12 May 2015 | bmoore07
The jack-of-all-trades anime
Cartoon Network isn't what it used to be. As a kid, I watched CN because it had shows that appealed to tons of people, shows that had meaning, and shows that deserved to be labeled classics. Those shows are gone. Teen Titans, Samurai Jack, The Batman, Chowder, Kids Next Door, and more have been dismissed for garbage cartoons like Teen Titans Go! , Adventure Time, Ninjago, and Uncle Grandpa (No comment on those new Pokémon incarnations). With the exception of Clarence and Steven Universe, Cartoon Network is a joke. CN's lone redeeming factor is Toonami, a late-night segment form Saturday evening to Sunday morning where various anime are featured, and one of them used to be Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood.
I never liked Brotherhood; I love it. An avid reader of the FMA manga, I stumbled upon Brotherhood on Toonami and, from there, I was hooked. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is about two brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric, who lose possession of their bodies as a result of breaking the most important rule in alchemy, attempting to resurrect the dead, and they journey across the country of Amestria as they attempt to reclaim their former selves. Edward Elric is this anime's protagonist, the famed "Fullmetal Alchemist" whose legendary reputation is rivaled by his alchemical skills, the wise cracking prodigy with an unpredictable personality and a strong distaste for milk, and the height-conscious adolescent with a constant inner conflict about morality, a massive amount of confidence, and an unwavering dedication to his loved ones. If I were to make a list of the greatest anime characters, Edward Elric would be in at least the top ten. Alphonse Elric is the younger of the two brothers, a gentle and likable young boy trapped in a suit of armor that serves as Edward's mediator during Ed's explosive episodes (Al is often assumed to be the older of the two due to his height). Brotherhood ventures into a variety of places throughout Amestria, from the bustling business environment in Central City to the fear-inducing tunnels underneath the city, from the wind-driven snowflakes covering the Drachma region to the primal adobes in dust-consumed Ishval, and, in all of them, this anime crafts the setting with a razor-sharp eye for detail and an amazingly artistic flair.
The majority of FMA Brotherhood doesn't focus on the Elric brothers but instead on the people surrounding them. Colonel Roy Mustang is my favorite character, an easygoing alchemist with the coolest power ever (He can unleash fire by – get this! – snapping his fingers!), and an ambitious leader that alternates between cracking jokes and being dangerously serious. There's Winry Rockbell, a childhood friend of the Elric brothers and a gifted mechanic. There's Scar, a sunglasses-wearing Ishvalan with a reputation as a malicious murderer and a mission to destroy alchemists of the military via alchemy. Brotherhood also contains a great group of villains in the Homunculi, the seven nearly-unstoppable immortal-like beings each with their own unique personality, and their Father. The two Homunculi that stood out to me were Greed (The Homunculi are named after the seven deadly sins), a rebellious man with steel-like skin, and Pride. Born from Nightmare Fuel, Pride is this anime's most important villain excluding the main antagonist Father who I will remember most for that frightening scene with Lieutenant Riza Hawkeye. Excluding the emotionless Father, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood has characters with great acting, emotion, complexity, and (above all) likability (Is this even a word?)
There are five main themes in Brotherhood; the final opening is by far the most emotional, but my favorite is the first, a fast-paced theme song that slowly intensifies at a pace with the opening's singer. Plotwise, there isn't a big difference in Brotherhood from the Fullmetal manga (although Isaac the Freezer never graced the FMA pages nor did Father Cornello evolve into a hulking beast), but the anime is still just as good, with more twists than a Twizzler stick and more energy than a kid on a sugar rush.
Perhaps the greatest thing about Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is its appeal to all genres. If you want tons of action, if you want a show with martial arts, if you want a military-themed anime, if you want some mystery to your show, if you want some sci-fi in your show, if you want a huge focus on adventure in your show, if you want some slice-of-life aspects to your anime, if you want to see buckets of blood, if you want to watch a show with fantasy elements in it, if you want to watch a dystopia-themed show, if you want to check out an anime with depth, then Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is the series for you.