Monday, February 11, 2008

Full Metal Alchemist (REVIEW)

Full Metal Alchemist (51 Episodes + Movie) (2003-2004)
I had some preconceived notions about going into this series, as far as the plot is concerned. The first two episodes introduced basically all of the show's trademarks, and the origin story for the two boys. Then I thought that these two kids were going to journey through this mystical world for a LONG time trying to find the Philospher's Stone, but not finding it, which I guess is safe to say that happened.

I liked the origin story for the two kids, and I wanted to see where that was going with their plans to become State Alchemists. But then the plot would consistently get side-tracked for bunches of episodes at a time. But then the show would bounce back up again with interesting episodes like the one where that little girl gets turned into a Camera. That was a good episode.

I really liked the ending (the last ten episodes), because they did all the things that I thought should have happened over the course of the series, but they only happened right when I was getting bored. Those episodes had character development, betrayal, multiple plot-lines going, an end-goal finally in sight, plot twists, and a building momentum until the final episode. It was also in those episodes that the characters finally questioned the use of alchemy in a philosophic manner, the same way that Trigun confronted it's central theme, but Trigun did it during the middle of the series--it didn't wait for the end like FMA did. Another thing that the last bunch of episodes did was question Ed and Al's motives for bringing back their bodies, which should have happened at the beginning really. And I always thought it was kind of weird how these two kids are so upbeat even though one lost his entire body and the other lost his arm and a leg, but I guess you can't stay sulky forever about something that happened four years ago.

Also, continuing the show is the movie, which is really four more episodes in disguise, but that's A-Okay, because the show ended on an interesting note, with new concepts that were dying to be explored, which the movie did quite well and finished it on a sad, but complete ending.

In summary, I like FMA as a premise, world, and the overall story-arc. However, some of the stand-alone episodes in the middle were getting really boring as the show seemed to keep dragging on. I know those episodes were necessary to introduce plot elements and characters that would all eventually come together for the ending (which I thought was kind of cool, how they brought back some of the minor characters), but they still felt boring. I really think that the show could be condensed into ten less episodes, by having multiple stories going on in the middle. I also think that would make it more interesting, as large portions of the show are centered around one, linear plot about Ed and Al, and seems to progress really, really slowly.

I haven't seen a lot of Anime, but here are my current rankings:
Cowboy Bebop: (9.4)
FL-CL: (9.2)
Trigun: (8.7)
Robotech: (8.5)
Full Metal Alchemist: [(8.3) - Average] - Last Ten Episodes: (9.1)

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