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Characters from Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
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Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood Review

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is the second anime adaptation of the Fullmetal Alchemist manga by Hiromu Arakawa. Given that Brotherhood is an adaptation, so many fans have gotten all riled up and have felt the need to choose between the original and  the remake. Well, I’m here to tell you that you really don’t have to. Though there are major changes in the adaptation, the experience of watching one (or both, if you’re craving more) will be equally satisfying. 

*Disclaimer: this review won’t follow a comparison between the original and the remake; the focus will be primarily on Brotherhood. Also, there are no major spoilers ahead! Without further ado, let’s get to it!

The plot (synopsis)

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood follows the life of two young brothersーaka Edward and Alphonse Elricーwho are prodigious students of alchemy: a miraculous science that allows matter to be broken down to its base molecular components and reconstructed into another shape of equal mass. Alchemy can achieve many great things; however, it cannot create life. The Elric brothers attempt to resurrect their deceased mother using alchemy, yet the consequences of this well-intentioned act were disastrous. Their failed attempt destroys Edward’s left leg and right arm, but his brother Alphonse suffers the worst brunt: the complete loss of his body and his soul’s binding to a disembodied suit of armor.  In exchange for everything they’ve lost, Edward gains the ability to perform alchemy without the need of a transmutation circle. This impressive skill catches the eye of the military and Edward becomes a State Alchemist. He turns into a living weapon or a “dog of the military,” but in exchange he and his brother gain access to military resources, which they can use to pursue the philosopher’s stone, a legendary object that permits the use of alchemy without any restrictions whatsoever. The brothers believe that this stone is the key to getting their original bodies back. Their pursuit of this goal will lead the brothers to travel far and discover dire secrets beyond the stone; their determination, nevertheless, is their fuel to carry on and confront everything that comes their way.

The Story

There is death, loss, desperation, a visit to the unknown, an act of love, action, scientific terms, a dream, a failure, and that’s just in the first two episodes: wow! As the anime progresses, we get to experience a laced narrative filled with secret conspiracies and twists that are a total delight to watch unravel. While some twists you’ll see coming with ease, others will catch you completely off-guard. In terms of plot, Hiromu Arakawa has accomplished a story that is thrilling, thought-provoking, and moving all at once, and it consistently takes you from one revelation to the next without stumbling. Well, in all honesty, the first thirteen episodes are a bit rushed; however, there is a simple reason behind this that we have already mentioned: the series is an adaptation. So, the introduction of the original characters could be more “in-depth” and the events that transpired happen swiftly, but with care and in ease of understanding them.

The anime is complex, in terms of the general storyline. There are references to very important events that happened in the past that have a tremendous impact on how the story will unravel and eventually conclude. Also, the storyline begins to divide between diverse character’s perspectives while keeping up with their current motives and how these link up with important past events. Due to the fact that there are so many things going on in a single episode at times, the viewer might feel overwhelmed, but that is actually the beauty of a well-built and complex story. There’s a certain pleasure in knowing what happened before the plot was set into motion, and Brotherhood does not disappoint at all in this matter.

The protagonists

Our protagonists, although brothers, are very different in terms of personality. In fact, they are, in certain ways, the opposite. Edward is snarky and short tempered, whereas Alphonse is more sweet and earnest in his manners. However different they may be, both are determined, just, and port a heart of gold. The brothers have a growth throughout the animeー they learn from a very young age the hardships of life and that definitely transforms them in the way they perceive life itself. Also, as the story progresses, not only do they become physically stronger, but mentally as well. 

They take on bigger decisions that ultimately lead to big risks that are frightening, yet  it’s intriguing how these boys come to face those trials. However, I would have liked to see more transformation within them. I feel that even though they undergo changes, they’re still on a minor scale. There isn’t a lot of difference from the brothers we see at the beginning of the series to how they end up by the end of the show. However, this does not ruin the series in any way, it’s just a personal thing that I would have wanted to see more of.

secondary characters

When it comes to secondary characters, we have Winry Rockbell, the brother’s auto-mail mechanic and childhood friend, who plays a great supporting role for the brothers. She usually reminds them of the important things in life. Overall, the series is packed with a cast of characters with colorful and lovely personalities. They all feel genuine and three-dimensional, something that few anime series have achieved.

The antagonists

The antagonists of the show are to be discussed with a pinch of salt because most of them end up being major revelations that I don’t want to spoil. However, what we can say is that the major antagonists are a group of seven inhuman monsters called the Homunculi. These characters represent the seven vices that rule the human heart: Gluttony, Lust, Envy, Sloth, Wrath, Greed, and Pride. Though they represent a single desire, there’s plenty of complexity within these characters. Something that I particularly enjoyed  is how the “good guys” sometimes needed help from the “bad guys” to achieve a certain task. Usually, we get to see this division very marked in series, but it’s interesting to see how these two group of characters interact in many distinct ways that differ from the typical protagonist-antagonist quarrel.

The message

This anime is profoundly philosophical. If you’re looking for a series that triggers many questions within you, this one is a great choice. The anime deals with questions such as God, nationalism, our existence in the world, human morality, and so much more. Its complex themes are presented very neatly. All in all, it’s definitely a thought-provoking series.

final thoughts

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood has so many great things that makes it a watch-worthy series. If you want to watch a well-built show complete with three-dimensional characters, question-stimulating circumstances, and major character attachment potential, this is the anime for you. Fullmetal Alchemist will forever be a classic and a must-see anime series.

Claudia Colon is majoring in English Literature in the University of Puerto Rico (Rio Piedras Campus). She is the Vice President of HC at UPR and an Editorial Assistant for Sargasso Journal. She is an aspiring writer and editor who spends her free time reading, writing fiction, dancing, watching anime and playing Animal Crossing! Her article content centers in mental health awareness and relationships.
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