the decisions that change who they are throughout this saga.

Aesthetically, FMA is very well put together. The amount of detail in the series surpasses more than it’s fair share of competitors. From the intricate details of Al’s armored body and Ed‘s Automail limbs, to the various and amazingly designed Transmutation Circles, to the wardrobes of each characters, not once does it feel as though the creators stopped caring how this series would look. The various environments, such as the green countryside of Risembool, or the burnt deserts of Ishbal, even the buildings and offices of the State Military are crafted in a manner befitting the show.

Perhaps the sound of Fullmetal Alchemist is one of my personal favorite points to the series. With a beautifully orchestrated soundtrack created by Ooshima Michiru, each song fits particularly well. The various character themes, the atmosphere music and sound effects, to the overtures setting the story into high gear, rarely is a series complimented so well by it’s soundtrack.

Fullmetal Alchemist is a showcase series, with a memorable and sometimes moving story, diverse and remarkable characters, a sound all its own, and a certain hook that keeps you wanting more. Currently airing in the US on the Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim lineup, and with a movie set to debut in Japan this summer, FMA is looking to keep it’s loyal fans entertained at least for the near future.

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