Fullmetal Alchemist vs FMA:Brotherhood

I was left mixed with Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood.  On one hand, the story was epic and very well paced. On the other hand, Ed and Al were freakin’ muscle heads.  I own the first series; I couldn’t help but compare Brotherhood to it.

Time for the usual brief summary. Edward Elric is a State Alchemist,  an alchemist that works for the military, who travels with his younger brother Alphonse Elric.  They are trying to find a way to restore their bodies back to their natural state; Al lost his entire body and Ed lost his leg and arm when they tried to bring their mother back from the grave. They get pulled into a grand scheme by a shadowy leader behind the military with worldwide consequences.

The storyline is more nuanced and complex than this brief summary, but I don’t want to ruin anything.

Anyway, Brotherhood is full of action as only action anime can do. The pacing is frantic, but the characters still shine through. Although in many ways I like the characterization of the first series better. The slower pace of the first series allowed for more subtle developments. Brotherhood also boasted a larger cast.

Winry, the childhood friend of Al and Ed, played a far larger role in Brotherhood. She acted as Ed and Al’s conscious and safety net. She is also very strong willed and drives the story in her own right. She really shines as a character.

Most of the characters left a stronger impression in Brotherhood….except Ed and Al. I don’t know if it is because I am an academic at heart, but I liked the Ed and Al of the first series far more than Brotherhood’s rendition. Yeah, I know this is sacrilegious since Brotherhood follows the manga far closer than FMA.  Ed and Al are just too impulsive and “meatheads” for my taste. In FMA, Ed was intellectual. He thought his way out of problems, and used his alchemy  in creative ways. In Brotherhood, he just resorts  to using his fists.  When they do use alchemy it is still brute force: flinging spikes, and other kinetic attacks. With Al it was understandable. Al didn’t have the same prowess with alchemy as Ed. Ed was supposed to be a genius; he failed show it.

In one scene in Brotherhood, Ed and gang face up against soldiers created with alchemy. The Ed of FMA would have considered how they were made and either reverse the process or twist it in some useful way. Brotherhood’s Ed just transmuted his prosthetic arm and launched into a brawl…sigh.

I enjoyed Brotherhood’s storyline more than FMA. Brotherhood is darkly violent. The pacing was also generally better; although the constant height jokes with Ed got very annoying very fast. Brotherhood’s characters were stronger with the exception of Ed and Al. Winry especially shined.  Both series will find a place in my anime library on their own merits. Each excel in their own areas. Brotherhood for action. FMA for the development of Ed and Al.

7 thoughts on “Fullmetal Alchemist vs FMA:Brotherhood”

  1. I liked Brotherhood overall better than FMA, but there were some points in which FMA did better.
    I felt that the character development for Ed and Al was better in FMA, and I felt you got to know them
    better there. However, Winry was much better in FMAB than FMA. I liked the funny moments in FMAB, they made me laugh.
    The Eds are a bit different in both of the series. Brotherhood’s Ed did what Brotherhood’s Ed would have done, and FMA’s Ed did what he would have done. I think it might come down to a bit of a personal preference.
    I thought FMAB’s ending was better than FMA’s, even if you did watch the movie.
    I watch the subbed version of FMA and all the voice acting was absolutely perfect. The voices fit the characters like gloves.
    And I also liked alkahestry and the fact Al was pursuing that.
    One last thing.
    Greeling and May Chang were fabulous, they are my favorite characters.

    1. Brotherhood had a better, more cohesive story. I agree that Winry was much better in Brotherhood too. Although I like Ed and Al from FMA more than Brotherhood. Brotherhood’s ending was better. It closed things much better than the original series.

  2. Well Ed did have alot of clever tactics. He used ammonium from dynamite to disable to the Chimeras. He used the carbon in his northern automail arm in order to copy Greed’s Ultimate Shield trick. Even non-alchemy tricks like using his broken automail as bait had some cleverness to it. Or using themselves as bait knowing the Homonculus couldn’t kill them.

    I guess the big problem is that with something as powerful as a philosopher stone the only way to really beat it is brute force. And that’s something neither anime really managed to problem solve, the first one kind of tacked on a different weakness.

    Overall I do like Ed and Al in Brotherhood moreso then the ones in the original. They learned from their mistakes and moved on in order to help people, and as people they were stronger emotionally then the ones in the first anime.

    1. Ed did have a few tricks in Brotherhood; he just seemed to resort to force more often than in the original.

      Ed and Al where emotionally stronger than in the original. Although Ed was more of a hothead with the short teasing.

      The philosopher stone’s power was a problem. The brute force method was dramatic at least and made for some cool scenes. Anime is great at over-the-top action.

  3. I agree with the opinion that Brotherhood is on par with the original FMA except for two notes, the art in Brotherhood, and some of the voice acting. In my opinion the art style for Brotherhood was much worse than FMA in terms of art. I just felt that while the characters looked the same, they did not LOOK the same…it’s kind of hard to explain. With the voice acting, they have a different voice actor for Alphonse in Brotherhood than they did for him in the original FMA, they in turn made Aaron Dismuke, the original voice for Al in FMA, into Hoenheim, which just made it terrible in my opinion. On a side note in your review you were wrong on one point, you say Ed and Al were state alchemists, in reality only Ed became a state alchemist. Al never took the test, and the reason behind this was Ed and Al were afraid that someone would figure out that Al was just a sol attached to a suit of armor and not human.

    1. Ah, thanks for pointing at my mistake in my grammar concerning Ed’s State Alchemist status. I missed it in my editing.

      The art style was different in Brotherhood than FMA, but I thought the general quality remained the same. Brotherhood just has more comical deformations and softer edges than FMA. Ed didn’t mature in his look like he did in FMA either.

      Admittedly, it took me awhile to get used to Al’s tin can voice. Despite the actor swaps, at least the voice acting was generally solid.

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