Tag Archives: Fullmetal Alchemist

FMA: 2003 — A Defense

Every once in a while on the “FMA” tag on Tumblr, you’ll see someone with a strong opinion for or against either FMA animes. The most common ones I see (or, more accurately, hear about) are against the Fullmetal Alchemist series made in 2003 (hereafter FMA:2003), mostly because it largely deviates from the manga and becomes its own thing. I can go on here about Tales of Production and how the manga wasn’t completed when the original series was made, but I won’t. Instead, I’m going to dive into the text in question and give you several reasons why FMA:2003 is worth watching.

Be Thou for the People

The FMA manga touches on alchemists being a force for the average citizen, but it doesn’t really go into detail about Edward’s reputation among the common folk. FMA: 2003 takes this a step further, showing the audience more people that dislike State Alchemists and, conversely, showing how many people hear of Edward Elric the Fullmetal Achemist and his actions for the common citizen. But what I love is we get to see how it all started in my favorite adventure in the backwater mining town formerly owned by Lieutenant Yoki.

I love that adventure. In the FMA: 2003 anime, it’s the adventure that starts Edward’s reputation among the people. By the end of the episode, you see Edward basking in this glory by talking with a taxi driver unaware of Ed’s identity. And I love that Edward is almost a symbol for the people of Amestris. He gives them hope that State Alchemists are not all “dogs of the military” and do horrible things on behalf of the country. And I like how that is brought out in FMA: 2003 more than the other versions, which only seem to touch on the subject or state the way of things without backing itself with solid evidence.

Roy Mustang: Manipulative Little Bastard

He is. Do not let anything else fool you. Roy Mustang is sneaky and ambitious and we see it more clearly in FMA: 2003. He’s more concerned about his image in the military, especially among the highers up. Edward really hates him because Roy is aware of Edward’s goings-on without Edward’s report. And Roy seems more sneaky, more aware of what it will take to become Fuhrer, and very willing to do it to make his ambition/dream come true.

Whereas in the other two versions, Roy is not as open about his sneakiness. He doesn’t seem to have as broad of visible emotions as we see in FMA: 2003 (remember when Marcoh was telling the Elric brothers about the Ishbalan Massacre? We see Roy with wild eyes more often in FMA: 2003 than either FMA: Brotherhood or the manga). Also, FMA: 2003!Roy is more of a creeper. I just love his sly creepiness. (Tiny mini-skirts anyone?)

Philosopher’s Stone Runes

About halfway through the series, Edward is given the Grand Opportunity to create a philosopher’s stone, the thing he and his brother have been seeking! What I really like about it is the amount of work it takes to really create a stone. First you have to synthesize a red liquid that amplifies alchemical power. Then you have to add the human souls to the mix. It’s an entire scientific process. The stone is more of a legend in FMA: 2003 than it is in FMA: Brotherhood, where it is remarkably easy to create a stone. All you need is a few people and some basic runes in FMA: Brotherhood. The only thing making the stone a legend in FMA: Brotherhood is a person’s limits on what they are willing to do to get the stone. (That is, if they know how to create a stone in the first place).

I also liked how Edward had to analyze the transmutation circle and “beef it up a bit” during his preparations. To me, it reinforces the idea that the runes are an important conduit that guides the use of energy during the transmutation, making the process seem less like magic and more like science. So I also like how alchemy is presented more as a science than a thing of magic in FMA: 2003.

Darker, Non-Secular Tone

In FMA: Brotherhood especially, there is a pseudo-obvious religious undertone to the entire series. I can write an entire essay about that in which the main point would be “Believe in yourself because God is in everyone.” The point I want to discuss now is that the religious undertone is removed in FMA: 2003 and the story seems darker because of it.

For my example, I will look at the Ishbalan Massacre. In the manga and FMA: Brotherhood, the Ishbalan uprising came about because Amestris wanted to expand to complete the Ultimate Transmutation Circle and, ulitmately, so Father the Homonculus could get his Godlike powers and leave his flask. In FMA: 2003, the explanation for the Ishbalan uprising is a result of cultural differences and imperialism that go remarkably wrong. The reader is unable to sugarcoat the Ishbalan Massacre as something that resulted from severe, political manipulation, removing agency from the Amestris soldiers ordered to fight during that time. Nope. In FMA: 2003 everything that was done was done because humans did it and no one else. Frankly, it’s quite terrifying when you realize the lack of limits in humanity.

You can jump in here and remind me that Dante was a force pushing the military in one direction or the other. My point against this is Dante didn’t strive for nor achieve the God-like powers Father strives for. I also feel she was less involved with military affairs what with the secluded cabin in the woods whereas Father was known by many higher officials of the military and often attended meetings with them. Dante was also less of a god in that she lacked the power to control the nation’s alchemy, which Father had and demonstrated when the Elric Brothers and co. manage to get into Father’s lair for the first time. Dante’s goal was to be immortal, which is a lesser goal when compared to “I want to be God.”

My Opinion Actual

My final opinion on FMA: 2003 is that the first half (until right after the Lab 5 incident, approximately 26 episodes) is one of the best things I have seen on television. The pacing is smooth, there’s foreshadowing various plot twists (which end up missing their mark, but it’s the potential that counts here), and, best of all, we see more Maes Hughes. Everyone can use more Maes Hughes in their life.

Beyond the first half, the second half misses its mark on some counts. There’s some cool stuff, like Dante’s theme (music-wise) and that Warehouse 13 adventure where Havoc spends the entire episode with a goofy face (courtesy of Mustang, of course). I also like how humonculi have agency beyond being minions. Is anyone else fascinated by that? I LOVE that about this series. However, I find the idea of the Gate of Truth leading into our world off-putting and Hohenheim of Light was kind of a disappointment. And then there’s Wrath. That kid needs some discipline.

