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01 October 2006 @ 06:46 am
Well. So I just finished rewatching FMA with a friend of mine- her first time, my second-and-a-half time (for the anime).  It was definitely interesting rethinking some of the points, so I'll just go ahead and post the thoughts we came up with.

+  I would like to start off by saying that when a media product reaches your hands, or in fact anything in life, you should watch it, and then question it.  If after the questioning you come to the conclusion that the thing is good and worthy or your time, then go for it.  If you have reached the conclusion that some things are not good, then you should question them and speak out against them.  Otherwise, if we don't separate the good from the chaff, what reflects our world view and what doesn't, we'll end up with a brain full of trash and we won't be intelligent media consumers.  Meaning, questioning makes you a smart media customer and not necessarily a person out to cause conflicts.  
And that's why we felt that we must, despite the fact that we heartily support the potential of the plotline of the Fullmetal Alchemist anime, point out several examples of not-so-good plotting in our opinion.

Concerning Kimblee.  Kimblee likes to blow things up, and Kimblee believes that people, because of them being human beings, are not worthy of life.  If that's what he truly believes, then he should commit suicide, being human himself.  If the reason he doesn't commit suicide is because he likes killing so much, then he's not true to himself.
But our great question concerning Kimblee is; taking into account that the two meaningful things that Kimblee does in the series are (A) causing Scar's scar and killing his brother, thus becoming a major cause for Scar's later hatred of State Alchemists and (B) turning Al into a bomb so that Scar will turn him into the Philosopher's Stone, couldn't his character have been completely eliminated, or significantly minimized, and other people given these tasks to promote the plotline?
Other than those things, most of what Kimblee does is randomly blow things up.  Our answer to this question is that Kimblee is not completely necessary as a major character.  

Concerning Rose.  Throughout the series, we have noticed that Rose is an extremely dependent, and not terribly bright, person.  First she follows Cornello.  The first person she encounters who tells her to think differently is Ed- whom she immediately tries to follow and ask for guidance.  Ed refuses, telling her to stand on her own.  This only lasts until the next person who crosses her path, this time Dante.  Even when she was the 'Holy Mother', she did no talking herself- even the scriptwriter chose to make the point that in the eyes of the major players, Rose is just a pawn.  Even as the 'leader of the rebellion' she took no active part. 
If the only meaningful thing she did in the series was to save Ed's life when he first encountered Sloth, couldn't the scene have been simply cut out, and her character minimized?
She even tells Ed that she loves him only because Dante told her to do it.  
Her character was important in the first two episodes, but after that she could have been allotted much less screentime.  We both felt that the tragedy of Dante trying to take over somebody's body would have been much more felt if it had been somebody with a stronger personality, who actually resisted.

Concerning Al.  Al, of course, is a completely central character to the series.  However, we both felt that he was rather woefully out of character during the fight with Sloth.  His brother, who  sacrificed his arm and leg for him was fighting for his life; Al should not have had any doubts whatsoever as to whom he should be supporting.  Standing on the sidelines saying "What should I do?" is just not it.  
Another thing that bothered us is that some of Al's comments during the series were a bit insensitive, and only served to deepen Ed's guilt complex.  Phrases like "I want to feel again" and about how he really doesn't like the body he's in are very understandable given his current situation, but then he shouldn't wonder why Ed's guilt complex is as bad as it is. 

About the general message the series is trying to convey.  The scriptwriter/director portrayed a world in which no matter what you do, you suffer in the end.  Despite all of Ed's efforts, he died in the end (several times...).  We felt that there was a certain agenda: killing Ed.  In terms of the development of the plot and Ed's character and abilities, he should have succeeded.  In fact, he did succeed, but he ended up in a parallel universe.  At this point, it feels like outright cruelty.  
Even when he succeeded, he still loses.  It couldn't possibly end up good.  So what should be understood?  That dreams aren't worth fighting for?  That people are doomed to failure, no matter what? There's no point in thinking out of the box, people must always surrender to the inevitable?  Should we swallow this, without voicing some sort of criticism?

