Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood: Full Series Discussion
February 8, 2018 10:09 PM - All Seasons - Subscribe

Brothers Edward and Alphonse Elric search for the Philsopher's Stone, hoping to restore their bodies, which were lost when they attempted to use their skills to perform a taboo in alchemy.

This is for the entire series, since many of us have watched the whole thing. I highly encourage those who haven't to go for it, the entire thing took me roughly 22 hours to binge on Netflix over 5 days of not having much else to do in this winter. I also encourage those who started but haven't finished to go ahead and make posts up to where you are, I'd be happy to add to those discussion. With that said...

posted by numaner (10 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I really really wanted to make this post to emphasize ALL THE FEELS I had because of Greed. The most straightforward yet uncertain of the homunculi, and yet at his death, when he looked back and Ling and Edward, admitted that he was content that he had a life with "soul friends", that the hole in his greedy heart was filled.

At the very base of it that moment really summed up one of the main themes of the show. What does it mean to be human? Is it our capacity for genius and innovation, as the alchemists discover through their lives? Is it being able to leave a legacy, like Hohenheim did, satisfied that after his long life he arrived at Trisha and his sons? Or is it a homunculus learning that for all of his avarice and insatiable wants in the end it was his friends that made his life fulfilling?

It's been a few days but I'm still thinking about this show a lot and I still find it hard to sum up my feelings!

So some tidbits:
- this was one of my favorite anime, hands down. There's so many layers here to peel.
- Aside from a few moments with Winry which wasn't too terribly revealing, considering she's like 16, there wasn't a crazy amount of male-gazing. It could be the target audience but I really appreciated that. I recently started Kill la Kill and quit after a few episodes because I couldn't get past the immaturity and the male-gazing for the main character.
- The humor really landed with me. I loved all the little jokes, even the ones with Ed's height. They really knew how to space that out just enough to make it a good running joke. Same for people mistaking Al to be Fullmetal. When they got to Briggs, it had been a while since someone made that mistake/joke and they actually addressed it!
- In a show full of antiheroes, you end up learning that ambitions and intentions do not necessarily make someone bad. A lot of the morality of the show hinged on the supporting characters learning how to prioritize the judgement of those close to them over their own goals and the means to get there. It actually reminded me a lot of moral discussions of The Good Place, especially with regards to "What We Do For Each Other."
posted by numaner at 10:25 PM on February 8, 2018 [3 favorites]

Hello! This is probably one of my favorites series of all time, so I'm pleased to be here, discussing the series with all of you. I liked the original FMA, but Brotherhood really captivated me in ways I didn't think possible going into the series.

Riza is one of my favorite characters in anything, of all time. She's very tough and has the career military thing going on, but here's also a kind of sensitivity and femininity to her, and those nuances and differences are extremely compelling.

I gushed about Olivier a bit in the Talk thread, but yes. Also her -- she's such a great, no nonsense, straight guy to the sparkly flamboyance that is the Other Armstrong Sibling. And when stuff gets real, she is there; there's also the fact that I enjoyed how her perspective is very different from Roy's. This is not treated as a bad thing, just a different thing.

I enjoyed Winry more in Brotherhood, also... she seemed more in control of her agency, and less there to nag Ed and Al to death. Mei Chan and Lan Fan are also worthy additions to the cast, because of the different perspectives they offer, even as relatively out of focus minor characters.

As somebody that loves solidly-written characters, I feel that Brotherhood really excels at that, I'm getting really wordy already, and I haven't even started talking about Ling, Roy, Ed, Al, ...or anyone else, really. There's just so much to unpack in this series, from the plot to the motivations, to everything in between.

