Watched the film right about now and damn! That was pretty dope. Which I figured would be the case. It’s Fullmetal Alchemist! But for me it’s… Well, Fullmetal Alchemist. There’s a difference in connotations. I just think it’s a little overhyped is all. I would still regard it as potentially one of the best anime out there. But the Sacred Star of Milos made me realize why I didn’t think FMA:B quite lived up to its name.
That reason being that there was a small dichotomy between how FMA:B’s story functioned and how the character’s were presented. In a shounen world the characters will have a certain exclamation point added to their name to make it feel like it matters!
“Oh shit! MADARA is gonna fight all 5 kages of the ninja world”?
“Oh shit! SASUKE vs ITACHI is finally happening”!
Oh shit! JIRAIYA lost to PAIN”!
…Yeah, I think it says something that all my examples are from Naruto but don’t focus on that. Anyways, I often compared this shounen-specific appeal to wrestling. Wrestling is all about building up certain characters, applying them into a narrative that is about butting big names together. The amazing thing about this in shounen is that there is usually a more ‘permanent” effect to the narrative as these fights aren’t just for a temporary grasp of imaginary gold but attempting to end a life. The reason for ending this life can be many but, ultimately, you’re taking a life away because it is in the way of your goal.
Fullmetal Alchemist did not achieve this same appeal even though it felt like it tried. I don’t think anyone was excited about the fight between Lust and Mustang. There was adequate build-up but never has either of those names achieved a sense of strength in which would feel like a battle of the titans! Not to mention, it was an incredibly one-sided bout. With Mustang getting a sneak-attack advantage. Don’t get me wrong, this was an amazing scene! Quite honestly one of the reasons why Fullmetal Alchemist is at the peak of the mountain. Something’s just so fitting to watch Lust, the homunculus that insisted death was impossible to Colonel Mustang be burned up repeatedly against the wall. Watching her homunculi skin be burned off over and over again! The sexual innuendo, the visceral description of her flesh melting away; revealing her skeleton! It was an absolute thrill to watch.
But not because it was “LUST vs MUSTANG” even though that might’ve been part of the point. They realized this when it came down to Mustang vs Envy and instead of putting them on equal footing; they made it a truly one-sided annihilation with Mustang running down Envy like the beast he is. I’d even say FMA:B completely shed the “shounen” genre from its name the moment they discussed that the only reason Mustang wanted to finish off Envy was because of pure hatred. The desire to murder a defenseless opponent that had no more room left to fight. Of course, there was still some tension due to the battle taking place in an underground labyrinth. Envy attempts to take advantage of this terrain as much as possible before inevitably losing.
Milos doesn’t attempt to be a shounen! Well, it still has the rudimentary fighting that is demanded of shounen anime but it is done in a completely different light. The best example would be the fight that starts from the on-going trains to the destination of Table city where the Elric brothers were following an escaped fugitive into. A massive fight broke out! Like, it was a work of art! You got this werewolf guy who was disguised as a human! Elric brothers were trying to fend him off until this strange terrorist group that used gliders came out like a volley of planes! All this while the train was running and then the fugitive himself comes up on top of the train and joins the fight. Train crashes into port! Explosions everywhere, the fugitive is running over a rail and shooting ice spikes everywhere! The terrorists are blowing up a prison so that main girl can escape! Edward’s wondering what the fuck is going on! And I do like how the elric brothers are reacting and adapting. They understand their only job is to track down the fugitive so they focus on that as much as possible n’ don’t really intervene on anything else until they absolutely have to. Like main girl who I should probably refer to by “Julia”; she finds herself hanging atop this falling debris that is part of a rooftop or something.
Elric brothers change priorities and goes off to save her instead- it’s just all sorts of madness but is easily understandable; not convoluted. What’s more it was amazing how they used these action sequences to depict the narrative instead of having a shit ton of exposition. I was so thrilled by all the things that were happening that I ended up asking “Oh my god! Who are these guys? and these guys” I wanted to know more and more about what was going on and it seemed like mystery was the main appeal. I guess? Even though, most of the plot twists past the midpoint was predictable. Not that that was bad, per say. I just think they valued the ‘mystery’ at one point of “who was aligned with who?” and “who’s pulling the strings”? and halfway through they decided to let it all rip into one glorious climactic finale! The reveals weren’t shocking. But I don’t think they were supposed to be. Rather, it was meant to feel naturally paced. The way the “surprise” character came out in the last moment and tried to correct things by his own hand felt… Right. Because it was being subtly built up throughout the course of the movie. And they did it by using very subtle tactics. I loved it! I truly did. I’m not gonna say there weren’t moments in the anime series that weren’t better than the film. I mean anything Mustang-related has my vote for a 10/10 scene. But, as a package, I was more impressed by the film than the anime because it felt more in place.
That’s all I wanna say. There’s much more you could discuss like the cool art design and cultural difference this land has compared to the regular country of Amestris that the series takes place in. As well as the political POV of Julia and her people who they made sure to note through Edward were thinking wrongly. That’s all well n’ good, I just don’t have the time to delve deeper into those territories specifically and, well, I partially don’t care but do care enough to where I feel these characters were important. Also, this way I talk about the most interesting thing I got from the film whilst avoiding spoilers… I think. I was never a “no spoilers” kind of guy so if I did spoil something. Well, you should’ve expected it from the get-go just by the fact that I am talking about the anime.