This will be spoiler free. So buckle up.
Synopsis: When I was watching Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood I said I was not going to review it, I was purely watching it for pleasure, but when I was finished Xana asked if I would, and what could I do but oblige. So here we are. Before we really get into this I must warn you my review may just turn into one long sloppy word kiss to Brotherhood. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is the retelling of the 2003 anime Fullmetal Alchemist, Brotherhood follows much more closely to the manga, and tells the story of two brothers who are talented alchemists, who committed the biggest taboo among alchemists, human transmutation (trying to bring someone back from the dead), and as payment for this sin one paid by loosing his body, the other by loosing his arm and his leg. This story follows the two brothers on their journey to get their original bodies back, protect the ones they love, and uncover the truth about the land where they reside.
Animation: This series was brought to us from studio BONES, who are famous for Darker then Black, Fullmetal Alchemist, Wolfs Rain, and Soul Eater. I consider myself a stickler for good animation, and this is why I have not been able to suffer through more then five episodes of Samurai 7 (damn you Gonzo), because the animation is such shit, its just ridiculously inconsistent I can’t take it. I personally love BONES style animation, and the budget for Brotherhood was much larger then for its predecessor that came out in 2003. The animation is constantly beautiful, and very fluid. This is partially an action anime, and the action scenes are incredibly well choreographed, with different characters having their own discernible styles. I’m really not sure how to explain it, but the fight scenes have an almost animalistic quality to them, that I absolutely fell in love with. They were able to have this quality but still be seamlessly fluid. In addition, the different characters facial features and expressions are just incredible. Weather it was Bradly’s unfeeling ice-cold eye that made my spine tingle with impending dread, or the absolute heartbreak I felt by the expressions that Ed wore when faced with impossible truths. The animation forced me to feel what the characters were going through. The backgrounds were nice, not breathtaking, but they did their job; to be background to the action. I can be picky when it comes to animation, but really I have no complaints.
Characters: I don’t know if I care to admit how attached I’ve become to these characters. There are many of them, but with 64 episodes I felt that they were all very well developed. It was a real treat to watch an anime with such a full and well-rounded cast, and to actually have all the characters be developed. There are some flash-back episodes that explain the horrors that some of the state alchemists have faced, and these may be some of my favorite episodes because it is such an insight into the inner workings of some my personal favorite characters like Roy Mustang, Riza Hawkeye, and even Scar. I know some people rail against whole episodes dedicated to flashbacks (this may take away from my credibility but I actually like flashbacks o.O) so really it was masterful how Brotherhood could turn what could easily have been a chore of an episode into an insightful exploration of key characters pasts. All the characters were complex multidimensional, housing both darkness and light. Hands down there was tangible character exploration and growth through out this 64 episode series.
Sound: The openings and endings were all along the JPop lines, and were excellent. Can you say homework music? The voice acting was also nothing short of superb. I could feel what the characters were feeling, and the voice actors really played a large role in making the characters come alive. Edward Elric is voiced Vic Mignogna in the English dub in both the original and Brotherhood. This is very nice because it would be incredibly awkward to have to get to know a new voice as one of the leading characters, so the fact that they got the same voice actor really gave the show continuity from the get go. Many other characters are voiced by the same people in both series too, Lust, Gluttony, Envy, Greed, Alex Louis Armstrong (and wow what a voice), Izumi Curtis (Teacher), Roy Mustang, Maes Hughs, and more. Now time for me to gush about the background music. I know this may seem like a trivial aspect to anime, but if the music is done well then it can heighten the show ten times over. It is almost all instrumental, occasionally accompanied by a choir. The background music is also reused, and I feel this further heightens the mood. The music is so flawlessly intertwined within the episodes that at first I didn’t even notice it, and then I realized I was just sitting there with my heart pounding, the music echoing in my head.
Plot: If you have watched the first series then the first six or so episodes of Brotherhood may be a bit hard to get through because they are incredibly similar to the first series. I actually had a really hard time getting through them, but after these episodes the series just flies. It is very well paced, it does not feel rushed, or strapped for material either. It has great action scenes, but also very natural and realistic dialog that will keep you hooked for the entirety of the 64 episodes.
Overall: This anime is truly a treat to watch, and I may or may not have shed some tears when it was over. The animation is nothing short of superb, and there is great action scenes, engaging dialog, and even full on laugh out loud jokes. I would say that if you like action anime, or are looking to start watching anime this would be a great series to start with. It may just get you hooked for life.