Vindi-fucking-cation. I feel so goddamn vindicated right now, and I'll tell you why: Five years ago I was the only motherfucker on the entire fucking intarwebs who shat all over the first Fullmetal Alchemist anime TV series (and follow up
cash-grab movie), and the only reviewer who called it out for falling to absolute pieces after it ran out of material from the original manga and the TV writers had to resort to making up their own ending. Okay, maybe I wasn't the only one, but those others who weren't outright praising it were very wishy washy about the whole of the series, and most claimed "Well, it's still better than most of the stuff out there..."
They were all wrong of course — the second half of the original FMA series was so full of gaping plot holes, shitty revisionist explanations for very important story points, and characters who did things and acted so far off from their personalities just to move the plodding narrative ahead (for the full list of things the first series majorly fucked up please go here and read all about it. It would take too long to simply repeat myself now. And thinking about it all again gives me a migraine)... But my point is that the original FMA anime was so terrible that even the animation studio that spent years writing and drawing it thought so, and now, a measly 5 years later, they actually REMADE it in order to follow the original author's (now completed) story almost verbatim, and give us (long suffering) fans something we can actually applaud.
Yes, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (the remake) is a fucking dream come true. It is so absolutely beautiful, and most importantly it's everything the original anime was not: well told, full of fucking awesome moments, and a complete tale that brings everything full circle by the final credit roll. That ultimate episode of pure closure, and the photos through the final credits... Almost unconditionally perfect.
Okay, enough of me sucking off FMA: Brotherhood's dingus circus seal-style, you want to know what it's all about, right? Well, it goes a little something like this: The young Elric brothers (one Edward and one Al Elric) are genius alchemists who can use their learned skills to transmutate the world around them any way they want to. Well, almost any way... After their mother died when they were still children, and their father, Hohenheim, was away doing god-knows-what on his own, they decided to try and use the science of equivalent exchange (that would be alchemy, you fucking mental tortoise) to try and resurrect their dear old dead mum... Unfortunately "the truth" that rules the universe doesn't allow full human transmutation and through a series of pants-shitting events Edward finds that he's lost an arm and a leg, and his younger brother's lost his whole body, but thanks to Ed's quick-witted thinking he at least had his soul saved, though it now resides inside a giant, empty suit of armor.
After that, the brothers dedicated their lives to recovering their bodies, and Edward even became a state alchemist (kind of like a scientist/Army Ranger dog of the military) in order to gain access to classified alchemical information, and to be allowed to travel around the country in search of a legendary object known as Harry Potter's Philosopher's Stone. This rock is said to be able to by-pass the universal laws of equivalent exchange and allow alchemists to create something out of nothing (like Michael Bay's career). But of course something this powerful is sought after by a ton of other good and bad guys alike: not only fake humans (homunculi, each named after one of mankind's seven deadly vices), but strange people from the far-off land of Xing. The homunculi have their own reasons for experimenting with Philosopher Stones, and the Xingians want to use it to become the next leader of their country and save their own people. Then shit starts to get really complicated when wars of the past (like the great Ishbalan Massacre) and battles of the present (revolving around the great Northern base of Briggs) become hot spots of death and destruction. And then there's that strange fucker who lives under the sewers, looks like Hohenheim, and who makes all the homunculi call him "daddy" all the time... Big, scary, strange stuff abounds. Abounds I say.
I'm telling you, the manga author (one Hiromu Arakawa) really thought this whole story through from start to finish. I honestly still cannot believe that animation Studio Bones admitted their own failings and went back to the well to redo this whole tale, and do it right this time. They even reanimated the parts of the original series that kind of followed the manga's storyline (before their version veered off way into the water hazard). This will probably be the biggest stick up most of the first series' fans' asses: the fact that the opening 13 episodes of Brotherhood retell the story of the first 26 or so episodes from the original, but I'm here to tell you that it's very necessary.
They needed to redraw this part and not just re-air the first half of the first series — and not just for the new (improved) character designs. You see, not only does the audience need a refresher on the beginning of the chronicle (and newbies need to see it all from the beginning themselves), but the first time Studio Bones covered Arakawa's tale they added a bunch of superfluous stuff that never appeared in the original (REAL) story. They chucked in tons of little scenes (like for instance the extra parts of the time Ed and Al infiltrated the Facility 5 research station, and in the first series Lust and Envy try and get Ed to make a Philosopher's Stone for himself.... This makes absolutely NO goddamn sense in Arakawa's story, and if they left that in as animated FMA gospel the audience would be confused as hell in the end), and made up a shit-ton of characters and story-arcs that never truly happened either (like the "other Elric brothers" and Winry being captured by a living Barry the Chopper). No, remaking the episodes (and carving them down to a quick, yet still entertaining, 13 chapters [plus one beyond fucking sweet introductory episode]) was the best choice, so shut the fuck up and just watch them. They're good for you.
And once you get through the recap eps this thing truly starts to fly! All the fights, the new locations, the truth to what really happened to Winry's parents (Christ! The original series' take on this with Colonel Mustang being the one who killed them was just one of many groans that caused me to detest the shitty storytelling within), and all the new characters... Man, I loved all of it. Major Armstrong's older sister, the commander of the Briggs Base, is one of the toughest, most loyalty-inducing officers I've ever seen. And after I warmed up to them, the Xingian characters were pretty good too. Especially Prince Ling after he made that deal with Father... Oh, and that reminds me about the homunculi and their names.
The reason they're all named as they are (Lust, Envy, Greed, Wrath, Sloth, Pride, and Gluttony), and why they all act quite a bit like their namesakes suggest, well, it's goddamn brilliant. In the original show it's just brushed off as "Hey, these guys and gals are named after the 7 deadly sins because... Well, that movie with Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman was cool, right? So, that must be why they're named as such.... Sure......." And the homunculi and Father's plan (and the WHOLE fucking all-encompassing plot of this thing) is really big, really scary, and really, really well plotted out. That shit in the first series with Hohenheim being the world's most uninteresting dickhole, and his involvement with that Dante bitch... Well, now even those who claimed that first series was the second coming of Eva will have to admit that in comparison THAT explanation for everything is pure garbage. Hohenheim in Brotherhood is truly one of the most sympathetic characters in the entire series. He HAD to leave his family, even though it was the last thing he ever wished to do. There's so much sacrifice going on in this show, and so many great characters who give up everything they have to save others or the entire world. It's just wicked awesome.
And little things in this REAL Fullmetal Alchemist series — like why the brothers and Hohenheim have golden eyes and why that's significant, why it was important that Envy disguised himself as Maria Ross when he confronted Hughes, and what the "Gate" to absolute truth was and meant for each individual who found him/herself in front of it — they are all meaningful in Arakawa's REAL story. And the finale... Holy shit! It ties together every plot point and every character (good and evil) in one gigantic, epic amalgam of brutal beauty. Oh! And the answer that Ed came up with to complete his journey at the very end, THAT'S genius storytelling, my friend! That alone is worth watching this as it absolutely destroys the first series' way out of a similar situation. Brilliant! The REAL story is a work of art.
There are only a few things I have to warn you about before you dive into this series, though one thing isn't really a bad thing. You have to be careful watching it, seeing as about 1/4 of all the eps have important bits of information AFTER the final credits, and you never know which episodes have these bonus snippets, and every after-credit bit is a major revelation that, if you miss it, will make you really confused when you start up the next episode and find that characters are in a different location than you last left them, or that they've accomplished goals that they had not gotten to before the previous end-credits. Why they did this instead of just sticking these bits in the show proper, I don't know. Why they didn't just do it for every fucking episode, well, I don't know that either.
The second warning comes after the Briggs chapter. Things kind of slow down at that point. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood moved at a pretty quick pace up to and through the Briggs portion, but then it took a breather and took its time with the next 10 - 15 or so episodes. No, they're not bad or even uninteresting (far from it, fuckface... Seriously, you love the craptastic first series so much that you're looking for ANY excuse to hate this one, aren't you?!), but the change in pace is noticeable. And don't worry, things start to move quicker soon after that anyway. I'm guessing that they had to give Arakawa time to finish up her manga so that they didn't have to add any filler shit to THIS series too. I'd have killed somebody if they did (only somebody who deserved it, don't worry... Like a child molester, a lawyer, or a fanatical and fat fanboy who just can't get over that his favorite series was so goddamn shitty that the same studio that originally made it felt the need to admit their own failings and remake it almost immediately afterwards. They all deserve death).
Now that is how you tell your tale, my brothas! That first series really had me scratchin' my head like a cunt full of lice, but this explained everything. I never realized just how dumb that whole inclusion of that Dante whore was, or how incredibly un-fly that shitty movie was till I saw this muthafuckin' TV show. And really, that whole thing with the first tellin' of this tale and the homunculus all being the dead people that others tried to resurrect, holy fuck... so goddamn retarded.
But, for that Studio Bones to actually go back and redo it all — and do it all right this time — instead of committing seppuku, well, they saved face in the end. No more calls for they's lives or nuthin/