So whilst browsing videos for other future posts, I stumbled upon two trailers that made me pause. If you follow this blog at all, you’re aware that I’m a huge fan of the anime Fullmetal Alchemist (the Brotherhood variant specifically). This meant that, naturally, I was horrified to find out that FMA was the next anime slated for the Live-Action Treatment.
Two mini-trailers have surfaced for the movie. Now, in theory, this could work out; FMA is a fantasy anime that’s set in its own universe, so they don’t have to ground too much in the real world. However, just taking in what minimal footage is available, my first impressions make me think this film is slated to take a nose-dive.
This World Really Can’t Be Made Live Action
Once I even learned that a trailer existed, I showed it to a friend and fellow fan of the show. After viewing both mini-trailers, she asked me if it were even possible to turn FMA into a live action world. Can you really transmute flesh and blood out of the world that’s deeply entrenched in anime’s weird/fantastical zone?
I don’t think it’ll go well
There’s a lot of things anime viewers are willing to swallow thanks to the presence of cartoons. We accept that a giant suit of armor can walk and somehow be super-emotive; we accept that a desperate, insane alchemist can look completely normal while making monstrous animal hybrids; people like Armstrong can tower over the population and sparkle when flexing their glorious muscles. But entering live-action means higher requirements to suspend disbelief. Your audience has to be convinced all the harder and Anime Live Action has a bad track-record of bad CGI and cheap shortcuts.
Case in Point
Since FMA relies heavily on being super fantastical, I don’t see the movie delivering all that well.
Oh God, What Did They do to Edward?
Any movie is only as good as the main character. Edward and Alphonse (Ed & Al for short) were great leads; Ed was stubborn and childish with a firm set of morals; Alphonse was more tempered, but still immature enough to be the younger brother. Both had a comedy element to them that made it fun to watch and offset the horrors they routinely ran into. But, just watching the two trailers, I feel as if Edward has been horrifically altered.
Er… at least Al looks okay?
Besides the fact that Ed looks like they plucked some random cosplayer from an anime convention, between the two trailers he didn’t behave childishly or really even crack a smile. The tone of each trailer is super serious and portrays Ed as a traditional shonen protagonist. I acknowledge that there’s not a lot of time between two mini-trailers and that they had to show off the alchemy more than anything, but you got a problem when you don’t spy much difference between Live Action Ed Elric and Live Action Eren Jaeger.
The Nerd-Rage is real….
The Alchemy Looks Cool
I do have one positive thing to say, believe it or not: the actual alchemy looks awesome.
Make no mistake, the alchemy in all versions of the show is one of the visually best parts. It’s a flashy display of molecules coming apart then reassembled into something different; what geek wouldn’t be all up on that? So you know there would be an outcry if they gave us some halfway done, phoned-in CGI.
Thankfully, we can clearly see where the movie’s budget went to. The alchemy looks as explosive and electric as the anime variant does. If the movie fails horrifically with characterization and plot, it won’t fall flat on the special effects.
Don’t Think This is Gonna Work
My final thought after watching both trailers is a somber one. Even with the cool special effects – and expensive looking sets for that matter – I do not believe that this movie is gonna work. Even if they made everything look amazing, I don’t believe they can ultimately sell this ultra-fantasy setting to the live-action audience.
I firmly believe this because the trailers are focusing on the more dour, dramatic moments of the show. To be sure, FMA had its fair share of tragedy and horror, but it also had a comedic heart that made you bond with the characters. They don’t frown all the time feeling sorry for themselves; they also take the time to smile, comfort each other, and other things. There is no greater joy in that show than watching the Elric Brothers engage in some old-fashioned sibling fighting, even in their current state.
In short, Arakawa made sure you didn’t drown in pathos while reading her manga and both versions of the anime did much of the same. Lest the original author herself is writing this new movie I don’t see it pulling that off. I predict that it’s gonna be an actiony-drama with lots of “heartstring-tugging” but none of the actual heart that was in the show. I do hope I’m wrong, but we’ll just have to wait and see.
What do you think of the trailers? What are your first thoughts? Feel free to share below. And don’t forget to like if I should post more like this, and follow for more posts.