Concerning Ed and Winry.  Every genius has his eccentricities, which are an integral part of his genius.  Every genius needs a partner with an extremely high level of emotional intelligence, so they can understand him, know when to speak out and when to be silent and forgive, and understand what aspects of their personality cannot be changed.
Despite the fact that Winry is a wonderful, sweet, and kind person, we feel that she lacks the height of emotional intelligence we are talking about.  We felt that the episode with Paninya demonstrated an example of how she doesn't quite follow Ed's thought processes.  The fact that Ed cheated in the competition in no way insinuates that he doesn't appreciate her automail, and having Paninya steal his watch certainly wasn't the best way to get him to appreciate it (possibly a good way to get him hurt, but that's beside the point).  
That might be a reason why we think that Liza and Roy are a very successful pair - Liza has a very high level of emotional intelligence.  She does know when to stop and be silent, when to support, and when to go against him.  Possibly their success only emphasizes Winry's lower level of understanding. 

+  An argument that arose was whether or not it was immoral of Roy to even offer Ed the option of joining the military.  On one hand, he had his own choice.  But on the other hand, he was a child, and you can hardly expect him to make the proper choice.  You could argue about the choice itself one way or another, but that doesn't change whether or not that choice should have been offered in the first place.

+  Roy is very, very smart.  He's an excellent strategist.  But Ed is a genius, and that's the difference between them.  Roy may be able to, with perseverance and hard work, do great things (and he's a good leader, and has good persuasive abilities).  But Ed has the flair, the ability to jump right off a cliff and somehow fly.  Because, when you get right down to it, Ed did succeed in what pretty much everybody else failed at.  On the other hand, the price Ed paid was a lot higher.  So being the genius is definitely not the easier way to live. 
    Ed could never be like Roy,  and Roy could never be like Ed.  If they cooperated fully with each other, they could probably be unstoppable.  
But Roy ruined his chances with Ed - by the time the series is over, I think that Ed truly doesn't trust Roy.  Roy spent all the years when Ed was young pushing him away, and it finally came back to bite him when the whole thing with Archer happened. 
    Ed knew that Roy wouldn't let him do it, so he went to someone who would.  He didn't have a deep loyalty to Roy - when it conflicted with his goal, he just left him for somebody else.  And then Roy was surprised when the trust he failed to cultivate with Ed didn't miraculously materialize. 

And Dante.  There was something slightly disappointing about the fact that Dante's enormous grudge against all of mankind stemmed from a broken heart.  It could be that if this woman knew how to cope, a lot of this wouldn't have happened. 

In conclusion, we would like to say that overall we enjoyed the series very much.  Perhaps it is because we liked it so much that these issues bothered us.  We believe that a good system is to internalize the good points, and be skeptical about the not-so-good ones, some of which we raised here.
We feel that isolating some of these points has actually helped us to enjoy the series more - we're not sweeping them under the rug, we're identifying them, thinking about them, and so we can enjoy all the wonderful points so much more.
And besides.  Who knows if the scriptwriter/director/whoever didn't make it controversial on purpose, in order to create discourse. 
Current Mood: blahblah
Kalika Maxwellkalikamaxwell on October 1st, 2006 05:42 am (UTC)
Thank you. I do love a good post pointing out how many characters are annoying or pointless. And please, DO go ahead and bash EdWin while you're at it. Yes, indeed, 'major points.'
Ketitaketita on October 1st, 2006 05:50 am (UTC)
Actually, I am a supporter of Ed/Win. I do not consider what I wrote about them bashing. I was expressing an opinion on the fictitious relationship between two fictitious characters. It was an opinion as to why there might be difficulties for Ed and Winry in building a healthy relationship.

In terms of plot, I do believe that certain characters were not entirely necessary, or needed the amount of attention they got. Speaking as an enourmous fan of the series, I can also look at certain points and say 'I don't think it was perfect'. It is just an animated series.

