Wow. This month's edition of Mail Desk is going to be a long one! We received a lot of replies on Maria's Fullmetal Alchemist editorial, and yes, we finally have a search engine to make reviewing our archive so much easier! Contact us via email about this month's articles or whatever else that you'd like us to weigh in on! Without any more jibjab, let's jump in!
Hello guys, i made some cool discovery. Is this site new? www.animetribe.com
or any of u guys heard of it?
No idea about it, but I'm all for anime online communities!
Loved the April Fools joke!
I just love your monthly publication. I do not mind the excuses or if you are a few days late.
Please keep up the good work!
I'm just happy that someone saw our little joke and enjoyed it! Patrick and the others had fun penning the article, so all praise out to them!
How about a review of Gankutsuou next month ? You can even see Dumas making
an appearance as the design on Beauchamps jacket around episode 5 or so.
I agree that FMA is overrated. I enjoyed it but the way I explain it to people is that it's a good series for the younger audiences, people older than high school age would probably like Gankutsuou or Stand Alone Complex better.
I foresee a review of Gankutsuou in the future. As to when... My crystal ball is a little foggy.
And now for a peek at some of the mail we received in response to our first installment of Anime Debunked. Yes, it's Fullmetal Alchemist mail time!!!
Hunter x Hunter...
Neon Genesis Evangelion...
Both Ghost in the Shell films...
The whole of Dragonball...
And so on and so on
All have little plot, make little sense in either language, have little meaning, but are supposed to be "psychological". All of them have abrupt or wanting endings, but EVA and GITS, etc. are hailed as some of the greatest of all times. Weak or unfinished endings are rife throughout Anime history, and little plot or vageries are pretty common too. It doesn't take away the ability to enjoy them on one level or another. Like you said, the animation is good, the acting is great, and it is one of the first really fresh concepts in a long time. I watched it all, though the cohesiveness is weak and ambles it does have a strong underlying theme and plot. There are a few contradictions, solopsisms and sloppiness in the writing, for sure.
But we cannot throw it out wholesale, now can we? If we look at every anime with that over-anylitical, Post-modernist eye, most of it wouldn't be worth watching.
Thank you for that FullMetalAlchemist article
For one, I completely agree with your point of view about the series. Except I personally started seeing the abuses of storyline elements and the constant sentimentality in FMA after only a few episodes in. And yes, the finale is sorta infuriating for any intelligent anime viewer to sit FIFTY episodes only to get an ending like that.
Also, I think you did a great service to the anime community, atleast to some receptive readers that just because an anime is popular, not voicing out about such things would be bad not for the anime community but the anime industry itself.
First of all, I'd like to say that I'm a huge fan of AnimeFringe and have been for a few months now. Thanks for making this a great website, and keeping it at no cost to us fans.
Now, on to the subject. Your article "Anime Debunked: Fullmetal Hype" is brilliant. I admit, at first, I was extremely impressed with the anime. I was so happy to see the lack of girls with big boobs whipping a katana around. "Finally, an anime for the intellectuals," I thought. Now I see how wrong I was. I watched this series in about 2 weeks or so, at first not wanting it to end. Yet, to my disappointment, it just kept going downhill.
I noticed this around episode 25. Hughes DIED. WTF? He was my favorite character. I knew after that episode that I couldn't look at the series in the same light. I cried and cried. My mom called me pathetic. I moped around and felt miserable the whole day. Episodes passed, and I tried to watch it with the same interest I had before the evil 25. But I couldn't. It started to bore me; every second of the show something depressing happened to a character. I was always expecting bad thing to happen, but worse things always came.
Then the final few episodes came. Was it episode 50 when Ed gets transported to London? Anyways, my point is, it was at the very last seconds of the series. I was so utterly confused by WHY and HOW he was in London. And at the very last episodes! I had no idea how they were going to wrap it up.
But they did, using shotty storyline and poor development, again. Then, when 51 came, I was just appaled. How the hell did his father come into the storyline? He was only in it a few episodes before, and only for a few minutes, and now he was some major character? And who the hell was Dante? I didn't understand her character at all. I tried to be positive. I tried to like the ending, but when I saw all the adults sitting around, hugging babies and chatting in Rizenbul, I was pissed. Hadn't they realized what happened? I just couldn't fathom it. The only thing good about the last episode was the Roy/Riza part (hehe, I couldn't help adding a LITTLE bit of fangirlism).
Erm, sorry for this long rant. You'll probably get flamed a lot for this article, but I'm certainly praising you. Hopefully all this hype will die down in a while; hey, maybe your article will help put a stop to it.
