Fullmetal Alchemist (anime)
Cover of the first DVD volume featuring Edward Elric.
(Hagane no Renkinjutsushi)
|Genre||Adventure, Science fantasy|
|Anime television series|
|Directed by||Seiji Mizushima|
|Produced by||Masahiko Minami
|Written by||Shō Aikawa|
|Music by||Michiru Ōshima|
|Network||JNN (MBS), Animax|
|Original run||October 4, 2003 – October 2, 2004|
Fullmetal Alchemist (鋼の錬金術師 Hagane no Renkinjutsushi?) is an anime adaptation of the manga of the same name. Comprising 51 episodes, it was co-produced by animation studio Bones, Mainichi Broadcasting System, and Aniplex. It was broadcast on Mainichi Broadcasting System, TBS, and Animax in Japan between October 4, 2003, and October 2, 2004. A second television series titled in English as Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood was later broadcast in 2009.
The central characters of the anime are Edward and Alphonse Elric; brothers who are searching for the Philosopher's Stone so they can obtain their bodies after a failed attempt to bring their dead mother back to life. Two film adaptations of the manga stories, Conqueror of Shamballa and Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos were also produced.
The first half of the anime's plot follows that of the manga, but the plots diverge from each other near the middle of the story. Dante, a former lover of Hohenheim and mentor to the Elric brothers' teacher, is the series' main antagonist. Centuries ago, Hohenheim and Dante perfected methods for making the Philosopher's Stone and achieved immortality by transferring their souls and intellects into other bodies as they age. Hohenheim was eventually overcome with the guilt of sacrificing lives to make the Stone and left Dante. Although Dante can still jump from body to body with the last stone she and Hohenheim created, she does not possess the complete knowledge on how to make one. She uses the homunculi to encourage Edward and Alphonse, along with other equally desperate Alchemists to create another complete Philosopher's Stone for her.
When Scar creates the Philosopher's Stone, he infuses it into Alphonse's metal body, which leads to Alphonse's kidnapping. Edward goes and tries to rescue him, but is killed by the homunculus Envy. Alphonse uses the Philosopher's Stone to revive his brother but disappears in the process. Dante tries to escape but she is killed when the homunculus Gluttony, whose mind she had earlier destroyed, fails to recognize his master. After being revived, Edward risks his life to bring back his brother and finds himself in a parallel world, while Alphonse recovers his original body. Determined to reunite with Alphonse, Edward becomes involved in rocketry research, intending to use that technology to return to his home world. The story concludes in the film adaption Conqueror of Shamballa, in which Edward's search attracts the attention of the Thule Society, which seeks to enter his homeworld—which it believes to be Shamballa—to obtain new weapons to help them in World War II. Dietlinde Eckhart, a member of the Thule Society, enters the other world and tries to destroy Amestris. She is defeated by the Elric brothers, who decide to stay in Germany.
During the development of the first anime, Arakawa allowed the anime staff to work independently from her, and requested a different ending from that of the manga. She said that she would not like to repeat the same ending in both media, and wanted to make the manga longer so she could develop the characters. When watching the ending of the anime, she was amazed about how different the homunculi creatures were from the manga and enjoyed how the staff speculated about the origins of the villains. Because Arakawa helped the Bones staff in the making of the series, she was kept from focusing on the manga's cover illustrations and had little time to make them.
Broadcast and release
The animation studio Bones adapted the manga into a 51-episode anime series. It was directed by Seiji Mizushima, written by Shō Aikawa and co-produced by Bones, Mainichi Broadcasting System and Aniplex. Character designs by Yoshiyuki Itō. The anime premiered on Mainichi Broadcasting System, TBS, and Animax in Japan from October 4, 2003; it ran until October 2, 2004, with a 6.8 percent television viewership rating.  During the making of the anime, Arakawa was present in meetings to advise the staff about the world of Fullmetal Alchemist, though she did not write for the television series. The series has been released as thirteen DVDs from December 17, 2003 to January 26, 2005 in Japan by Aniplex. During January 2009, Bones released a "DVD box archives" of the anime. It includes the first anime of fifty-one episodes, the film, the CD soundtracks, and guidebooks from the series.
The English dubbed version of the anime was produced by Funimation Entertainment and debuted on the Adult Swim block of the United States cable channel Cartoon Network on November 6, 2004. Canada's YTV began airing it on March 3, 2006. In the United Kingdom, the anime was broadcast by Rapture TV and AnimeCentral. Animax Asia broadcast the series in the Philippines, India, and South Asia.
