Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Fullmetal Achemist: Brotherhood

Grade: A-
Studio: Bones (Fullmetal Alchemist, Eureka Seven)
Manga author: Hiromi Arakawa
Genre: Adventure, Science fantasy, Steampunk
First complete run: 2009-2010
Regular episodes: 64

It is impossible to discuss Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood without discussing the franchise's first and namesake series, Fullmetal Alchemist. While the original anime told an original story, Brotherhood is more faithful to the manga, sticking to the written story. The two anime take place in parallel universes, essentially. Brotherhood shares the same main characters, the alchemy-wielding Elric Brothers, who were maimed as children during a failed transmutation. Like Fullmetal Alchemist, Brotherhood tracks the Elric Brothers as they journey to restore their original bodies as well as fight injustice more generally. The anime's lore is essentially fantasy with sci fi element; the characters' powers have some "scientific" limits but not many.

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood differs in numerous ways from its predecessor. After the first ten episodes or so, the plot diverges wildly from the original show. The show features the same basic characters, and while some of them are almost identical to their 2003 equivalents, others hardly resemble the same person. Likewise, the two anime rely on similar setting, but the "rules" of the world change significantly in Brotherhood. In other words, don't be fooled: FMAB is genuinely its own show.

Not only that, it's a damn good one. Brotherhood is paced much quicker than its predecessor, spending less time explaining things in detail and less attention on minute developments in its characters. In some ways, Brotherhood relies on the fact that its audience has probably seen the original show, and doesn't explain many of the same elements. The show does not build on Fullmetal Alchemist directly, but it incorporates some information from the original anime in order to deliver a more compact, lightning-fast story. As a result, Brotherhood has great pacing and doesn't have any real lulls in the action; it's 64 episodes of enchanting and smoothly progressing action, for the most part. True Fullmetal Alchemist fanboys might dislike Brotherhood's lower resolution, but it makes for a very comprehensive tale which is every bit as high quality as the original.

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