P.S. As if in attempt to wrap all the many, many mysteries left in the show, they're making a movie. It's going to have to be around a 12-hour movie to do that.
no offense, maria, but hemingway has only one M and there is more than one way
write a story. a lot of what you talked about as elements of a good story comes
straight from aristotle's definition of tragedy, and i do agree with you that
that change that needs to happen inside the characters, catharsis cannot happen.
i'm not so sure about your sense that the writers are painting themselves into
corner. most anime (simply by virtue of the fact that it IS anime for one
be classified as postmodern, and a lot of the rules of story change when that is
where you're coming from. that the plot deconstructs itself could be a
move on the part of the creators of the series. however, i also agree that
anime is now becoming popular and the almighty dollar, or euro or yen, seems to
more of a priority, there is a danger that the genre could be affected.
of course, if you follow sturgeon's law that says 98% of all writing,etc. is
it's bound to apply to anime as well.
take heart... satoshi kon's 'paranoia agent' is a real treasure and proof
is still alive and well alongside incredibly beautiful animation and miyazaki
fails to deliver.
i enjoyed your piece and i commend you for speaking your mind.
I read your FMA review on animefringe. I just have to say that although *some* of the facts were slightly skewed, I agree with you in the long run. I'm sure by now you've already had about a thousand emails screeching at you for not wanting to bow down and worship the anime. Or not, I don't know. But seriously don't pay attention (I'm sure that you aren't of course). It's currently being talked about on the official FMA live journal, if you wanted to know. I'd give you my point of view on your article but since I've already ranted about it there, I guess I'll just copy and paste.
Forgive my laziness.
To me, the show totally screwed up on what is supposed to be the main theme of
show (since the entire show began and ended with this philosophy, plus they had
huge rant about it which was practically an episode long) - Equivalent Trade.
did they ultimately decide? I don't think they even know. The ending was a
I also agree with the point on characters. Lots of things were focused upon which ultimately didn't matter to the story. Winry's feelings about her parents, Lust's need for love, in fact the Homunculus desire to be human, didn't contribute whatsoever to the ending. It was an attempt to flesh out their characters so as to create fans for characters. Fandom = $
In the end although I enjoyed the series, I count FMA alchemist among those anime which pretend to have a lot of depth and meaning. But really they just have a bunch of messed up and undeveloped philosophies that don't really seem to have any coherency. What the hell is equivalent trade? Again, I don't think they really know. But anime watchers often mistake 'not making any sense' for 'being really profound'. After all the quickest way to make a story seem profound and intelligent is to have a bunch of stuff which doesn't really make any sense in the long run. For further reference, see Evangelion and Rahxephon (and please explain to me the significance of the world freaking turning into an egg).
Yet I know lots of people who like to try to explain to me the significance of Eva in an attempt to sound/feel smart. I can always tell they really have no clue what they're talking about, which is understandable since neiether does the anime. It's the same for FMA.
But I really do like the series, despite what I've said. It's entertaining. I just don't see it as the great masterpiece of story telling that other people seem to.
Um yeah. So don't let those rabid FMA fangirls beat an apology out of you
I'm sure you've been spamed enough on this topic but I must reply
that you sound soo much like a friend of mine. I'm not here to defend
FMA (everyone has there opinions, and you seemed to be about to let
all your steam out), but there are things I want to claify in the
story. One, yes the series was based on a manga and with that I think
you should at least consider the authors work as a good SHONEN. Two,
I love elements of fiction, and I believe the story was holding a
strong theme on "learning from your mistakes", you article reminded
me alot about Shakespeare's Romeo and Juilet, and I think the theme
of the story was based on characters not being about to learn from
their past (have your read Of Mice and Men?), which reflects on Ed
who's motive changed near the end from it. Some errors in your
article are most likly from seeing the whole series in one or two
sittings (I got pissed too soo please don't be mad...). But like I
said before I'm not here to defend, I just hope at the least that YOU
learn from this mistake (watching FMA) and don't die in the same type
of tragiedy as Romeo and Juilet happy.gif.I think deep down you many have
loved the story but like candy, it just goes away too quicky to call
Ok I may not agree with on the article but it was very nice. You
expressed your point with facts you found to be true. I really don't
know because I have only seen up to what they have played on Cartoon
Now a day there are more and more anime in this world. With all the anime being created there will be those who get worse and worse as the anime progresses and there will be those anime's who slowly die a very painful death. There are some that are good and there are other where you cant stand to even hear the name let alone watch them for even one second. In my eyes nothing will ever compare to the old school anime. These would be like Cowboy Bebop, Trigun, and all the Gundams they ever made.
