“Who are you calling ultra-hyper-chibi-chan who is so small you just want to step on him?”: Revisiting Fullmetal Alchemist

IMPORTANT NOTICE: I only ever made it to episode 40 of this series back when it was airing in Japan. I forget the reasons exactly why, but I’ve got the first three DVD sets sitting here, so I took this weekend as an opportunity to start watching them again. This makes me feel funny inside.

Fullmetal Alchemist [Hagane no Renkenjitsushi, for the pedants like me) still holds up, even a few years after its airing. I distinctly remember starting to really watch it when it was halfway through its run (I had seen the first episode back when it started, and due to overhype didn’t like it too much. I got over it later. Then I got over the giving up on series because of overhype bit, which is good) and watching the entire run of 26 episodes in 54 hours or so. It was a lot of alchemy.

Rewatching it, I’m finding that same addiction to it, and this time I know what’s going to happen. Most of it, anyway. I think the real reason I’m liking it now, internet centuries after I last saw it, is the strong characters. Edward and Alphonse Elric are extremely likable characters no matter how you look at it: Ed is the brash, brazen, yet kind-hearted one, Al is just plain kind-hearted and nice and forgiving, almost to a fault (kind of like me, which is why I think he’s my favorite). The characters are what carry the series in the early episodes, as well as the sometimes brutal episodic plots (Nina, anyone?). Misuzhima snuck in some really early foreshadowing, too: I totally forgot that Lust was sitting right there in the bar in the first episode.

The brutal nature of the episodic plots also reflect our current times. We’ve been introduced to Scar, a major player in Fullmetal Alchemist, who is effectively an anime Islamic terrorist. We haven’t seen much of his story yet, but even in the brief glimpse we’ve seen of him, he’s already cast in that hazy gray light that he deserves to be cast in: he’s brutal enough to kill Nina-chimera, yet kind enough to do it out of mercy. And Mizushima is really laying on the military criticism thick; aside from Roy Mustang and his Merry Men, the soldiers are all vehemently repulsing people: cold, cruel, and calculating. And the point is really driven home with the “dog of the military” phrase. I had remembered that there was “real-world” criticism hidden in the series, but I didn’t recall it popping up this soon.

Overall, I’m still very impressed by this series, even after forgetting about it for years (and, early on, when I was dumb, hating on it. Oh youth and stupidity ;_;) . it kind of makes me sad in a way that I didn’t finish it back then, but now, at least, I have an excuse to watch it again, and relive the experience all over again. Kind of. I’m certainly having a blast, and that’s what matters in the end, I think.

3 Responses to ““Who are you calling ultra-hyper-chibi-chan who is so small you just want to step on him?”: Revisiting Fullmetal Alchemist”

  1. 1 Sagacious C 17 February 2008 at 11:56 pm

    Hype is a weird thing. No matter how irrelevant it is to the actual show, it somehow plays such a large part in how we perceive it. As stupid and illogical as it may be, I, too, am guilty of hating on a show simply because of its over-hype by the fandom.

    FMA never got to that point for me though, either because I wasn’t very cognizant of public opinion then or that its attention never bordered on Narutard levels. I’m glad you gave it another shot…it’s an excellent series, which, I feel, will pass the test of time.

  2. 2 OGT 18 February 2008 at 12:11 am

    This is actually the third shot. :( My history with FMA is somewhat convoluted and even I don’t understand all the moves and decisions I made at the time.

    And over-hype kills me sometimes. It did that to me with FMA, and then it happened with the first episode of Gurren-Lagann, but I toughed that out and am glad I did. I probably won’t let over-hype ruin a series for me again. I think what happens to me when a series is over-hyped is that I expect the series to be something different from what I actually get: in Gurren-Lagann’s case, I expected a wacky over-the-top GaoGaiGar-ish series, and got…Gurren-Lagann, which is over-the-top, but not quite in the supremely silly way I expected.

    In other over-hype news, I barely missed hating Haruhi by a couple days: I managed to watch the first two episodes (and love them) before the hype REALLY started setting in, and was instead part of the hype problem.

  3. 3 Faye 18 February 2008 at 6:53 am

    Ah, i was right about why you still like it so much~ It does have an excellent cast of characters.

    Also, you need to see the DOG SHAKING!

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I cannot understand those that take anime seriously, but I can love them, and I do. Out of my love I warn them to keep clear of this blog.

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February 2008

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