Fullmetal Alchemist

Oh hey so I did a liveblog comparing the two Fullmetal Alchemist animes. You can read it over on Archive of Our Own because they will apparently let you post anything there.

For those not in the know, it’s common for anime adaptations of manga to be commissioned during the manga’s early run. Because manga is released much more slowly than anime episodes, these early animes often have to come up with their own plots and endings once they overtake what’s currently published.

Fullmetal Alchemist is rather infamous for taking major divergences from the source material, not just in content but in tone. It’s basically straight-up the showrunners’ AU fanfic. The manga proved popular enough to get a faithful adaptation commissioned when it was finished, and now there’s a lot of squabbling over which one is better. Usually, this consists of manga fans screaming that the original anime is objectively terrible and no one should ever watch it and original anime fans are dumb idiots with no taste. I rather strongly disagree, so I made this liveblog to see how the original anime holds up and examine the differences between the two.

I knew from the start that comparing them would be rather futile, as they’re so completely different it’s like comparing apples and oranges. That said, my god the new anime is terrible. I ended up bailing on it about a third of the way through because it was so terrible, but I don’t really care, because it’s terrible and I’m not wasting more hours of my life just to confirm that it’s terrible.


  1. Roarke says:

    I really appreciate this post for ruthlessly examining FMAB and poking holes in it, though I still enjoyed the show myself.

    What I REALLY appreciate, though, is how much it validates my decision for not tooling around Internet fandoms. I can’t stress enough how good a decision that is. I knew FMAB fans dumped on the 2003 version (which I’ve never seen) despite it being popular in its own right, but damn if it doesn’t hurt seeing how toxic that whole thing is for folks like you.

    1. Heatth says:

      The trick, to my experience, is to never be part of “the fandom”. Be part of a fandom. A small community that happens to talk about that subject. Like, for example, in its Heyday the Homestuck fandom was infamous for it s toxity, however, despite activelly discussing the comic in foruns as it was going on, I never really had to deal with this shit, because I limited myself to a few forum threads, never the big sites like reddit, Tumblr or the mspa forums.

      I really love disscussing and reading discussions of things I like. So places like this blog and some discord servers are ideal to interact with the community without having to deal with “the fandom” at large.

      Of course, this doesn’t help with projects like Elmo’s. Sorry you had to deal with this bullshit, man. =/

      1. Act says:

        Yeah, idk if this is my age showing, but it used to be that you got involved in small communities and got to know people, instead of trying to somehow manage the entire fandom on a platform like tumblr where you’re inevitably going to be managing the emotions of thousands of people. We still had schoolyard drama, but it just seems like such a less stressful way than trying to negotioate the way things are now where fandom interaction means trying to cope with more than any single human being reasonably could. Then add the whole race-to-the-most-progressive thing on top of it where everyone is constantly trying to make everyone else look bad and I can’t imagine how it’s anything but miserable.

        Do fandoms still have small pockets? Or do you just have to get lucky and end up in a fandom that’s already niche and thus small? The sense I get is that you really do have to end up in THE SWARM if you want to participate at all in even moderately sized fandoms, which just seems miserable.

        The only stuff I’m into now outside this blog is already super tiny in English (figure collecting and garage kits) or so unbearably toxic I won’t touch it with a 100-foot pole (DOTA), so I don’t have any sense of what it would be like to, say, join the Pokemon fandom in 2018.

        (It’s also possible this kind of stuff just so triggers my anxiety around being judged by large groups of people that I’m seeing it disproportionately and it’s actually all love and wonderfulness.)

        1. CrazyEd says:

          I tried joining the ASOIAF fandom this year just to have somebody to ramble about swords and dynastic politics to who would actually know what the fuck I was talking about, and care about it. Instead I just found a lot of people arguing over which incestuous ship was problematic and which ones weren’t.

          So yeah I don’t know why anyone deals with fandom culture. As I’m sure you’ll all know by now. I don’t even know how I got here.

