Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
The best shounen ever. That was a common phrase we heard from way too many people, most of them of completely different tastes, before we started watching the series. Brotherhood’s reputation is beyond words. Even the people who did not fell in love with the show still thought of it as very good, especially in comparsion to the rest of the genre. So we were curious to see how much truth was in the hype.
Neko-kun: For starters, the first noticable feature of Brotherhood is its amazing animation and music. I know you read such things for many shows fairly often, but even if we were to dislike the story those two features would still be in our “must have it list”. I won’t go to the trouble of mentioning the incredible openings and endings -because I truly love them all-, nor can I recall each and every part of the OST. I will just share with you my most favorite part of the music.
Storywise, there are plots and twists, but Brotherhood takes its time leaving things unexplained so that the characters can meet each other and interact as much as they can. I don’t remember any other title that combines smart storytelling and character development so smoothly. What makes this anime even more extrordinary is that the balance doesn’t break even when it comes to secondary characters. The cast is huge but that doesn’t stop Brotherhood from fully exploring the personality of all protagonists. Some of my favorites were the Erlic brothers and their parents, Izumi, Windy, Lin and Greed, Hughes, Roy and Riza, among the many awesome, complicated people playing their role in the story.
Foxy Lady Ayame: Especially the ladies were treated very decently with a great variety in their gender expression as well as their dream. Their presence is not just noticeable but quite important to the plot. We also have WOC (=women of color) present kicking ass and making choices about their lives whether they are soldiers or not. They show solidarity towards one another even if they clashed at first. Romance can be there or not but both options are seen as equal and the couples have amazing chemistry and respect towards one another. ‘Adventures of comic book girl’ has analyzed the manga counterparts of Winry, Riza, Lan Fan and keeps going; you should check her out because her analyses are great and because Brotherhood is a very close adaptation. All of the characters, even the villains, are very well-written; a feat that a female mangaka can mostly achieve.
The only minor flaws that I can find are the fabulous and sexually aggressive gay stereotype that Garfield is casted in (though it’s worth mentioning that he’s considered the best automail mechanic in his region); and the height jokes. Otherwise this series is perfection. We consumed the last 12 episodes within a day and as a whole it didn’t take us that much comparatively with other anime we watch.
N: Although the series spends time building characters, you shouldn’t be confused; Brotherhood is not a slice of life anime, but a shounen series, which means that there are many battles going on, along with a lot of suspense. I must also admit that the anime doesn’t do any favors and uses graphic violence when the story needs it, but nothing too extreme that’d turn it into a seinen. The biggest plus of the script is that it uses the battles, emotional moments and the plot twists with extreme precision, in order to benefit storytelling. There are no plot holes here, no unanswered mysteries, no over-the-top unnecessary elements.
F: Talking about emotional moments the episode with the alchemist, his daughter and her dog was so utterly sad… take your handkerchiefs.
N: Does this review sound too generalised to you? That is because this show is too special, unique and long-lasting to describe in just one article. It’s probably the only story that, even though it didn’t turn me into a die-hard fan, will never go off my “Top-5 anime of all time list”. I started watching this with skeptisicm, but Brotherhood made me laugh, rage, cry and think like only a handful of other titles have ever managed. In other words, it’s impossible to mention all the reasons why you should watch it. The question is: if you haven’t, why don’t you start immediately?