So when I first started this earlier in the day, I was merely reviewing Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood as part of the Full Metal Alchemist retrospective. But after I finished I quickly realized that it was practically the exact same review as my review of Full Metal Alchemist. In order to save myself from the dregs of redundancy, I decided to scrap my original review and do something a little different. So just as I did a year ago with my compare and contrast of Battle Royale and The Hunger Games, I have decided to do it again. Considering the similarities between FMA and FMA Brotherhood it feels like a very fitting way to look at two great series and decide which of the two is a better series. So what I will be doing is looking at both series and decide which of them is the superior. Keep in mind, I have nothing but positive things to say about both series. They are phenomenal, so this is a competition of the best of the best.
To be clear before we get started, for those of you who have do not know or have not seen it, Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood is not a remake or sequel to the original series but more of a retelling. It is a similar story to the original with many of the same characters, only instead it follows more of its manga source material. So with that in mind, let’s get started.
Full Metal Alchemist Pros
Sloth and Wrath and Their Connection with the Elric Brothers and Izumi
It is well-known in both series that Edward, Alphonse, and their teacher Izumi Curtis attempted a human transmutation with Edward and Al trying to bring back their mother and Izumi attempting to bring back her baby. It is also established that human transmutations are the way to create homunculi, who are one of the series primary villains. Unlike Brotherhood where the homunculi have no connection to the Elrics or Izumi, in this series we see a walking talking manifestation of their sins in the homunculi Sloth and Wrath, Sloth being Ed and Al’s mom and Wrath being the adolescent version of Izumi’s child with Ed’s missing arm and leg. While I do like the Brotherhood version of Pride more than the original version and it wouldn’t be possible without this change… I have to say that I love the inclusion of Izumi’s baby and Ed and Al’s mom as villainous homunculi. It is a physical manifestation of Izumi and the Elrics sins in front of them, staring at them, and reminding them of the taboo alchemy that they attempted.
It is in my opinion a very intelligent way to make the enemies more ‘personal’. They aren’t just the bad guys, they have to face the physical manifestation of their dead mother and son. They created these monsters and it becomes their responsibility to eliminate them.
A More Clear Cut and Nefarious Nemesis
Sometimes it is good to know who the bad guys are and the first series of FMA does a good job at drawing the lines between the bad guys and the good guys. It is clear from the beginning that Dante, the Homunculi, and side characters like Archer and Kimblee are villainous. This wouldn’t be so much of a pro if I didn’t think that Brotherhood blurred the lines on so many characters to the point that it almost becomes convoluted and confusing. FMA is much more clear-cut and because of this I feel that the show has more of an opportunity to expand on the relationships and plot of the characters and less of the intrigue. Which isn’t necessarily bad as much as it makes FMA superior in that regard.
Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood Pros
The Setting and Political Intrigue of Amestris and Surrounding Countries
My degree is in International Studies and I am obtaining my Master’s in Political Science… So I am always happy to see some more international politics mixed into a story. Unlike the first series who doesn’t even mention the name of Amestris, Brotherhood dives head first into the politics of Amestris and its surrounding countries of Drachma, Creta, and Aerugo as well as the distant country of Xing. You see just how much the rest of the world hates Amestris and its warmongering ways as well as the formation of the gigantic transmutation circle. Because of this, you get to know Amestris a lot more. It is no longer a nameless entity as much as it is a character within the setting. You can see its formation, its history, and its relationships with the countries around it. Adding this to the series really enhances what makes Brotherhood a phenomenal series.
A More Intricate and Darker Story
The look and feel of Brotherhood is by far a much darker story. With plot points such as Havoc being paralyzed, Mustang slowly burning Lust to death over and over again, the inclusion of a far more sadistic Pride and a nefarious Father, not to mention the inclusion of settings such as the tunnels and the freezing cold north. The setting is much darker and in a way much better. I enjoy my stories dark and loaded with intricate stories and Brotherhood has that above its counter part. Watching the creation of a philosopher’s stone from the people of Xerxes, the desires of the villains, the war, and the political upheaval in Amestris are covered in more detail and the plot benefits greatly from this.
After it is all said and done, I find myself making the difficult choice between two great series. Both have their own merits and are great in their own right… But if I have to choose, I would say that Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood is superior to the original series. It is more true to the source material, is a much more darker, thought-provoking story, and the politics included in the series are just too good for me to pass up. Out of the two, FMA Brotherhood wins by just a nose.
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