Fullmetal Alchemist is one of the best anime series of all time, and everyone who has ever watched or read it regards it highly.
Even on popular sites such as myanimelist, the series almost always ranks at the very top, with no show capable of dethroning it.
Thanks to its widespread popularity, there’s always an influx of new anime fans, taking their first step into this blindingly beautiful world.
However, even before they can get past the threshold, they are confused between the two choices placed in front of them – Fullmetal Alchemist or Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood.
“Are they similar? What exactly is the difference? Is FMA: B a sequel? Where should I start?”
All these questions plague the first time watchers, and it’s difficult to get a coherent answer among the ones available on the internet.
Fullmetal Alchemist and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is not the same show.
The first one was the original adaptation released in 2003; however, it diverged entirely from the manga. FMA: B was the second adaptation released six years later that followed the manga perfectly.
1. FMA or FMA: B – Which One Is Better?
While both Fullmetal Alchemist and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is derived from the same source material, they are different from each other.
To clearly talk about the differences and distinguish the better show, let’s take a look at their story and animation.
Fullmetal Alchemist is a hit manga that’s written by Hiromu Arakawa. When it was still going on in 2003, the series received an anime with the same name.
However, since the manga wasn’t finished yet, the anime diverged from it and built up its own story.
Everything from the antagonist, Dante, to its passive ending, was utterly different from the source material.
On the other hand, after the manga was completed, a second adaptation of the series was released under the name Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood.
Due to the former’s completion, the new anime’s story and events remained faithful to the manga.
The original Fullmetal Alchemist’s story was much more dramatic and incomplete compared to the second adaptation.
With 14 more episodes under its belt, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood felt more cohesive and clearly has the better story among the two.
Both Fullmetal Alchemist and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood have great animations.
FMA has darker themes and a lot more of gore that is beautifully depicted by its animation style; however, that is only when taking into account the year it was released.
Compared to the other animes in 2013, FMA is truly a cut above the rest; however, it falls short in front of FMA: B.
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood boasts high-quality animation and vivid backgrounds, which is something that the previous adaptation lacks.
Everything from the details to the colors chosen gives the series a clean finish and makes it aesthetically appealing to the audience.
III. Verdict – Is FMA Worth Watching?
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is better than Fullmetal Alchemist based on its storyline, animation, and justice to the source material.
At the same time, just because FMA diverges from the manga does not make it a bad anime. Fullmetal Alchemist is worth watching after FMA: B because of its emotional depth and well fleshed out characters.
A first-time viewer has two options; they can either watch Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood first, and if desired, they can watch FMA, or watch the first 15 episodes of Fullmetal Alchemist, and then proceed onto Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood.
2. Can You Watch FMA: B Without Watching FMA?
You can absolutely watch Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood without watching Fullmetal Alchemist. Despite originating from the same manga, both the series are entirely different adaptations.
FMA is shorter and has an entirely different antagonist and ending, while FMA: B is longer and remains faithful to the manga. Neither FMA nor FMA: B are a continuation or sequel of one another and can be watched separately.
3. About Fullmetal Alchemist
After attempting the human transmission, a forbidden act of alchemy, young brothers Edward and Alphonse Elric, pay the price by losing a left leg and a physical body, respectively.
The older brother, Edward, sacrificed his right arm to affix Alphonse’s soul to a suit of armor while obtaining metal limbs called “automail” and becoming a state alchemist.
Both of the brothers have embarked on their journey to find the Philosopher’s Stone, which can solve their problem. But soon, they encounter a national conspiracy surrounding the Philosopher’s Stone.