I have done this before with movies: Winter’s Bone, Book of Eli, This film has not yet been Rated, so on…well, today I am gonna officially do it and recommend “FullMetal Alchemist” (just the original series, not yet Brotherhood- ’cause I have not finished watching it), and I am even gonna make a point to recommend it to women viewers….a dangerous gambit with anime. Why am I making this bold leap here? Well, for one…
Fullmetal was written by a woman; Hiromu Arakawa, somewhat of a rarity in its own right, and perhaps because of that- we as viewers of Fullmetal are spared the endless stream of giggling huge boobed cat girls with swords and actually given some pretty awesome, intelligent, capable, very human (or wishing to be) women characters…oh yeah, and an actual story with a plot. And while the central characters are the male, the Elric Brothers…well, it suffices to say without some of the female characters in the story- they would not get far.
The plot in FullMetal is actually pretty complex, and while the series can take a few episodes to actually get into and get you grabbed, once I got to episode three or so, I was hooked. Vlad introduced me to Fullmetal, and while I gave him the hairy eyeball after the first episode he promised if I stuck with it, I would love it…and he was right. I can also honestly say that while my two favorite characters in the series are MALE! (Mustang) and Male? (Envy), I am convinced that part of the reason I liked Fullmetal so much is because well, yep, the women all kick ass in their own special way: Be it Granny who looks after the boys but gives ‘em hell when they deserve it, or Teacher, who is the most hard ass housewife/alchemy teacher…ever….or even Gracia Hughes, who turns out to be a quiet source of strength in a time of tragedy…all of the women in it are pretty cool, each in their own way…and those I just mentioned are background characters…the women in the forefront of the story? Holy Crow….
Take Lt. Hawkeye for instance, my favorite of the Fullmetal women. One, military gal. Two, takes no crap from the military dudes she works with. Three- very good with guns. Generally in any sort of entertainment the strong silent type with the huge heart is a man…in this story? It’s Hawkeye. We see her often put up with the utter arrogance and over-confidence of her superior officer (heh, Mustang), and yep, she saves his bacon a few times…and while there is something definitely going on between those two…it adds to the story rather than detracts from it. We get to see Hawkeye be all business when on the job, but also all human, when for instance, she explains to Winry why she became a soldier. Oh, and the woman has mad skills when it comes to housebreaking puppies.
Another of the awesome military women in FullMetal is Second Lt. Ross. Ross is assigned to bodyguard the Brothers in the story, a job they do not make easy, but one she does take seriously…and while technically via him being a State Alchemist, Edward out-ranks her, Ross does not let that stop her from giving him the occassional what for. In the series she is paired with another soldier, a male one, and often…Ross is portrayed as the far more competent one…which is kinda nice. She also has to put up with Armstrong…which is like a gift unto itself..
Another prominent woman in the FullMetal series is Winry Rockbell, a life long friend of the brothers and automail mechanic who often sees to the upkeep of Edward’s mechanical arm and leg. Winry is awesome because yep, sure enough, she is the cute, blonde, hot girl…but also a total gearhead tomboy who tends to deal with people disrespecting her or her work via…a wrench to the head. Like the boys, she is a teenager in the story and has been raised by her Grandmother, and while often Winry is the emotional glue that holds everyone together, that does not stop her from being both tough and competant…and well pretty. It was nice to see that a character that in any other anime merely would have ended up as love interest fodder/cheesecake did not…and well, how am I not gonna love that she’s a mechanic?
And I would be horribly remiss and utterly not myself if I did not mention FullMetal’s wonderful, awesome, complex, and very, very evil woman villain: Lust. Now, her name and the way she looks might give you a certain idea about this gal…but let me assure you, on this one, you are wrong. Lust is a woman with a mission, and one cold, cold customer. Smart, savvy, driven, deadly, devious…yeah, that’s Lust for ya. If you like bad guys, well, its gonna be real hard not to like Lust. She’s….evil.
So yeah, women folk, if you like anime but are sick of the fluffy, bouncing-boobed utterly stupid and or useless women characters found in soooo much of it? Lemmie heartily recommend some FullMetal Alchemist…where the gals are way more than eyecandy in short skirts.
*in the first series there is some debate about whether or not Envy is male or female, but this is eventually determined…and while drawn very androgynous and voiced by a woman…popular opinion and the original manga states he’s a he..even if he does not necessarily remember that.
I do also wanna say though, that cartoon or not, FullMetal is not a kid show. There isn’t nudity, but there is violence in spades and some seriously bleak and adult themes in it. People (Americans, anyway) often make the mistake of thinking that if it is a cartoon, its for kids. Not the case, so if you have little ones around, FullMetal is NOT for them.
And why yes, it is currently available on the Net Flix insta-watch thingy….