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Fullmetal Alchemist

09/24/06

  01:15:44 pm, by Nimble   , 429 words  
Categories: Reviews, Television

Fullmetal Alchemist

Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fullmetal_alchemist

This anime series seems a lot like many other anime series to start with. Many of the typical anime drawings, character reactions, exaggerations and the like are present. There's a strength of story and characters that show up as you continue watching the episodes, though, and it becomes rather intriguing.

The show is based loosely on the mythology behind alchemy, such as the search for the 'Philosopher's Stone', the alchemical 'holy grail' which allows things like transmutation of lead into gold, as well as other incredible things. There is a "principle of equivalent exchange" in the alchemy in the show, loosely based on "value" (of human lives, of metals) that the Philosopher's Stone would help violate.

'Transmutation circles' in the show, which resemble some western medieval magic circles like the Key of Solomon, are the basis of alchemy, and have been expanded in true Japanese style to be part of action sequences, to glow, to make things happen, to blow things up and to transmute things into pointy objects.

The series starts off with a human transmutation gone bad. The two main characters try to use their alchemy to bring back their dead mother. It... doesn't quite work, but they have paid the price in body parts.

The search is for the Philosopher's Stone, to try to get their body parts back, but the story weaves in interesting ways, and alternates between humour and some very dark themes.

This isn't for young children. Violence, blood and some very disturbing things (like human chimeras and experimental subjects) would give them nightmares. It is, however, not entirely gratuitous, and life lessons abound.

The subtitles, if translated from Japanese, become a little more different from the actual English version as the series goes on. We've been watching the English version, but enabling subtitles, and quite frankly, the spoken English makes slightly better story sense in many spots (e.g. why would they say "Don't eat that; it's raw" when a character is bringing food to the table?), and in other spots, has a better sense of humour (e.g. in referring to just finding the clothes of an enemy at one spot, the spoken English eschews the boring translation and replaces it with "We don't know whether he's dead or just... naked")

We're up to volume 9 so far; it's pretty engaging with a very good peppering of natural cliffhangers. It goes up to volume 13 so far, with a movie that's out.

At $30/volume, though, I don't think we'll be owning the series any time soon (13x30=$390... ouch)

Recommended for anime/mythology fans.

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