“Fullmetal Alchemist”: Joint Review with ‘Comicdom Wrecks’

I was talking with a co-worker, a few weeks ago, about getting back into watching anime. She suggested a few shows for me; one of them was Fullmetal Alchemist. I am currently about 17 episodes into the 51-episode series.

I originally was going to recap and review the first couple of episodes on the website Comicdom Wrecks, in their weekly “Saturday Morning Cartoon” (SMC) feature. Instead, I’ll make it a joint effort between their site and my page! Here is how I plan on posting the first 20 episodes; this is subject to change, depending on how much I’ve watched in the series (Note: this has been updated, changes in blue – 4/21):

  • Episode 1 will be on this post; episodes 2-3 will be posted by Wednesday 4/10.
  • Eps. 4-5 will be on Comicdom Wrecks, “Saturday Morning Cartoons #60”, on 4/13.
  • The rest of the first 20 episodes, subject to change:
    * Eps. 6-7, on Wednesday 4/17
    * Ep. 8 on Sunday 4/21
    * Eps. 9-10 on Wed. 4/24
    * Ep. 11 on Sat. 4/27
    * Eps. 12-14 by Sat. 5/4
    * Ep. 15 should be on Comicdom Wrecks, “Saturday Morning Cartoons #64”, on 5/11
    Eps. 16-17 by Wed. 5/18
    Eps. 18-19 by Wed. 5/25
    Ep. 20 by Sat. 5/28

 

After that, I’ll review/recap 2-3 episodes per post until I get through the series. I will try to stick to the Wednesday/Saturday postings, with Saturdays being just one episode (due to all-day Saturday rehearsals) and Wednesdays being 1-3 episodes. I usually write the 2nd Saturday-in-the-month SMC post on Comicdom Wrecks, so expect some reviews on Comicdom Wrecks during those times, with the June SMC post probably being one of the episodes in the late 40s or the early 50s. I hope you enjoy the recaps and reviews on both sites!

Fullmetal Alchemist

The Fullmetal Alchemist series focuses on two brothers and the art of Alchemy. The brothers are Edward (“Ed”) and Alphonse (“Al”) Elric, who are searching for the Philosopher’s Stone to “right wrongs”, explained a little later. Alchemy, in this series, is a combination of science and magic, used to break matter and reconstruct it into different items. Alchemy is bound by the idea of “Equivalent Exchange”: if you want to create something, it you cost you something. This principle led to the “wrongs” that the Elric brothers are trying to fix.

The series was released in Japan on October 24th, 2003 and ran until October 2nd 2004; the English dubbed version aired on Cartoon Network, starting on November 2004.


Episode 1: “Those Who Challenge The Sun”

Each has about a minute of story before the intro; the intro is about a minute of different scenes and shots of characters. A typical, cartoon/anime intro.

The episode starts in a lab, with the Elric brothers on the floor. Ed (the older brother) is drawing a Transmutation Circle, used to do Alchemical transformations. There is a suit of armor in the corner and a large table with beakers and such against the wall. Outside, it’s raining. The two place their hands in the circle and light and lightning shoot outwards. At this point, we don’t know what they are trying to make, create, or bring back. 

Suddenly, the golden light around the circle turns a dark, sinister-looking purple. There is a scream – Ed’s? – then a lot of fog and smoke.

Ed is on the ground, screaming. His left leg has been cut off and is bleeding; his right arm is also missing. Al is gone – he’s nowhere to be seen. Out of the fog appears a beautiful, feminine hand; “Mom?”, asks Ed. The fog clears and you see a nightmare: the hand is attached to a jumbled mashup of a human body. The arm is coming from where a head should be; torso muscle, and the exposed heart, is beating; on the underside of the body, there’s an upside-down, vaguely humanoid head, in a silent scream. It wasn’t vague enough – Ed recognized it.

It was his Mom.

The boys were trying to raise their Mom from the dead. But “Equivalent Exchange” kicked in: to do such a complicated Transmutation, you had to ‘give up something’. That cost appears to be parts of Ed and all of Al.