PS. I love all the other articles you also wrote
Thank you for your FMA review. It was about time somebody voiced a
differing opinion. Full Metal Alchemist IS cool at first glance, but the
series lost me somewhere around episode thirty. I liked episode 37, but
then, it focused on Roy and company--the only characters that ever
interested me. I decided that the show could not possibly get better than
episode 37, only worse, and I have yet to watch another episode in the
series. I don't plan to.
Good to know that I'm not alone!
Here's a reply from Maria, clarifying some of the points raised in the more critical replies that she received. Trust me, this is just a sampling of what we recieved!
"First, let me repeat the disclaimer on the site and say that what I wrote was an editorial and not a review. My personal opinion doesn't reflect the opinion of the site, and in fact one of the other staff members threatened me bodily harm for being so vocal with my disappointment. I never would have been so biased if I was reviewing the show in its entirety, but this particular article was only about the flaws in the fiction element of FMA. That's why I prefaced everything by mentioning the elements of fiction. (It wasn't to sound preachy, I swear.)
There were things I liked a lot about this series. Scar, for example, was just hardcore. And he was very human by holding so much hatred for a general group of people and still finding sympathy of Al. He was trapped in his hate and his purpose, and so his death was fitting for him. I felt that the Elric brothers were trapped in a similar way, and that even though they matured, they didn't grow in that fundamental way that allowed them to step back and prevent their own destruction. When Ed gave his life that final time for his brother, and he arrived unhurt in another dimension, I felt the anime was basically sabotaging its most prominent message.
I agree with what tsukishirou said, that the angle from which I approached the show has its limitations. Art is subjective. There’s no way I can get around that, so anything I write has to be opinion. As a fan what I want primarily from anime is a good solid story, so if someone else is interested more in character interaction or the surface elements of a plot, it’s understandable that that person would disagree with me.
If there’s anything anyone wants to point out to me, or beat me with, you can get to me through the contact link on the article page. I’m more than willing to continue this discussion. And, if someone wants to write a response to the article, I’ll ask and see if Animefringe will publish it. The site is a fan endeavor, so anyone who wants to provide content is welcome to do so."
I really enjoyed your article on Full Metal. I am keeping up with it
via Cartoon Network and I must say, they have me sucked in. I haven't
seen the entire series but I had the gut feeling that the anime is on
a long and tense road to no-man's land. After each eposide I need a
drink of water to relax my muscles. Fortunately, the music and visual
candy make up for it. I appreciate the honesty and style of your
article. I look forward to reading more of your work.
Are there any anime you would suggest that captivate the mind as well as the eye?
Maria suggests Monster and Gungrave. Does anyone else out there have some other titles to suggest? Oh, and I lied about this being the last FMA letter.
And one last FMA email:
hehe I realize by now your mailbox must be spammed with thousands of
responses of varying quality, so I'm going to try to keep this short. I am
not a member of the FMA community-- or really any FMA community-- but some
of your comments in your review/editorial were based on literary criticism
... and to be honest they bothered me because they took a very narrow
interpretation of elements of a good story.
Yes FMA has flaws, no denying that. And like many series it has been overhyped practically to death. However the idea that a good story must include certain things ... for example character development, is a bit short sighted. In most stories you will watch the characters grow and change, and the author's point is expressed through the development of the characters in reaction to the plot. However there are other stories that do exactly the opposite. The characters do not change, there are very few lasting revelations and the point is expressed as the audience is forced to watch the main characters essentially commit the same mistake over and over again, each time with worse repercussions until finally the results are so horrific that the story cannot go on. In other words the point of the story is not expressed through character development, but through the reaction of the plot to the character's flawed worldview/philosophy. You're most likely to find stories like this in Greek tragedy. Oedipus, Pentheus, Antigone ... all very good examples of this ... at no point in their respective plays do they grow or develop, but these remain classic works of literature because of their impact on the audience's mind.
As I read your article I couldn't help feeling that the implications at the end of FMA went over your head. I realize that seems like an obvious whiny, obnoxious thing to say ... "You don't like this series, clearly you didn't understand it!!" but I really do get that impression. At the end of the series Ed and Al both promise to find their way back to each other no matter what: for Al this means studying to be a better Alchemist, for Ed it means trying to find a way to perform alchemy in a world without alchemy. We already know prior to this that the alchemy in FMA's world is powered by the deaths of people in our world, and that the greater the alchemy the more people need to be sacrificed. Then at the very last episode we see that Ed has landed himself in Munich in the 1920s (you'll excuse me, I forget the exact date) and that his father is teaching members of the "Thule society" about Alchemy. I suppose the fact that very few people seem to have caught on to the significance of this detail has a lot to say about how we teach our history ... but suffice to say that the Thule Society had members from the top echelons of the Nazi Party and was very imitatively connected to Hitler.
