Xenjin's Fullmetal Alchemist Tv Review

Fullmetal Alchemist

Fullmetal Alchemist tv Review

"You can't gain something without sacrificing something else of the equal value. This is the principle of the equivalent trade."

The story takes place in Amestris, in the early 1900's. Two brothers, Edward and his younger brother Alphonse Elric, live with their mother, Trisha, in the small village of Resembool. Their father left home when they were still very young, but Ed and Al inherited his passion for alchemy. In 1909, Trisha dies of an unknown illness, leading ten-year-old Ed to resent his father for abandoning them. When Edward finds out about flesh forging in an alchemy book that belonged to his father, he engages in an intense training with Al in order to be able to perform a human transmutation and bring their mother back.

In 1910, the Elric brothers cross the forbidden line during the resurrection. Unfortunately, the endeavor is a complete failure, as Ed loses his left leg and Al — his entire body. In a last desperate attempt, Ed uses alchemy to restore his brother's spirit by putting it in a suit of armor, at the further cost of his right arm. The two decide to embark on a journey to find the legendary Philosopher's Stone, rumored to create anything from nothing, in hopes of getting their original bodies back.

Story & Characters

Full Metal Alchemist hails the dawn of a whole new age of Japanimé. Rarely does an anime series captivate the imagination from the very outset of the first episode and hold its audience on the edge of the seat right through its bittersweet conclusion. This 51 episode Japanimé extravaganza has everything from mind bending action sequences to tear-jerking dramatic set pieces. As if that was not enough, the story itself is worth the price of admission alone.

Full Metal Alchemist is based in what appears to be Germany, in the early 20th century, when industrialism was the order of the day. However, in this 'universe' of things, a particularly fascinating science forms the basis on which the entire story of the anime is based. It is known as Alchemy. In layman's terms, Alchemy is a form of chemistry in which the molecular arrangement of some mass is rearranged, thereby changing that mass into something else. This process is called transmutation. However, there are some ground rules:

1. Logically, you can only transmute something into something else of equal mass, keeping the energy level the same in each transmuted form. This is called the law of conservation.

2. Like the chakra molding hand sequences in Naruto, you need transmutation circles to guide the flow of energy that will re-arrange the mass.

3. While virtually anything can be transmuted, Human transmutation is impossible, and we are not told exactly WHY this is impossible until the very end of the series. The explanation is quite logical (in this anime's scheme of things) and it will most certainly shock you by the time you get to Episode 49.

4. Failed human transmutations create what is known as a homunculus, a soulless being with the exact resemblance of the human that the alchemist tried to transmute. Human transmutation is usually attempted when an alchemist tries to resurrect a loved one from the dead.

It is the principles in rules no. 4 and 5 that literally drive the entire plot of the anime series. For when an alchemist becomes so powerful, to the point where he starts to transmute even the very elements of nature itself (e.g. water, fire, earth, wind and so on...) he becomes so enamored by his own skill, that he starts to research the transmutation of human lives. Unfortunately, even if one should observe the very context of the law of conservation to its exact proportions, whenever human transmutation is attempted, the results are devastating - and the plotlines that are weaved become more and more complex with each successive episode.

However, there is a loophole in the law of conservation: The Philosophers' stone. It is a gem which when used with alchemy, allows the alchemist to perform transmutations outside the boundaries of the laws of conservation - which also enables the user to perform a successful human transmutation.

If that were not enough, the human side of the series significantly intensifies the complexity of the plot - making for an extremely unpredictable storyline - which in any anime series, is a VERY good thing. Each character presented in the series is in and of them self a highly complex individual, with particular reference to the characters which possess the ability for alchemy and the soulless characters embodied in the homunculi, which together strive to acquire the philosophers' stone.

The quest for the philosophers' stone had begun long before the main characters became even remotely concerned with it; but when they did (as we see from the third episode), the quest takes them all over the continent, meeting all kinds of benign and equally diabolic individuals. The cast of characters they encounter are as complex and varied as there are personalities on earth. They meet everyone from friendly dog lovers obsessed with technology (the beloved Winry) to fiendish centuries old alchemists who hold the secret of the mystery behind human transmutation, (the beleaguered Dante).

