Throughout the years in which I developed my craze for anime, FMAB has been a giant legend waiting on the horizon for when I’d be ready. And up until now, I didn’t think it would be as good as some of the best books I read.
I’m always doing that. Comparing other forms of storytelling to books.
But recently, my friend Ananna (railgun55, if you must ask) drove me crazy.
Well, I finally gave in, and I did watch Steins;Gate. It moved me to bits. It made me cry in one episode. It petrified me in the next. It made me laugh at the weirdest things, and I will continue to make references to jell bananas and mad scientists till my grandkids think I’m insane.
FMAB, however, was my idea altogether. 64 episodes. Ananna wouldn’t even DARE go near something that big, even though she read the manga.
I went and downloaded all the episodes. and left them sitting in my computer till I felt like watching it. I knew it was really good. I’d watched parts of it on TV, when it aired on ANIMAX ASIA. Watching a series on TV is like putting your feelings in a bottle with the tiny mouth and turning that bottle upside down. The resulting trickle is so agonizingly slow that it kills you with anticipation and frustration. Add the fact that you tend to forget what happened in the episode they aired a full WEEK ago.
So, I started watching it about three weeks ago. Probably. I don’t exactly remember. I just remember that I was constantly looking for half hour breaks; from chores, from schoolwork, from everything in general. It was okay. I could take it slow through the first 35 episodes or so. I could live on one ep a day.
After that though, I had to watch at least two episodes in one go. And even then it would leave me unsatisfied. I was even more actively looking for gaps and alone time. I’d watch it on my phone on the car if the journey was more than an hour’s.
Well, I can’t say I didn’t do that for Steins;Gate too, but FMAB was a whole lot more binding, a whole lot better executed.
I wish they had a site like goodreads for anime.
What had me going so strong with FMAB was that:
- The openings and endings. The didn’t disappoint till the very end. Every one of them went with the story in some way or the other.
- The soundtrack. Perfect placing and perfect mood setting.
- The animation. Not a single character drawn out of shape, not a single detail left untouched.
- The lessons incorporated. The most important of them being that in order to gain something one must also sacrifice something, and that the best way to learn something is by enduring and living through the pain that comes with it. There are plenty more, if you’re going to ask.
- The character development. Not a single character was left undeveloped, although I think the manga did a better job with side stories than the anime.
- The expertise with which the story was told. You end up liking every one of the characters, be they crossdressers or inhuman villains or plain twisted mass murderers. Possibly the only characters you wouldn’t like are the ones who look like losers and make no attempt to grow on their own. You see some of those near the end. You even like the dwarf in the flask to some extent. Or maybe you pity him. But you don’t hate him, right?
- Last but definitely not the least, the world building. We see wars with Giant countries like Drachma, and the dependence on Xerxes for the advent of alchemy, and the dependence of Xing on Amestris for the secret to immortality, and the bloody exterminations carried out by a militaristic government for the sake of strengthening power. I could go on listing.
- Except Shou Tucker. That guy’s a bigger loser than even Yoki.
It had everything an awesome epic would. It had me cry in all the right places, and laugh in all the right places. It made me see parallels and NOT see parallels and I was left gasping at the accuracy level of the songs they put in and everything combined.
There are some things in the series that I’d pitch against. Alchemy being one of them because it’s not possible in real life. Plus the idea that the sun is a male and the moon is a female and when they come together they form the Perfect Being (a.k.a. god).
BUT, the valuable thing that comes out of FMAB is the lessons. The strength that humans have to continually evolve as soon as their existence is challenged. The sense of responsibility and maturity that comes with being exposed to tragedies. The strength that watching others can give you. The point of living because we have two legs to stand on our own and that we don’t need something in the past to hold onto. That friends are irreplaceable.
So, when I was done with the last episode, I was crying and laughing and brooding all at the same time. Pretty much the same feeling good books leave me with.
I’m glad I watched it. There couldn’t have been a better time. If I’m ever going to rewatch any anime, it would be this one. When I’m looking for someone to marry, I’ll make them watch this anime, and if they think this stuff is childish, they’re out of the list. I’m damn serious.