When it comes to live action adaptations of anime, fans divide themselves into two categories: excited and pumped about it, anticipating amazing visuals and doing the original material justice. Or those who are skeptical about the idea, worried that it won’t represent the anime as well as they expect and don’t get into the hype the adaptation gains.
Fans of anime everywhere have their own opinions of live action anime. Some are amazing and can sometimes be just as good or even better than the original, or disappointing and frustratingly insulting to the franchise, as well as the fans of the show. Whether we are excited or skeptical, the urge to watch it and buckle down till the end is irresistible.
When the public heard about a live action Fullmetal Alchemist movie, social media blew up with hype and excitement. The trailer showed all of the awesome visuals, character designs and costumes and the special effects that made the whole thing look like the anime itself. Produced by Square Enix and Oxybot Inc., the film was released as a Netflix Original. After the abomination of the Live Action Attack on Titan movie, many fans have been on edge when it is announced that an anime is being turned into a live action movie. Fullmetal Alchemist, however, was actually kind of a blessing. Despite leaving out certain characters and minor points in the story, the movie was actually visually stunning and keeps the watcher engrossed in what’s going on, even if someone isn’t too familiar with the original anime.
To start, the movie opens towards the climax of the “Father Cornello” arc (that’s what I’m calling it). Edward Elric (Ryouske Yamada), is confronting Cornello (Kenjiro Ishimaru) about the Philosopher’s Stone embedded in his ring. For those who are unfamiliar with the original anime, Ed and his brother investigate a town where rumor has it that the priest can create “miracles” from nothing. Ed discovers his powers come from a Philosopher’s Stone he believes is the real thing.
Despite the movie getting into that arc without any warning, it’s actually a fitting opening. The battle between Ed and the priest gives perfect representation of Ed’s skills in combat and visually stunning alchemy effects, also showing a bad-ass reveal of his auto-mail arm and leg. The dramatic save and reveal by Ed’s little brother Alphonse (voice: Atomu Mizuishi) is just…amazing! The CGI suit of armor looks like it stepped right out of the anime. Perfect 10!! The other cool thing, is that as any fan of Fullmetal Alchemist knows, Al still sounds like a kid even after a few years passed from the time he and Ed tried to bring their mom back to life, and Ed had to transmute his soul into a suit of armor. In the movie, his voice sounds deeper, aging even though he’s just a soul trapped in hollow armor.
Working with the military, Ed’s goal is to find the Philosopher’s Stone and use it to restore his little brother’s body. The movie stays focused on this main plot, building up the same tension as the anime; Ed getting so close to the answers he’s seeking only to be pulled into something more that either puts him one step closer to the stone, or several steps back.
Okay, now let’s talk about…Shou Tucker (Yo Oizumi). Not much needs to be said about him. Like his anime persona, the brothers are introduced to Tucker, another state alchemist who studies the creation and development of chimeras. Roy Mustang (Dean Fujioka) puts the boys in his care so they can learn a little more about alchemy. Ed and Al immediately befriend Tucker’s young daughter Nina and their big white dog Alexander. Tucker reveals to Ed that his wife left him two years ago, leaving him to care for their daughter. As a state alchemist, every year he has to present to the military a breakthrough in his chimera research to keep his title and grant money he receives. However…in order to meet his deadline, Tucker goes to drastic measures.
To meet his deadline, Tucker fuses his own daughter and his dog Alexander, creating a talking chimera. When Ed sees the creature, he’s at first amazed at what Tucker has accomplished. But quickly puts two and two together, realizing that Tucker experimented on his dog and daughter, just like he experimented with his wife two years ago. To fans, this scene is the most heart-wrenching moment, labeling Shou Tucker as one of the most hated characters in all of anime. Ed beats Tucker almost to the point of death until Al tells him he has to stop. Fact: this scene in the anime enraged so many people that when it is made into memes, the main response is “TOO SOON”.
The military step in and arrest Tucker for what he’s done. Now, this is where things get a bit confusing and disappointing because they just arrest Tucker, while Nina never seen again. Originally, a character named Scar kills Tucker and Nina. But in the movie, she is never brought up again. They could’ve taken her in to find a solution, maybe the military killed her off screen. Either way, the audience is left wondering what happened to it. Scar in the anime, kills Nina out of mercy; so she would no longer suffer her new existence.
At the climax of the movie, it’s revealed that General Hakuro (Fumiyo Kohinata) used military research as well as information given to him by the homonculi Lust (Yasuko Matsuyuki) to produce thousands of genuine Philosopher’s Stones, and using them to create homonculi puppets to act as his army, so he can dominate the world as a king. But his creations kill him just as fast as they were created, leading to Ed, Al and the military containing the dummies so they wouldn’t get out to the public.
The final battle is between Roy, Ed and Al versus Envy (Kanata Hongo) and Lust. To get revenge for murdering Maes Hughes (Ryuta Sato), Roy uses his fire alchemy to burn Envy to a crisp. Ed discovers that despite the homonculi being immortal due to having Philosopher’s Stones for hearts, their healing factor takes longer if they are dealt severe damage to their bodies. Roy then goes after Lust, killing her in a beautiful fiery death.
As stated previously, despite leaving out characters and changing certain circumstances and plot points, the Live Action Fullmetal Alchemist movie was actually very good for what it was. Even though there were situations where certain scenes, battles and development happen differently in its anime counterpart, the movie still made it work very well, still giving the audience the anticipation and drive to root for the Elric brothers as they go through their journey.
Even if one doesn’t agree with how the movie handled some points, no one can argue that the visuals and special effects are just amazingly stunning and pleasant to look at. Not to mention the costuming. All of the actors give their best to bring these characters to life all over again. It is definitely worth a watch, even just once. Viewers will not be disappointed in what they see in this awesome, action pact and dramatic live action remake of one of the most memorable and popular anime/manga series anime fans know and love today and possibly forever.