The 800 pound gorilla of the spring season is the new Full Metal Alchemist series. In a recent poll on Anime News Network (ANN), something like 45% (5% was the runner-up) of respondents where most looking forward to this show out of the spring 2009 season. Frequent readers probably could guess that I picked a different show as the one I was most looking forward to but with Soul Eater done, I’m needing another quality shounen show. This iteration of Full Metal also has the opportunity to correct the shortcomings of the first series.
Rating: episode 1 – 9/12A-
Anticipation Level: low – medium
The brothers Elric are back with an apparent story reset. I’d imagine just about everyone knows the back story to this show but let me repeat it for completeness sake. Alchemist exists and a person can make fantastical things as long as an equivalent item is given up. While the Elric brothers are young, their mother dies and because they inherited their father’s alchemy abilities (and that’s all they got from him – he’s been missing for years), they decide to bring their mother back using alchemy. This is a big taboo, as you could imagine and when they attempt and fail – they’re much worse off for it. The younger Elric brother loses his body and has his soul tied to a suit of armor and the older brother loses an arm and a leg. The older brother joins the government to further his skills and to try to find a way to undo what was done to the younger brother and himself.
This first episode was a stand-alone anime original episode to introduce many of the main characters of the series. It was nice to see something new right off the bat because if Bones is intending for this to be a full reset of the universe, much of the beginning will be repeated. This is quite fine for first time viewers because a great show awaits them but returning viewers will probably find little to keep them excited till we reach the point where the first anime veered away from the source material. If it sounds like I’m asking Bones to walk an impossibly tight line between keeping faithful to the source material and still delivering something new, I probably am.
I do like the animation style change that Bones went with for this series over the original series. The characters look cooler then they did in the past and it helps build the mystique of the world. And since I only watched the first series with an English dub, it’s fun to hear the Japanese dub. As a Rie Kugimiya fan, it’s great to hear her do Alphonse Elric which is nothing like her normal roles and having Kikuko Inoue as Lust is just perfect. Another thing I liked was that we got to see some really great characters back on the screen again. I miss Armstrong and all his creepy muscle posing and Hughes with his huge doting father personality, to name just a couple.
Another reason that I’m finding it hard to really get excited about this show is that Soul Eater (also from Bones) just finished up and right now I’d rather see a second season of Soul Eater then a redo to Full Metal Alchemist. Especially since the final episode of Soul Eater did a pretty good job in giving the show a sense of closure and allowing the viewers to feel satisfied. I feel bad that I couldn’t whip up more excitement for this title but I didn’t want to lie. If you haven’t seen the first season and like shounen shows like Soul Eater, I definitely recommend following this show. For returning viewers, I say it’s probably still worth watching because Bones will probably try to keep us interested and it’s still a very solid story (and it’s not like there’s many good spring shows anyways).