This is not a personal attack on anybody. I'm criticizing scriptwriting that has nothing to do with anybody in this community.
Tsuriai: kawatsu on October 1st, 2006 06:06 am (UTC)
What a lovely posting of your own opinions. I fail to see how this is something that belongs outside of your own journal, but I suppose that's not my judgment to make.

Yes, some of your points are relevant. And discussing the series is always interesting. But outright character bashing is uncalled for in any situation. I myself don't like Rose. But some do, and it being my opinion does NOT make it fact. I doubt that you were trying to convey such a message, but they way you have but this forward is rather grating.

You may claim this to be criticizing the scriptwriting, but I really don't feel this is the way to go about it.

That's just my opinion, though. You're entitled to yours, I don't have to agree with it.
Ketitaketita on October 1st, 2006 06:18 am (UTC)
I reread the post, and I agree that there was unnecessary bashing. Consequently, I changed it.

However, I do believe that part of the point of a community like this is to express opinions about the series. If everybody goes around saying how much they love FMA, me too, me too, it would be boring.

I'm not trying to bash for the sake of bashing (and if I came off like that, I'm sorry, because that's really not what I was aiming for.)
This post was the culmination of many discussions, and thus probably lacking many of the finer points of those discussions. I can see that that's a fairly important lack, in this case.
Mari: Al's Amazement - angiechowkaitou_marina on October 1st, 2006 06:12 am (UTC)
He's much more intelligent in the manga.

At the risk of spoiling people who might be reading this post who haven't seen it yet, I can cite something that happened in the manga RECENTLY that was JUST AS MORONIC as him going to Tucker.

And way to bash Winry.
Ketitaketita on October 1st, 2006 06:26 am (UTC)
If you're talking about the part with Gluttony and Father, the way I saw that was that Al figured he had nothing left to lose. I'm too tired right now to mentally review what else he might have done in the past chapters.

I acknowledged that I bashed characters, and it was not my intention to randomly piss people off. I have edited the post, because I don't want to fight anything out.
(no subject) - kaitou_marina on October 1st, 2006 06:32 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - ketita on October 1st, 2006 06:39 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - kaitou_marina on October 1st, 2006 07:17 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - ill_ame on October 1st, 2006 08:08 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - kaitou_marina on October 2nd, 2006 03:30 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - ill_ame on October 2nd, 2006 01:21 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - csakuras on October 1st, 2006 07:12 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - kaitou_marina on October 1st, 2006 07:25 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - csakuras on October 1st, 2006 07:33 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - ketita on October 1st, 2006 07:45 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - kaitou_marina on October 1st, 2006 07:49 am (UTC) (Expand)
Grygongrygon on October 1st, 2006 07:03 am (UTC)
since when is evilness every truly thought out though? ;)

interesting points aside. especially about roy pushing ed away. the man needs to learn how to show love.
Ketitaketita on October 1st, 2006 07:46 am (UTC)
I believe that the whole point of true evil is that it's usually very well thought out. What Kimblee had was just plain psychosis.
(no subject) - grygon on October 1st, 2006 08:02 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - csakuras on October 1st, 2006 08:03 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - ketita on October 1st, 2006 02:56 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - xeviscerax on October 1st, 2006 08:25 am (UTC) (Expand)
Mari: Learn to Fly - jorurikaitou_marina on October 1st, 2006 08:24 am (UTC)
So what should be understood? That dreams aren't worth fighting for? That people are doomed to failure, no matter what? There's no point in thinking out of the box, people must always surrender to the inevitable? Should we swallow this, without voicing some sort of criticism?

The series itself says what is supposed to be understood: "Dreams that come true were never really dreams," "There are things more important than yourself and dreams." This is something that Ed and Al, even in the manga, are starting to realize. Life isn't about dreaming, because dreams aren't reality. Life is about living and accepting the consequences of doing so. It's about realizing your place in the world and how everything's connected.

