09
Nov
13

Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood, Hellsing Ultimate

Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood

So… many… characters…

I am a huge fan of the original anime series Fullmetal Alchemist. It’s a near-perfect vision of what anime should be. It has drama, humor, love, action, suspense, you name it, it has it. It was so good, in fact, I proclaimed it to be one of the greatest anime of the 2000-2009 decade.
Something very common in anime is for a popular manga to be animated before it has concluded. This happened with the original Fullmetal Alchemist series. Once the animators hit episode 34, they had caught up to the manga. They then had to create a brand new ending to finish the series. Fast forwarding several years, the manga has been completed. Not wanting to miss any chance at milking a cash-cow, the series was remade, from the beginning, to tell the entire story.
This, unfortunately, was a huge mistake. The first 34 episodes of the TV series (I don’t know how many books of the manga it took) is compressed into a mere 13 episodes. The content is told in an extremely hurried fashion. While the previous series used these episodes to introduce us to the characters and to slowly build the drama, the new series rushes through everything so quickly it doesn’t have a chance to breathe.
“That’s OK,” I told myself. “On future rewatches I can watch the first 34 original TV series episodes, and then watch the new series starting at episode 14 to see the entire story.”

So… much… cute…

The problem with that is the animators of the original series came up with a way better mythology and ending than the creator of the manga. For example, the primary antagonists for the Elric Brothers are the Homunculi. They are these undead, super-powerful, nearly indestructible creatures. In the original series they learn that to kill a Homunculus, they must destroy the remains of their original corpse. In the new series (and manga) they learn that to kill a Homunculus all they need to do is FIGHT IT REALLY REALLY HARD AND EVENTUALLY IT WILL JUST DIE! Lame.
Another problem comes with the ending of the series. In the original, the Elric Brothers find themselves separated between two worlds, but resolved to be reunited some day. In the new series, they save each other, but Edward loses his ability to perform alchemy. Apparently, each person has a certain amount of magical bullshit in their soul that allows them to do alchemy. This, of course, completely contradicts everything that was said before, how they had explained that alchemy was a science and could be done by anyone with knowledge of it.
This is exactly the same shit George Lucas pulled in Star Wars. The Force was a mystical power that encompassed the universe and could be used by anyone with proper training, but then in the prequels it got changed to fucking Midichlorians and only certain special people could use The Force. It’s fucking bullshit. Not to mention it’s a convenient deus ex machina for the series.

Lots of Elrics, and a Haruhi photobomb.

The last complaint I have is that the new series has way too many goddamn characters, and in the end devolves into a typical Shonen mess. The battles rage on and on with no end in sight. The battles outlive their shelf lives and ultimately become boring. The final battle must be at least 10 episode long, if not longer. I got fatigued watching it. It was a completely unnecessary way to pad out the length of the show.
On the positive side, the series has fantastic animation, trumping what we had in the original. The acting, music, and directing are also quite good. But when the story starts out as incredibly rushed and ends being dragged out, it’s clear that someone should have done a better job with the pacing. Overall, Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood was an OK watch. Interesting, sure. Better than the original anime series? Not a chance.
Fuck the “original ending” and fuck “being closer to the manga.” The original Fullmetal Alchemist anime is the only way to go.
Verdict: Average
Hellsing Ultimate

Alucard is such as badass.

Just like in the case of Fullmetal Alchemist, the original Hellsing manga got an anime adaptation before it had concluded. Once again, the animators had to come up with their own ending. The original Hellsing TV series was a fucking trainwreck. A disaster of epic proportions. The animation degraded into crude stick figures shooting at each other. The story was nonsensical at best, and a million threads were left unresolved. The final villain came out of nowhere, and looked completely ridiculous. Suffice it to say, I was excited that the Hellsing manga finally got a more accurate adaptation.
Hellsing Ultimate, while a million times better than the original anime, was still a massive disappointment.
The first three episodes were great. They had slick animation, were paced well, had great acting, and were all around a blast to watch. In these early episodes were are introduced to Alucard (that’s Dracula spelled backwards for those of you not paying attention), the ultimate vampire and secret weapon of the Hellsing organization. He recruits a new vampire, Seras Victoria, and goes around killing the shit out of bad guys. He revels in carnage, and his unique ways of dispatching villains was fun to watch. His nemesis, a Catholic Priest named Alexander Anderson also shows up, and gets involved in a fight that is the highlight of the entire series.
After the first three episodes are over, things go downhill fast. At first, there was a mystery plot with the Hellsing organization trying to figure out who was turning so many humans into “ghouls.” Eventually, that plot thread is completely forgotten. We learn who is behind it because it was the main bad guy, The Major, but the purpose is never addressed. This kind of sloppy writing plagues the remaining six episodes of the series.

Yep.

