Monday, July 28, 2014

Fullmetal Alchemest 2003 and Fullmetal Alchemest: Brotherhood

I know I said in January that I would have the comparison up "soon"

"soon" is a relative term and can mean some time within two minutes or two years, depending on what this "soon" was referring to.

"I'll put the cookies in the oven soon"- some time within the hour
"I'll see you soon"- some time within the next few days
"I'll post my review soon"- when I actually have time to sit down and do it
"I'll clean my room soon"- I don't want to clean my room so it'll never happen

now that that's all cleared up- on to the review! 

(And random fandom-ey stuff at the end)

As you know, I have finished both "Fullmetal Alchemist" and "Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood", and absolutely loved them both! After finishing FMA:B, I didn't feel the need to make a review for it. Why? Well, my original review for the 2003 version pretty much covers what I need to say about the plot and warnings (mostly), so no need repeating myself.

I'm going to refer to the 2003 version as FMA and the 2009 version as Brotherhood

((The next part is really just me talking about the depth/ violence/ rating of the series. It would be more useful for someone who has not seen the series before. Fell free to skip and resume after the picture of the candy. That's where the real comparison starts.))

So, as I have mentioned before, both versions are intense. Scale of 1-10/ Fruits Basket to Hunger Games? It averages out to a five or six. But then there are scenes that are total fluff (obviously), and then there are those shocking scenes that sky-rocket to "Hunger Games" level.

But then again, I'm just talking about the action/violence/gore. Not the in-depth look at moralities, the grey between right and wrong, and the well defined black and white. That's something that I loved so much about both shows- there was the laid out black and white, but there was also the grey zone, just as it is in real life.

Ed and Al grow up fast. They have to, and though much of the story takes place when they're 14/15/16 (ending when Ed's around 18 in Brotherhood), they also have episodes when they're very young.  You see the boys mature, but the circumstances start off just as awful as they end. Violence peruses them (or they pursue it. It's hard to tell), but more importantly the show is very layered.

Layers upon layers upon layers of story and plot and orals and symbolism and metaphors and analogies. It's like a jaw breaker. 
(Brotherhood more so. Mostly because it's longer, but it also has fewer plot holes)
You can always count on me to compare something to candy
My brother, who is relatively smart, is 13. He watched FMA / Brotherhood, and understood it to and extent, but I honestly don't believe that he got the best experience with it (I know I wouldn't have at his age). I, at 15, understood it better than him, but I know there are some things that I missed. It will take a second and third watches, as well as maturity, for me to grasp it all. 

So, yes, as a general rating, I would agree with the TV rating: TV-14. But the decision is really a question of maturity and understanding than age.

Brotherhood, in general, was much more in-depth than FMA, and had more condensed violence, as well.

((Ok, now onto the real comparison))

I'm going to look at two main things here: The plot and characterization. Other aspects of the show really just aren't that important when comparing. Finally, I'll conclude with the question of "What should I watch?". 

I spent a lot of time on this. Appreciate it.
The Plot

The beginning of FMA and Brotherhood are parallel, due to them both following the manga. The first 10 to 15 episodes of Brotherhood seem rushed, though, because so much is crammed into them. On the other hand, FMA devoted almost double the episodes to the same plot. It allows viewers to get more connected to the characters, and to enjoy the rest of the series without feeling rushed.

I think that one of the main reasons the writers of Brotherhood felt like they could just rush through such an important part of the story is because it is assumed that fans already watched FMA, so they had no need to go into detail, which makes sense. 

But this doesn't change, so don't worry, you're not missing much there :p
So, for the question of  "should I just skip FMA all together?" my response is this: If you do not want to watch all of FMA, then don't, but please, please watch until episode 25, then watch Brotherhood from the beginning. There are minor differences in the beginning of Brotherhood's series that need to be seen, even if the episodes aren't that great.

Also, watch "The Flame Alchemist, The Bachelor Lieutenant; and The Mystery of Warehouse 13". It is in FMA and not worth missing.

For the rest of the series, Brotherhood is longer, so it has more time for things to develop well. This left less room for the larger plot holes (which happened in FMA) and helped keep the continuity.

Many people discard FMA after watching Brotherhood, but in reality, FMA is a well done show in and of itself. True, there are some obvious plot holes and general weirdness that happens, but it's not worth calling the anime "worthless" over.

The two shows ultimately go in totally different directions, so it's almost pointless to say one it better than the other when it comes to the overall plot and spirit. I would like to believe that FMA is just an alternate universe version of Brotherhood :)  (and it's possible, considering how FMA ended)


There are sooo many wonderful characters in both shows, but lets face it: Brotherhood's characterization, character development, writing of character interactions, and female characters are way better than FMAs.
It's true- ask anyone who has watched both shows.

