When Netflix announced its release lineup for February on Tuesday, it included an item slated for release on February 19 called “Fullmetal Alchemist — NETFLIX ORIGINAL.” Before you get excited that Netflix is producing its own extension of the widely beloved anime universe, just know that it’s a digital distribution of the live-action film that was release in late 2017.
We saw similar branding with Final Fantasy XIV: Dad of Light in that something produced in Japan got picked up by Netflix for American distribution.
Across the internet, diehard Fullmetal Alchemist fans had been dragging the live-action adaption ever since the first images released — and even more so as trailers emerged. It’s far too easy to hate on live-action anime adaptations, especially because so many, like Tokyo Ghoul and Attack on Titan, are really, really bad.
Though the Fullmetal Alchemist movie suffers in some similar ways, it still manages to be interesting, exciting, and is altogether watchable enough that it could serve as an entry point for curious fans. We should all be excited that it’s making its way to Netflix.
Across its many iterations Fullmetal Alchemist is a story about brotherhood in a world where alchemy, a kind of magical science, defines the culture of a Germanic nation. Edward and Alphonse Elric are two brothers that try forbidden alchemy to revive their dead mother, and in the ensuing horror, Ed loses an arm and a leg and Al winds up a disembodied soul bound to a suit of armor. They grow into brilliant alchemists, joining the military to seek the Philosopher’s Stone that could help them restore their bodies.
Directed by Fumihiko Sori, the film condenses a long story into an action-packed 2 hours and 13 minutes that reveres and celebrates its source material. An overreliance on CGI and underacting across the cast makes that 133 minutes feel longer than it should at times, which is why when the movie did finally release, it met mostly negative reviews.
Hardcore fans of either classic anime series based on Fullmetal Alchemist might be disappointed by missing characters or alterations to the plot, but the intriguing nature of alchemy and the spectacle that is a delightful Italian setting will be enough to keep most viewers enticed.
Fullmetal Alchemist will be released on Netflix February 19, and that’s probably why both anime series Fullmetal Alchemist and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood came back to Netflix on January 1.