You gotta love Cartoon Network's [adult swim] programming block - if not for them, about the only anime most Americans would be exposed to would be Dragonball and its tedious spinoffs. They import all kinds of shows, giving us a wider variety of titles to try. Now granted, not all of them are winners - for every Cowboy Bebop or Case Closed there's a Lupin III, for every Witch Hunter Robin or InuYasha there's a Big O. Fortunately, the hits come faster than the misses. Their newest great find is Fullmetal Alchemist.
A man gains nothing without making sacrifices. An equivalent price shall be paid in order to obtain something. That is, in alchemy, the very principle of Equivalent Exchange.
The show centers on two young brothers, Alphonse and Edward Elric. When their mother died, they tried to use alchemy to bring her back, but the results were... less than good. Now they search for the fabled philosopher's stone to undo the damage. What starts out rather simply soon spirals into a story of political intrigue and massive conspiracies. Pretty deep stuff, but it's still engaging and fun.
One of the show's running jokes is that Ed is fairly short, so it's appropriate that the figure is barely 5½" tall. The sculpt is slightly simplistic, but it matches the look of the show. Ed's wearing his usual black boots, pants and shirt, red overcoat and white gloves.
The figure is really well-articulated, with joints at the neck, shoulders, upper arms, elbows, wrists, waist, hips, knees, boot tops, ankles and mid-feet.
The foot joints are a particularly nice design: rather than just being cut all the way through the foot, like most of the foot joints we see, this one keeps a natural look with maximum poseability; the front half of the foot and the entire sole of the boot are a single piece, while the back of the foot rotates above the sole. The hip joints are a bit loose, but not so much that the figure can't stand.
Ed has several interchangable hands and arms that make up the bulk of his accessories. He's got a pair of fists and a pair of open-palmed hands wearing the white gloves, a metal fist, a metal open palm and a metal relaxed hand. Other than the red-sleeved "coat" arms, he's also got a set of black-clad arms to match his shirt and a fully exposed version of his metal automail arm.
Automail is the show's unique brand of completely metal prostheses - they're attached directly to the wearer's nerves, and powered by some unknown method. Automail requires skilled craftsmen to build and maintain, but well-crafted mail can duplicate all the abilities of a living limb; including, somehow, the sensation of touch (but not pain, unless the limb is completely destroyed - which is how Ed can use his automail to block swords and other weapons).
Ed's right arm and left leg are automail, but we only get to see the arm. It's detailed nicely, with metal plates, screws, and even a few wiry cables inside it if you look close enough. Though this arm doesn't move at the bicep, it does have a balljoined elbows to keep the full range of motion. A ridged plate on the forearm can be removed and swapped for a smooth blade. Ed's only non-bodypart accessory is a 7½" spear from early in the series.
The paint apps are good, with some really nice shadows on Ed's jacket and hair. They even got the alchemist's symbol - a snake on a cross - on the back of his jacket right. The image is taken from the writings of Nicolas Flamel, the 15th century French alchemist who is supposed to have achieved alchemy's two magical goals: creating the philosopher's stone and attaining immortality. Obviously, the show's creators did their homework.
The Fullmetal Alchemist figures are produced in Japan by Kotobukiya and imported to the States by Diamond Direct, so they're pretty expensive - about $20 for a figure that's a bit smaller than a Marvel Legend. Still, for that price, you do get a really cool figure from a really cool show.