          That said, Tumblr’s Fate fandom is pretty… well, not good, but… they just kind of roll with what the franchise is. The biggest drama in the Fate fandom that comes to mind is the one guy who ragequit a Discord server over porn of Jeanne Alter. Which was fucking hilarious, to see it happen.

          It feels more like /k/ talking about anime than Tumblr, and /k/ has great anime discussions.

          1. GoldenFalls says:

            You might have more luck on forum communities like Sufficient Veloctity or Alternate History, since they seem a lot less concerned with the moral standing of different ships. SV’s discussion/rec thread is here, though for specific suppositions you might be better off going to their history section where all the AH ex-members hang out, or AH itself. As the name would imply, Alternate History has a userbase of people very interested in dynasties and societal developement and wars and the like, so it might be worth checking out though I don’t have any personal experience with it. I’ve heard it has a large ASOIAF fanbase.

        2. Heatth says:

          Fandons absolutelly still have small pockets. Hell, this site is a kind of small pocket for a couple of fandoms, right? Things like small discord servers also or specific forum threads, like I say.

          For example, I am personally really into Steven Universe, which is really big. But I only really interact with the fandom through the tvtrope forum and multiple liveblog discords. I do occasionally browse Tumblr, reddit and the like, but iteract with people? Only through these places. Makes everything easier.

        3. Keltena says:

          Do fandoms still have small pockets? Or do you just have to get lucky and end up in a fandom that’s already niche and thus small? The sense I get is that you really do have to end up in THE SWARM if you want to participate at all in even moderately sized fandoms, which just seems miserable.

          Fandoms absolutely do still have small pockets; that’s how I do most of my fandom participation myself. But I think the internet has changed in ways that make the experience pretty different, and often trickier, than it was back in the day. Mostly, it’s that the small pockets are no longer the default. With Web 2.0, the default is that everything is as public and addressed to the entire internet as possible, whether either party wants that or not, because that’s how social media sites make the most money. (They want to spread content that the posters want to keep to a limited audience/others want to avoid seeing, in fact, since vicious internet fights generate tons of activity.) Since these sites are the main fandom hubs now, rather than something like LiveJournal that lets you curate your experience and has privacy options, it requires more initiative and effort to find or create any other kind of social space on the internet. 

          It also doesn’t help that a lot of people nowadays (especially younger fans) just don’t know other options besides big social media sites even exist. To the point where lots of people actually just try to approximate the more personal kind of fandom experience on sites like Tumblr, despite the fact that they’re fundamentally unsuited to it at best and designed to actively make it impossible at worst, and have to devise a ton of kludgy workarounds to even approximate it. (And often it blows up in people’s faces anyway because it’s nigh impossible to even keep the website from actively recommending your posts to the whole internet, let alone to implement real privacy measures.) So smaller, more personalized fandom communities are much more niche and decentralized than they used to be. (And since they’re less visible/accessible to casual users, they can be harder to get traction for.)

          (It’s also possible this kind of stuff just so triggers my anxiety around being judged by large groups of people that I’m seeing it disproportionately and it’s actually all love and wonderfulness.)

          I wouldn’t say it’s all bad insofar as that there are, obviously, plenty of wonderful people and communities out there and it’s absolutely possible to have good experiences in this sort of fandom environment. But I do think the format of modern huge social media sites is fundamentally toxic by design, not just as a matter of personal preference. Obviously not all or even most people who use these sites will necessarily have bad experiences, and there’s nothing wrong with making the best use you can of the options available even if those options suck, but in this case they honestly do suck.

  2. Red says:

    I was interested in watching this anime, and I was inclined towards Brotherhood, just because of the theme song… I think I’ll end up trying both now, just so I can understand the comparisons you’ve made better. It’s either this or Naruto.

    1. Naruto is an okay shonen story but otherwise doesn’t have much going for it.

      1. SpoonyViking says:

        Naruto is an okay shonen story

        There’s a depressing thought.

  3. ? says:
    All I’ve seen is the first… seven? Eight? Somewhere around that many episodes of the 2003 Fullmetal Alchemist. None of Brotherhood.

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