Yes, yes, it seems we have a confirmed airdate now. Or, well, not a date. A month. April 2009. Fullmetal Alchemist. I find it curious that it’s just “Fullmetal Alchemist” though. There is no “2” tacked on. No subtitle. The ten second clip on the official website doesn’t seem to reveal anything new or big (the video’s also on YouTube since the website’s getting lagged to death by otaku). The character designs are the same as before. Al is still in his armor body. Roy still has both his eyes. If I didn’t know better, I’d say we were just seeing a trailer for the original series. What’s going on here? Am I going to get my wish after all? Is the ending of the first series and that movie going to be retconned? Are we picking up from halfway through the series and finishing it from there?
Some people seem to be speculating that this series will start from the beginning, but this time, it’ll strictly follow the manga. I haven’t seen anything official regarding this yet, so I’ll believe it when I see it, but I don’t think it’s an unlikely possibility. I still haven’t read the manga myself, but I might have to soon if this is the case. I think it’ll be incredibly weird to go through the anime again with this alternate storyline though — especially if character designs, voices, etc, etc, remain unchanged. Has something like this ever happened before? Has a series that veered off from its source material gotten redone so that it’s now true to the original?
Having this new series follow the manga might be the best way to go. Undoubtedly, there are still leftover populations of manga fans that have always hated the original anime because of all the changes and differences. They’ll be happy to finally see the story they loved best adapted into a faithful anime version. The fans of the first anime will probably go along with it… after all, it’s hard to argue against original sources, even if they did like the first series better. The first series ended. What can you do? The ending sucked. Do you really want a direct sequel to that? I’m still very much opposed to the idea of Fullmetal Alchemist: The Diary of the Elric Brothers!
Obviously the catch to a faithful manga adaptation is the fact that Arakawa still isn’t finished with the manga, and from what I hear, it isn’t anywhere near an ending point. If that’s the case, then it doesn’t really matter how faithful to the manga this new series starts off — it’ll have to start making shit up eventually. What’s the point of that? If we’re going to have to start walking the same path as the first anime eventually, why even bother right now? Why not just wait until the damn thing’s finally, actually finished? And there’s also that issue of the repeated material from the first anime that did fit okay with the manga. Are they just going to reanimate it? Or are we going to do an even more severe retcon and pretend a good two thirds of the first anime didn’t exist? It seems like getting that kind of continuity across would just be sloppy and confusing.
So what are our options here?
A) Completely new start. 100% faithful to the manga. Reanimate the beginning, don’t veer off like the original anime did. …Make something up when we reach the current point of the manga? Start making filler episodes while waiting for an ending??
B) Do some kind of weird continuity thing by starting off partway through the first anime. Somehow work in the missing material from the manga. …Make up some new kind of ending??
C) Pick up where the original anime left off. The trailer could just be a “summary” or “reminder” kind of clip that doesn’t immediately give away what had been the ending of the first series. May or may not re-incorporate missing elements from the manga? Still has to make up another ending.
D) Completely new start. Fuck the manga! Fuck the original anime! Make something else up entirely!
Seems like the ending is still the most problematic point. No matter if they pick A, B, C, or even D, they have to make something up at some point because the manga isn’t done. This is why I’ve always hated the idea of adapting series that aren’t finished. Sometimes it works out okay (slice-of-life things like NANA and Nodame Cantabile probably work best), but often, it’s more trouble than it’s worth. I mean, Soul Eater is going along pretty spiffy right now, and I haven’t read the manga for that either, but I know it isn’t finished, I know it’s going slow, and I know we’re just about to catch up to it in the anime — what then? What then?
Wait and see, I guess. Wait and see. For FMA, I don’t really know what I’m hoping for anymore. (D would be kind of hilarious though.)