Sorry this is late…it was going to be on time and then…well keep reading.
This review was supposed to be about Strait Jacket. Unfortunately somewhere after the first half hour I realized that Strait Jacket isn’t a series at all, but a movie. I could review it…but unless someone makes a request I don’t intend to. I will say that they took all the fun out of sorcery by making it a product of science and that it was a weird movie. I will also say that the end resolved nothing. I’m not sure why this is a movie and not a series, not that I would watch the series if they made one now.
So after having watched the movie I still needed to watch 5 episodes of a series, I chose Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood.
Quick & Dirty
Initial Interest: Medium
Favorite Character: Ed?
Opinion: Deja Vu
Likely to Finish: Eventually
Two brothers lose their mother to an incurable disease. With the power of “alchemy”, they use taboo knowledge to resurrect her. The process fails, and as a toll for using this type of alchemy, the older brother, Edward Elric loses his left leg while the younger brother, Alphonse Elric loses his entire body. To save his brother, Edward sacrifices his right arm and is able to affix his brother’s soul to a suit of armor. With the help of a family friend, Edward receives metal limbs – “automail” – to replace his lost ones. With that, Edward vows to search for the Philosopher’s Stone to return the brothers to their original bodies, even if it means becoming a “State Alchemist”, one who uses his/her alchemy for the military.
I’m really not sure how I feel going into this one. I absolutely loved the first Fullmetal Alchemist and the only thing about the entire series that I was really unhappy about was that Ed and Al ended up on opposite sides of the gate. So when I heard that the entire ending isn’t just different, it’s completely different in Brotherhood…I wasn’t sure I’d be able to like it. I honestly felt like the end of the first series was sort of poetic and quite good.
I also approach this with some trepidation because while I only really lurk on the fringes of fandom I’ve picked up on what seems to be a war between the Fullmetal Alchemis anime fans and the Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood/Manga fans. As far as I can tell you like one or the other and not both so having liked the first anime, what will I get out of the second? It gets to be ridiculous really because I’ve heard both sides say opposite things, most notably that the animation is either much improved or excessively bad…we’ll see how I feel after.
I read an article contrasting the two which I think was likely as fair and unbiased as I’ll ever find. The result was that the two came out tied for good, so you’ll like it or hate it…which makes sense given the obvious divide. But what this article said was that the beginning of the first anime was based on the manga and done really well, so when they remade it to follow the manga all the way through they had to retrace some ground…If I remember correctly the article said that Brotherhood took some comedic liberties to distinguish itself and that sounds corny to me…In the article the first anime won the beginning, I believe they tied for the middle, and Brotherhood won for the end….So a five episode review puts me in the rehashing what I saw and liked and doing it worse category. I’ll try not to be too hard if this is the case.
For those interested, article is here.
I put Ed as my favorite character rather hesitantly. I think this is one of those series where I don’t really have a favorite character. I like most of the cast well enough but none of them stands out as my favorite. At least that’s how it is for the first anime and these 5 episodes being almost entirely content covered in that one (and right quick, I might add), it seems that it’ll be the same here. Maybe if I finish it someone will pull ahead of the pack in Brotherhood, who knows.
As per my prediction I’m not really sure how I feel about this anime. Aside from the first episode with the freezy alchemist it’s all stuff I’ve seen before. Objectively it was done well enough, but not objectively I feel like they sped through it so fast that it didn’t connect properly. I remember spending two full episodes with Nina and Tucker and their tragedy and so here spending just the one, I feel less attatched and therefore less affected by their tragedy. I was happy to see Scar kill Tucker this time around though.
It’s a little difficult watching this having watched the first one mostly because some of the voices have changed. Sure most of the main cast has remained but there are little changes here and there that I can recognize and feel weird about. The one I noticed the absolute most was Gluttony. This Gluttony is a little higher pitched and it jars me every time. But the one that pisses me off the most is Scar. Scar in A1 (the first anime as I will now refer to it) was voiced by Okiayu Ryoutaro who happens to be my all time favorite voice actor. He’s very flexible in his acting and has a voice like caramel, it’s fantastic. But he’s not Scar in Brotherhood and that makes me dislike Brotherhood just a little bit more than I would otherwise. That aside…
What they did well: The character animation was just as good as A1 when they were being serious and for the most part watching these five episodes after watching A1 was like seeing old friends. I liked the opening theme and I loved the animation in the opening theme. If you’ve never seen either series FMA has a really dark story with well made characters. If you accept that in this world transmutation is possible then the story and characters are believable and enjoyable to watch.
What they didn’t do well: The scenery/background animation in a lot of places seemed really poor. Every shot of the Elric household felt like it was drawn by a child and so did a few other scenes. In the first episode they used a lot of emoticons that didn’t fit anywhere in the story…in an angst ridden series like FMA you can get away with some comedic interludes like Ed screaming about “who are you calling a bean that is so small you could step on him and not notice” every now and then but it shouldn’t be often and I feel like Brotherhood is riding that fine line with reckless abandon. They kept trying to do artistic color themes to make certain scenes dramatic (black and white where the blood is red or red all over to signify the pure evil of Lust) that didn’t really achieve the intended atmosphere. Also, to me, probably because everything went so quick which is in turn because it’s all been done before and they’re just trying to move to the new content, they didn’t spend enough time with characters to make some of the relationships seems real. I can tell that Hughes and Roy are supposed to have a solid friendship but the way they interacted in these episodes felt like whoever was writing their dialogue wasn’t sure what friendship feels like. I think they tried to establish the history between Winry, Ed, and Al, but it too felt choppy and forced. I also really hated that Roy recruited Ed to be a state alchemist. That’s probably a your mileage may very if not a A1 vs Brotherhood issue…but it seemed just a little ridiculous that he came out to recruit and 11 year old boy into the military. I liked it better when Ed decided on his own to become a “dog of the military” and proved his worth in the exam well enough to be accepted.
All right so final verdict is…I dunno. So far I like A1 better but I have a feeling it’s because what A1 was at this point Brotherhood should have been but didn’t want to impose. Hopefully I’ll eventually watch the rest and see if the ending really does do a bang up job. Maybe I’ll enjoy it and figure out a way to fuse the two series into some cohesive awesome. But that’s a far off dream. I suppose I’d recommend this more to anyone who hasn’t watched the other.
At any rate I’m sorry for the bias and heavy comparison on this one…it’s kind of hard not to compare two things which are technically the same thing but not, especially having loved the first one as I did.
Next Official Review: No idea. Suggestions please, otherwise it’ll be a surprise when I get there.