The biggest problem is Alucard gets stuck on a slow-moving ship that is headed toward England. Meanwhile, The Major and his army of vampire Nazis (yes, you read that correctly) firebomb the hell out of England. This goes on for episode after episode. The bad guys are blowing shit up and wrecking everything, and the audience is waiting for Alucard to stop them. Alucard doesn’t even show up for the next four fucking episodes. Nobody is watching Hellsing Ultimate for The Major or Integra or anyone else for that matter. Well, maybe Seras because she has big tits. But, no, the only reason anyone is watching this show is to see Alucard, THE MAIN CHARACTER, kick ass. And not having him in four episodes out of 10 is a massively idiotic mistake. I don’t care if that’s how it went in the manga, fucking change it!
The series languishes when Alucard is off-screen. Meanwhile, Nazis go around killing everyone, and the series devolves into a non-stop parade of violence porn. Severed heads, severed limbs, close-ups of gunshot wounds, blood exploding everywhere, it gets ridiculous. It almost becomes a self-parody, but it doesn’t because the show takes itself too goddamn seriously. If it had become self-parody, then the violence might have been enjoyable. But watching all these people getting soaked in blood for an hour at a time eventually becomes unwatchable.
Random thought: In the series mythology, only a virgin can be turned into a vampire. Our villains are an entire army of vampire Nazis. Do they really expect us to believe that all these seasoned, adult veterans of WWII were virgins? Give me a fucking break.

Hellsing Ultimate cosplay. The chick on the right has a Flavor-Flav thing going on.

In the end, the series gets even more ridiculous. The vampire Nazis fight against the Ku Klux Klan, Alucard shows up and turns into a teenage girl, Walter becomes evil for no reason whatsoever, and some other nonsensical shit happens until eventually the show whimpers to a pathetic ending.
Sometimes sticking too closely to the original material can be a bad thing. In a perfect world, Hellsing Ultimate would have cut out the more ridiculous plot points, would have toned down the violence porn, and would have brought Alucard back sooner. Hellsing Ultimate could have been great, but is hampered by too rigid of an adherence to a manga that wasn’t telling that great of a story to begin with. Alucard is cool as hell, but the story he’s stuck in just doesn’t live up to his potential.
Verdict: Shitty
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29 Responses to “Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood, Hellsing Ultimate”


  1. 1 Cut Man
    November 9, 2013 at 10:58 am

    “The battles rage on and on with no end in sight.” Funny, this is also a very common complaint about Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time.

  2. November 9, 2013 at 4:32 pm

    The original Full Metal was the first Anime that made me cry. Second, was Cowboy Bebop. Full Metal was brilliant. So sorry they ruined it. Thanks for the warning. I’ll not bother to watch it and ruin my happy memories.

  3. November 10, 2013 at 7:03 pm

    THANK YOU for writing those words on FMAB, finally someone who agrees with me. Although I did very much enjoy the anime, I prefer the original one because it’s good and made me cry like a baby. Still, it seems like pretty much everyone on the internet thinks FMAB is better, and it’s even ranked #1 on MAL, which is well, overrated if you ask me.

    • November 11, 2013 at 7:45 am

      I imagine its rated so highly because it is action-packed and very well animated. I doubt many of the newbie anime fans have seen the original FMA. Comparing the two there is no doubt the original is superior. I’m glad you enjoyed the review.

  4. November 13, 2013 at 6:52 pm

    I never got the hype for Hellsing. The whole series just seemed to be, “Hey! We’ve got blood and guts! That makes us awesome!” Sadly, most people seem to agree with that.

    Sure it looked nice, but there wasn’t really anything else there to make me care about it, and I found the whole thing mostly forgettable. Seriously, the only things I remember about it are Alucard’s creepy smile and Seras’s boobs. And the only reason I remember Alucard’s smile is because it’s always on the cover art.

    I was about to start getting into the Full Metal Alchemist stuff, and I’d heard so much praise for Brotherhood that I was just going to skip the original, but your comments have changed my mind. Think I’ll check out the first one after all.

  5. 9 Dave
    November 20, 2013 at 2:28 pm

    Have you seen Rose of Versailles? If so, did you like it?

  6. 11 Beblop
    November 21, 2013 at 11:38 am

    While I completely agree with you on Hellsing, I have to argue that Brotherhood was better than the original Fullmetal Alchemist.

    The original show was great, it was dark shonen anime with an interesting mythos that tried to move away from standard shonen cliches. I loved it until the last third where the show fell completely flat for me. Around the time Scar died I realized that the ONLY characters that mattered were Ed and Al, but not in the same way as most main characters; they were the only characters that mattered because they were the only ones who weren’t set pieces for the plot. Even the homunculus felt like canon fodder simply being killed so as to get them out of the script without any real resolution. Outside of the two brothers none of the characters really got any resolution.

