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.

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