Lets talk about anime! I finished watching Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood a few weeks ago. I liked the series a lot. I especially liked how well fleshed out several of the characters from the original series became, and several of the new characters that were introduced were really great.
Anyway, this got me to go back and watch the original series. And you know what? The original is better. While Brotherhood has more character development for some of my favorite characters and a much more compelling mastermind for the end of the series, the original series is tighter and more focused, with a much more powerful ending and a much more emotionally satisfying core.
Of course, there’s different things I like in each series.
– Lust is a much more interesting character in the original, and her arc and eventual redemption is very satisfying. In Brotherhood she never expands beyond being a minor villan, and never lives up to he promises of her early appearances.
– The original’s Wrath is super annoying, but also acts as a gateway for a lot of interesting stuff with Ed, Sloth and the boy’s teacher. Brotherhood’s Bradley is a more compelling character, but he’s not a very exciting Wrath. In fact, Bradley is just a lot more interesting and complex in the original series.
– Brotherhood’s Sloth is just awful, with none of the rewarding character baggage of the original’s Sloth. In fact, without the key idea that they are the unintended result of human transmutation, the Homunculi characters lose a lot of their impact. The original’s Sloth was such a great character because she brought all of Ed and Al’s guilt and shame to a head.
– Kimbly and Greed both become pretty great characters in Brotherhood. I was a little sad to realize that Kimbly never got a lot of development in the original, while Greed was killed off just as he was becoming really interesting. Kimbly’s death in Brotherhood is particularly chilling.
– Roy, Archer and their gang are great in both series, but the original really solidifies the drive behind Roy Mustang’s ambitions and the reason why everyone is so willing to follow him. His battle with Bradley at the end of the series is short, sweet and devastating. Brotherhood does a great job of developing Roy’s personality (and that his his underlings), but the original’s lean storytelling puts the characters to better use. The original also features the excellent episode “The Flame Alchemist, the Bachelor Lieutenant and the Mystery of Warehouse 13”, which provides all the character development this gang really needs.
– In the original series Sheska helps keep Maes Hughes’ death in our mind through the entire series, which is important. Mae’s death is the turning point for the entire series and one of the most alarming and devastating events that we witness. Sheska is also a great character on her own, and it seems like she just doesn’t have much impact in Brotehrhood (does she appear at all?).
– On the other hand, Brotherhood features Prince Lin, May Chang, Lan Fan and Fu, all great characters.
– Envy really shines in Brotherhood as a much more fleshed out character, and the final battle between Envy and Mustang is fantastic stuff.
– Dante is a poor antagonist in the original series, and the revelation that she’s pulling the Homunculi’s strings is probably the weakest part of the story. However, Brotherhood’s Father isn’t much better. My biggest disappointment with both series is that the Homonculis themselves were only pawns and not the ones pulling the strings. Lust, Envy, Sloth (in the original) and Pride (Wrath in Brotherhood) were fantastically compelling characters with real motivation for their actions. Reducing them to pawns of Dante/Father robbed them of both their mystery and their threat.