25 Days of Anime - #2: Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

Easily my favorite fantasy epic of all time, the story of the brothers Elric is wildly original, action-packed, and genuinely emotional. Edward and Alphonse are lead characters that I was immediately able to relate to, and despite the world they live in being fantastical in nature, their friends are very well-rounded, which allowed me to suspend disbelief when watching any given episode. Though the alchemy bears similarities to the magic used in Harry Potter, the world of FMA is more so grounded in reality as a sort of alternate take on the technology and culture of the early 1900s.

I do love the original Fullmetal Alchemist, despite the major deviations it has from the manga source material. And while I do prefer the time spent developing Lust and Greed in the first anime, I think the Homunculi's character traits are more fitting in Brotherhood. Also, the manifestation of their powers - specifically in the cases of Gluttony, Envy, and Pride - are more alien and grotesque, lending them to becoming further removed from the humans they look down upon.

Fullmetal Alchemist has perfect pacing from start to finish. I cannot find a single flaw with it, considering just how much more ground Brotherhood had to cover than its predecessor. The best plot twists still resound as powerfully as they did before (here's looking at you, Maes Hughes), and new high points prove splendorous and rewarding. Thanks to updated animation and a brand new fully-orchestrated soundtrack, the show looks and sounds as beautiful for a 2009 release as the original Fullmetal Alchemist did for a 2003 release.

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is certainly a darker tale than the original, and it makes this aesthetic appeal obvious from a very early point. The original anime reserved the majority of its dark fantasy elements for the second season, while Brotherhood taps into them in order to better explore what 'Truth' lies beyond the gate, the nature of the Homunculi, and the gravity of the Elric Brother's attempt to revive their dead mother. Though the basis of what the Elric brothers are striving toward is made clear from the outset, many obstacles force them to question their motives as well as how much they really want their bodies back. What results is one of the most wonderfully human tales realized in any anime.

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