This… is a petpeeve of mine. I’m a huge fan of the manga, it’s still one of my favorite manga of all time and I think it’s really really well done. And then there are the two anime adaptations and the wars fought over which one is better.
Obviously, everyone can like whatever version they think is better, but there have always been a few arguments I’ve never understood and defenders of the 2003 series usually have certain problems in the anime they just simply straight out overlook. That being said, of course I’m not overlooking the fact that the 2003 series did a mostly wonderful job covering the manga until the story sets off into a different direction and Brotherhood rushed through this part way too fast, not really doing it the justice it deserves.
Character depth. I hear it again and again and again: the 2003 series is supposed to have more character depth. That is interesting, considering half of the backstories of important characters are simply missing and Brotherhood/Manga had much more time to actually develop it’s characters and half the cast in the 2003 series was effectively turned into emos, which does not equal great characters development.
Think what you want, believe that Scar is better portayed in the 2003 series, bercause he goes from villain to tragic hero, even though in Brotherhood he goes from brutal villain, to ally, to working under Olivia Armstrong to rebuild his original nation and religion side by side with the Military of Amestris, finally having come to peace with his own past, looking to create a brigther future for his people. How is that worse than what the 2003 series did? I actually think he’s better portrayed.
Hohenheim, don’t get me started. He has a much more complicated and better portayed past in Brotherhood compared to the 2003 series. He’s a fullgrown badass alchemist and a pathetic father at the same time, what makes an actually really likable and a very nice character. He’s got some very good points and some very bad ones and he really struggles to make up for his bad decisions regarding his family. The moment when Ed first called him his father? I cried like a baby. He was fooled, he was tricked by the Homunculus and ended up falling in love with a wonderful wife, unintentionally destroyed his family, having one of his sons hating him and successfully made up with said son, in the end dying at the grave of his beloved wife. Wow. Prime example of a way better rounded character.
And let’s not forget the amazing cast, that never made it into the 2003 series: Olivia Armstrong and her Briggs Army and the Xing people for example? They’re so badass. The overall badassness in the Brotherhood anime is way above the 2003 series anyway. Yeah, sure badassness doesn’t equal good characters either, but it damn well makes them even better.
However, my real problem lies with Ed and there’s one very specific point, where it’s actually pointed out by Mustang, what makes Brotherhood/Manga-Ed so much better and that’s after Al sacrificed himself to safe Ed, the Humunculus is beaten and they question how to get Al back. Someone, I think it was Riza, asked if Ed would sacrifice himself to bring his brother back, exactly what he did in the 2003 series. Mustang’s reply: Ed would never do that, because he knows what it feels like to be left alone and he wouldn’t dare to put his brother through that. Even though Edward goes from little brat to honorable hero, he stays true to his morals throughout the entire series and values life over absolutely everything. This inculdes his own life, because he realized as much as he needs his friends, his friends also need him and he can’t just throw his life away and leave them alone putting them in agony over his death. This is made even more clear, when he tells “God” he’s fine being a normal human without transmutation powers, because he has his friends with him. This goes against everything he did in the 2003 series, with the entire “I safrifice myself for you”- bullsh*t. But wait, didn’t Al die for Ed in Brotherhood? Right, because Al, being the more naive younger brother, didn’t realized the value of life the same way Ed did. Ed had a much greater understanding of his morals and how his decisions impact the lifes of those around him. And don’t get me started on his wonderfully awkward proposal and the kids he has with Winry. Man that was amazingly in character and easily the best proposal in a shounen I’ve ever seen.
And just let me tell you about the most prominent plot-whole that is usually forgotten: The homunculi are the portayal of the 7 deadly sins. In the 2003 series, they’re created by people who attempt human transmution and eventually they end up with all 7 deadly sins. All finde and dandy in the series, but think a bit further, because due to plot convenices, the anime never has another person attempt human transmutation. Why? Because there are no more deadly sins left. Would a new one just pop up? Would every further human transmutation horribly fail to the point that no homunculus is created, because all spots are taken at the moment? The creation of homunculi is the biggest plotwhole the anime has to deal with. Of course the alternate universe Nazi stuff didn’t made any sense either, but at least they explained it somewhat reasonable. The homunculi, there’s just no way they can get away with that explanation, because it doesn’t hold itself against a very simple question: what if an 8th person attempts a human transmutation? This simple question completely destroys the entire foundation of the entire anime.
And just for good reasons, have a badass Mustang, Riza and Armstrong pic.