    Worst of all, Ed and Al suddenly became obsessed with the laws of alchemy to the point where it suddenly applied to everything, regardless of whether or not it was alchemy, and wouldn’t shut-up about it. It got to the point where I was cheering for Dante because it felt like watching two kids screaming that they can have their ice cream because the laws of physics (alchemy?) says so. It felt like the story just devolved into “watch the Elrics wander around until they find a bad guy to fight and scream bulshit at, since everyone else (even the main villain) is inconsequential”. And while you could argue that the ending deserves some credit because they, in the end, received consequences for their actions, it doesn’t change the fact that they still got the good ending (especially if you watch the movie sequel to the original) for screaming bulshit at everyone.

    Brotherhood on the other hand did have a shitty start that so bastardized the original that I almost dropped the show. But past those first 13 episodes or so it got better and in my opinion surpassed the original. In terms of animation and especially music Brotherhood blew the original out of the water.

    Aside from that though, I did feel like Brotherhood, while lacking a lot of the great storytelling and world building from the first half of FMA, it ultimately told a better story where all the characters matter. Unlike the original Fullmetal Alchemist, past a certain point the show stopped being all about the Elric brothers, instead giving everyone a story (albeit) that i could care about, all of which revolved around and intersected with the Elric’s.

    And while yeah, it did fall into the typical shonen cliche of “go fight the big bad in a tower after beating his minions”, it never like they were fights just for the sake of having fights and getting rid of characters (like the first did with the homunculus: instead it felt like an excuse to resolve all the character’s stories and goals in a series of epic fights which looked at the reasons for why these characters did what they did and if they themselves saw their actions as valid (except for the last one with Ed and Father, that one was just bulshit for the sake of shonen fights).

    Personally, they both have their faults in my opinion, but Brotherhood fixes all my problems with the original while presenting a grander, better weaved and presented (not written) story, even if it did sacrifice a few things for the sake of some shonen cliches.

    • November 23, 2013 at 12:33 pm

      Well, yeah, the original isn’t perfect. I think I said it was “near-perfect.” Most of the other characters’ stories are left by the wayside at the end. But since the tale began with Ed and Al (and 90% of the time was on them throughout), I didn’t see this as a problem. Sure, a bit more on Roy Mustang at the end would have been nice. But considering how strong the overall writing was, I can’t fault the show one bit.

      I do agree with you on the animation quality. The new series does look better. Although, considering the advancements in animation with the progression of time, I’m not really sure it’s a valid argument. For its time, the original FMA looked top-notch. Hell, it still looks great today.

      Thanks for leaving your thoughts on the post, I appreciate it!

  7. 13 AGuy
    November 22, 2013 at 10:47 am

    I actually quite liked Hellsing ultimate, if only for its ridiculous style, I mean yes its plot was stupid, and yes, Alucard carried the whole thing, but it had DRACULA vs VAMPIRE NAZIS!! In what world is that not awesome!?!

    Still none of that really matters, I like the show but not that much. What is important is that you are one of frustratingly few internet reviewers who see FMA brotherhood as the pile of shit it was. I swear every time I come across yet another person claiming that “Brotherhood is just better” I die a little inside. I usually try not let myself get wound up by internet opinions, but this is one of my two red buttons (the other being people who claim Rahxephon is Evangelion done right).

    I loved the 2003 series, and watching it being dumbed down and turned into yet another generic shonen fighting series was just… tragic… Thank you for making me feel a little less alone in my opinions.

    • November 23, 2013 at 12:29 pm

      Yes, yes, yes, the original series is so much better than the remake. It’s great you agree. I find it crazy to think that so many people prefer the dumbed-down version. I guess that should be expected, huh?

      As far as Rahxephon goes. Are there people out there who actually prefer it to Evangelion? If so, they must be mentally ill.

  8. 15 ge
    December 8, 2013 at 6:23 pm

    Any chance of you doing a small list of series you’ve seen.
    I feel it would be a bit of a waste of a post but I would enjoy seeing a written version of you’re viewing.
    I’d be fine with it regardless.

    • 16 ge
      December 8, 2013 at 6:25 pm

      I was just wondering considering you have mentioned that you have a backlog of anime/have seen many a anime. If you ever did it you wouldn’t even need to include the shittier titles if it’s too long. Thanks

  9. 18 Luis Olmos
    December 16, 2013 at 7:38 am

    I agree with you, Hellsing Ultimate was just bad, when we could finally watch the first 3 OVA was epic, but then we had to wait years to finally see the next chapters and, what did we get? Just lame speeches and generic battles, even the animation was poor in comparison to the first 3 episodes…disappointing…
    And with FMA brtotherhood I think it was very good but the first version was better, the music, the character development, the drama, everything was just near perfect. I thing brotherhood was just to make possible the disney ending hehehe

  10. 20 Metal Man
    December 29, 2013 at 8:21 pm

    This totally convinced me to watch the original 2003 Fullmetal Alchemist, even though everypony nowadays pretends that only Brotherhood exists.

