By Michael Alford II
Published: February 28th, 2018
Netflix debuted yet another anime-movie conversion called Fullmetal Alchemist. Netflix’s first anime-movie adaptation was of Death Note, which wasn’t very good, but left anime fans with a huge amount of skepticism for this next release. Fullmetal Alchemist manages to condense two separate series into one, with the story arc of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brother and incorporating some parts of the original Fullmetal Alchemist series. What this live action movie fails to do though is reveal the most important information in the same way the series did.
For instance, the story follows two brothers Edward (Ryosuke Yamada) and Alphonse (Atomu Mizuishi) Elric after they try to bring their mother back to life with human transmutation. As a result of committing this taboo act, the Elric brothers are transported into another dimension where they learn the fundamental “TRUTH” behind alchemy. A toll is required for this knowledge, which leaves Ed with one leg and Alphonse with no body. Ed gives up his arm to attach Alphonse’s soul to a suit of armor as a last ditch effort before completely losing his brother. The movie begins with part of this at the beginning, then follows up later with a dream Ed has. This would’ve worked had the child Ed been in the dream rather than the older one, because it happened when they were children. It was a bit offsetting to see the older Ed with a young Alphonse. For continuity reasons, this doesn’t work.
The movie does do a good job in following the original story of the Elric brothers who are trying to find the fabled philosopher’s stone, that doesn’t abide by the law of equivalent exchange, to get their bodies back. The military soon recognizes Ed’s talents after the state alchemist test and employs him as the youngest state alchemist in the history of his country, Amestris. He is then given the codename Fullmetal by the “Furor,” or leader, himself.
When it comes to casting, Fullmetal Alchemist did the original characters a great justice. The major characters being the Elric brothers, Captain Maes Hughes (Ryuta Sato), and Roy Mustang (Dean Fujioka) were spot on to the anime characters. It doesn’t do a good job, however, in explaining alchemy. The cloudy-being that Ed talks to when facing his gate of “TRUTH” isn’t mentioned any further, when I think it should’ve. The anime doesn’t exactly outright talk about the character, but there is a bit more depth to it than conveyed in the movie. Ed has a full on conversation with the cloud at least two more times, as well as Alphonse, and eventually Colonel Mustang leaving the character unlikeable (but minimally relevant.)
The movie has one other drawback: the world of alchemy is a complex and interesting world, yet the movie does not take advantage of this. The brothers fail to use it as often as the anime does, which would’ve been amazing to watch. The cloud character could have been explained more eloquently, had this world been explored more.
What Fullmetal Alchemist does do an amazing job at, though, is establishing itself both as a launching point for a potential future series, thanks to the second ending after the credits, and as a standalone entity. While the Elric brothers get their bodies back, and some of the political unrest are wrapped up in a satisfying way, it doesn’t seem to have an actual end. The mere possibility of the homunculi making another appearance, and the Elric’s learning more about the homunculi creator entices even skeptics to look for another entry for a potential series. Overall, condensing two iterations of an anime was done in an astounding manner. For those who liked the anime, and for those have never seen it before, it is definitely a worthy movie to watch. There is something in there for a large audience to enjoy.