Fullmetal Alchemist was a great anime series which was one of the series which turned me into an addict. While it was a fantastic story of two brothers trying to get their bodies back to how they were, it wasn’t the original storyline. Starting as a manga series, the anime branched off as it had no more content to follow. It would be a shame to never see that original material in animated form, and studio Bones knew it. With the manga series nearing an end, Brotherhood began and told the tale how it was meant to be told.
A clear problem is apparent from the start however when it comes to redoing the series closer to the source material, the original anime series was close to the source material for the first half. This means Brotherhood has a lot of repeating to do and it all takes part in Part 1 of the DVD releases. The Elric brothers, older brother Ed and younger brother Al, are interested in the art of alchemy, which involves forming things out of material by drawing seals. Their mother bites the dust due to an illness and they believe they can use their powers to bring her back. Nuh nuh! This transmuting attempt leaves Ed with a missing arm and leg, and his brother without a body. Thanks to some metal limbs and a suit of armour with Al’s soul attached, the two set out to find the philosopher’s stone in hopes to return themselves to the way they were. With a 1900’s military setting, the two end up on all sorts of adventures leading to war.
This is much the same as the original anime’s story line at the start, and very little is different here. Scenes may be slightly different, but they still fight a dodgy priest, meet the same characters such as friendly government intelligence guy, Maes Hughes, Colonel Mustang and the serial killer Scar. It spends the thirteen episodes covering all the material the other anime used at a blistering pace. Scenes are skipped, and each episode manages to complete each segment of the story. The rush helps bring in the new quicker, but it doesn’t have the emotional build up for certain events like the original had. The extra comedy and pastel style backgrounds make it a worthwhile watch though, the quality is still high despite the speed they blitz through the content. The first episode is also completely original, a short action episode involving an alchemist who fights with ice.
Fullmetal Brotherhood has a shaky start due to having to repeat content. It feels more like an abridged version, but the lighter tone helps create a new atmosphere to the scenes. The story branches off completely from the first anime in part 2, so don’t go thinking this is just a cheap cash in. See this as a comfortable reintroduction to the world of alchemy, a warm-up preparing for the big new world it is about to bring forward.