It makes sense, to me, that in the end Al is restored but separated from Ed. That is the price that is paid for both of them to succeed. What other price could they have paid? More body parts? More years of toil? Those are more hopeless to me than the ending we were given. And even in the very end, when they're together and away from their world, it still makes perfect sense to me. I do not think they failed. You cannot ever completely have your way. That's not balanced. Life just isn't fair like that. Life is life. It's no fairy tale. In my opinion, it's not flawed simply because it doesn't match up to your perspective, because it matches up to mine. Think the director did that on purpose maybe?
Ketitaketita on October 1st, 2006 03:05 pm (UTC)
I think the problem is that Ed wasn't trying to make his dream come true. He defined a purpose for himself, and he decided to do everything he could in order to actualize it. Why should people not aspire, if it's possible?
And you know what, sometimes dreams do come true. What's wrong with that?

Since when does pessimism equal realism, and optimism equal childishness?
Why exactly did they need to pay an additional price? They've been paying throughout the whole series.
Life is not necessarily fair, but the problem is that you're saying it's necessarily UNfair. Not that sometimes we don't understand how it ends up equal, but that it straight-out never is and equal.
Even if life gives us only what we truly need, and not what we actually want, doesn't make it unfair- the opposite, it IS fair. People just aren't always happy about it.

Life is fair, we just don't understand the rationality behind it.

And by the way, they didn't both succeed. Only Ed succeeded in restoring Al, not the other way around.
(no subject) - kaitou_marina on October 1st, 2006 05:01 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - redushab on October 1st, 2006 05:03 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - ketita on October 1st, 2006 10:24 pm (UTC) (Expand)
mikkeneko on October 1st, 2006 12:31 pm (UTC)
I would like to remind everyone to take care to keep the discussion civil. Although nothing in this post or its replies is out of line, if I feel that something is crossing into open warfare, the threads will be frozen.

Other than that, please continue. It's always nice to have some activity and discussion on the community.
Blueblue_aeon on October 1st, 2006 01:52 pm (UTC)
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. I lost count of the amount of times when while watching through the series again I thought that something wasn't sitting right although I still enjoy it immensely regardless - I'm too engrossed in the show whilst watching to start thinking about plot-holes.

I don't understand why people are saying you are character bashing. In my view you're just highlighting the flaws in a character's personality, which all characters need. Rose's is not having an evident backbone, Winry's lack of understanding over Ed's behaviour - although episode 17 does allude to Ed and Al having not seen her since just before the mission to Youswell(sp?), a gap of that size with them being the age they were would certainly mean that a lack of understanding would have developed between them.

When it comes to Kimblee the impression I got was that he sees human beings as just components for another bomb rather than he thought humans were not worthy of living. I think there was a bit of an superiority complex going on there. I don't think you would be able to eliminate both him and Rose from the story completely, but it could have done with a little better character development to explain things a little better.

Al, well considering he is effectively stuck at the age of 10, I suspect some of his decisions and reactions in the anime were a reflection of his lack of emotional maturity. Certainly when his reaction when he thought he wasn't a real person was one of a frightened child who was angry at being lied too. However in my view Al isn't more intelligent in the manga, but by the point he went to see Father he'd had matured a bit more, and had a better understanding about what was going on.

Roy was, to put it bluntly, a bit deluded in thinking that Ed actually trusted him. There's grudging respect and understanding there, but I don't think Ed ever fully trusted him.

And me and my sister always though Dante was only there to wrap the anime up quicker than the manga (although I have suspicions she might actually turn up in the manga very soon). But I think she grew detached from other people becoming too attached with her "immortality" rather than gain a hatred of humans because of a broken heart. In the end I think she saw herself as some sort of higher being.

The overall message the anime conveys is rather pessimistic to a degree - a brave thing to do on the scriptwriters' part by not giving a fairy tale happy ending. Even the movie didn't end the way many of us wanted it to. In that respect it kept the series grounded in reality because life can be brutal and unforgiving and the chances are things won't work out how you want them to. When you look on the series as a whole you really can't see any other way that they could have ended it and still made it work.

Again, thank you for the enjoyable read. In my opinion if something doesn't get you thinking after watching or reading it then it's doing something wrong.
Ketitaketita on October 1st, 2006 03:19 pm (UTC)
Al, well considering he is effectively stuck at the age of 10, I suspect some of his decisions and reactions in the anime were a reflection of his lack of emotional maturity.