Even more so than alchemy, Full Metal Alchemist is about true unbreakable brotherly love. The main characters, Edward and Alphonso, are inseparable brothers and team mates throughout the entire series. The brotherhood of friendship between these two young men is consistent and unchallenged, irrespective of the daunting dangers they face. The series begins on an accentuated note on the bond between the brothers, and ends (albeit on a bittersweet note), on the same inseparability of their family union. The end of the series is quite open ended, as there is a feature length movie that is currently in production as I write this that will tie up any loose ends.

I have never had the pleasure of enjoying such a wonderful anime story before in any iteration for any anime series. The story and plot elements have more twists than fierce mile-wide tornado. The story is THAT intense! I rate Full Metal Alchemist very highly for its extremely exciting and addictively intense story elements. No anime in history has a plot this good.

Rating: 9


Full Metal Alchemist artists pay attention to artistic detailing on the cast of characters - especially with reference to their location. Gone are the days of the big blue-eyed, tiny nosed, red/blue haired caricatures with two strands of frontal hair hanging over the face as is atypical of standard issue Japanime. The artists have made an effort to contain the caricatures to tight resemblance to the Aryan Caucasian appearance of Germans in the early 20th century. This adds a very significant air of believability to the storyline. You do not have a hard time believing that these characters are actually Germans, and not Japanese caricatures that have moved to Germany.

While the artwork and the style of drawing is refreshingly different, (thank God!) the artists to allow the characters to maintain a somewhat cartoony texture, especially when extreme reactions to certain situations become apparent. The atypical iconified facial expressions do take precedence over the otherwise neatly drawn faces and bodies. A good example is where Alphonso's knight-armour literally changes to a cartoony exclamation to exhibit extreme emotional reaction, like embarrassment. The effect that is given is well felt, and can prove to be quite humorous whenever it occurs. Another atypical standout is the popping veins of extremely angry characters. For example when Edward is called a chibi-san (shorty) by characters, his expression changes completely and the artwork exhibits the extreme caricature of a cartoony Japanime character in rage. Very funny stuff.

While these elements serve to accentuate the emotional effect of the story, it does contribute some amount of inconsistency - as Full Metal Alchemist is not really an anime directed at making one laugh. However, it is fairly forgivable, as it is done with a specific intention in mind. The artwork is otherwise quite decent.

Rating: 7


Full Metal Alchemist has one of the better anime musical soundtracks I have ever heard. It's a nice mixture of J-pop and sweeping themes. I have a few favorites among the many tracks. They include:

Porno Graffiti - Melissa: A rather entertaining J-pop entry that makes good use of the contemporary rock band genre. I really love the melody and the hip up-beat pacing of the tune, which introduces the series to us for the first 13 episodes. To this day, I wish they continued to use this track, because for some reason, I never loved the other opening tracks as much as this one. Maybe if they pulled something from Shaka Labbits, like Monster Tree, I might change my mind.

Crystal Kay - Motherland: A sweet sounding Japanese rendition in the R&B genre. This has got to be the very best R&B Japanese attempt I have ever heard. Fantastic. None of the closing themes come anywhere close to matching this. Unless of course, Rie Tomosaka's Mokuren no cream were to be used, I might again, change my mind.

FMA OST - Brother: A wonderful sweeping theme featuring the voice talent of a german boys' choir (keeping the context of the story intact). This is my all-time favourite. The track is slow paced and really accentuates the beautiful coalescence of young male voices in wonderful symphonic harmony. The track is a celebration of the brotherhood theme between Edward and Alphonso, and is played many times throughout the duration of the anime. It's a truly wonderful piece.

The sound effects and presentation was adequate for my tastes, blasting through my 5.1 home system and making good use of the multiple channel sound. Pretty decent. Comparably however, Naruto has a far more enjoyable soundtrack and sound, with many more likable tracks to its credit. So to be fair, I have to rate Full Metal Alchemist's sound presentation in light of this fact.

