Wednesdays Watching Anime – Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

April 24, 2015 § Leave a comment

For this week, it’s Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood OP2, “Hologram” by NICO Touches the Walls.

Ben: This might honestly be my first misstep with Wednesdays Watching Anime. I remember seeing Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood in the summer of 2009, having only recently watched the original TV series, and being absolutely blown away by this OP. It singlehandedly sold me on a show that I’d been about to write off in my head as an unnecessary reboot. Today, I turn it on and…

Okay, first things first. The music is great. I’ve listened to several songs by NICO Touches the Walls, and they’re proof positive that good music, even lyrics-driven rock, doesn’t need a language in common to convey feeling. As the song for this OP, “Hologram” is a standout, brooding yet ready for action. It’s a perfect complement to Fullmetal Alchemist as a series.

The animation is definitely something a bit less, though. Maybe it’s a consequence of this being the first anime that I watched in high definition? It’s hard to say. Nevertheless, I remember the first thirty seconds of the OP — with its wind, rain, and sun — being incredibly kinetic to me, but now they feel flat, like they’re missing the background cel or something. Then we go into the introductions for secondary characters, which leads off with a little Chinese girl, Mei Chan, and her miniature panda doing tai chi in front of some goofy scrolling pattern! Wow, way to put the show’s strengths front and center. What was the entire studio of Bones thinking? Eventually we get to the powerful images of the series — the opposition of Van Hohenheim and Edward Elric as father and son, the terror of the Gate of Truth, the grotesqueness of the Homunculi, the spectacle of alchemy in action — but to tell it like it is, the OP has practically lost me by this point. There’s a cut to the brothers Elric standing at a railroad crossing straight out of Trigun and… well, that’s it!

Fullmetal Alchemist as an anime is built on such a solid thematic foundation — the relationship between suffering and family, namely how one feeds into or takes away from the other — and its visuals, which combine nightmarishly fin-de-siècle art with the high-class military paraphernalia of the early twentieth century, blend expertly with that foundation, but I really can’t see this OP as a part of all that anymore. It’s a bit of a bummer, so I’m going to post a grim picture, but below it, hopefully Katie can make some lemonade, as it were.

Truth stands before the Gate in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

Truth stands before the Gate in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

Katie: I will admit to not having seen any of the Fullmetal Alchemist shows, but, funnily enough, I feel much more positively disposed than Ben to the OP here. I mean, I actually want to watch this show now. Ben, I like your initial reaction to the OP’s kineticism, color, and energy; that was my first reaction, too. The sequence is full of arresting imagery, and the “lens flares” are like the real ones that became so popular in the 1970s: you might have seen them everywhere now, but they still look cool and fresh.

I’m getting that a central theme in this show is dualism? That’s the dominant motif in the OP, anyway, with characters placed in opposition to each other in various configurations. This looks like a show about strong personalities. Also, the watch and the demonic skulls are intriguing. And that robot guy. I’m sure I sound totally clueless here, but point is, this is a solid OP.

(Does anybody remember the game Alchemy? That was a solid puzzle game. Every so often, I check for a mobile port, and there isn’t one.)

Sorry. Anyway. Who is the guy with the hot dog?

Ben: He’s someone from Colonel Mustang’s personal corps. I don’t remember what his specialty is, since the only memorable one is Riza Hawkeye, who is unsurprisingly a sniper.

I apologize for the delay, everyone, and also for my negativity. I really enjoy doing this blog series and will continue to work my hardest on it, but preferably on OPs that don’t make me turn into Eeyore.

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