What parents need to know
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?