So I see FMA as having a similar structure to say ... Oedipus, in the way that we are made to understand the message not by watching Ed and Al grow and develop (eventually coming to realize that they should not try to bend the world to their wants) but by watching them make essentially the same mistake in a variety of different ways. The series hints at the ultimate consequence of this: that the Holocaust is started in part as Ed and Al's quest to reunite, but doesn't just ANNOUNCE it and frankly that's part of what I like about the ending. If they had made it obvious, it would have been too much, too dark, it would not have had the same effect.
In anycase, FMA is certainly far from perfect ... and this email may change nothing about your opinion of it. That's fine, I just wanted to bring this alternative interpretation of the series to your attention for the sake of argument.
Here's a reply from Maria:
"Thank you very much for your reply. It was the first really thought provoking one I've gotten.
I understand what you're saying, but there's one major difference between FMA and Greek tragedy, or any tragedy. That is, FMA is not tragic. Oedipus looses his eyesight, his family, and his city. Antigone looses her life and the life of her fiance. Their flaws and their refusal to fix them leads to their downfall. And at one point in both those plays both characters make a major decision that decides that downfall. Oedipus insists on finding the murderer of his father even after a seer advises against it. Antigone buries her brother even though that means her death. Both characters also become aware that their tragedy is self inflicted.
In FMA there is neither a sense that the brothers have suffered for being overly selfish, nor is there a point where they make a major decision that either condemns or redeems them. The closest I can get, maybe, is the very begining where they decide to bring back their mother, but even then that establishes their characters instead of reveal a change due to events in the story.
Had FMA taken the tragic route it would have made much more sense, not only to me personally, but in the framework of everything it had set up before hand (Scar, Wrath, and Tucker all presented similar themes that the fate of the Elric brothers threw out the window).
Although I had noted that Ed's dad was working for the Nazis, the possibility that the holoucaust was a direct result of the events in the other world didn't occour to me. I was too busy at that point gaping at the obvious hiccups in logic. sleep.gif; However, if that's true, then I'd have to say the Elric brothers are a particular incarnation of evil, where the ignorant use of their power is so phenominal that they could bring a whole universe down and not even realize it was their fault. That makes them unsympathetic, and as far as I can tell FMA spent the entire series trying to build up sympathy for them, so I'd consider that another conflicting message.
If there's anything you think I'm wrong about, please tell me. I'm starting to like FMA just because it's so fun to debate. XD"
I just wanted to let you know that My Beautiful Girl Mari was lisensed by ADV
back in 2003. You can read the
press release at http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/pressrelease.php?id=77 or
Our mistake. I will say that ADV seems to be sitting on the film, as it hasn't appeared yet domestically, and it was licensed back in 2003. Hopefully, we'll see it soon.
Dear Ms. Fay,
I read with interest your review of "Mari." Two years ago I was fortunate to catch when it showed at the Asian Film Festival here in NYC. I subsequently bought the region 3 dvd and have had no success in getting my friends to watch it. It is an emotionally stringent movie with no rescue for the middle-age protagonists from the decisions made in their youth. Their dreary, grey lives will continue - very different from a film like "Porco Rosso." The film is, however, unique. As far as I can tell, it owes nothing to either American or Japanese animation. I've read that the film is going to get a New York booking this summer. If that is true, I'll be there with as many friends as possible - providing I can get them away from watching "Gantz" of course. I wish you all the best and look forward to reading other reviews by you. Yours sincerely...
Dear Mari Lover:
I would love to see Mari on the big screen, not only because it would look fantastic but also because it would bring it to more people's attention. Here's hoping that it gets shown in New York and you somehow gets your friends to go with you (if they pass up a chance to see it in theaters, then there's no hope for them). Thanks for your comments.
i love japan very much,n i want to know more.i love sakura too,n i really want to go to japan cos i really interest in japan.i hope you tell me more about japan.thank you be4.
We'll keep trying to give you more specials on Japan. In fact, one of our staff members will be heading over there in the near future! Which one? Well, you'll have to guess.
Hey wud up? Me N.M.J.C. THANK YOU so much for the lyrics. I love you so much(not like that). So how have you been? Well g2g so, e-mail you later.
