Fullmetal Alchemist gets a live-action adaptation with a release date of Winter 2017. (No U.S. release date, yet.)
Here is the Warner Bros Japan trailer (modified with English subtitles).
Have questions and concerns about a live-action adaptation of Fullmetal Alchemist?
So do we. Let’s explore them.
The Premise for Fullmetal Alchemist:
Brothers Edward and Alphonse Elric attempt to resurrect their mother, after she dies from the plague, by using a transmutation circle of alchemy—it is forbidden to use alchemy to bring back the dead. However, they are first-time Alchemists and are unaware of the Law of Equivalent Exchange—one must provide something of equal value in exchange for the requested item’s value. Their failed attempt at Human Transmutation leads to the loss of Edward’s left leg and Alphonse’s entire body.
In a moment of opportunity, Edward uses his own blood to place a transmutation circle on a suit of armor. Sacrificing his right arm, Edward pulls Alphonse’s soul back through the Gate of Truth and seals Alphonse’s soul to the armor. Even after a moment of defeat, the Elric brothers refuse to give up their original plan to bring back their mother.
The series is set in a fictional European Industrial Age in the country of Amestric. After Edward’s failed attempt at alchemy, the Elric brothers leave their hometown (Resembool) and travel to Central City in hopes of gaining knowledge and experience in alchemy. As Edward and Alphonse venture into the world, as Dogs of the Military, they secretly search for the Philosopher’s Stone so they can bring their mother back to life and return their bodies back to flesh and bone.
Some Questions & Concerns…
As the Elric brothers return to the screen in a live-action adaptation, many fans have concerns. The main one: will this movie be another live-action flop like those painful renditions of Dragonball: Evolution and Attack on Titan? Director Fumihiko Sori is known for his visual effects in Titanic (1997), so one can only hope that Sori’s CG renditions of Alphonse and the other characters of Fullmetal Alchemist will surpass other CG renditions of manga/anime characters—like that cartoonish depiction of the Shinigami Ryuk from Death Note (live-action adaptation, 2006).
Speaking of characters, in the live-action adaptation our flaxen-haired protagonist is aged five years. In the manga and anime, Edward is fifteen, but in Sori’s version of FA, Edward is twenty. This age difference raises questions on where the story’s timeline begins and will there be flashbacks to fifteen-year-old Edward attempting a Human Transmutation to bring back his mother?
There is a lot of chatter on the web about casting only Japanese actors. Yet, Sori defends his choice in stating that “race and nationality aren’t expressed in any specific form.” Sori also stated, “Regarding the faithfulness of the adaptation, which has characters of non-Japanese ethnicity, there will never be a scene in which a character says something that would identify him/her as Japanese”—other than speaking Japanese, of course.
Also, there are rumors that the budget was minimal, which is possibly why Sori chose an all Japanese cast—they couldn’t afford actors of European descent. If that is the case, one could be more understanding of an all-Japanese cast. As a super fan of anime/manga, I am not excited about Scarlett Johanson as Major Kusanagi Motoko. #NotMyMotoko. Nothing pesonal, Johanson, because I read rumors that Margo Robbie was offered the role first, #StillNotMyMotoko. Although, Robbie did do a good job as Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad, so I understand the frustration when the movie industry drastically alters the image persona of anime/manga characters. However, after watching several series of Project Greenlight, I understand why casting producers normally want a recognizable face for the lead role of major films—in order to bring in bigger audiences. The silver lining of this issue is knowing Sori and the entire cast is dedicated to the adaptation of this series, to the point they spent three years preparing this project. As a fan of the manga/anime, I have high hopes that Fumihiko Sori will do his best with what he has to work with. On that note…
Fumihiko Sori has also stated that the storyline for Fullmetal Alchemist will closely follow the manga instead of the anime. However, he is not doing multiple movies similar to other manga adaptations such as Attack in Titan Part II: End of the World or Rurouni Kenshin Part II: Kyoto Inferno. If the rumor of minimal funding is true, and this is merely conjecture, there is a possibility that a single film is due to lack of funding. One can only hope that funding and a single film length doesn’t kill the project before it begins. However, there is still hope that Sori can condense the 27 volumes of 108 chapters into a single film without creating a bunch of single storylines that lack a cohesive thread.
