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.