Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Review (Spoiler-Free)

I recently re-watched Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, and seeing as I’ve never written about it, I figured I may as well this time around. Will keep it short though, and spoiler free as usual.

Don’t pay the images too much attention, they were the only three I grabbed from the series because I liked them. This post isn’t nearly as mysterious as they might indicate.

Synopsis

FMA:B takes place in a fantasy world where a magical form of alchemy exists, which allows alchemists to perform amazing tasks via transmutation circles. The anime follows two brothers: Edward and Alphonse Elric. Both brothers have something that they’ve lost, and they are on a quest to regain said lost things. Of the two brothers, Edward is a state alchemist, known as the “Fullmetal Alchemist”, in a military dictatorship nation called Amestris.

As the brothers continue on their personal quest, they find themselves pulled into something much, much larger, in which the entire nation’s fate is at stake.

Fantastical Elements

First off, I’d like to write about the fantastical elements of FMA:B, because they’re really fantastic. Alchemy within the anime is particularly interesting, because while I’ve certainly seen many fantasy worlds where magic circles are required to cast spells and such, I’ve never seen magic interpreted in this way. The FMA:B world’s magic, alchemy, is built upon the law of equivalent exchange, and so in order to gain something, something of equal value must be given.

What is given in order for alchemists to do what they do in the anime? Well, without spoiling too much, I will just say that there are two different methods that we see, each sacrificing something different. And on top of that, there also exists a third way to perform alchemy, with seemingly no payment – the Philosopher’s Stone.

Overall, the alchemy in this anime is great, and fun to watch. Kind of like with other anime, such as Fairy Tail, each state alchemist has a specialty, be it an element such as water or fire, or something else. It gives us some good variety.

But in addition to the alchemy, we also get a semi-industrial society. One that seems to mirror the level of technology we would have seen back in the early 1900s. And Amestris itself, being a military dictatorship lead by a black haired moustache man, King Bradley, also seems to mirror something else from the early / mid 1900s. Connections to real life aside though, I will say that King Bradley is one of my favourite characters. He’s just too cool to dislike I think.

Anyways, this combination of an industrial society, and a very interesting way to insert magic work very well together in this series.

A Journey Well Worth Watching

Heading basically says it all.

Over 64 episodes, we meet and follow many different characters and their stories. There are exciting moments, sad moments, funny moments, and intriguing moments. The story brings us all around the established world in FMA:B, and it pulls us along a story that starts out simple, but increases in complexity over time. Stakes slowly raise, as does intrigue as more mysterious elements are added, on multiple fronts.

All in all, it’s the type of anime where you can really feel the progression, especially if you think back to the earliest episodes later on in the series. A lot happens. There’s a lot of growth, as well, which is very apparent in many characters.

And the culmination of this is what I’d call a satisfying journey, as well as a satisfying ending. Everything just feels right in this regard, start to finish.

Rating

I’m giving Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood a 10 / 10.

It’s one of my favourites, and even with this having been a re-watch, even though I knew many of the secrets and such about what would happen, I was still completely pulled in and watching ~5 episodes per night till I finished it. Personally, I consider FMA:B a masterpiece. The story alone is just incredible, and I feel like there are many parallels that can be drawn between it and real life.

Even if you aren’t really into action, which there is plenty of, I feel like the story, characters, and intrigue could still be enough to make this anime worth watching. I know that there are people who tend to shy away from popular anime simply because they get a lot of hype, but I do feel like FMA:B is a very unique anime in it’s own right and deserving of praise.

That said, I too am not a fan of hype, and so I will just say that FMA:B may still not be for you, if you don’t like action and/or stories with a lot of intrigue / background elements to keep in mind as you watch.


On a separate note, while I did watch this subbed, I was surprised at how many words I never caught the first time I watched FMA:B, considering how often they are repeated. Mind you, I had zero knowledge of Japanese back then, so I understand why I didn’t catch anything, but still…

In particular, these two stuck in my mind thanks to how often they are mentioned:

Hagane no renkinjutsushi – Fullmetal Alchemist (literal translation is “Steel Alchemist”)
Kenja no ishi – Philosopher’s Stone

Very often Edward is referred to as “Hagane no”, leaving out the “renkinjutsushi” (alchemist), which is basically the equivalent of calling him “Fullmetal” in English. I actually didn’t know the Japanese word for “steel” before watching this, but now I feel like I’ll never forget it. That, and “alchemist”, as well as “Philosopher’s Stone”… Which I can’t see myself using anytime soon in real life!

There are a lot of military ranks mentioned as well, the only one I remember though is “Shousa”, which is “Major”. And then there are a lot of difficult words that still went right over my head, as I wasn’t about to pause every time the characters started discussing alchemy / alchemical properties / other complicated concepts.

Still, it was cool to pick up some new words considering it wasn’t my goal at all.

And I can understand why the name “Fullmetal Alchemist” was used instead of “Steel Alchemist” for the English title / naming, because it just sounds way better. Fullmetal is such a cool word, definitely adds to the experience I think.

Anyways, that’s all for this post.
I’m glad I did the re-watch, and I’ve got a few other anime I’d like to re-watch as well.

Hopefully I can pick up some new vocabulary through them also!

Until next time,
Thanks for reading!

6 thoughts on “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Review (Spoiler-Free)

  1. My favorite anime ever! I love the incredible story, rich lore and worldbuilding and the unforgettable characters. Winry is best girl and Envy is one of my favorite anime villains. The 2003 anime is great and I have a lot of nostalgia for it since it was the first Adult Swim anime I ever watched. But Brotherhood is *nearly* perfect. I’ve watched both series dubbed and subbed, but I grew up with the dub so it’s the one I usually go back to when I rewatch (Edward’s voice actor is kind of a jerk in real life, but the whole cast is fantastic). It’s one of those anime that I think even people who don’t like anime can appreciate, hell I showed it to my mom a few years ago and she loved it!

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  2. Pingback: 5 Favorite Anime Blog Posts from 2021 Week 31 | Crow's World of Anime

    1. I never saw the original anime but have read how it goes compared to Brotherhood. I get the impression that Brotherhood has a bit more intrigue / scale to it, but I could be wrong on that.

      Like

  3. Pingback: 5 Favorite Anime Blog Posts from 2021 Week 37 - Crow's World of Anime

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