Finally, this last statement is more of a question than concern. Manga illustrator and creator Arakawa Hiromi stated that if the series continued on long enough, Scar would get a name. Since Scar was never named in the manga, will Arakawa reveal Scar’s true identity in Sori’s version of Fullmetal Alchemist?
Inquiring minds want to know.
As far as sci-fi/fantasy live-action manga adaptations go, there are hardly any films worth bragging about. However, there are plenty of successful comedy or drama live-action adaptations. One can only assume that manga and anime fans are tired of the film industry producing poor representations of their most beloved sci-fi and fantasy manga. So, it is time someone directed a well-written plot with strong actors and amazing cinematography.
No pressure or anything, Fumihiko Sori, but “if you create it, we will come!”
And now, some fun facts…
The Artist Formerly Known as Hiromi:
- The Fullmetal Alchemist manga art and story is penned by Arakawa Hiromu—Hiromi’s masculine alter ego (a.k.a her pen name). This is a common theme among female creators, all the way back to C.L. Moore, (Joanne) J.K. Rowling, James Tiptree Jr./Alice Bradley Sheldon, (Nelle) Harper Lee, J.D. Robb/Nora Roberts, and George Elliot/Mary Anne Evans.
- Arakawa outlined twenty-one volumes but ended with twenty-seven. Apparently, she had more to say about the Elric brothers than originally planned. She mentioned that she plots out her major plot points and allows the characters to react to each scene. So the journey from one scene to the next is as much a surprise for her as it is for the characters.
- Before the live-action film wrapped up, Arakawa visited the set in Volterra, Italy on August 5th. Arakawa viewed the climactic scene of the movie and spoke with the cast of Fullmetal Alchemist. Before leaving, Arakawa drew an illustration of the Elric brothers on one of the set titles.
- Also, Arakawa is a huge fan of Indiana Jones, Star Wars, and B-movies—truly, she is a woman after my own heart. At times, her fandom in geek culture has a way of inspiring her original works.
- Side Note: She enjoys drawing characters with big muscles and big boobs, but her editors prefer less big everything. Who knew?
A “Slant-Eyed Leonardo DiCaprio???”
- Yamada Ryōsuke is a huge fan of the Fullmetal Alchemist manga series. He is completely dedicated to his portrayal of Edward Elric to the point that he dyed his hair blonde and added extensions in order to create an authentic look towards his overall character aesthetic. And according to an Italian journal, that refers to Yamada as the “slant-eyed Leonardo DiCaprio,” fans rushed up the hills, alleys, and streets to watch Yamada portray Edward in the making of FA. One can only hope that the reference to Yamada as “slant-eyed” was just a translation error. If not, WHAT THE HECK?
- Yamada Ryōsuke starred in another manga/anime live-action adaptation. A campy, comedy drama with Sci-Fi elements: Assassination Classroom.
- Yamada is also a member of the popular JPop boy band, Hey!Say!Jump! In case you didn’t know, there are nine members in the group—and you thought harmonizing three or four singers was tough.
Check out Hey!Say!Jump!’s sweet moves in the following red links: Perfect Life, Star Time.
Is it me or does the “Perfect Life” video feel like a flash back to Star Search? Those feather outfits, though…
- Side Note: Yamada was born in Tokyo and his blood type is B. Apparently, Japanese culture looks at blood types the way a lot of people look at astrological signs. (Thanks for the info, Brian)
Finally, here is the casting list, thus far, for the live-action Fullmetal Alchemist adaptation:
From left to right:
- Ryosuke Yamada as Edward Elric
- Dean Fujioka as Roy Mustang
- Tsubasa Honda as Winry Rockbell
- Ryuuta Satou as Maes Hughes
- Yasuko Matsuyuki as Lust
- Kanata Hongou as Envy
- Shinji Uchiyama as Gluttony
- Yo Oizumi as Shou Tucker
“Don’t Forget. 10.3.11”
Fullmetal Alchemist is scheduled for Japanese theaters Winter 2017. One can only hope the release date is 10.3.17.