Rating: 6


Full Metal Alchemist does strike out of the rest of the pack in many areas that make it an extremely special series worth checking out. I will briefly highlight these aspects here:

Originality - This anime has by far the single most original storyline I have ever seen. This is not about giant robots, machines or monsters. This is not about samurais or ninjas or hidden villages or super aliens with powers to destroy planets. This is not about space cowboys, or intergalactic menaces. This is not just a clothesline for ecchi or suggestive adult themes. This is not about some sexual fantasy between students and other aliens or about some cyborg or cybernetic entity trying to find their identity. This is not a story about dragons or elves or monsters or goblins. In fact, you'd be hard pressed to find a story that is even vaguely similar. Full Metal Alchemist's original story is the first of its kind, and it is a hallmark of what good Japanimé is all about.

Themes - The series runs the gamut of every theme from brotherly love to revenge and every possible theme in between. There is suspense, truck loads of action, drama, love, defiance of authority, rise of underdogs, friendship, intrigue, horror, sorrow and boatloads of wacky humor - without over saturating the somber theme of the entire series. Full Metal Alchemist is a thoroughly entertaining affair. There is something here for everyone.

Replay Value - Let me just put it this way: When the DVDs come out, I will be first in line. If you've never owned Anime on DVD, this is the first series to buy. As I have said before, it is worth the price of admission alone. I strongly recommend this series to anyone who even remotely likes a good story. If you're not already a Japanimé lover, this is the series that will convert you. However, upon completion of this series, it will be extremely difficult to watch and love anything else.

Of the hundreds of Japanimé series that I'm familiar with, in all my nearly 20 years watching anime, Full Metal Alchemist is simply the very best Japanime series I have ever seen. Period. Not even Naruto or Gundam Wing or DBZ series can touch this. This anime is in a class all by itself - and rightfully so. This is the acme of Japanimé. This is the new standard to beat.

Rating: 10

Final Verdict

8.50 (very good)

Reviewed by Xenjin, Oct 16, 2004


  1. RahXephon Oct 21, 2004

    Your review is very professional and informative. Also you didn't overrate this series too much and gave them all 10/10 or 9/10 ratings, a phenomenom that is becoming more common.

  2. Xenjin Oct 21, 2004

    Thank you for your commentary.

    I always try to keep my ratings fair and balanced.

  3. ProzacPlus Nov 19, 2004

    good review, seems quite objective to me.
    i like this series too, but i think i would
    rate it a bit lower, like 8.0
    there are to many disturbing elements, and sometimes
    the plot gets a bit hilarious...
    and, yes, the soundtrack rocks
    (especially "the ineraseable sin" song)!

  4. Psyconorikan Nov 29, 2004

    I'd disagree on the overall rating. This anime deserves a 10. Best I've ever seen, and I've seen alot. Awesome review though. Good job :)

  5. Taylorelf Dec 06, 2004

    I agree, your review was well thought out and rounded. I liked it for that reason.
    The ending i have mixed feelings about...you know? Not that i hated it...i loved to hate it too...i was mad for character's sake....but like, sometimes anime that doesn't make everything perfect, makes for a better anime than one that ends with a sunset, no da? I think it deserves points for emotional stress...i had too many near 'heart attacks' O_o

    Anyway, all in all thanks ever so much for such a awesome review, i know that i can use this to rope some of my non-anime weirdo friends into the story. Im always out to suck more people into this happy oblivion that is anime love. So thank you!

    And they might not thank you, but i will for them. ^^ They will eventually anyway.

  6. MasterRan Dec 08, 2004

    I wish cartoon network (at my placve) will show FMA soon. ~_*


  7. Kikyo77 Dec 23, 2004

    :)Full metal alchemist is one of my favorite anime shows...i always watch it when it comes on.I am even going to get the game!:)

  8. Drakonshie Dec 24, 2004


    i agree that the stoyline is very original. I really like this anime because it seems to have a fast plot to it. And in most episodes, there is something new to find out. Hmmm I don't see some characters resembling Germens in the art. Oh well, it's amusing when there is a random facial expression change among the characters.

    i probably would have given the sound a higher rating. Though these are just my opinions because I happen to love somber and dramatic music. The music is quite fitting because some of it sounds militaryish. (i'm not wording this well O.o) I think Bratja (Brother) is sung by a Russian boys' choir...because I went on this forum and a Russian guy happened to translate the song. But...I really don't know for sure.

