Fullmetal Alchemist



Plot-heavy sci-fi anime can get quite violent.
Popular with kidsParents recommend

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Ed and Al are essentially good people trying to do the right thing. But they live in a very violent world.


A serial killer targets and "carves up" women; beatings, brutal deaths, executions.

Not applicable

Frequent use of words like "damn" and "hell."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some soldier characters smoke.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this dense, complicated anime series -- which airs as part of Cartoon Network's Adult Swim lineup and is based on the popular Japanese comic (it was voted the most popular cartoon of all time in Japan in 2005 and 2006) -- can be quite violent. There are some brutal deaths, executions, and a serial killer who carves up women. The violence is by far the strongest content; language is generally on the mild side ("damn," "hell," etc.), and there's not much sex, drinking, or consumerism to worry about. It's worth noting that the complex story line requires a fair amount of foreknowledge and commitment to keep up with -- this is more of a long-term investment than a show to drop in and out of casually.

What's the story?

When their mother succumbs to a terminal illness, young brothers Edward (voiced by Vic Mignogna) and Alphonse (Aaron Dismuke) try to bring her back to life by learning the secrets of alchemy (in their world, alchemy means transmuting any matter from one form into another). But their attempt fails, leaving Edward with a prosthetic left arm and left leg, and Alphonse's soul transferred into a hulking suit of armor. FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST follows the brothers as they try to get their natural bodies back. To become the youngest "state alchemist" in history, at the age of 12, Edward proves that he can "transmute" matter without the assistance of ancient symbols, spells, or tools. Now as a state alchemist, he is afforded the ability to locate and retrieve the Philosopher's Stone, which can help him and Al return to their previous normal bodies.

Is it any good?


Fullmetal Alchemist is an extremely complicated series that will probably sail over the heads of most kids. Parents of teens should consider the very mature subject matter -- for example, a serial killer who carves up young women, an assassin who believes himself to be the tattooed messenger of God, and a political leader whose first name is "King" but whose title is "Fuhrer." All this goes to explain why the show airs as part of the Cartoon Network's late-night Adult Swim lineup.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the appeal of long-running anime series with complicated mythologies. What draws people into these shows? Do you have to start at the beginning to really understand it, or can you catch up? What do these types of shows have in common? Families can also discuss one of the series' central themes -- the idea of "Equivalent Exchange." Is the idea -- that to obtain anything, something of equal or greater value must be lost -- realistic? How does it apply (if it does) in real life?

TV details

Cast:Aaron Dismuke, Travis Willingham, Vic Mignogna
Network:Cartoon Network
Genre:Science Fiction
TV rating:TV-PG
Available on:DVD

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  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 13 years old Written byMiwa-Sempai June 13, 2009

Wonderful anime!

I think this is the only anime in which I actually like the main character! It's a wonderful series, one that really has me hooked. (I've been watching the Japanese version, which is probably a lot bloodier and more iffy, so my review will be a little off.) The show is on in the middle of the night, so there's really no reason little children would watch. The show's perfectly fine for 13+. The series touches on religion a lot in the Japanese version. A man kills other people frequently because he believes it's "God's will," and believes himself to be God's messenger. The main enemies are named after the Seven Deadly Sins (Envy, Lust, Gluttony, etc). The main characters, Edward and Alphonse, are aetheists (as with all the other alchemists), and they openly admit it and wear their aetheism as a badge of pride. Believers in God are ridiculed a lot. In this series, God really doesn't exist. (Again, reduce the religious themes by half and you'll probably have the English version.) Violence is the same as every other anime: punching, shooting, mild blood, etc. As with other animes, morality is questioned and twisted a lot, and there really isn't a line between good actions and evil actions. Plus, one character (rightfully named Gluttony), is a cannibel and one third of what comes out of his mouth is "Can I eat him/her/them?" After asking, he usually proceeds to eat him/her/them after recieving stares from his teammates. (It's always just implied though, the most it shows is somewhat bloody remains of who Gluttony ate. Its not as bad as it sounds.) There's also mild swearing. That pretty much covers all the profanity. Honestly, anyone who watches Bleach or Death Note should watch this. It's very good!
Teen, 14 years old Written byTV-14lv October 26, 2009

Good anime

Fullmetal Alchemist is a really great anime. The storyline is very original and really good. The only problem is the violence. There is a lot of and violence in this series, so some kids might get scared or disturbed. If you are around 15, 16, or 17, it’s probably okay. If you get easily scared, this is probably not the anime for you. But if you’re not sensitive to blood or violence, then I would recommend this anime. The language is very mild. They might say stuff like da*mn or h*ll. I am giving it 4 out of 5 stars.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Parent of a 10 year old Written bypaulhiggins April 11, 2010

FMA focuses heavily on revenge.

My 10 year-old son was introduced to it by a 12 year-old friend. I think that it is a bit strong for my son's age (he will be 11 in July). But I do not want to forbid it. I have watched two episodes with him and we talk about the "revenge" components of the story. I try to use it to express our family values related to conflict resolution and try to emphasize the difference between how fictional stories are told and how real life works.
What other families should know
Too much violence


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