"Note: This review based on episodes 1 - 29. I will update when the rest comes out. I normally don`t do this on AniDB, but I think a dissenting opinion is in order in light of the reviews around me. Once again, remember this is my opinion; when you find yourself about to vote "no," try to imagine if this is what an unbiased, mature person would do.
A human is more than the sum of his parts. There - I said it. In ten short words, I have effectively summarized the entire "moral dilemma" that Full Metal Alchemist spends episodes upon episodes trying to say. The fact that this message is obvious and cliched is beside the point, however; what strikes me as most amusing is how ironic this message is in terms of the show`s overall composition.
Full Metal Alchemist is so ridiculously formulaic, its lack of creativity is almost awe-inspiring. Much like Ed listing off the ingredients of a human body, you can practically see the necessary items for a profitable anime being checked off, one by one: mix together three parts comedy, three parts adventure, two parts action, two parts philosophical bulls***, one part pseudo-science, and one part fanservice. Toss in a pinch of manipulative character fatalities, then heat, stir, and allow to cool for 26 to 52 episodes. Serves 500,000 mindless fanboys.
Of course, in Bones` mad scramble to harvest yen from the unsuspecting otaku fanbase in Japan, the studio forgot to add in the proverbial soul that the anime supposedly values so highly. By lack of a soul, I`m talking about a total absence of defining characteristics that would make the anime unique. Countless paths that could have made the anime interesting are never taken, merely because in this show, Bones cannot bear to take any risks whatsoever.
For instance, consider Alphonse`s character. To me, there was an obvious and potentially fascinating approach to take with him. Robbed of the joys of humanity and exiled to a cold, lifeless shell that cannot feel, taste, smell or embrace, Alphonse could have undergone a transformation to a bitter, sarcastic and fundamentally insane anti-hero. This would have been a fascinating process and would in turn have made a compelling, original character.
...but no, Bones couldn`t make a by-the-numbers comedy with a character like THAT. As a result, a potentially interesting character is reduced to a dreadfully boring one; Alphonse has no personality, almost no independent thought, and certainly no defining character traits. Rather, he remains as nothing but a bland, cheery wall to bounce pathetic jokes off of. Even his VOICE is lame (more on that later). The rest of the characters, though less dramatically banal, are nonetheless devoid of originality or depth.
The fear of originality does not only extend to the characters; a similar process occurs in the plotline. The events that occur in episode 7 are undeniably fascinating, and for a moment the anime looks like it may turn into something worthwhile. Unfortunately, shortly afterwards the anime has completely returned to its combination of boring sidestories and clean, intelligently bankrupt comedy. Following attempts to develop a continuous and appealing story fail miserably due to apalling predictablility and sickening cliche.
Music, particularly in the opening sequences, was thoroughly unimpressive. Seiyuu performance ranges from stale to just plain asinine; I wonder if I even need to mention Alphone`s flaccid, girly, and utterly generic voice. Animation is pleasing and colorful, but is sadly the best part of this show.
Overall, I haven`t seen such a thoroughly mediocre show in a long, long time (and unlike my reviews of Gunparade March and Stellvia of the Universe, I don`t mean that in a good way). Fullmetal Alchemist is so unbearably average in so many ways that I can`t possibly recommend it, no matter how much the nice production values may be fooling other users into thinking that this is somehow an outstanding series. My one and only hope is that the enormous amounts of money that this show will undoubtedly generate will allow Bones the freedom to make an actually worthwhile show. If given the choice between the imperfect ambition of Wolf`s Rain and the suffocating prosaicness of Fullmetal Alchemist, I`d go with Wolf`s Rain any day of the week."
"Alphonse could have undergone a transformation to a bitter, sarcastic and fundamentally insane anti-hero."
- And that just makes me laugh really hard. XD
Yeah. I just thought I'd share.