    This review is well written and detailed (especially well clarified in the 'story' section --though there may have been a spoiler). (however, i would have rated this higher than how you rated Naruto overall. ) Since you have seem more anime than I have, I'll take your word that Fullmetal Alchemist presents a very unique and original storyline than some animes. It is definately something new to watch.

  9. Xenjin Dec 26, 2004

    Thank you for your commentary everyone,

    I'd like to make one small correction, the choir that sung "Brother" is called The Vienna Boy's Choir. I saw the CD. That would mean that the boys' choir is from Austria, not Germany as I said earlier (or Russia for that matter). So I stand corrected on that one.

    Thanks again for your comments. Keep 'em coming. I love to read your opinions. :)

  10. phresh27 Feb 03, 2005

    whoa. haha FMA sounds pretty nifty.

    do you happen to know where i can get some direct downloads?

  11. DaemonPhyreWyrm Apr 24, 2005

    Though I must say, your other reviews were a bit harsh, I cannot help but but agree with you on this one. Quite fair and balanced, eh? OOO! That could be your title! "Fair and Balanced," eh?

  12. ssgohan May 04, 2005

    great review
    i was thinking of picking up the series, but wasn't really sure if it would have a good story or not. after reading your review i think i'll pick it up


  13. shoimi Jan 17, 2006

    this show just keeps getting more and more confuseing.

  14. Kukuru Jan 25, 2006

    Excellent review - couldn't have said it better myself :)

  15. wolfdemonakina Feb 14, 2006

    great review....u forgot to mention in the synopsis that ed's missing limbs were replaced by automail...it think tha tis how u spell it...anyway...Full Metal Alchemist is one of the greatest action anime there is...its not just that but also a bit philisophical...

  16. SanzosSaru Oct 08, 2006

    Very good...just a few things I've noticed:

    1.Brothers is not german, it's russian. I know that's strange, but I'm sure it is. Also, it's not about brotherhood DIRECTLY, more like a plot-summary through song(two borthers commit a sin, the older one thinks it's only his fault, the young one wants to share the blame equally).

    2.While talking about the art, I would point out eyes, as they struck me very very well-done and hardworked-over. There's no character with the same eyes. That's a great achievement in anime.

    3.I don't entirely agree with you with caricatures. I think Yoki is very much oriental, and very much caricaturised(is that even a word? Sorry, English is not my main language

    4.You should talk more about the characters, since they are one of the show's strong points. This series' success can be atributed to its dark and adult themes, its good humour, but it's as much as this plot lines as it's about Edward's character, and how charismatic and powerfully characterised he is.
    I will stop now trying to write in English, since today it's not wroking ^^U

  17. Rassvetnaya Sep 26, 2007

    Emmm... nice review.. but i think, German choir have nothing to do with "Brothers" :\
    Here is the information from the CD leaflet:
    Chorus: VERA
    Lyrics: Seidi Mizushima, Tat'yana Naumova
    Composer: Michiru Oshima
    It's russian choir. details and translation can be found here http://forums.animesuki.com/showthread.php?t=11687&page=2

  18. Sanisa Sep 22, 2009

    Thanks for the review!

  19. nainoi Sep 27, 2009

    I very liked this anime.

  20. Sanisa Feb 24, 2010

    Thanks for the review! Nice ^__^

  21. back07 Sep 24, 2012

    thanks for the nice review

  22. angelxxuan Banned Member May 06, 2014

    nice breakdown with the review, the touch on the characters and the accents to needed places to explain why you would give such a rating is very well placed, good job on the review.

  23. UberDog Mar 23, 2015

    Nice job on the review of FMA, I cannot disagree too much with the review at all.

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