I love your magazine, and how update it is. The question I have is this, why is Hip Hop and in general African- American culture snubbed upon in the eyes of alot of Japanese developers, Anime reviewers, and public opinion. For example, I loved how Watanabe decided to take a chance and put some Hip Hop into the soundtrack of Samurai Champloo. However I heard rumors that the shows ratings over in Japan werent too good, and the decision to have an hip-hop influence wasnt too well received. I have been to Japan maybe 5 years ago, and alot of people seemed to take an interest to hip-hop, so I am wondering why shows like Samurai Champloo arent too well received, or why there isnt a single rememberable character in anime who is black. Maybe I am wrong, maybe things are changing, but I wanted to get some feedback on this. Thanks!
I polled the guys at the office, and it ended up looking like a prime candidate for being an editorial by the time the dust settled. Here's a small sample of their thoughts, as I spoke up while writing the Samurai Champloo feature a few months back.
"As far as the characters in anime not being black, that's because the characters in anime aren't really white...they're asian as it takes place in Japan. That's good enough reason as any for why you don't see to many different ethnic groups. There is another simple reason why blacks aren't represented in anime or manga much...they simply don't show up well. A good example of a popular anime that has a black character would be Macross. Sometimes she came off as too dark. Even American animated shows like Static Shock have that same problem. In manga, it has more to with the fact that all the lines are black and tones are used for shading. But again, anime and manga tend to be about asians."
"Anime that covers politics often depicts race very carefully. Take Mobile Suit Gundam, for example. Even in the original series, everyone has a definte race (not to mention the myraid of races in some of the later series). Amuro's mixed race is of major thematic importance. I know there are other such anime that depicts UN like bodies where race is an issue; the US ambassador or whatever has often been depicted as black in recent anime.
Cowboy Bebop puts a subtle, side emphasis on race. The message of that emphasis is, of course that race doesn't matter; kind of an "it's all good, baby - each culture brings something different" kinda message, but it's defintely there.
Furthermore why look at it as a racial issue: Hip-hop has been big in Japan since the mid 90s (I have a great Best of 1996 Hip-Hop CD here). Hip-hop culture is a major part of Japanese youth culture now. It's not surprising that it is seeing life in anime, seeping in through young people. The associated culture (everything from the slang (Kreva mentions bling on his Shujin CD) to the clothing style to other fashion (corn rows, fros) are common for hip hop artists."
I was wondering, are you able to make a Living in Japan if you are a Vegetarian?
I know the Choices are
Limited, but will it cost too much than a Meat Living will cost?
As far as I know, Maria isn't in Japan and she's not a vegetarian. However, Patrick supplies this thought on vegetarianism in Japan:
"As far as being a vegetarian in Japan, I think it'd actually be easier to do that there than here. In general, meat costs more over there than it does in the US (or any country with lots and lots of land), and while they do consume a lot of fish (well, a lot of marine animals - shrimp, clams, octopi, etc.), they also have a good selection of meatless dishes.
Seaweed, tofu, and other interesting vegetables await visitors to the nation, in addition to more familiar American foodstuffs. Fruit can be a little more expensive than it is over here (depending on the season), but a good variety is certainly available in major cities, at least."
i have only stumbled in your site and i could say the layout's good and all but
i only noticed
there's no search function. the archive was a welcome sight but a search
function would be useful
and much familiar to use if i need to specifically find a topic or a series,
rather than scanning
on all archive issues don't you think?
thank you very much and more power to your site.
orange raven - philippines
Hi Orange Raven!
Well, after a long wait, we finally have a search engine, so feel free to try it out!
Pourquoi avez-vous arété bremen ???
Pourquoi l'avez vous arété?? j'ai montré ce manga a tous mes copains et tous l'on adoré et grace a vous nous formons un groupe de musique
Your email is something like this when translated:
"Why have you stopped Bremen? I showed this manga to all of my friends and everyone loved it, and thanks to you, we formed a music group."
Except I didn't stop Bremen and it's still running in Japan. I have no idea what the company translating Bremen into French is doing release-wise, but you can always import or seek out fan translations.
i am a long time anime, manga lover and i stumbled upon your book on the site animefringe.com and thought that you are really good at what you do!
can you send some anime pictures to me via e-mail? i would like to see more of your excellent work
Well, I'm happy that you think I'm cool and stuff, but I'm no mangaka. I have nothing published...yet. And I'm definitely no artist.
This is to Andrew Chanthaphone. Hi, I'm from Toronto, maybe we're related some how cuz we do have the same last name, if you want hit me back. take care.
Hello Fellow Chantha-clone,
I don't think you're related, but still, Andrew's last name is pretty rare.
Whew! I'm happy to have found myself at the bottom of this near endless mailbag! Email us and weigh in with your opinion! It really does count! Bye bye!