  11. 22 g
    May 11, 2014 at 7:30 pm

    Simple- Hellsing is about vampires with guns. Not much logic needed there.
    Now I’m not going to say priest is better but I do say you should give it a try. So far it doesnt look like its super degrading in quality compared to hellsing.

  12. 23 AM
    January 15, 2015 at 7:56 pm

    Haha, the first FMA anime is unadulterated shit.

    • January 22, 2015 at 12:49 pm

      If you mean a show that had universal critical and fan acclaim, fantastic animation, writing, directing, producing, and music is “shit”, then I would like to see what you consider a good show. How terrible it must be to be such a discerning anime watcher.

  13. 25 Radochna
    February 10, 2015 at 9:17 am

    Eh, so I’m in the mainstream, because I liked Brotherhood more. Original series was awesome, but it lacked a bit in the logic department and contradicted itself few times. The greatest mess was when they tried to explain homunculus version of Trisha Elric’s identity and why the Ishbala War started. Also I wasn’t happy with original series mythology too much, because the way they explained the origin of the homunculi, it meant that human transmutantion worked, which made Elric brothers dr Frankenstains at best and matricide at worst. Not to mention that in that scenario nameing homunculi after seven deadly sins made original FA just another anime show that uses some very significant term from western culture in totally meaningless way, probably just because someone thought it sounds cool.

    Still it was all something I was more then willing to forgive, because Fullmetal Alchemist was a great show in the end. But since Brotherhood managed to move me just as much I can’t help but see it as a fixed version, far more consistent and with no loose threads hanging.

    But I do admit that original series’ ending is better in many ways. Makers of Brotherhood went so far in making the end a happy one it was actually riddiculous. Having both Elric brothers safe and sound was really more than enough, they didn’t have to undo almost everything bad that happened in the last 40 episodes and then show the world turning into a paradise on earth. I really think that 15-year old boys (target audience) can handle the truth that in war some things happen that cannot be fixed.

    • February 10, 2015 at 9:30 am

      There’s nothing wrong with liking Brotherhood more. Admittedly, the original wasn’t perfect, but pretty damn close. You’re right about the names of the seven deadly sins for the Homunculi being pointless in the original series when their mythology is revealed.

      I disagree with you on one specific point: human transmutation never worked. The show heavily implies that something is still missing (the soul), because instead of brining the deceased back to life, they bring back a shell, a evil horror that is nothing like how the deceased person was in life.

      • 27 Radochna
        February 10, 2015 at 6:01 pm

        Well, I recall such thing being said, but I never found it very convincing. It was like a dogma with nothing to back it up and it always felt like a convenient excuse to me. I agree that transmutation might have failed in a sense that it didn’t result in bringing specific dead person back to life. But it certainly worked in a sense that it created a self-conscious living being with a will and desires of it’s own. “Something missing” might just as well be serious identity issues and result of trauma of being rejected by the maker.

  14. 28 Irene
    March 31, 2017 at 1:53 am

    Thank you for putting Brotherhood in the place it belongs. It’s not bad on its own, but in comparison with the original, it’s… well, dumb and childish. Seriously, I don’t get why most people seem to prefer it over the 2003 version. They rarely give any valid reason for it being “superior”. Just bullshit like “it follows the manga” or “it has a happy ending”. As if there wasn’t a lot of shit which meets those two requirements and it’s still shit.

    The problem is that they’re never challenged to explain why exactly they think it’s better. It’s always FMA fans going into long essays to explain their points, while the FMAB brats offer nothing on their side.
    FMAB has worse characterization, simplistic black and white morality, an unoriginal plot seen a thousand times on TV, clumsy narrative which abuses deus-ex-machina and contrived coincidences, glaring plot holes (more evident than those in FMA, even if fans rarely ackowledge them), absurdities that don’t fit into the steampunk European setting (May Chang?, zombie army?), and it’s not even about alchemy or the Elrics, but just about ninjas doing ninja things most of the time. On top of that, the soundtrack is worse and the character designs/color palette is uglier. It suffers also from spoonfeeding the audience with some weird, hypocritical morals about war and not killing, that never make sense to the viewer (why can’t Mustang kill Envy, why it’s so bad to use a Philosopher’s Stone?). The viewer is forced to believe these are bad, just because the show says it so, not because you feel it.

    Other than better animation, what’s there to prefer it over FMA, I wonder? Let alone vote it the very best anime of all time! Is everybody crazy or what?


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