(WARNING: Contains spoilers for both Fullmetal Alchemist series, mostly Brotherhood.)
Fans of the beloved anime series #FullmetalAlchemist were excited by the recent release of a teaser trailer for the upcoming live-action film adaptation of the series.
However, some fans are still concerned about the upcoming film, and rightfully so. Historically, films based on an #anime often face problems. If made in their origin country of Japan, they are sometimes left with budgets too low to truly do them justice, as in the case of the recent #AttackOnTitan film. On the other hand, when Western filmmakers get their hands on the film rights to an anime, they will often whitewash the cast — the biggest complaint regarding the upcoming #GhostInTheShell film — or hand the project to a director who has never watched, (nor has any interest in watching) a single episode of the property they are about to adapt. This leads to horrors like the dismal Dragonball Evolution.
Perhaps the biggest problem faced by live-action anime adaptations is that they are rarely treated by film studios as having serious franchise potential. Particularly in the western world, anime adaptations are viewed as something out of the box, a one-and-done type deal. Which, sadly, leaves the producers and director with the unenviable task of cramming a story originally told over 60+ episodes into single film. Even if Fullmetal defies the odds and makes it beyond one film, we all need to prepare ourselves for some serious cuts.
Like all beloved series though, Fullmetal Alchemist features certain characters and events that absolutely must be included, lest the fans riot
1. The Tragic Tale Of Nina Tucker
I only mention this because, were it not so iconic, many a filmmaker would be tempted to cut this scene for being too dark and depressing. Little Nina's fate is also important for Edward's character development, giving both he and Al a horrible reminder of the darker side of alchemy.
2. Maes Hughes's Funeral
Films will often gloss over funeral sequences with a quick montage full of sad music, or sometimes skip them altogether. Neither option should be used for FMA. The death of Maes Hughes is a huge turning point in the story, with the desire to take down his killer forming a large part of Roy Mustang's character arc going forward, and his funeral is one of the series most tear-jerking moments. It deserves to be adapted in its full, heartbreaking glory.
3. Alphonse's Sweet Personality
For a character as cool looking as Alphonse in his armor body, a filmmaker could be tempted to make Al tougher, to send him up a few levels in badassery. Please don't. In FMA's world, Al's situation is a tragedy, and should in no way be glorified. He is an orphan who paid a terrible price in a doomed attempt to resurrect his mother — a boy who desperately wants his true human body back. For the upcoming film, they must let Alphonse keep his sweet soul, the one who sees the best in everyone, who forgives, and who hides small animals in his armor to shelter them from the rain.
4. Keep As Many Supporting Characters As Possible
I fully understand that when a story as big as FMA is adapted for the world of film, sacrifices must be made. However, when a series has as many great supporting characters as this one, it is best to keep them in wherever possible. At the very least, keep Major Alex Louis Armstrong. From a relatively minor character in the original FMA, he was upgraded to a more regular supporting role in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. It is a near unanimous opinion among fans that this was a positive change.
5. The Slow-Burn Reveal Of The Final Two Homunculi
With the names of the Homunculi corresponding to each of the seven deadly sins, it would have soon become obvious to most viewers exactly how many there were going to be, though the final two do not reveal themselves until quite late in the story. While a film's limited run-time may make this more difficult, they should attempt to handle the reveals the same way.
Though Fuhrer Bradley — eventually revealed as the homunculus Wrath — raises suspicions early on, the reveal of young Selim Bradley as Pride comes as a genuine shock to many first-time viewers of the series. Let Selim seem innocent for as long as possible in the film, and keep the surprise alive for moviegoers who have not watched the anime.
6. The True Wish Of The Homunculi
Again, with limited run time, it would be easy to brush the Homunculi off as simple mustache-twirling villains, but this would be a huge disservice to the story of FMA.
The reveal of the Homunculi wishing to be truly human evokes great sympathy for these tragic creatures, and adds weight to Greed's heroic sacrifice. It also likely influenced Ed's decision to return Selim to his adoptive mother.
7. Keep The Ending As It Is
It may be tempting for the studio to slightly alter the story's ending, keeping possible sequel hopes alive. Once again, please, don't.
Letting Edward somehow keep his alchemy would defeat the purpose of the series' ending. Edward gives up his alchemy in exchange for Alphonse's body because, with Al returned to him, he no longer needs it.