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Fullmetal Alchemist VS Fullmetal Alchemist

About two years ago now, I was looking to expand upon some knowledge of anime, and stumbled upon the first re-package of Fullmetal Alchemist. It was a series that I had heard a lot about, and it had recently received a lot of accolades within the anime fandom as being quite possibly the greatest anime ever made.

I of course was skeptical, since that claim had been laid at the feet of several shows over the past decade, and though shows have a last-ability, few of them retain their looks over the years.

So I picked up that first season box set of FMA, and crammed the whole thing in about a week, maybe less. I was working pretty hard hours at the time, and I managed to cram about a disc of the show every day. Thankfully, I didn't have that long of a wait between the re-packaged release of season one, and that of season two. But when I bought it, I went ahead and got the FMA movie as well.

My initial reactions to FMA were amazing, and I can honestly say that it was a show that affected me greatly on several levels; both emotionally, and in the very pit of my fandom. I was moved many times.



Now as a viewer, and as a fan of different types of entertainment, the greatest thing a show can do for me, is to move me emotionally. If anything can do that, then I imagine that it has accomplished something that few other things can; and that makes it a great thing. It did what it set out to do, and it made an impact.

Now not long after that, it was announced that studio Bones was going to release an alternate, more accurate version of Fullmetal Alchemist; one that followed the manga better than the original series that jumped ahead so far of the comic as it was being released, that the studio ended up manufacturing an ending for the show.

I'd love to go into all that I went through over the course of that next year, all the harsh anime rages and rants, and even some seriously nasty words at fellow fans. But I'll spare everyone. I'll just say that I was greatly adverse to the idea of a remake of a series that had been one of, if not the best viewing experiences of my fandom.

My biggest and greatest disappointment, was with how quickly and easily the fans went from praising and loving FMA to suddenly hating it with every fiber of their being, because a better version had been made. Never mind the fact that so many of us were moved by the original... now it seemed that the only thing left to do was just throw the original series away, and call all that emotional investment a serious waste of time.

So now after all the fuss, and the muss has quieted down; what is the final verdict of FMA vs FMA? What is the end result of the fans, the creator, and what has Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood brought to the table that we should let all our hard work go like that?

Some fans would have you believe that there never was an investment with the first anime, that it was so greatly over-shadowed by the re-make that it would have been better that it had never been made. And some, even go so far as to suggest that time and effort in a series are merely collateral damage to the betterment of a show, when it's held up in scrutiny against the source material.

Which tells me, that as long as the vast majority of the fans now hate the original show, then my opinion is worthless, and all that emotional investment, the time, the energy, and the fondness were for nothing more than an impostor, and that we should let it go. That wasn't the real show, it was a forgery. A fraud, and where it fell short, this new version, this more accurate version will succeed.

Well, what if I am not so willing and eager to accept failure of such a great show? What if I do not want to cough up all those hours of my life as a loss, or the emotional enveloping as a waste of time? What if I see the remake as a harmful thing that just wants to rob me of my experience?

To get back to the question of weighing the two shows against one another, it really is hard to do. So much of the first series is actually in the manga, and aside from a lot of filler—wow, it's amazing how much I hate that word, and the people that rant against it—the two shows are pretty much on the same track, until the character Scar makes his appearance and begins killing Alchemists in the Capitol.

Now in order to keep from covering so much of the same ground again, the studio opted for a few carefully explained flashbacks, and made the huge assumption that the fans that watched Brotherhood were more or less familiar with the previous show, or at least the manga.

That wasn't a problem for most of them, and they rather enjoyed not having to cover the start-up of the series again from scratch, but they just wanted to get to the part where the series diverged from the manga, and go from there.

I can say, that watching Brotherhood has been one of the most challenging things I've ever done in my fandom. It's been grueling, it's been rife with anger, and hostility. I liked some characters more in the original series, hated them out right in the second. And those things in the first series that made it so heart-breaking and tearful were not the same as being told a second way. There was just a lot that I as a fan had to struggle to overcome, and in the end... the competition finally rested.

I thought about both versions of the show, and I tried to weed out all the “Awesome” that the fans were screaming every five seconds, I tried to get around the “who's who” of English VAs that are riddled throughout it, and I just sat and thought about what the dual version show now meant to me as a fan.

Sadly, I'm afraid that despite the great quality, and the massively entertaining ending that Brotherhood had, its very existence made it unimaginable hard for me to ever look at the original again without feeling like a lover of sub-par crap. The very fact that FMA:B exists, renders all that I feel, felt, and experienced as nothing more than crap, and now I've walked away from the table a somewhat changed fan of anime.

Whereas before, I was more immune to the effects of the fans when they cried about filler in a show, now I wanted to kick their teeth in. Before, when I thought of remaking a series, I would imagine it would be something that would come about years, maybe decades later, when the series was in dire need of a re-vamp or boost. Now I detest them. I detest the fastness of a studios decision to throw away the previous hard work of countless hundreds of people to satisfy the whimsy of a studio, or some other itch that when scratched will spell more money for the makers.

The bottom line is that it seems that there is no middle ground with regards to FMA, and for those of us that try to maintain a casual distance from the fray, get inevitably caught up in the weight of wanting to pick sides, though like two ripples on the surface of the water, they cancel each other out.

Maybe in another decade, when the series gets a second reboot, we'll get everything we each want, and then those of us on the sideline can finally get some closure to the gnawing pain of choice.

Comments

  1. why not love the 2 versions? they are both masterpieces :D

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