Fullmetal Alchemist Beginner’s Guide: Everything You Need To Know

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

What if anything was possible if only you knew the recipe and you were willing to pay the price? Fullmetal Alchemist takes place in such a world, a steampunk reimagining of our own reality where alchemists are able to make just about anything. However, at the same time, all of this power and control comes at a price. Those unwilling to pay that price or who have misunderstood the incantations they’re invoking will find themselves wishing desperately that they hadn’t meddled with forces beyond their understanding.

Edward and Alphonse Elric are two such alchemists, and now they must wander the lands in hopes of fixing the mistakes that their irresponsibility has caused. As Edward wields two false limbs and Alphonse is trapped permanently in a suit of armor, they must battle rogue alchemists while trying to fix their bodies. If this all sounds a bit confusing, though, fear not, for this beginner’s guide to Fullmetal Alchemist will have you ready to sit down with the series in a few minutes flat.

 

Fullmetal Alchemist Beginner’s Guide

Who Created Fullmetal Alchemist?

Hiromi Arakawa is the mangaka behind Fullmetal Alchemist. She was inspired to write the story during her own reading on the ancient practice of alchemy and how those who believed in the magical art were always seeking the legendary Philosopher’s Stone, a mythical artifact that could change one thing into something else.

The socially conscious Arakawa also wanted to cover social issues that paralleled our own reality. With this goal in mind, she spoke to people from all walks of life, including refugees, war veterans, and ex-Yakuza members. Still, even with all of these heady and heavy issues at the forefront, she wanted the series to still be enjoyable, which is why Arakawa made sure to inject a lot of humor into the story.

 

What’s Fullmetal Alchemist About?

Fullmetal Alchemist
Fullmetal Alchemist

Fullmetal Alchemist follows brothers Edward and Alphonse Elric. After the loss of their mother to disease, the two study their father’s alchemy books in hopes of finding a way to bring her back from the dead. Unfortunately, Edward loses a leg, and Alphonse’s entire body is lost in the equivalent exchange. Worse still, they don’t get their mother back, so finally, in a last desperate attempt, Edward trades his arm to bond Alphonse’s spirit to a nearby suit of armor.

Later, the two enlist in the military as State Alchemists and travel around the country trying to bring rogue alchemists to justice. Still, the two never give up on their hope that they can regain their bodies and go back to living an ordinary life. However, as they learn new secrets of the government body they serve and meet mysterious creatures called Homunculi, the brothers realize their lives are about to get more complicated than ever.

 

What’s the Difference Between the Two Series?

There are two anime series based on the Fullmetal Alchemist manga. The first is simply titled Fullmetal Alchemist and follows the basic plot of the manga for much of its run. However, Arakawa, who created the manga, encouraged the Bones animation studio to create a different ending from the one she came up with. For this reason, the further along the series goes, the more it diverges from the source material.

Since some fans were disappointed with these changes, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood came to be. The newer series, Brotherhood, is a more faithful retelling of the original story, though it still contains many plot elements and storylines from the first adaptation.

 

Where to Watch Fullmetal Alchemist

Crunchyroll
Crunchyroll

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is available to watch on several online platforms, including Crunchyroll, Funimation, Hidive, and Hulu. It’s also available to purchase physically on Blu-ray.

The original series, on the other hand, is a little more difficult to track down these days. Luckily, we found that the series is available to watch without ads on Zoro.to. However, depending on how you view things from a moral standpoint, you might not be okay with watching the series on the site, as they don’t have an official license to broadcast it. If that’s the case, you might consider buying the series in its physical form on Amazon.

 

Where to Read the Fullmetal Alchemist Manga

The home of all things Fullmetal Alchemist, including manga, artbooks, and novelizations, is Viz Media. You can also order collections through Barnes & Noble or Amazon.

If you’d prefer to read it digitally, you can do so through Comixology or Amazon’s Kindle service.

 

What About the Fullmetal Alchemist Movies?

Fullmetal Alchemist
Fullmetal Alchemist

There are several movies that take place across all iterations of this series. The first is Fullmetal Alchemist: Conqueror of Shamballa. This movie picks up from the cliffhanger at the end of the original series and wraps things up by ending the Elrics’ story as well as showing their final battles with the remaining homunculi.

Next up is Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood – The Sacred Star of Milos. This movie is generally considered not to be canon but serves as an entertaining extension of the world of the second anime all the same.

Finally, there are two live-action adaptations of the series on Netflix. Though neither one was particularly well-received, you might still find them worthwhile as a curiosity or a Sunday afternoon distraction.

 

Anime You Should Try After Fullmetal Alchemist

If you like the dark magic and horrific alchemical creations of Fullmetal Alchemist as well as its heroes in search of redemption, Berserk is a great choice to dive into next. However, be aware that Berserk is much darker than Fullmetal Alchemist and contains far more disturbing and adult elements.

If you’re looking for something newer that has state magic users battling the rogue elements, Fire Force might be worth your while. The series focuses on pyromancers trying to stop the entire world from going up in flames by, you guessed it: fighting fire with fire.

Finally, Death Note follows a young man contending with forces he definitely shouldn’t meddle with but imagines the opposite outcome, which is its protagonist mastering the magical tome and using it to change the world.

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