Then the intro hit. Wow.


We then travel to the “present”, where Al is wandering through a desert, hungry and grumbling, and calling for… Al?? A hand emerges from the sand and grabs Al’s leg; it’s the suit of armor from the beginning. Somehow, Al is now the armor! 

The brothers arrive in the town of Liore, on the Eastern Frontier. They are greeted by friendly townspeople. A radio broadcast is from a Sir Cornello, a priest who can perform “miracles”. Ed and Al performed their own “miracle” by repairing the radio that Al accidentally shattered. Al becomes a little skeptical of Cornello (thinking that he’s just performing Alchemy), while a mysterious, beautiful woman informs the townspeople nearby that Al is the “Fullmetal Alchemist”. One of the townspeople calls Ed “shorty”, prompting a rage-filled reaction (This is a seemingly recurring theme throughout the series – Ed hates being called ‘short’).

At this point, a pretty young woman named Rose shows up. She greets the brothers and the other townsfolk (including the ones that Ed was swinging around) and offers to take them to Cornello, who has some extra rooms for travelers. The mysterious woman that knew the brothers slips away. Something’s not quite… right with her. We’ll see.


We then go to Sir Cornello’s office, a sparsely furnished, small room. He’s wrapping up his latest radio broadcast when some of his acolytes walk into the room. Rose enters and informs him about the brothers; he instead asks to remain “patient for the miracle you seek”. That miracle is revealed by Al, via a conversation with Rose: her boyfriend died and she’s hoping that Cornello will bring him back. Al and Ed have a brief ‘Science vs. Religion’ conversation. Meanwhile, Cornello continues to performs various miracles in the town square. Rose, Ed, and Al arrive in the square and witness a few of these miracles, such as turning a wood stump into a statue. Rose is convinced that he’s a genuine holy man, Al isn’t ready to write his miracles off as Alchemy, and Al thinks Cornello is swindling everyone via (some strong) Alchemy.

Back in his office, Cornello is informed of the Elric brothers’ arrival in town, esp. Al and his “State Alchemist” title. Cornello wants “his children” “protected”. Sounds ominous. What sounds more ominous: the lady that slipped away from the townspeople, she is ‘troubled’ by Ed’s presence in town. And she’s in Cornello’s office, in the shadows.


In the town’s church, Rose is polishing the Altar. Ed sneaks in and confronts Rose about her boyfriend. [PIC’ – Rose’ 9:30] He proceeds to read her all of the ingredients of the human body, explaining that “even though science has given us the entire physical breakdown, there’s never been a successful attempt at bringing a human to life”. Rose and Ed also have a Science vs. Religion debate (I sense a theme here…). Ed is watching in the shadows… until he has a gun pulled on him by Krane, the lead disciple. He shoots Al’s armor head off!

He then confronts Ed until Al stands up, headless. This provides enough distraction for Ed to throw Al’s head at Krane, striking him in the back of his head and knocking him out. Rose, seeing a headless, talking suit of Al-armor, understandably freaks out and runs away, back to Cornello. Ed and Al follow her and finally meet face-to-face with Cornello. Al, after some mouth-running between the two, deduces that Cornello is just an Alchemist, although he doesn’t need a Transmutation Circle to work. He also has the Philosopher’s Stone, the “ultimate amplifier”; it’s the stone in the middle of the ring that he wears. Al wants the Stone, in exchange for them keeping silent about Cornello’s fraudulence. Of course, Cornello turns down the offer.

FIGHT!!!


Cornello throws magic sand at the brothers, then some Alchemy-altered animals, including a Chimera. Ed defeats the animals, to the delight of the mystery, now identified as “Lust”, and a shorter man, “Gluttony”. Ed then reveals to Rose and Cornello the price of trying to revive or create human life: he has a metal left leg and right arm. Rose is horrified; Cornello now realizes that Ed is the Fullmetal Alchemist!

Episode 1 ends with that cliffhanger!


Episodes 2-3 should be up by Wednesday night, with reactions from the 1st 3 episodes.

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