I have been skipping out on reviewing this, unable to catch up with the series previously. A big reason was the manga ending and I didn’t want to spoil the readers with too much information. I am hugely satisfied as an FMA fan because I get to not only finish the manga but see it animated within 3 weeks tops. I was more than delighted to see the ending sequences played out and everyone getting a happy one at that. It’s like an era ending because this has been one of the first anime I picked out to see and then followed later with manga. I am sad to see this go but we know: all good things must come to an end.
This post is my final summation of FMA Brotherhood, an anime that has been true to the manga to its core. I’ve observed that when you stick to the original material, the outcome is much better than something that you improvise on. Take Bakemonogatari, Arakawa Under the Bridge and Durarara!! as examples, the directors of which stuck to the source material and didn’t deviate much. Now look at the first season of Fullmetal Alchemist, till it remained true to the manga it was brilliant, the moment it spun out of control with failed human transmutations becoming homunculi and bland characters, it went downhill. Not that I didn’t like Conqueror of Shamballa, that was a good follow up to season one, yet the fans knew there was something missing and we got a bonus in Brotherhood.
The last episode was simply EPIC to say the least. I would say, it not only answered a lot of questions but did better than manga in conveying some hard hitting facts and back-story explanation of future events.
The foremost has to be Mustang’s return of eyesight. After the showdown with Lust and Envy, it was pretty clear that he can kill and blindly so, when in rage. With a past of actively participating in the Ishbalan war, one can’t imagine him hopping on rainbows. He’s calculating, intelligent and a true strategist, who joined the Military to make a difference and later on determination to atone for his mistakes (being a dog of the military was never easy). He is shown more humane and helpless, unable to even forgo his own gate of truth like Ed because there would be no return for him (in case of Ed, he escaped from Al’s gate than his own). Still, he was preparing to become the next Fuhrer rather than being dejected, working with his team to free the Ishbalans from slums and return access to their Holy land. Of course, without his eyesight, Mustang would have to retire but Dr. Marcoh brings a solution and rightly makes his judgment of using a Philosopher’s stone made from the souls of Ishbalans to return his eyes to help reconstruct their homes and future betterment. It was a good twist that Mustang preferred Havoc’s legs to be healed before his own eyes; more than a team player definitely.
Coming to politics, the old codger Grumman finally gets his fill of becoming the Fuhrer of Amestris with Mustang in East and Armstrong in North as his loyal soldiers. Selim (Pride) is being brought up by Mrs. Bradley and turning out to be a very kind boy but of course, Grumman would still keep an eye on him. On the other hand, Scar is saved by Olivier and along with Miles, he gets to not only rediscover his identity but reconstruct the Ishbal for which his brother and countrymen had sacrificed their lives.
Al is shown to have a soft spot for Mei, who helped him in his final contribution to fight Father (sacrificing himself to return Ed’s arm). She would be protected by Lin Yao, the emperor of Xing who would take responsibilities of all families (Greed sure rubbed off on him).
Ed and Al finally return home walking together. The ensuing scene is one of the most moving of the series with the appropriate background music and a feeling of nostalgia as Winry walks towards the main gate as if in a trance hearing Den bark in glee. Their reunion is what you call a full circle at its finest moment.
Two years after the showdown with homunculus in flask, Ed and Al decide to go on a journey to discover not only Alkahestry but basis for their new theory on equivalent exchange. They were always haunted by the death of Nina (Shou Tucker’s daughter) and want to change the way equivalent exchange works with not only returning what one took but more. Al travels to Xing and other eastern countries with Zampano and Jerso in tow, while Ed travels to western countries, both with the same aim of gathering troves of knowledge and combining it for not only research but alchemy’s advancement at its core.
Of course, how can I leave out Ed finally confessing to Winry? Remember, when they were young, Winry refused to marry any of the two brothers because they were smaller than her in height. Well, guess what Ed has been taller than her since he returned to Risembool after fighting Kimblee with chimeras. Even she realized her feelings for him but the two bakkas never actually said anything. Even while confessing, Ed found an alchemist’s way to do it: “It’s equivalent exchange! Give me your half life and I will give my half to you.” I face-palmed with Winry, ah mo~! She’s willing to give it all and there is never equivalent challenge when it comes to love anyway; the balance continuously tips on both ends.
Ed narrates philosophically in the end and very fittingly so: “A lesson without pain is meaningless. You cannot gain something without sacrificing something in return. But once you have withstood the pain, you will gain a heart that is stronger than everything else. A Fullmetal Heart.”
