Tuesday, 4 February 2014

How I discovered FMA by chance






FMA means Fullmetal Alchemist, a popular, award-winning manga and anime by Hiromu Arakawa. A fab story that I happened upon by chance -- and that's thanks to my beading, actually!

To connect the dots, we need to travel some years back in time when there was still a channel called ZTV in Sweden. It was pretty much dying at the time and one of the few things they aired was a whole bunch of anime series late at night. At the time I was spending many late nights in the beading room, often with a kitten in my lap, and in order to dispel the darkness and quiet I had the telly on. For some reason I one day zapped through the few channels available to me until finding anime on it, something relatively unusual in swedish channels and something I liked (albeit never seen much of as I've always been more of a manga person and anime wasn't widely available for me to get interested in). Some days I watched a few minutes before continuing to zap, but other days I stopped at ZTV for the whole night. As it was in the middle of all the three or four series aired in a row, I didn't pay that much attention. It was probably not even the best or most action packed episodes that I first stumbled upon and sometimes a protagonist does something mid-series that you find hard to sympathize with unless you know the background. But somehow I kept "bumping into" these two young guys called Ed and Al. And I got hooked, totally sucked into the story. Even when not understanding many of the things happening or persons referred to. The other animes were ok, I began following one of the others too, but nothing was as good as FMA. I became an instant fan and watched it more or less religiously to the end -- after which they put the series on a loop so I could watch it again, this time from the beginning.

Serendipity is perhaps what english-speaking people would call it. I knew nothing of FMA, found it by chance -- and was enthralled. I would sit in the dark with a sleeping cat as my only company and watch it. Night after night, just getting more and more hooked.

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The above video is of the "outro" used in the episodes where I began watching. The song is Motherland by Crystal Kay. This was the song that ended the first episodes of FMA I watched so for me it's synonymous with the series -- and the same goes for this opening, Undo by Cool Joke. Everytime I hear just the intro of the song, I can see the scenes inside my head. You can a longer version of it here. The reason I didn't include that video here is that it shows images from Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood and I haven't seen that, nor have I got as far in the manga (due to various reasons). Haven't seen the movie(s) either, by the way -- and I still count myself as a huge fan... Anyway, while I have of cause stumbled onto many spoilers by now, I try to avoid them if I can. Even small ones.

Funny footnote regarding the video: were I began watching the anime, Winry isn't in the story so I never really understood who she -- and Den (the dog) -- was. It just seemed like silly (albeit pretty innocent) fanservice at first due to some parts of it. Once you see the story from the beginning, this ending used for episodes 26-41 makes so much more sense.

God, how that song makes we wish I could buy the soundtrack (for the original anime series) and the boxed set of the manga right now!

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So what am I trying to say with this blog post? Other than how much I want the soundtrack and full set of the manga, that is. Well, most of all it's a story of how one can just by chance stumbled upon something one will fall completely in love with. It could just as well had been that I opted to listen to music instead of turning on the telly. Or that I settled for another channel. The probability of my never seeing even one episode of FMA was so much bigger than the probability that I would. And to think I would've missed out on such an amazing thing... It was so close. I almost missed out on a fab story. It's almost with horror that I think of how close it was that I never would've gotten to know Ed, Roy, Riza and all the others.

Of cause, that's life: we accidentally stumble onto things that have the potential to change something in our lives, but we never know what we might have stumbled onto had things been just slightly different. We don't miss those things that we didn't encounter or that didn't happen to us because we never were aware of them so we don't need to mourn the missed things. They aren't like opportunities missed because we didn't take the chance or were forced to decline them. If we miss one thing, there's another probably just as exciting around the corner. But once you do stumble over something, you can't imagine life without it as it was such a treat. Perhaps it sparked inspiration, made you reflect over your life or just change in some other way, maybe it was just something that made just happy or fill up with strong emotions. If just every so slightly, it added to or changed something in your life, your lifestyle/interests or your memory. I'm so thankful and happy that FMA was one of the things I stumbled over by chance and which left a beautiful impression in me!

