Is Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Overrated?

Is Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Overrated
Credit: Bones

Is Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Overrated
Credit: Bones

For more than a decade now, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood has dominated spot #1 on MyAnimeList. But some viewers find Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood overrated.

So, what are the reasons behind the shounen anime's reign on MAL and other platforms, and are they founded?

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Just Why Is Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood So Popular?

Why Is Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood So Popular
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Credit: Bones

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood features a lot of the elements that make a show not only great but also popular:

Great Characters

Why Is Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood So Popular Characters
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Credit: Bones

FMAB features two brothers who are trying to undo the mistakes of their past, while, in truth, they need to learn to live with them.

Their character development from the initial total devotion to their goal to learning how to let go and sacrifice for a higher cause, is a delight to watch.

The supporting cast is equally interesting, from Edward and Al's teacher to their enigmatic absent father and even many villains.

A Cool Magic System

Why Is Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood So Popular Magic
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Credit: Bones

Everyone loves a good show about alchemy and FMAB managed to make it an organic part of the plot.

The fantasy anime's magic system isn't decorative; the law of Equivalent Exchange is a core part of the Elric brothers' story and remains important throughout.

A Unique Setting

Why Is Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood So Popular Setting
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Credit: Bones

Unlike many other anime which feature either modern or vaguely medievalist settings, FMAB unfolds in an alternative 1910s or 1920s Europe with technology and magic.

This setting immediately sets FMAB apart from similarly-themed shows with more generic settings.

A Plot That Pays Off

Why Is Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood So Popular Plot
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Credit: Bones

In the beginning, some of FMAB's episodes might feel a bit slow and it's hard to see their place in the show's bigger picture.

But in the last 20 or so episodes, everything comes together beautifully, with implications for FMAB's entire world.

Nowadays, many anime seasons remain strictly at 12 or 24 episodes per season, but FMAB took all the space it needed, and it shows.

Demographic and Genre

Why Is Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood So Popular Genre
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Credit: Bones

Fantasy anime with unique magical systems tend to do well, all the more so if they're shounen.

While we believe that FMAB deserves its rating, anime that are marketed toward a male demographic often tend to have more budget, and they're promoted more than any other genre.

As we'll see below, there are exceptions, but shounen titles do seem to get the lion's share when it comes to really massive popularity.

Think of Demon Slayer, Chainsaw Man, Jujutsu Kaisen, and other recent anime phenomena.

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So, Is Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Overrated?

Is Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Overrated
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Credit: Bones

Ultimately, no single viewer can decide if a show is overrated, as this is a personal opinion.

We think that FMAB is an amazing show that deserves good reviews, but here are some reasons viewers deem it overrated:


Is Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Overrated Animation
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Credit: Bones

FMAB's animation is by no means bad. In fact, it's way more advanced than in the original Fullmetal Alchemist anime.

That being said, many fans thought that FMAB's art wasn't as beautiful as it could have been, especially when compared to more modern shounen.

Moreover, some viewers loved the darker aesthetics of the first series' art and felt that FMAB was a bit bright and crude for their tastes.

Shounen works often have harsher lines and textures than shoujo works, and not everyone loves that. Or perhaps, Demon Slayer's art has just spoiled us.

Rushed First Episodes

Is Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Overrated First Episodes
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Credit: Bones

Many negatives can be said about the original Fullmetal Alchemist, which surpassed the then-ongoing manga and gave its own ending. But it nailed the first 20 or so episodes.

In comparison, many feel that FMAB's first 20 episodes were inferior.

While by no means bad, the creators tried to make them different than the original show and give themselves space for the more important later episodes.

The result is a bit rushed, and many emotional and tragic moments are not as resonant in FMAB.

Later episodes more than pay off, but the first few are a thorny topic among fans.

Not as Dark as the Original

Is Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Overrated Not Dark
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Credit: Bones

FMAB follows the source manga closely from the beginning to the end, but some fans enjoy the original Fullmetal Alchemist series despite its creative liberties.

Fullmetal Alchemist was much darker and delved more deeply into the dangers of abusing technology and science.

Moreover, it made characters such as Mustang more morally grey, and it wasn't as anti-violence as FMAB.

FMAB is much closer to the spirit of the manga, but those who enjoy darker works thought it was just a bit too optimistic for their taste.

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood's Rating Explained

No anime stays on top for more than a decade without deserving its rating. That being said, there can be an element of bias when fans focus on numbers too much.

Throughout the years, FMAB has sometimes been dethroned by any given anime season's star.

Recent examples include Fruits Basket: The Final, Kaguya-sama: Love Is War Season 3 - Ultra Romantic, and, most recently, Oshi no Ko.

Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood's Rating Explained
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Credit: Bones

Interestingly, none of these anime is a shounen -- by far the most likely category to be as popular as Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood.

Moreover, during Kaguya-sama's time as MAL's #1, "love" turned into a fan war.

Kaguya-sama's rise saw the creation of several new MAL accounts with no details, no anime, and no purpose other than to give FMAB a 10 and rate Kaguya-sama lowly.

So, Are Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood's Ratings Genuine?

Does Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood Deserve Its Score
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Credit: Bones

We would like to believe that the vast majority of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood's ratings are from fans who genuinely love the show for what it is.

But when any anime is this popular, it can become polarizing -- and it's particularly concerning that fans mostly take exception to FMAB's dethroning when it's done by a female-driven show.

Of course, fans' online conduct does not reflect on FMAB's quality, as we've established that it's a real anime phenomenon that tells a great story.

But since a -- hopefully limited -- number of fans will do anything to keep their fave on top, our point is that ratings don't matter too much.

Plenty of masterpieces have lower ratings just because they're more niche and not as digestible.

Similarly, FMAB mostly deserves its score, but if you get your expectations too high, you could end up disappointed.

Ultimately, it's important that everyone watches what they think they'll enjoy without worrying too much about ratings, which are very subjective.

Discover more of our insights and the latest anime news by following us on Twitter @epicstreamanime.

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