“The world’s not perfect, but it’s there for us trying the best it can. That’s what makes it so damn beautiful.”
– Roy Mustang (Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood)
Equivalent exchange: humankind cannot gain anything without first giving something in return. To obtain, something of equal value must be lost. That is Alchemy’s First Law of Equivalent Exchange. With this knowledge, is there even a way to put a value on someone’s head? Does this mean that in order to bring someone back to life, another must be killed or even recreated using components of a human?
Edward Elric and Alphonse Elric, the main characters, are self-taught talented alchemists using their father’s books. Their father, Hohenheim Elric, studies alchemy as a living and left in pursuit for more knowledge. While Trisha Elric, their mother, died of an unknown illness. The two brothers left alone in despair attempted to resurrect their mother back to life. According to the anime, the average adult human body is comprised of water (35 L), carbon (20 kg), ammonia (4 L), lime (1.5 kg), phosphorous (800 g), salt (250 g), saltpeter (100 g), sulfur (80 g), fluorine (7.5 g), iron (5 g), silicon (3 g) and fifteen other elements in trace amounts. To use alchemy, one must use a transmutation circle:
At young ages, the Elric Brothers attempted the taboo of alchemy of trying to bring the dead back to life. In exchange for this sin, Alphonse, the younger brother had his body taken from “Truth” or “God” in addition to Edward had his left leg taken because of their actions of trying to “play God”. Ed, trying to save his little brother alchemically attached his brother’s soul into a suit of armor to prevent Al’s soul to be lost in exchange for his right arm.
The Elric brothers search for the Philosopher’s Stone which is said to create miracles, hoping to restore their bodies. Edward, who lost only limbs, joins the State Military, which gives him the freedom to continue the highly classified search as he tries to restore his brother, whose soul is tethered to earth by a suit of armor. However, Edward and Alphonse are not the only ones seeking the powerful stone. And as they search, they learn of a plot to transmute the entire country for reasons they cannot comprehend.
It is worth going through the process of getting to know each individual character, because like the flawed humans we are, they all have their personal desires and goals that they want to achieve. Even the antagonists, making their point of view comprehensible rather than the generic bad guy who wants to take over the world. The Elric brothers make many odd encounters on their journey such as Ling Yao, is the twelfth crown prince of the eastern nation of Xing and the liege of the Yao clan. Seeking a way to ensure his path to the throne within deadly inter-house competition, Ling has ventured from his home country in order to take the secret of immortality, the Philosopher’s Stone.
“A king exists for his people, without subjects, rulers cannot exist.” is the noblesse oblige personality expected from a to-be king. Contradicting his thoughts by his silly looks, he is still young with many things to see in the world. He is a very laid-back light-hearted person who has a voracious appetite. Despite all of this, he has another side to him well suited to be future king. He is a shrewd and observant person who will use any cheap tactics against an enemy for survival, mostly for his comrades in battle often risking his own life to save others. All encounters during their expedition will be this complex and understandable that feelings of attachment for each and every characters is inevitable.
The characters, background and action scenes are very well animated. It surprisingly matches many mainstream animes today even though it was released in 2009, however this removes any uniqueness in its art design which isn’t actually a bad thing since it suits the action-adventure type of story. Transmutation during alchemy is what always excites me seeing all the blue “electricity” going through the alchemy circle and all fighting and action scenes is when the visuals for the anime are noticed. The music adds music tracks fit for a fast-moving plot that even has some occasional sad moments that can really make you cry.
This is the opening theme song by Yui:
Popular series in Japan are often dubbed for Western users to watch. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood was dubbed and subbed and it was interesting to see how the different voice casts changed the feel of the story. The Japanese version has some wonderful voice acting and for the English dubbed, it seems that the voices were tailor made to the personalities of the character as if it was their own. Basically it’s a question of whether or not you want to read subtitles or not.
This was my first anime I’ve ever watched and will always and ever be my absolutely favorite of all time. This may seem like another action-oriented story, but I beg to differ. The emotions I felt for characters were true feelings relatable to everyday lives, like loved ones dying and being cared for. One of the aspects that I really loved in this was how the producers incorporated comedy throughout the entire series in most episodes and characters. After seeing so many animes in my life, this is still ultimately my favorite amongst all of them mainly because of its unique story, funny and relatable character and most importantly a fast-paced action no loose-ends story. Ask any anime fan, and immediately they would know all about it.
Even after being released in 2009, it’s still a masterpiece worth watching.
You can start watching at http://www.anime1.com/ or http://www.animeultima.tv/ , these are my most used sites that I use mainly because of its simplistic user interface, but there are many good one out there as well.
If you prefer using a mobile device for those on the go, you can use http://iphoneanime.net/ or http://www.animemobile.com/, there are even apps like #Animania (http://www.mobi24.net/) and AnimeMobile (http://www.animemobile.com/apk/).
I’m the Asian guy with the glasses, if you ever see me walking by, tell me your favorite character! By the way my favorite character is Ling Yao.^ω^