Photo from Iamag.co
By Diamond Bridges
Equivalent exchange– “In order to obtain or create something, something of equal value must be lost or destroyed”– is one of the basic rules in the law of alchemy. This is an important lesson taught from a well-loved anime series, “Fullmetal Alchemist.”
Netflix is now streaming the live-adaption of the popular anime/manga series. It is a very exciting moment for the fans who did not get a chance to see the movie release in theaters. But live action movies of animated shows, such as “Dragon Ball Z,” “Death Note” and “The Last Airbender,” have long earned a bad representation. Does this movie meet the anime’s standards?
“Fullmetal Alchemist” was written and illustrated by Hiromu Arakawa. The manga ran from July 2001 to June 2010, while the first season started in 2003 and continued with “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” in 2009. The story follows the life of two brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric, who are in search of fixing the mistake they made after the tragic loss of their mother. Since young, the siblings practiced the laws of alchemy, which cost Ed’s arm and leg and Al’s body. They embark on a journey, while learning a dark past, to restore their lives before the accident.
In my years as an anime fan, I have seen live adaptations done right but I have also seen them done very, very wrong. Typically, they tend to be bad when they are produced in America. Take the recent adaptation of “Death Note” for example. However, there were Japanese live-action movies of this series in the early 2000s that were actually good. After rumors of a live action of a fan favorite anime, anime fans were scared of whether it will live up their expectations.
(These are completely my opinion as a huge fan of the “Fullmetal Alchemist” series and anime industry).
First of all, I must commend the directors and producers of this movie for the area they chose to film. The scenery looks if not exactly, but strongly close to the mesmerizing scenes in the anime. Especially the iconic scene of the train running through the beautiful grassy plains of the land. Not only I was I impressed by the scenery, but the craftsmanship of the costumes of each individual character was really on point to those in the anime and manga. The outfits of the townspeople did a great job at giving off the feeling of the era that the story takes place in.
Edward’s recognizable red jacket was close to perfect without looking too much as cosplay. I was worried about how they would approach on creating Alphonse’s metal suit and how they planned on animating him in real life because, in the anime and manga, Al fights with their armor. But they were actually able to pull it off and the movements of the suit were smooth.
The difference between the first season of “Fullmetal Alchemist” compared to “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” is that Brotherhood dives deeper into manga’s storyline. The movie followed the first season rather than Brotherhood, while summing up the main plot lines of the story that will eventually lead to Brotherhood.
I was incredibly impressed with the actors’ interpretation of each character’s personality. Ryosuke Yamada plays Edward Elric, the witty yet smart alchemist who earned the title as the Fullmetal Alchemist. Ed is known for his funny personality and ability to make even a fighting scene hilarious. But also his snappy remarks after someone talks about his height by calling “puny” or “shorty.” (It would not be “Fullmetal Alchemist” without the short jokes). Yamada captured this perfectly. He made me laugh at the funny moments and cry along with him during the sad ones, and I truly believe that is an example of a great actor.
However, there were some parts that were a bit weird and looked really uncomfortable to me. Such as the animation of Gluttony opening his stomach was kind of off for me.
Since the series is an anime, it is easier to express something magical happening than in real life. I believe that was the issue in M.Night Shyamalan’s “Avatar: The Last Airbender” when creating scenes to portray the actors bending the different elements. At times it was really awkward and obvious that it is fake. But the “Fullmetal Alchemist” live-action portrayal of alchemy had smooth transitions and looked more natural that it was almost believable. Honestly, I feel like they should let Japanese producers re-do Avatar.
Lastly, what really took the cake for me was The Gate of Truth and the “God” of that world. They were able to recreate this amazing scene exactly like in the anime.
Overall, I think this was a great movie and brought back a lot of nostalgia from watching the anime as a kid. For those of you who are scared or shy away from live adaptions of your favorite animes, I can say that you will not be disappointed with this one. From my standards, this movie was great and lived up to the expectations of “Fullmetal Alchemist.”