New anime airs today

Speaking about animes, I almost forgot about a new one that will be aired simultaneously across the subcontinent in Animax (8:30 pm in India) today, called Fullmetal Alchemist – Brotherhood, a sequel to the enormously popular anime that was telecast almost a year ago.

Poised midway between science fiction and fantasy, the series belongs to the lesser known genre of science fantasy. It the FMA universe, almost magical “alchemy” replaces science. I simply loved the storyline in the previous series –  Edward and Alphonse Elric, try to resurrect their dead mother using the forbidden practice of human alchemy, quite unaware of the law that governs their universe – the Law of Equal Exchange: “To obtain, something of equal value must be lost”. The consequences were treacherous. Al loses his physical body in the attempt, and Ed loses two of his limbs. Ed somehow manages to attach Al’s soul to a suit of armour. The two boys, having realized that it was impossible to bring back a dead person, set out in search of the Philosopher’s Stone, possibly the only thing that could recover their bodies, and get embroiled in a frantic series of political, emotional and alchemical misadventures.

Alphonse and Edward Elric
Alphonse and Edward Elric

What struck me as good is that the alternate universe of FMA is not an outright magical fantasy. Alchemy in their world is governed by laws of nature, comparable to the laws of physics in our own world. The makers also made sure that their world was not a fairyland.  The series has an entire collection of people prepared to misuse alchemy for their own ends – the ghastly “homunculi”, military generals, murderers, researchers and a religious leader – the host of issues enveloping their world is not unlike our own.

They were liberal in showing the negative side of such an alchemy. I remember an episode when Ed fights an armoured guardian protecting the Stone. After defeating him, he realizes the guardian was just a soul attached to a suit of armour – like Al.  The guardian asks Ed to kill him, as he no longer has a purpose in life, he had failed in his task, and above all since he was just part-human. When Ed refuses, he kills himself – much to Ed’s crazy horror.

That’s why I am looking forward to seeing the sequel today – to see what more misfortunes fall upon Ed and Al…

(Animax’s previous release,  LaMb, totally sucked. Except for the Simple Plan soundtrack, of course.)

Update added today after watching it:  The episode was in Japanese with English subtitles!! I should have expected it. It’s still early to decide whether this is going to be a great series or not. Anyway, it was a normally good first episode.

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Kino’s journey

As far as I know, Japan produces more animated series – simply called “animes” – than the rest of the world combined. Most of them are based on guessable themes – samurais waiting for their revenge, Pokemon-type fantasy universes, and dramatic, violent bloodbaths that sometimes seems out of vogue. However, some anime are so genuinely new and outta the boxish that they stay in your mind forever.

Kino’s Journey is an anime that appeals on all levels – emotional, thrilling and sometimes philosophical. The story is about a young (rather androgynous looking) female “traveller”, who along with her talking motorbike,  journey to different fictional places across the country.  Each place is entirely different from its neighbours – either in its form of government, technology or its citizens. Kino believes that three days is enough to know all there is to know about any country – and leaves when the time is over. Often, the there is a Holmes-Doctor Watsonian touch of intellectual conversation between Kino and the talking motorbike, Hermes. (yeah, the whole 13 – episode series is sometimes surreal).

‘Nuff said. I’ll let the show do the talking – this is one of my favourite episodes which explains how Kino met Hermes and became a traveller. Watch the entire series and you will look at your life differently.

(Don’t worry, it is in English except the opening song, LOL. This is the first of a 3-part episode, you can search for parts 2 and 3 in YouTube.)

“The world is not

beautiful.

Therefore it is”

That was a line that appears at the end of the episode. You do not know how much I  loved it. Sometimes, it is hard to look at Kino’s journey without drawing parallels with your own life.