End Thoughts: It’s nice when you get closure, right? What’s the point of hanging on a thread for what will happen next…?! Mattaku~! Yes, I’m so hinting at you, Brain Base (Drrr!) and Production I.G (KnT)! This has been one of the most satisfying end of a manga/anime, compared to many well-made anime that had tear-jerky, sad endings, like Bokura ga Ita, Wolf’s rain, Fate/ Stay Night, Honey and Clover, etc. To the contrary, this has been EPIC and I can imagine the millions of fans throughout the world shedding a tear or two while watching the end. A most fulfilling experience indeed. Following you can say is a summation of the strong themes and moments that I cherished and will keep on cherishing, whenever re-watching:
The air of camaraderie: Fullmetal has always been about working in a team. Even when dealing with individual strength and morals, there have always been the brothers coming to the same conclusion from different thoughts, egged on by many friends that they encountered in their journey. This has been the main theme till the end: nakama are precious and to be cherished.
Al and Ed, the high-minded souls: I was acutely reminded of why I love this show so much by the selfless acts of Al, for refusing to reunite with his body just to have a shot at destroying Father and later completely abandoning the armour at the crucial moment of overture to return Ed’s missing arm. In episode 63, Ed does the same for Al and sacrifices his own gate of Truth to return his body. From the few flashback and old pictures strewn throughout the last few episodes, it seems the creators were reminding us of all the good times and foundation of this story. We remember and we’ll always love it.
Hohenheim, the Father: His character has always been shown as distant yet we finally got to see the warmth and hundreds years of struggle that he spent on building bonds with the souls residing in his body. His counterattack was more than delightful. Badass goddamn it! Not to mention his closure of finally being accepted by Ed as a father and getting to breathe his last in front of Trisha’s grave.
Deaths of Homunculi: Wrath was one of the intriguing homunculi that actually aged with time. His death was not as dramatic as Envy’s but quite fitting by Scar’s hands—a nameless human—and watched over by Ran Fan, whose grandfather he killed. You reap what you sow and that is that, old man.
Pride on the other hand got a second chance just because Ed saw the child in him. Kimblee, of all people understood what Ed was thinking. Isn’t it too ingenious how great both Ed and Al’s character are? They surprise us with their perseverance in most inspired ways in the toughest of times. Ed saving Pride’s true form and later apologizing to Mrs. Bradley in the end was just another example. (I steered clear of the nipple joke because I watched Mitsudomoe and ah mo~ =.=;;)
Of all the homunculi, I liked Greed the most; he had such a grey personality yet stood out since introduced in Beasts of Dublith. In the end, he finally came to realize that all he ever wanted was friendship, like Ed and Al had with their nakama. He definitely had a heroic end compared to other homunculi, preparing the grounds over which Ed was finally able to foil Father’s plans.
Scar the Hero: Who knew that the vengeful Scar would be the savior of Amestris who almost obliterated his nation? The reverse transmutation circle that his Ani researched finally came to fruition by releasing the pure power of Alchemy destroying Father’s wards all over Amestris. He also got to work together with Miles to reconstruct the Ishbal that was destroyed. This is one of those full circles that had a very satisfying feeling.
Love is in the air! Ed and Winry’s relationship has been obvious since Mustang came to visit him after the human transmutation incident. Finally getting all of it out there was a wondrous moment. It was also cute seeing their children look carbon copies of each other. In case of Al and Mei, at least it was explained in anime while it was totally absent from manga except for the ending montage. I would still say, a hell of a growth spurt by Mei to become taller than Winry! =P Hopefully, there was progress between Mustang and Liza as they are pretty much married anyway (WTH is with that moustache anyway? Was not there in manga! x_X). Also, hopefully, Ran Fan is not just protecting Lin Yao (he sure has a mask fetish! *snicker*).
Random fact: Xiao-Mei (the little panda) sure has a very funny seiyuu voicing many types of squeaks and screams. Ever wonder who voiced her? Well, it’s actually Alphonse-kun or even Elle Armstrong; Rei Kugimaya voices all these FMA characters.
Le sigh, I will miss all these characters I’ve come to love dearly. Though, I’m consoled with the announcement of FMA movie being green-lit; release date still unknown (I hope it’s not a live action as some people are reporting; Kami-sama, please let it be an anime). Hopefully, this would deal with the after two-years-part when Ed and Al go out to discover the eastern and western borders with some romance thrown in. So, look forward to it!
I had fun reviewing FMA: Brotherhood and after 20,000 words and 46 word pages, it’s the second series I’m ending at Metanorn. Phew! Now tell me your reaction of the last episode via comments or twitter. Till next time, Ja ne~