I hope that I can perhaps pass this little nugget on to someone else who isn't familiar with anime and therefore haven't heard of it before. Maybe you'll be the next FMA fan?

5 comments:

  1. The series is awesome. FMA and FMA:Brotherhood start out very much the same, but end differently. The original was coming out at the same time as the manga, so the plot diverges. Brotherhood sticks to the plot of the manga more. Both are excellent. The movies follow the plot of the original Fullmetal Alchemist, so I would watch those after you finish the series. I hope you enjoy the rest of what you have to watch/read! Also, if you are looking for recommendations, let me know. I haven't seen some of the newer anime, but my sister and I do have a decent collection of anime/manga that span many genres.

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    1. Be careful to tempt me, I might end up spending a lot of money on it! *lol*

      But, yes please, I always welcome tips, especially regarding manga as I'm more likely to sit in bed reading that finding a place to sit down a watch anime. My collection is too small (spanning e.g. Mushishi, FMA, Emma, Angel Sanctury, Nausicaa, Gunslinger Girl, one volume of Mermaid Saga, three volumes of XXXholic and some stand-alone titles). My sis isn't that into manga, but she's a One Piece fan.

      One anime I'm curious about is Mushishi. Have only read the first two books, but have heard very positive things about the anime and it'd be nice to see the fairytale mood in animated form.

      I've recently read that Studio Gibhli will do an adaptation of Ronja Rövardotter (Ronia Robber's daughter) and I'm really on the fence. On one hand, I love Ronja as so many do. On the other hand, you can't really beat Tage Danielsson's movie and I worry it won't be as good as Astrid's book or Tage's adaptation... Otherwise that would be one anime to really look forward to. Will be curious, but still hesitant. One positive thing would be if the talk of the anime makes people who aren't as familiar with Astrid Lingren as us swedes discover the book. And perhaps also the movie.

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    2. Well, remember that Studio Ghibli always makes a story their own. Howl's Moving Castle (if you haven't seen it, you MUST) is based off a book of the same name, but isn't quite the same. Just like The Secret World of Arrietty is based off of The Borrowers, but again, isn't quite the same. Try to keep an open mind as far as that is concerned.

      On the note of manga, have you read Tsubasa Chronicle? It can be read right along side XXXHolic. I personally love a manga series titled V.B. Rose. It's a shoujo manga (meant for girls) and revolves around people in the wedding business. It really gets me inspired for jewelry making.

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  2. Interesting post. Today I decided to listen to a hip hop group on Spotify. I never listened actively to that kind of music before. Some of the lyrics were really interesting. I will not close my ears when I hear hip hop again!
    I love Sailor Moon. I might be the next FMA fan. Milka

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    1. One can really find interesting things when not dismissing it as something one won't like instead of reading/watching/listening to each individual artist/writer/book/tv show/song. It's so easy to think "that's not my cup of tea" as it's associated with a genre one has encountered -- shall we call it -- less interesting aspects of. I read fantasy, a typical genre many people dismiss, but if they instead sat down and read (or watched) a select number of works they'd find something they'd love. It's just that they saw a label and weren't interested because they've read something awful or mediocre labelled the same. But a genre can be so wide, it's just about being open to finding the gold nuggets. Every genre or style has it's gold nuggets (and, on the opposite side of the scale, crap).

      You really should check FMA out -- you won't be disappointed (I hope)! In my local library, they have the swedish edition of the manga (sadly believe they ceased publishing it before the end as there's only 18 volumes). If your library has it, or the english edition, you could have a free sneak peek there. Some bookshops might still have it on the shelves, not least SF-bokhandeln. Not sure if any library has the anime though. There's always clips on YouTube if you're curious (but beware of spoilers and english -- or other foreign -- dubs!).

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