Full Metal Alchemist
Genre: Action, Fantasy
Notes: Movie 1 continues the story.
Edward and Alphonse Elric are brothers who have inherited the abilities of alchemy from their father. War and the military play a large part in this series. Their father was called to service and never returned. Their mother gets sick and dies. The boys study alchemy in order to resurrect her. But as we all know, resurrections never go well. In this case, the law of equivalent trade in alchemy requires that they give up something equal in value. Ed, the older brother loses an arm and leg while Al loses his body. Ed is able to seal Al's soul in a suit of armor. Then Ed becomes a National Alchemist in order to pursue the Sorcerer's stone, which they believe will enable them to retrieve their missing body parts.
Animation fluidity and consistency is quite good. Character designs are sort of chibi style but nothing special. Roy Mustang should look cooler and more macho rather than nondescript. Musical score is passable - various opening and ending themes are nothing special. Voices are generally good, but Alphonse's voice seems to be too young and high pitched, considering he's only a year younger than Ed. Then again it may be that his voice has stayed the same since he hasn't physically aged.
Excellent storyline with intricate plotting. There's a lot more going on than it first seems and you have to pay attention, especially as more and more characters are introduced. Starts off as an episodic series, but after the first few episodes, the continuous storyline picks up and it gets more interesting as it goes along. There are still a few filler episodes along the way, but for the most part the series stays on track. Get ready for a number of twists!
How much you will like or love this series will depend on the characters. Ed can be annoying and Al can be over moralizing. The comedic attempts usually center on Ed's (lack of) height and is not funny after the first couple of times. Other comedic attempts are also broad and not subtle: Armstrong takes off his shirt all the time to show off his muscles; Hughes is obsessed with his baby daughter. Still, there are some funny moments.
The action is good, not great. There's not much strategy, mostly transforming things, blowing things up, some hand to hand combat, etc. The series best aspect is its plot with the mystery of how and why the war started and escalated, what happened to Ed's and Al's body/parts, and more!
Overall a very interesting series, definitely worth watching. Recommended for all, especially action fans, fans of magic/fantasy, and those who appreciate a continuing storyline. Recommended for children 6 and over (PG). There is some blood and a few disturbing scenes. Kids will find this funnier than adults.