There’s really only so many times that people can tell you to watch a TV show before you eventually relent. In the case of Fullmetal Alchemist, I’ve honestly lost count of how many people have told me I needed to watch this show. Words like “incredible”, “amazing”, and “masterpiece” would usually accompany these recommendations, so I finally decided to see what all the fuss was about. I’m not sure if I would go so far as to say it’s my favourite television show ever, but it was thoroughly entertaining. And yes, for those of you already familiar with this story, I watched Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, not the original anime. I was warned repeatedly to stay far away from the original, and after reading the plot summary on Wikipedia, I’m happy to have dodged that bullet.
That being said, I’m not going to attempt to do a plot summary of what I did watch. Mostly because there’s just so much plot. But I will say that it’s incredibly well put together, with layers upon layers of meaning, emotional payoffs, and social commentary. I will also say this. Fullmetal Alchemist is at its core a story about two brothers who would do anything for each other. And I do mean anything. And what makes this particularly poignant viewing, is the fact that both Ed and Al are children for the majority of the story. More importantly, the show doesn’t try to hide this fact or shy away from the trauma they endure at such a young age. Ed and Al are not the invincible young heroes of the usual stories starring teenaged protagonists. They make mistakes. They suffer. And they are tested time and time again. And I was constantly impressed with the way the narrative acknowledged and explored the impact of their age within the plot.
I would also like to note that if you’re looking for an emotional rollercoaster of a viewing experience, Fullmetal Alchemist will not disappoint. I can’t remember the last time I watched a show where I laughed, gasped, and cried in such equal measure. Again, Ed and Al’s ages had a lot to do with this, but the show is also populated with dozens of other fully realized characters, each with their own story arcs and distinct personalities. Which means I was fully invested in each and every one of them. The fact that they were all often in mortal peril just made the narrative journey all the more intense.
I have one last thing to say about Fullmetal Alchemist. I fully expected the ending to shred my heart and then stomp on the pieces in front of me for good measure. But it didn’t. In fact, of all the endings I had prepared myself for, I was not expecting such an uplifting finale. Which to be honest, was a refreshing change. I’m all for a cathartic ugly cry every now and then, but I didn’t realize just how much I wanted a happy ending for these characters until the final frame of the credits rolled and I realized there really wasn’t going to be a bait and switch final act twist. And I loved it. So yes. All those people for all those years were right. Everyone should watch Fullmetal Alchemist.
Suggestions for artists I should check out? Please contact me with your ideas. I hope you enjoyed your daily helping of art!