I didn't love that Brotherhood rushed through all the major plot points that the first series covered, but I can understand wanting to get past that to get to the new characters and new plot twists, where I feel that the show really shines.
posted by PearlRose at 6:55 AM on February 9, 2018 [3 favorites]

YES. The female characters really stood out in this series. I was constantly worried when Winry kept lamenting that she feels like all she can do is wait. But then she was the one that Ed has to turn to for his automail, and the one that Al confides in about Ed. She's more their rock than anything else and I'm glad that even then she still wanted to do more. So I was really glad at that scene where people of Rush Valley called her in Central and they're all gushing about needing her to come back. It was really touching. And then she was the one who came up with the plan for Scar to "kidnap" her so they have a way to get both of them away from Kimblee. I would've liked to see more of her at the end, but it made sense to keep her away from the final battle plot-wise.
posted by numaner at 9:25 AM on February 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

I feel like I should pull up a chair and get cozy, since you all are clearly my people.

What I really liked about Winry's character growth is that it could have been this terrible, cliched thing -- it makes sense for Ed's love interest to be a mechanic, automail expert. But they show her working at it, and heading to Rush Valley to establish herself and grow. She's Ed and Al's rock, but that doesn't mean she has to sit there and grow moss. She's shown improving her craft, getting better at her life's work. Even though she's not at the level of the military characters, she's far from useless.
posted by PearlRose at 9:45 AM on February 9, 2018 [3 favorites]

The female characters really stood out in this series.
She's very tough and has the career military thing going on...
But they show her working at it, and heading to Rush Valley to establish herself and grow.

I remember reading one of the bonus "author chat" pages in the original manga where Arakawa talks about how it's important to her to have female characters who work. She said it's because of the work ethic she was raised with, growing up on a dairy farm, where you didn't eat if you didn't work.

I love the pride that her characters have in their professions, especially as the women characters seem extra-dedicated to their chosen calling (Winry, her grandmother, Hawkeye, Olivier, Sensei...). I love that it's normal for women to have something to do other than sit around and be decorative while the guys do stuff.
posted by Sockin'inthefreeworld at 10:27 PM on February 9, 2018 [4 favorites]

FMA is my second favorite anime of all time, right after GITS:SAC. I felt it had a really excellent mix of humor, drama, tragedy, adventure... sort of this perfect storm of elements that made it watchable and interesting the whole way through. I also really appreciated seeing a lot of female characters, removing the problem of 'one woman has to be everything to everyone.'

My favorite non-main characters were probably the Armstrongs: Alex and Olivier were just so much fun. ('Armstrong family technique' gags were an in-joke in my peer group for ages, and would definitely still get laughs.)
posted by mordax at 11:15 PM on February 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

... and man, now I can't keep straight whether they kept all that in Brotherhood or not. I did watch both, but it's been awhile for either.
posted by mordax at 11:19 PM on February 9, 2018

They definitely did! But it was mainly Alex that did it. Olivier was actually more annoyed at him for it.

Now I'm really tempted to binge the first series and compare notes.
posted by numaner at 11:59 PM on February 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

Oh yeah, no. Olivier was a hardass, Alex was a goofball. I appreciated that - reminded me of divides between how my sister and I approached the same events in our shared childhood history.
posted by mordax at 8:51 AM on February 10, 2018


So this is what I had typed in the movie thread and deleted and I figured it would be ok here. There are more omissions than changes in the movie, so you're getting like.. reverse spoiled(?) if you read this.

There are many, many changes to the characters and plot. But rather than just listing them all here, I think a deeper discussion about the significant ones will suffice.

I felt unfulfilled that Scar wasn't in the movie. From a pace/plot standpoint, his inclusion would require expanding on the Ishvalans, the Civil War, and later probably Kimblee, who was also excluded (actually I don't know that yet, because he could very well be added in later as a helper to the Homunculi without having to involve Scar). Then they would have to go into Winry's parents' death, and her coming to terms with it as she faces Scar. All of that could easily fill another movie, or at least half of one, and they might not have enough time and budget. So I understand why he wasn't included, but man you really feel the absence.

I was also surprised that they would involve Shou Tucker so much. But I guess since Scar wasn't there to kill him, he had to move on in the plot somehow. (Again, you notice a lot of things change when Scar isn't involved.) But having Tucker be the mad scientist instead of that gold tooth guy is not a bad trade off. The same willingness to use humans in alchemy is already there. I suppose we'll have a different one being used as "material" if and when they decide to turn Mustang into a sacrifice.

posted by numaner at 11:36 PM on February 20, 2018

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