The problem is, that there have been many ten year olds who, when confronted by difficult situations, have risen to the occasion. The very fact that Al lived those additional years, even though he didn't actually grow physically during them, should have taught him some maturity.
I think he's just being portrayed as a rather immature 10 year old, which bothers me.

Why is pessimism always regarded as realism, while optimism is considered childish? I don't think it's right to live your life with the doctrine of "life's a piece of shit when you look at it", because it's not necessarily true. Sometimes life isn't fair, but it's not ALWAYS unfair.

Both of us disagree on the point that the series couldn't have ended any other way. We actually saw several ways it could have ended differently, and probably had a much more optimistic message. Life can be brutal and unforgiving, but it isn't always like that. And that's what bothers me about the series. It's a terribly melancholy way to live your life, don't you think?
(no subject) - blue_aeon on October 1st, 2006 06:58 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - ketita on October 1st, 2006 10:13 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blue_aeon on October 2nd, 2006 09:33 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - csakuras on October 1st, 2006 07:26 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blue_aeon on October 2nd, 2006 09:03 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - csakuras on October 2nd, 2006 01:41 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blue_aeon on October 3rd, 2006 10:03 am (UTC) (Expand)
It's in the trees! It's coming!: FMA Ed and Heiderich by chryssybloomthickets on October 1st, 2006 02:52 pm (UTC)
A lot of your points are very good ones, but they are all met by what the final message of the series actually is -- not that "dreams aren't worth fighting for" or that "people are doomed to failure" -- but as is stated again and again, that "the world is imperfect". People who don't seem to serve an important purpose live on and on. People who are weak-willed unintentionally play integral roles. We hurt those who love them, and don't realize it. We have a hard time choosing between what their loved ones want and what they think is the right thing. We don't always want what's right.

The moral confrontation that Ed faces in the final few episodes -- that if there isn't any equivalent exchange because the world is so flawed, then what is the point of trying to live morally, to put order to the chaos of human existence if order is never going to be fully created -- is similar to what you see as the message of the series. But it doesn't stop there. As Hohenheim says, the fact that there is no equivalent exchange is in some sense liberating -- you can gain things without dying to pay for them. Ed decides that even if there is no equivalent exchange, it doesn't mean it's going to change the way he views the world and his interaction with other human beings. There is a point in creating order in the chaos, you can work for your dreams and earn them, and sometimes, you can also succeed with out painful sacrifice.

By the way, I don't think Dante's mistakes resulted from a broken heart. I think she probably loved Hohenheim, but that she had a manipulative personality to start with. Hohenheim was also of a use to her, and when he left she was as much angry that she had lost something in a utilitarian sense as well as in a romantic sense.
Ketitaketita on October 1st, 2006 04:12 pm (UTC)
Often when what people want is not necessarily what's good for them, they will recieve what they need and not what they wanted, and only in time understand that that was what was best for them.
And when you hurt somebody you love, you can ask for forgiveness and it's over. You don't have to go through hell over it. And if it does end differently, then they probably don't truly love you.

I think that the true meaning of 'equivalent exchange' is that people don't know what things are worth. You can never know when a little thing is very important, or vice versa. If anything, it should prove that the world is stacked in our favor- not that life is necessarily unfair, but that life sometimes isn't fair.

I suppose what disappointed us in terms of Dante is that it seemed a bit anticlimactic that all of that was because of her. She's not important enough for it all to be about her, and her tragedy isn't big enough for everything to revolve around her. If they were going to give her a reason for doing what she did, it would have been nice if it was a slightly more meaningful one.
Still Naive, Not Photogenic: Hmmsliefoxx on October 1st, 2006 04:14 pm (UTC)
I don't agree with most of what you had to say as far as characters, except that yes, Al was very out of character during the fight with Sloth, and Dante's reasons were very dissapointing.

I'd say more, but it'd probably be on the edge of wanking. ^^;