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15 Reasons Why FMA 2003 Is Better Than FMA Brotherhood

Updated November 13, 2018 42.0k votes 5.4k voters 107.3k views15 items

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Among the list of must-see anime is Fullmetal Alchemist, a captivating series about two brothers named Edward and Alphonse Elric, who travel the world as State Alchemists to find the legendary Philosopher's Stone. The Elric brothers’s journey to regain what they’ve lost after failing to resurrect their late mother through alchemy is a rollercoaster of human emotions.

For every small victory comes an emotional loss, but as the series’s motto goes, “to gain something, an alchemist must sacrifice something of equal value.” The story of Fullmetal Alchemist resonates with so many anime fans, however, with two anime adaptations available, it didn't take long for arguments to erupt over which one is better.

Both the 2003 version of Fullmetal Alchemist and the 2009 series, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, are worth watching. Each series brought a unique perspective to the original manga story by Hiromu Arakawa. While Brotherhood is generally thought of as superior for merely sticking closer to the manga, there are crucial aspects of the original anime series that are simply better. 

Below are 15 reasons why Fullmetal Alchemist 2003 is better than Brotherhood. If you enjoy this list, make sure to check out 30 of the best Fullmetal Alchemist AMVs of all time.

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  • 5

    Sloth Offers A Compelling Dynamic In FMA

    Photo: Bones

    Among the most significant differences between the 2003 anime and Brotherhood are the depictions of certain Homunculus. Sloth, for example, is a vastly different character in Brotherhood than the original anime. Brotherhood sticks to the manga version by making Sloth a cliché "muscle man" who always complains about doing work. The 2003 anime, however, portrays Sloth as a failed Human Transmutation of Ed and Al’s mom.

    Female Sloth brings a fascinating angle to the 2003 anime as she is a physical manifestation of Ed and Al’s past sin.

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  • 6

    FMA Plays Up The Mystery Aspect

    Photo: Bones

    What makes Fullmetal Alchemist so engaging to watch is the constant mystery behind the Philosopher's Stone and the politics behind its creation. Both the 2003 and 2009 versions of the anime delve into grey areas, yet, as Brotherhood goes along, the story becomes disappointingly more black and white.

    The line between good guys and bad guys is made crystal clear; leaving no room for moral ambiguity. As a result, Brotherhood isn’t as suspenseful as the 2003 anime, which constantly questions the action of its characters and alludes to the inhuman creation of the Philosopher's Stone.

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  • 7

    Questioning Humanity Is A Major Theme In FMA

    Photo: Bones

    One of the most captivating themes of the Fullmetal Alchemist series is its questioning of human morality. It doesn't just examine the actions of the military, but the Elric brothers as well. It not only has moments that highlight the frailty of its young protagonists, but FMA argues the rights and wrongs of killing those born from a alchemist’s failed attempt at playing God.

    Brotherhood isn’t devoid of these notes, but it never fully explores the grey areas these subject matters provide.  

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  • 8

    FMA Has Better Pacing

    Photo: Bones

    If there’s one thing most Fullmetal Alchemist fans can agree on, it’s that the early episodes of the 2003 anime were paced more diligently than the 2009 anime. Brotherhood writers wanted to get to the material the 2003 anime didn't by speeding through the stories everyone already saw. However, the results are somewhat varied.

    Key moments in the early run of the series don't carry the same emotional weight in Brotherhood as they did in the 2003 anime. Not to mention, the assumption that everyone had seen the 2003 anime gives Brotherhood a niche appeal. To put it simply, the 2003 anime is a standalone, accessible show, while Brotherhood gives off a “for the fans only” vibe.

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