Yeah, yeah. I’ve been blogging for nearly three years, I’ve written more than 300 reviews so far, and I still haven’t checked out the “big three” of anime: Cowboy Bebop, Ghost in the Shell SAC and Full Metal Alchemist. Well, at least I’ve got one of them down now. I finally managed to complete what could possibly be the most popular anime of the past decade.
Of course, I did try to watch this series at one time; twice, actually. But I kept getting stuck on that surprisingly boring first part. It didn’t make any sense. People were praising this series to heavens, and at the same time it was a pain to get through that first quarter of the series. It basically consists out of either flashbacks or a number of random stories, with the biggest problem being that the flashbacks were just boring, and the random stories never really worked. The creators just weren’t good at writing them.
The thing is, that this series played way too much with coincidences. Wherever Ed and Al came, there was some kind of Timmy who fell in some kind of Well, at exactly the right time for Ed to demonstrate his awesome child-prodigy powers. In whichever town they came, the creators would make sure that they’d coincidentally meet people who were related to some sort of gruesome secret behind this town. This especially returns ad nauseam in the first quarter, but the entire series is also plagued by this.
Thankfully, after that very dodgy start, the series picks back up when the big storyline starts for this series. Thankfully the creators prove that they’re good at writing a continuous storyline, and they slowly develop the story into a multi-layered mystery intrigue. You can see that a lot of thought was put behind it, and the series’ final quarter especially shines in the story-department. Much like Full Moon wo Sagashite, actually.
The characters are a very mixed bag, actually. Characters like Rose and Archer are incredibly shallow, and feel a bit too much like underdeveloped plot-devices. Other side-characters, however, absolutely shine when they’re standing in the spotlight. People like Scar, Sensei, Armstrong and the Humonculi really made this series for me, and showed that behind their simple look, they’ve got a complex and interesting story lying. Unfortunately, Hughes was overrated. Based on the things I’ve heard about his… spoiler, I expected something much grander, which he never really delivered.
That’s not the biggest problem here, though. Unfortunately, I never really could care about the main characters in this series: Ed and Al. Every time this series was exploring an interesting side-character, they’d take over again. In a way, this series suffers from the “bad main character”-syndrome. The two of them are developed, they’ve got more back-story than any other character in this series, but they’re just nowhere near as interesting as some of the other characters in this series, and their teenaged whining can become annoying at times.
Overall, Full Metal Alchemist shines through some of its side-characters and the messages it tries to convey. While the series is without a doubt very much a Christian series, it asks some interesting questions from its viewers, and shows various different beliefs on these questions. That’s why I handed this series a 10 in the setting-department: despite the flaws of the series, it’s an excellent and complex world for this series to play in that also makes you think. And I agree, it’s a very good series because of these things. However, it just isn’t the best thing since sliced bread. I just can’t call this series as superior to for example Gilgamesh, Rescue Wings or Ooedo Rocket. I liked it overall, but at the same time I do consider this one to be overrated, and it had some major problem that held back its potential.