A few months ago, I was told last minute that I would be working a new convention called Anime NYC. What excited me most about this opportunity? Well, they were screening the live-action Fullmetal Alchemist. As someone very new to the series who only just recently completed FMA Brotherhood, I was pretty stoked to see how comparable it is to Brotherhood or the source material. Unfortunately, they ran out of tickets at Anime NYC BUT thankfully Netflix picked up. Hopefully, I can be as unbiased as possible and give you a real yes or no whether this movie is worth your time or not. Let’s jump right in!
Live Action Anime Films
Now, we’ve seen so many different kinds of anime adaptions whether they come from the west or made back in the homeland, Japan. We’ve seen some great live-action films but we’ve seen many awful… AWFUL adaptions. The mind-numbingly bad. So bad that it keeps you up at night making you rethink life decisions. Examples? Okay. Dragonball Evolution, Netflix’s Death Note and Avatar The Last Air Bender(Yes, it’s an anime. Fight me.). Pretty sure there’s more, but I don’t want to bore you by listing the amount of shit tier live-action films are out there. I just want you to understand that adapting anime to a live-action format is not easy. This is the mentality I always walk in with when watching an adaption to a series I hold dear to my heart. Sometimes, they will fuck it up but try to see the best in it.
As a recent viewer of FMA Brotherhood, I can pick this film apart. This film did something that made me hate the shit out of Avatar: The Last Airbender. That something was, acting as though crucial characters/events didn’t take place in this story. It’s hard not to look at this series objectively when you know that any part of the story that makes absolutely no sense, can easily be explained with an event or more impactful scenes with more build up to them. It’s unfortunate since it really hindered my ability to emotionally connect with characters. Also, we received no insight into this world. At all. We were able to see a map. We barely know anything about the gate of truth. Cool… I guess.
Now, the casting choices aren’t as bad as I initially thought they’d be. I think the biggest issue everyone will have with casting choices would be the choice of Edward Elric. Visually, I don’t think Yamada Ryosuke was a terrible choice but he just doesn’t deliver the Edward Elric feel. He spent way too much time trying to be devasted about Al not getting his body back more than anything. I also can’t help but feel that he was just doing what was told of his director, locking him into this unique, less interesting Ed.
Alphonse, on the other hand, was perfect. It’s not like they had to do much for him. They just needed to make sure they found the voice to fit. CG would do the rest of the work. I will get to CG a bit later. I have much to say about Alphonse suit.
I think the director was able to correctly represent the relationship between Winry and the Elric Brothers BUT she just doesn’t do it for me. I think my expectations may be a bit too high or some of their exchanges are just hard to present in a live-action film. Who knows.
The biggest issue with most of the cast is the lack of real development among potential power players in the series. Also, the lack of presence of characters like Scar. Scar is one of the only reasons why I became so invested in this series.
Thankfully, we have Hughes. Hughes is the rising hope of this movie. The actor who plays him rocks this role to its core and helped me relive the emotions I first had when watching Brotherhood. Everything you can ask for from Hughes. Seriously, well done! You can’t physically see it but I’m clapping in my room. Alone. Don’t judge me.
The rest of the cast was… Fine. I won’t be too nitpicky.
Is That Cosplay?
Is it? Seriously. The amount of complaints I seen about this question is kind of ridiculous BUT I totally understand why. This is a film with a huge budget and you can’t help but feel that most of the budget went to the CG versus the wardrobe. I sometimes find myself staring at Edward’s hair and wanting to pull that damn wig off. That shit can’t be real.
It’s funny how some characters can look so spot on while others… Um. Just kind of suck.
Now, if you’ve been reading my posts throughout my BAYOG journey or even listened to our podcast, I hate CG in anime. I’m starting to feel that I hate all CG from Anime live action adaptions. This movie goes from amazing CG to what the fuck am I watching in seconds. It also becomes harder to watch when it seems that the actors don’t fully match up with the CG. Especially while using Alchemy. It’s pretty rough at times.
The only real win here is Alphonse. He looks amazing majority of the time. I feel that many people would think, well it’s a suit of armor… how can they fuck that up? WELL, I’ve seen much worse things happen to smaller less detailed anime characters/aesthetics.
So back to my initial question. Is the movie worth your time?
Yes and no. If you have never watched Fullmetal Alchemist and you don’t see yourself doing it ever, go for it. I believe that you may find it somewhat interesting which can then become a gate to finding interest in the anime or the manga. For someone who is looking forward to this film as a fan of the series, you may want to watch this drunkenly to shit on with friends because you just won’t be impressed.
That’s all I got. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this! If you’ve watched this film, what did you think about it? Anything I said you may disagree with? Let me know in the comments below!