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Full Metal Alchemist
- volume one: The Curse
voice cast: Romi Paku, Rie Kugimiya, Yuuko Satou, and Junichi Suwabe

director: Seiji Mizushima

100 minutes (12) 2004
MVM DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 1/10
reviewed by Martin Drury
A powerful government edges ever closer to omnipotence. Meanwhile, a young alchemist searches for a stone, which has the potential to recover all that has been lost to his world. The anime faithful claim this series to be one of the best cartoons of all time. It's evident that the cartoon has a huge collection of mythology and backstory associated with it that might make it less than accessible for the casual television viewer. Also, I am not entirely convinced that the rough translation of the cartoon into English was accurate. There were a number of scenes that featured characters in extreme danger or trauma and the dubbed dialogue just didn't seem to fit. If Pokemon is your thing, then the poor translation won't bother you and you'll be instantly gripped by a story you're familiar with. Misunderstood wanderer makes his way across a volatile landscape with only his friends for company. Along the way, our hero must face many battles with powerful enemies and remain haunted by a dark secret from his past.

It's interesting to see how alchemy is treated in this cartoon serial. In the modern world, alchemy is at best a joke and at worse a fraud. It should be possible to turn lead into gold. But it isn't. This cartoon should be good. But it isn't. The characters are one-dimensional and keep stepping out of the plot in Brechtian moments in order to express the superiority of science over everything. The plot drags and feels artificially lengthened. Indeed, the plot is confusing to the casual viewer and the whole magic element of the piece appeared to have been gathered from a huge junkyard of mythologies around the world. This cartoon slots into a specialised genre and it's more than possible that you won't enjoy this offering unless you enjoy sitting through the various kids cartoon series which appear ad nausea on British Saturday morning television.

The anime faithful are quite welcome to applaud this cartoon series to the rafters. But the fact remains that it is beyond the reach of anyone who just wants to be entertained.
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