Fullmetal Alchemist, a masterpiece crafted by Hiromu Arakawa, has been a cornerstone in the shonen anime realm. Its enduring allure has not only kept the fandom’s heartbeats in sync with the Elric brothers’ adventures but also led to the birth of several live adaptations. As the franchise expanded its horizons with movies and two distinct series, the pathway for newcomers wishing to traverse through the alchemical tale seemed a tad convoluted. Fear not, for this guide aims to elucidate the chronological order for embarking on the Fullmetal Alchemist voyage.
The Genesis: Fullmetal Alchemist (2003-04)
The inaugural anime adaptation emerged from the creative cauldron of Studio Bones, under the directorial gaze of Seiji Mizushima. At this juncture, the ink of the original manga was still fresh, leading to a narrative that loosely clung to the source, yet ventured into uncharted territories. The quest for the elusive Philosopher’s Stone remained the crux, but the divergence from the manga’s canon plot crafted a unique tapestry of events, culminating in an ending distinct from its manga counterpart.
The Cinematic Bridge: Conqueror of Shamballa (2005)
The cinematic realm beckoned, and thus was born “Conqueror of Shamballa.” Under Mizushima’s helm, this film sewed the narrative threads left dangling by the 2003 FMA series, providing a closure of sorts. The narrative sails with Edward in pursuit of a passage back to his realm, yearning for a reunion with his brother Alphonse, amidst a backdrop of a parallel universe.
A Renewed Voyage: Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (2009-10)
With the manga’s narrative arc complete, the franchise revisited the tale, birthing “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood.” This rendition, directed by Yasuhiro Irie and again brought to life by Studio Bones, stayed true to the manga’s essence, encapsulating the original ending envisaged by Arakawa. Often hailed as the franchise’s crown jewel, Brotherhood offers a purist’s journey through the alchemical saga, requiring no prior voyage through the 2003 series.
The Detour: The Sacred Star of Milos (2011)
“The Sacred Star of Milos” presents a standalone cinematic adventure, often seen as a non-canon detour due to its misalignment with the Brotherhood timeline. This film unfurls a fresh narrative canvas, introducing new faces and challenges for the Elric brothers.
The Live-Action Trilogy
The alchemical essence transcended the animated realm, morphing into a trilogy of live-action adaptations. The journey commences with “Fullmetal Alchemist” (2017), meandering through “The Revenge of Scar” (2022), and reaching a crescendo with “The Last Transmutation” (2022).
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (2009) pic.twitter.com/DStuyWZ6w3
— Fullmetal Alchemist 🦾 (@FMAPerfectShots) September 23, 2023
The Filler Conundrum
Unlike the filler-infested waters of some shonen series, Fullmetal Alchemist treads lightly with fillers. The 2003 series presents a trifecta of filler episodes, yet they retain a semblance of connection to the manga’s narrative. On the other hand, Brotherhood’s staunch adherence to the manga renders every episode a crucial puzzle piece, with the sole exception being episode 27, “Interlude Party.” Yet, skipping this episode might disrupt the narrative’s rhythmic flow.
Embarking on the Fullmetal Alchemist journey is akin to delving into a rich tapestry of emotions, adventures, and philosophical quandaries. Whether you choose to commence with the 2003 series or Brotherhood, the alchemical allure is bound to captivate your imagination.