If you’re reading this, then you’re probably in a state of confusion. You’ve heard of the critically acclaimed anime by the name of Fullmetal Alchemist, but when you google it, you find out that there are two different adaptations. One being the ‘original’ Fullmetal Alchemist, and the other which came out five years later, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. Should I watch Brotherhood or the original adaptation? Which is better? Which is canon? Don’t worry. Why? For I am here, to explain the difference between Fullmetal Alchemist vs Brotherhood, and which should you be investing your time in between the two.
Skip to a question that interests you
- Why are there two different adaptations of Fullmetal Alchemist?
- Is Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood a remake/is it a sequel?
- Fullmetal Alchemist vs Brotherhood. What’s the difference?
- Which is canon between Fullmetal Alchemist vs Brotherhood?
- Is Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood worth watching?
- Is the original adaptation worth watching?
- What’s the watch order of Fullmetal Alchemist?
- Is Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood overrated? Why is it so popular?
Why are there two different adaptations of Fullmetal Alchemist?
The reason why there are two different adaptations is simply that studio Bones wanted to adapt the manga to its entirety. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is that adaptation. Studio Bones produced both the versions of Fullmetal Alchemist. The ‘original’ came out in 2003 while Brotherhood in 2009.
When the original version came out in 2003, the manga was still ongoing. By the time the anime reached the first half of the series, it had already caught up with the manga. The usual route would be to wait for the manga to finish by adding filler episodes. Studio Bones took the path less travelled by continuing production but following an original story that is different from the source material.
It was a brave but controversial decision. The majority of people are against the decision because they were left unsatisfied by the original story that Studio Bones had written. I believe it was much better than adding filler episodes. The people who seem to hate the original adaptation are fans who are loyal to a fault to the source material.
Six years later, with the manga already finished, Studio Bones took the opportunity to give the source material an adaptation it deserved. In short, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood allows those loyal fans to have some peace in their hearts by telling the canonical story of the Fullmetal Alchemist franchise.
Is Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood a remake/is it a sequel?
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is a remake, but it isn’t a sequel to the ‘original’ Fullmetal Alchemist that came out in 2003. They are two different entities that tell two unique stories which serve distinct purposes. They have some similarities and are under the same franchise. Fullmetal Alchemist adapts early parts of the source material, but takes its own route with a unique story and ending.
Brotherhood is loyal to the source material and is a complete adaptation of it. The original Fullmetal Alchemist adapts the earlier parts of the manga within 25 episodes. Brotherhood rehashes those 25 episodes and summarizes them into 10. Studio Bones did this because they expected that people who watch Brotherhood, must have watched the original version. That’s why the first 10 episodes of Brotherhood can feel rushed and not fully fleshed out.
Fullmetal Alchemist vs Brotherhood. What’s the difference?
The list can go on and on if I try to mention all the differences between Fullmetal Alchemist vs Brotherhood. Not only that, but I can’t state it all without it being a spoiler so I’ll attach a video from Youtube that will explain most of the distinctions between the two shows. If you plan to watch it, then it means you’re prepared to be spoiled.
The main difference is that Brotherhood adapts the entirety of the manga while the original version only covers early parts of it. Even from the beginning, the 2003 Fullmetal Alchemist slightly strays away from the source material. The real divergence begins after episode 25. Fullmetal Alchemist is much darker than Brotherhood which is more shounen focused. The biggest issue with the earlier version is that there are a lot of loose ends the story leaves behind.
Which is canon between Fullmetal Alchemist vs Brotherhood?
They are both canonical. If you’re asking which is canon to the source material/manga then yes, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is canon while the original version isn’t. That’s because Brotherhood is a complete adaptation of the source material without straying even an inch off. It follows the storyline and ending from the creator of the franchise, Hiromu Arakawa. But that’s not to say that the original 2003 version isn’t canon because it is.
It’s canon to its unique storyline and ending. What this means is that its an original canon. It’s canon to Studio Bones, but not to the original creator of the franchise. That is why it’s best not to associate Brotherhood and the original 2003 version in terms of canonicity.
If you’re still unsure what it means for a piece of fiction to be canon or not, then you can read more here where I explain it briefly, but more in-depth.
Is Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood worth watching?
The short answer is yes. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is worth watching. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is one of the most popular anime for a good reason. To many, it represents their childhood; awaiting the night FMA: B would air on television after a long day at school. Now, I won’t call it a masterpiece by any means because FMA: B does have its flaws, but it’s much better than a lot of shows out there.
The heart of the show is its story. It’s not every day you get a story-driven show that is rich in worldbuilding. Most of the characters are believable and have motivations that define their actions. The protagonist isn’t your typical righteous hero who will always do the right thing. And that brings me to another one of its strength; the grey area between right and wrong. The soundtracks are godly, especially the first opening ‘Again’ by Yui.
The show had well-animated fight scenes which many shounen fans will enjoy. There are two issues that I have with FMA: B. The pacing of the first ten episodes, and the transition between comedy and serious events which can somewhat be jarring at times.
Is the original adaptation worth watching?
The short answer is yes as well. It’s worth watching for most of the reasons above, but it won’t appeal to many. I think more mature audiences will enjoy the original adaptation even more to the Brotherhood remake due to it being a lot darker than the latter. In terms of production quality, it is on par and even superior in certain aspects to FMA: B. I believe that the character design in the earlier version is superior to the Brotherhood adaptation.
One of the flaws of the show is that it doesn’t tie up loose ends and leave a lot of questions unanswered. Still, the original version of Fullmetal Alchemist is still a solid show.
What’s the watch order of Fullmetal Alchemist?
It’s important to note that you don’t have to watch Fullmetal Alchemist before moving on to the popular Brotherhood adaptation. So, if you decide to watch Fullmetal Alchemist then the watch order would be:
- Fullmetal Alchemist 2003 adaptation (51 episodes)
- Fullmetal Alchemist: The Conqueror of Shamballa (movie)
If you decide to watch Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, then the watch order would be:
- Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (64 episodes)
- Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos (movie)
In the case of the original version, you should watch the movie because it ties everything up and is somewhat of a decent film. If you’re watching Brotherhood, then be sure to skip the movie because I think it sucks. It’s up to you.
Now, these are the official watch orders for the show, but I have my watching order if you plan to watch Brotherhood, and get the best experience possible.
- Watch the first 25 episodes of the 2003 version
- Continue to Brotherhood from episode 11
- Once you’re done watch the first 10 episodes of Brotherhood
By doing this, you get a more in-depth look to the first 10 episodes of Brotherhood. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t watch those ten episodes because there are some minor differences. That’s why I recommend going back and watching them once you’re done with the show.
Is Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood overrated? Why is it so popular?
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is a phenomenal show, but it is overrated. Since its release, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood has sat on the top spot in many anime rankings. On MAL, the show has a rating of 9.22, which is insane. Yes, it’s worth the watch and has very minimal flaws, but I do believe that there are a few anime that should outrank it.
The reason why Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood has been sitting on its throne for so long is because it was already popular before its release. This is because the original version had come out six years prior. It already had a large following, to begin with, and fans rate it better than the former due to it staying loyal to its source material. Another reason why I think it’s popular is that during its generation, it had a unique story that made it stand out to other anime.
I hope all your questions regarding Fullmetal Alchemist were answered in this post. If there any lingering questions that you have, then do leave them in the comments. Also, here’s a cookie if you made it this far. Anyway, thanks for reading!