Funimation Entertainment released the series as DVD volumes between February 8, 2005 to September 12, 2006. Funimation later re-released the series into two DVD volumes in 2009 and again in 2010. In the United Kingdom, MVM Films distributed the first eight volumes of the series; however, Funimation gave the rights over to Revelation Films. In Australasia, Madman Entertainment released the series in two DVD volumes.
A series of five original video animations (OVAs) were also released. Most of these are side stories and do not expand on the plot. In March 2006, a DVD featuring these OVAs was released in Japan as Fullmetal Alchemist: Premium Collection. Funimation acquired and dubbed the "Premium Collection" in late 2008 for English release. The DVD was released in English on August 4, 2009.
A film sequel to the first anime, Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa, was produced by Bones and premiered in Japanese theaters on July 23, 2005. The film follows Edward Elric's attempts to return to his homeworld, having lived for two years in our world—which exists in a universe parallel to his own—while Alphonse is equally determined to reunite with his brother. Funimation Entertainment released the English DVD on September 12, 2006.
The first Fullmetal Alchemist anime premiered in Japan with a 6.82 percent television viewership rating. In 2005, Japanese television network TV Asahi conducted a "Top 100" online web poll and nationwide survey; Fullmetal Alchemist placed first in the online poll and twentieth in the survey. In 2006, TV Asahi conducted another online poll for the top one hundred anime, and Fullmetal Alchemist placed first again.
The first Fullmetal Alchemist won in several categories in the American Anime Awards, including "Long Series", "Best Cast", "Best DVD Package Design", "Best Anime Theme Song" ("Rewrite," by Asian Kung-Fu Generation), and "Best Actor" (Vic Mignogna—who played Edward Elric in the English version). It was also nominated in the category of "Best Anime Feature" for Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa. The series also won most of the twenty-sixth Annual Animage Readers' Polls. The series was the winner in the "Favorite Anime Series", "Favorite Episode" (episode seven), "Favorite Male Character" (Edward Elric), "Favorite Female Character" (Riza Hawkeye), "Favorite Theme Song" ("Melissa", by Porno Graffitti), and "Favorite Voice Actor" (Romi Park—who played Edward in the Japanese version). In the "Tokyo Anime Fair", the series won in the categories "Animation Of The Year" (Fullmetal Alchemist: The Conqueror of Shambala), "Best original story" (Hiromu Arakawa) and "Best music" (Michiru Oshima). In the About.com 2006 American Awards, Fullmetal Alchemist won in the categories "Best New Anime Series" and "Best Animation".[unreliable source?] The second film, Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos, won three awards at the Burbank International Film Festival.
IGN named the first anime the ninety-fifth-best animated series. They said that although it is mostly upbeat with amazing action scenes, it also touches upon the human condition. They described it as "more than a mere anime" and "a powerful weekly drama". The IGN staff featured it in their "10 Cartoon Adaptations We'd Like to See" feature, with comments focused on the characterization in the series. The character designs have been praised; critics said they are different from each other. Samuel Arbogast of Theanime.org said the flashback sequences were annoying. Lori Lancaster of Mania Entertainment called the plot wonderful, and said it is "[a] bit of a tragic coming of age story mixed in with the Odyssey". She wrote, "There is enough action, drama and comedy mixed in to keep most viewers interested. This is one of those anime series that is likely to become a classic."
Maria Lin of animefringe.com said the show's themes "are held hostage by a constant attempt at excessive sentimentality". She criticized the ending, saying that "[a]t the end of the anime, no character has changed from how they were in the beginning. There have been no revelations. Even as the show tries to show that the Elric brothers are coming into their own as they pursue the stone, they're really not, because they keep on making the same mistakes over and over again without pausing to consider a fundamental change in their ideals. The adage of the soldier and his acceptance of losing his leg is lost on them."
Reviewers praised the soundtrack of the first anime for its variety of musical styles and artists, and the pleasant but not too distracting background music. DVDvisionjapan said the first opening theme and the first ending theme are the best tracks of the series.
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- Official Aniplex Fullmetal Alchemist website (Japanese)
- Official Adult Swim Fullmetal Alchemist anime website
- Official Anime Central Fullmetal Alchemist anime website
- Official Madman Entertainment Fullmetal Alchemist website
- Fullmetal Alchemist (anime) (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia