Fullmetal Alchemist Manga vs First TV Series - ROUND ONE


Fullmetal Alchemist Manga vs First TV Series - ROUND ONE

Hiromu Arakawa's long running manga, Fullmetal Alchemist, has had the luxury of not only being extremely popular both in Japan and here in the U.S., but recieving two anime adaptations. The first was helmed by director Seiji Mizushima in 2003, and ran for 51 episodes. The second will air this year, helmed by Yasuhiro Irie. The two series were/are productions of Studio Bones, known for its high quality productions.

However, the first television animation began while the manga was still starting to get off the ground. Only a few volumes of the manga were available at the time the production started. The author laid down her plans for the manga's story to the Bones staff, but insisted that they go in a different direction, which they did. Because of this, while the first half of the original series stayed fairly faithful to the manga material, the second half was an entirely different story, with mixed results. However, it was an extremely popular television series. The new animation is said to be a far more accurate adaptation of the manga.

Comparisons have been made between the first series and the manga it was based on, with both favorable and unfavorable conclusions, depending on the aspect measured. Personally, I enjoy them equally. The manga has a more fleshed out world, giving its characters more background and allowing them more room for growth, somewhat due to its length. The anime, I felt, was stronger thematically, reinforcing its messages and toying with elements of the manga story in interesting ways. I look forward to the next series and will likely enjoy it at least as much as the first.

Still, I'd like to do a little comparison between the manga and the first series, chapter-to-chapter, episode-to-episode, so you know what to expect for a while in the new series. You'll find that I consider a lot of the early material in the manga tackled far better in the anime version. You'll also see that yes, I do read the manga. In fact, I've read all 93 chapters, and I own four volumes of Viz's licensed version, and plan to get more.

So, without further ado, let's start with VOLUME 1, consisting of four chapters:


Chapter 1: The Two Alchemists

Event(s): Pt 1 of Ed and Al in Lior.

Episode 1: To Challenge The Sun

Event(s): Pt 1 of Ed and Al in Lior.

Judgement: Almost exactly the same.


Chapter 2: The Price of Life

Event(s): Pt 2 of Ed and Al in Lior.

Episode 1: Body of the Sanctioned

Event(s): Pt 2 of Ed and Al in Lior.

Judgement: I like the bird chimera/Kain thing in the anime. Makes Cornello extra creepy.


Chapter 3: The Mining Town

Event(s): Ed and Al conflict with Lt. Yoki in Youswell.

Episode 9: Be Thou For The People

Event(s): As his first mission as a State Alchemist, Ed is sent to Youswell, and conflicts with Lt. Yoki and Lyra

Judgement: I like that, in the anime, this is Edward's first mission as State Alchemist after still recovering from the Tucker thing and the inclusion of the character of Lyra.


Chapter 4: Battle on the Train

Event(s): Ed and Al do battle with Bald and his resistance fighters on a train.

Episode 5: The Man With The Mechanical Arm

Event(s): Before they (properly) meet Roy for the first time, Ed and Al do battle with Bald and his resistance fighters on a train.

Judgement: The inclusion of Maes Hughes and Falman in the anime episode raises its value.


Now, let's do a character comparison, starting with our main characters, the Elric brothers. This is based on all 93 chapters and all 51 episodes of the original series.


Edward Elric

Judgement: Edward is exactly the same as he's always been in every adaptation of FMA. That is, a child prodigy with a stand-offish attitude but very creative and determined.


Alphonse Elric

Judgement: Alphonse's personality is slightly different between the manga and the first series. He seems a bit wiser and more prone to activity in the manga version, due to his continuing aging despite his body being in the Gate. I do appreciate a lot of what Al does in the anime, too, but I think he's a bit better in the manga. He's not, however, as some manga readers claim, completely different.


End of ROUND 1 has the first anime looking fairly good. But, keep in mind, I don't necessarily prefer the first series. I like both the manga and first series equally. Up next, volume 2! And please, watch the new FMA series and buy the DVDs should it be licensed for R1.