Fullmetal Authors: A Lesson from An OK Adaptation

FMA PosterGrowing up I was into anime far more than you’ll ever hear me admit out loud as an adult, but the Fullmetal Alchemist franchise is something I’ll always claim. Even 8 years after the finale of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, I’ll still gush over it to anyone unfortunate enough to get me started. Plenty of millennial nerds will do the same. It was one of the most popular titles when we were in high school.

So, when it was announced that Netflix would be releasing the live-action movie adaptation, plenty of us groaned and snickered. It was going to be a sad imitation at best and an absolute mess at worst.

When I finally got a chance to see it, I sat back and prepared to be entertained by yet another disastrous adaptation of beloved source material, like so many before it.

Instead, I was actually genuinely entertained.

It had it’s problems, of course. All live-action adaptation of animes do. The acting was cheese, the effects weren’t great, and the time restraints of a movie meant they had to leave out a lot of memorable characters, but those were forgivable flaws.

Like any worth-while story, they people telling it clearly had fun, and that made their story worth watching.

A friend described the movie as a bunch of cosplayers who accidentally got a movie budget, and I can’t say that’s inaccurate. If anything, that’s what made it so much fun. These people clearly understood what the source material meant to their audience and they gave their best effort, even if the final product wasn’t even close to the original.

It would have been so easy to not try and just cash in on the aesthetic of the show (I’m looking at you, Dragonball: Evolution and Avatar: The Last Air Bender), but it genuinely felt like everyone involved with Fullmetal Alchemist wanted to put forth something good, even if it didn’t completely work. That still counted for a lot and made the film fun, nostalgic, and worth taking note of.

How does this review/ramble relate to writing, you ask?

Well, not everyone has access to the resources that come with traditional publishing, whether it be editing, cover-design, or marketing. However, everyone can recognize a cash-grab or a lazy attempt when we see it. That impression goes a long way when all someone has to go off of is a book in their hands.

However, if you put your best foot forward, it’s going to shine through your work. Does it mean everyone’s going to love what you put out there? Obviously not, but it’s going to find it’s way into the hands of people who will enjoy it and appreciate all you’ve done, and those are the ones you want to reach.

And, most importantly, you can say you put your best foot forward to create something you love.

So, keep writing that novel, screen-play, whatever. So long as you’re loving it and people can see that, it’s worth the journey, no matter the end destination. As a writer, that’s one of the greatest Truths I know.

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