Barring my issues, go watch the first half of FMA: 2003 and come back to tell me how awesome it is. Because it is.

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Mini-Post: More FMA

I think a while ago I said I was done with FMA posts on this blog, but what do I know? I’m just a hopeless fangirl that recently dug up this gem from the depths of Tumblr. So I hope you enjoy FMA as much as I do, because there’s more coming. Trust me on this.

Mini-Post: Please excuse this INFLUX OF FMA FANART!

First I will reveal my favorite amongst the supremely large selection:

I scoured the internet and could not find the artist. Please help me credit the artist so my conscious may be cleared!

And now I reveal the link to which I have found this fanart. It is from a French blog that I can partially read. It is also exclusively Edwin. You have been warned.

We now resume your regularly scheduled programming.

Females in Fullmetal Alchemist

Sorry for the lack of posts last week. Our dear Lieutenant Basil, who was scheduled to post, is in Korea having a grand old time with first graders throwing things out windows and receiving random free food from random acquaintances with minimal English-speaking skills. Let’s all show our support for Basil by sending her love through the Potted Led email: pottedlid@gmail.com.

And now that that’s out the way, let’s move on to my latest Netflix venture: Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. This show gives me all the feels. SO MANY FEELS!

Anyway, I’d like to talk about the portrayal of some of the female characters. Because most of them are given Traditional Roles for Girls in adventure stories, but they’re totally human and have agency and allowed to be both feminine and badass in their own way at the same time. It’s excellent. Let’s talk about a few of my favorites, shall we?

As always: spoilers ahead.

true story

Izumi Curtis

When Izumi stopped the flood in Rosembool, she told the crowd she was just a housewife passing through town. She’s the wife of a butcher and sometimes seen sharpening knives (then throwing them). Many years ago, she wanted a child, but her husband and she were unable to conceive one for a long time. When they finally conceived, the baby died, and Izumi attempted to bring the baby back to life via human transmutation. Instead, Izumi lost parts of her inner organs, rendering her nearly bedridden on those days she’s not sharpening knives.

Essentially, she’s the sickly maternal figure, but she’s a foil to Ed and Al’s mother, who is also a sickly maternal figure just not in the least bit dangerous. Then again, Trisha didn’t survive a month in the Briggs Mountains by stealing military food rations. Izumi is the alchemist that agreed to be Ed and Al’s alchemy teacher because they were orphans. As such, she’s given a fair amount of respect from the boys, so we the viewers see her in an authoritative light.

Izumi is my favsies, if only because her husband acknowledges that she’ll kill you via flying knives.

Awesome fanart is awesome.

Riza Hawkeye

Everybody knows Hawekeye has feelings for Mustang. It’s not exactly a secret. This would worry me because if you’re watching an action/adventure-heavy story, then the majority of the women are probably going to be defined by their romantic relationships. As a young woman with romance fairly low on the Life Priority List, this is something I’ve noticed. Which is why Hawkeye is such a relief to be in this position.

Yes, Hawkeye is the second-in-command to her One True Love that wields quite a bit of power over her, but this does not mean she’s afraid to undermine his authority on multiple occasions. She saves him from various idiotic situations (like Mustang’s first encounter with Scar, in which he forgets that it is raining and his alchemy is useless in the rain) and scolds him more than once (such as when he risks being associated with a group of military soldiers following a soulless body). Hawkeye is not defined by her relationship with Mustang, and it is such a breath of fresh air because she totally could be.

For the record, Hawkeye is defined by her sharpshooting skills. Characters will say something sneaky like “We got the hawk’s eyes on us” and the entire group will relax a little bit. She’s awesome.

We can do it!

Winry Rockbell 

Winry is even more at risk of being there only for the sake of being a romantic interest. She’s pretty much the only girl the same age as Ed and Al that associates with them often. She’s not very helpful in a fight, she’s only there to fix up Ed’s automail. You might be surprised what she contributes to the story.

The major world as it concerns the audience in Fullmetal Alchemist is split in two concerns at the beginning of the series: the military government of Amestris and it’s victims (mostly Ishval). Ed and Al, Our Main Protagonists, are narratively obligated to be connected to both sides of the conflict to remain neutral. Ed takes care of the connection to the government by being a State Alchemist. Al can’t be connected to Ishval if the narration wants to keep his relationship to his brother as close as it is supposed to be. And so their childhood friend Winry serves as that connection: her parents were killed during the Ishval conflict.

In addition to this, she’s a notable automail mechanic, as seen through many, many people admiring her work, especially in Rush Valley. Perhaps most importantly, as Maes Hughes happily points out in Brotherhood, she’s the emotional support behind Ed and Al’s convictions. She will always be there for them.

The best thing about these women? There’s not a single bouncy boob in sight. I love a good show without fan service, don’t you?

Mini-Post: Reason to Love Full Metal Alchemist #7

Major Alex Louis Armstrong strips and educates you about the Armstrong Family Heritage as he pounds you with the alchemy techniques passed down the Armstrong line for generations.

These sparkles are also passed down the Armstrong line for GENERATIONS

The rest of the Full Metal Alchemist cast question his methods every time the shirt comes off.

IT IS ALWAYS OFF. WHY IS IT ALWAYS OFF? IS THIS SUPPOSED TO BE SOME TYPE OF OBJECTIFICATION? I DON’T EVEN KNOW. JUST LOOK AT THOSE SPARKLES.