Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Fullmetal Alchemist

Yes, I know it has been a while.  But it just means I have more stuff to write about.  I have recently purchased a new Apple TV unit and have also signed up for Netflix which I find replaced all my video store trip needs.  It, as well, had inadvertently rekindled my love for anime series.  Netflix (Canada) has a pretty decent collection of anime classics one of which fortunately happens to be The Fullmetal Alchemist series.  I had often heard how popular the series was in the early 2K from friends but I did not realize how well written the story was.

Fullmetal Alchemist tells the story of brothers Edward and Alphonse Elric who like their absent father before them were themselves gifted alchemists - scientists of their reality who specialize in the breakdown and reconstruction of matter.  Alchemists of their world are able to invoke forces to bend and shape matter to suit their needs and desires, the only rule being that humans can not get more or less of what they put into to the process of transmutation - a law they refer to as "the law of equivalent exchange".

Trouble and the series long struggle begins when the Elric brothers decide to use alchemy to bring back their dead mother.  Although respecting the laws of equivalent exchange as best they could they could not account for the cost of a soul and, thus at the added cost of one of Edward's legs and Alphonse's body they unknowingly summon into existence a soulless creature known as a homunculus.  The creature appears to die immediately leaving Edward to realize the demise of his brother.  Distraught at the loss of his brother Edward sacrifices one of his arms to bind Alphonse's fleeting soul into an empty suit of armor before passing out.

Alphonse awakens now a tireless suit of armor and immediately rushes an unconscious Edward to the neighbors for help.  Edward recovers from loss of his limbs and gets his neighbors to build him a mechanical leg and arm.  Realizing he and Alphonse have paid heavily for their mistakes Edward becomes determined to find a way to recover Alphonse's body.  Alphonse now virtually immortal and with out the limitations of a human body decides to join Edward hoping himself that he too can recover Edward's loss limbs.

The 51 episode journey follows the brothers on their quest which leads them from Edward's inductance to the military as a government sponsored (State) alchemist to their eventual quest for the Philosopher's Stone which is believed to grant alchemist the power to transmute with out obeying the laws of equivalent exchange.  At times to counter the overall seriousness of the themes the show reverts to short but sweet anime humor often resulting from Edward's damaged ego regarding his height but nevertheless the series takes on very heavy and adult themes such as redemption, greed, and the bonds of family.  I would recommend the series for those looking for a good balance of action and story and just plain fun.  Netflix offers the full 51 episode series in their anime repertoire.