In FMA, the characters are great. You get attached and the main characters have some development and depth. I wouldn't call it bad... just lacking. Especially since so many of the lovely ladies just got pushed aside. 

Epic people who I will cosplay. Thank God I'm blonde!
Ed and Al's character arcs obviously carry the most weight in the story, but in Brotherhood, they share the spotlight a lot more. It becomes a story of how they initiated saving the end of the world and worked as a team to save it, not a story just about Ed and Al saving everyone's butts. 

Also, Brotherhood has a lot more characters that are absolutely amazing! Because there's more episodes, there's more time to get to know all of those characters. It's really great. 
By this cutie

"What should I watch?"

And here we arrive at the big question. "Should i watch Brotherhood? Or FMA? Or Both? Why should I even watch it?"

Because it is amazing and is beautifully done. There is action, adventure, romance, comedy, tragedy, and a truly amazing hero's journey. It is considered one of the best animes of all time for a reason. Sure, it gets violent and makes you cringe, but that's why it's so good. It wakes something up deep inside of you, it gives you hope and then takes it away and then builds it back up from the ground. It will leave you crying tears of joy and sadness and anger. There is something for everyone, even if it typically isn't your type of show.
Also Izumi's pretty hot (and I mean that in the straightest way possible).
So go and watch it! Watch both!

Watch FMA first, and enjoy it. Love the story for what it is and remember how much you liked it when you watch Brotherhood. Both are amazing, but in totally different ways. Leave a good month or so in between watching them, so that you can keep the story straight in your mind.

If you watch Brotherhood first, then FMA will be crap.

Alright, that's it! Thank you for reading, and let me know what you think/ your opinions on each series. 

(and I'm totally up for geeking out in the comments, as always)

This is an amazing video and everyone needs to watch it

And now I'm going to shamelessly do some self promotion

Have some EdWin fluff
(has lots of cute EdWin art- go check her out!)
Or if RoyAi is more your style



  1. Intriguing comparison! And a great one at that. :) First off, the Fullmetal Alchemist franchise as a whole is probably my favorite anime series ever, or at least ties with Code Geass.
    First, I watched Brotherhood, and it was actually my first shounen series. I completely loved it. Several months later, I decided to give FMA a watch, and while I had to force myself to watch the first few episodes, I ended up loving it almost as much as Brotherhood. It is definitely lower in quality and the plot meanders after it splits from the manga, but the change to the homunculi's origin was effectively tragic. Also, FMA gave Lust an expanded role, and since she was one of my favorite characters from Brotherhood, it was great to see her in a different light. Brotherhood is just about perfect to me though. I love the characters, and Ed and Al are just as fleshed out while also giving a lot of time to the side characters. Great review! Glad you enjoyed the franchise too.


    1. EDIT: I guess this is not technically a review, but it was still great!


    2. Thank you! Yes, it is absolutely one of the best :D

      Yesm the homunculi's story in FMA made me pretty sympathetic twards them, especially Lust. I really loved her in FMA and was kind of sad when she didn't get as large a part in Brotherhood (though she was still awesome :) )

  2. Ah, I can't watch FMA without being reminded of all those RoyEd shippers every time there's interaction between Roy and Ed (yes, that side of the fandom is VERY vocal in FMA '03 - I regret visiting the forums). It's driving me nuts as a RoyAi shipper.
    I'll probably try to re-watch the first half of FMA, or better yet, read the manga from the beginning.
    Brotherhood is easily the best anime I've ever watched. Great characters? Check. Awesome female characters that match my standards (rare in anime and fiction in general)? Check. Zero filler episodes? Check. A storyline that's not dragged out? Check. *sigh* If only there were more anime and manga like this...

    Have you watched Brotherhood's OVAs? If you haven't, then go watch 'em! The 'serious' ones are full of feels..., and the not-so-serious ones are pretty good as well.

    BTW, Olivier and Riza are my girl crushes. They're just so awesome. XD

    1. Omg no not RoyEd!! I know the shippers find '03 so great, but idk how. I honestly never understood the ship. I'm sorry that it's been marred forever because of those pesky shippers xP ROYAI 4 EVER!

      Yes! I love the OVAs! Izumi's had me cracking up, and Mae's/Roy's had me crying.... feels feels feels

      Olivier and Riza rock! I absolutely love them to pieces... Winry as well (and i also love Izumi... haha it's too hard to choose a favorite) I could probably write an entire post on why they are so fantastic and amazing and super rad characters... but it would probably just be me fangirling xD