One of the beautiful things about Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood is that even if the show didn’t have stunning musical sequences attached to the beginning and end of each episode, it would still be a near-perfect anime adaptation. Fortunately, the show does have stellar openings and endings which only add to the gripping effect that FMAB had on me.
I still remember where I was when I really got hooked. I had just moved, and my bed was just a mattress on the floor with the TV in my room resting close by (my room has come a long way since then, for what it’s worth). Every night for about a month and a half, I’d stay up late watching Brotherhood because I was addicted; each episode left me wanting more. The openings always (and I mean always. Never skipped a single one) got my mind right as I prepared for the next addition to Ed and Al’s story. In a future post, I’ll discuss what makes Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood so great, but for now, I’m going to go through each of the songs from worst (which is still really good) to first in two different lists: opening songs and closing/ending songs.
Friendly reminder for how I rate things: if it makes me feel good when I watch/listen, it’s good. If I don’t feel good, even if something is technically impressive or deep, I’m not gonna like it that much even if I can appreciate its depth. Thankfully, FMAB doesn’t have this problem. Also, this list in this order is entirely subjective and is purely based on my feelings. I respect disagreements! Please let me know what you think so we can talk about it.
In any case, here goes:
5. “Period” by Chemistry (episodes 39-50)
This is tough because “Period” is actually a great opening by regular anime standards. The reason it’s at the bottom of my list stems from the fact that while the guitar intro to the song is great and always ratcheted up hype levels, the rest of the song pales in comparison. Again, I don’t want you to think that I don’t like this song or opening; I actually really like it. It just falls short compared to the rest.
One thing I really like about this opening in particular is the imagery shown, a lot of it symbolic of the Elric brothers’ journey. My favorite moment in this less-than-two-minute video is the moment when Ed and Al run through each other (changing colors and beginning to fade away). From there, the brothers’ friends appear one by one in order of importance which brings normal color back to the boys’ bodies before a large crowd suddenly appears. It’s a powerful scene, and it’s indicative of the effect of loved ones on the Elrics’ journey to get their bodies back. It also goes to show one of Ed and Al’s greatest abilities: the power to make friends and gain allies. Also, the short fight sequence of Al vs. Pride is just as beautifully animated in the intro as it is in one of the greatest fights of the show. Just so we’re clear, this is a great opening. It just isn’t as great as the others.
4. “Hologram” by Nico Touches the Walls (episodes 15-26)
The opening of this, uh, opening is really clean. The black and white cuts from Ed to Al along with the cool start to the song sets a good mood. Good enough, in fact, for them to use as an epilogue outro song at the end of the series. This song rates high in head bob-ability, and it’s super catchy. If it weren’t for “Golden Time Lover,” “Hologram” would easily be the catchiest song in the series. The animation is so crisp, including the filler fight scenes between Edward, Ling and the homunculi. The fight is well choreographed, and when I finished watching the series, I was disappointed that I never got to actually see it done in that way during the show’s run. That’s something that this and YUI’s “Again” have in common: stellar fight sequences.
The symbolic rain clearing up to reveal sunshine is a great metaphor for the Elric brothers’ story. The character intros are crisp; the newer characters like Ling Yao and Mei Chang (and Xiao-Mei) get a really nice and fitting introduction here. What I like the most about this part is how perfectly the character cuts represent each character from Riza Hawkeye to Hohenheim, the personalities come through. The quick cuts ending with a drop in the Philosopher’s Stone cup with (spoiler) Father is really cool and fits with the music. The opening fittingly ends with a Ed-Scar conflict and a reminder of the pocket watch’s contents as the brothers walk off on train tracks. Extremely good opening.
3. “Golden Time Lover” by Sukima Switch (episodes 27-38)
This is where my heart starts to hurt. For “Golden Time Lover” to be so low on the list is criminal. It leads the league (my entire anime library head rankings) in head bobs per game (too many to count), and the song is probably on my top-5 catchy anime openings of all time list. It’s just so smooth, and the style with which the lead singer for Sukima Switch projects his voice just make the experience pleasing. It’s a feel good song that’s . . . dare I say . . . “groovy” shudders.
The visuals canonically represent the turning point for the series. The first 14 episodes are really good; the next chunk is when it turns great. This section of Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood is absolutely elite, and the opening contains many small details like the splint on Ed’s arm to remind you of the section that it represents. The opening also depicts one of the emotional peaks of the series when Ed enters the gate after being swallowed by Gluttony. I’ll try to keep this as spoiler-free as possible, but man, that’s one of my favorite moments of any show ever. The introductions of the Mount Briggs character generates strong hype as well.
The beginning of the opening and the end are parallel with Ed laying in a field of flowers. It’s a nice touch to bring the whole opening around full circle.
2. “Rain” by SID (episodes 51-60 & 62)
If it physically hurt me to put Golden Time Lover at third, imagine how much it hurts to put this in second place. I think the biggest thing that keeps this opening from taking the top spot is that the visuals just aren’t as good as #1, which is saying something because the visual aspect of “Rain” are phenomenal. There are different art styles, emotional scenes, and the extended presence of rain throughout. It’s beautiful. The way that this sequence portrays all all of the friends that Elric brothers have amassed on their journey is great, and it really makes you stop and reflect on all of the previous 50+ episodes you watched to get to this point.
I actually think this song on its own is better than than the #1 choice. It accurately captures the hard-hitting emotions that accompany this story arc in the larger overarching narrative. There are subtle hints that reveal certain plot points, but it’s done so artistically that you don’t notice until you actually get to that point in the story. This opening encapsulates what everyone is feeling: they’re tired. Everyone is tired. They all just want the resolution to their ongoing conflicts, but they’re willing to fight to get there. That’s what we see and hear, and that’s what makes this opening amazing. The last cut, a cute scene of Edward and Winry finally getting the rest they deserve, is heartwarming.
1. “Again” by YUI (episodes 1-14)
This is universally regarded as one of the best anime openings of all time, and it’s too good for me to disagree just for the sake of disagreeing. The song is a stellar one, and the visuals are absolutely insane in the best way possible. The way the quick cuts in the song go with quick visual cuts is mind-blowing. The way everything ties back to the plot is great, including the tiniest of details. For example, early in the opening, we see young Ed’s arm slowly disintegrate as a result of his failed human transmutation event as a wind blows him back. We see Alphonse’s entire body disintegrate as a result of the same event. Then we see Winry slightly get blown back as a result of the same thing.
You may be wondering why she’s even featured there because she had nothing to do with that whole experiment. The point is that Ed and Al’s human transmutation experiment had a massive effect on Winry’s life even though she wasn’t present for the event. It’s a great thought experiment to think about how the Elrics and their journey inspired/affected so many others, and just that tiny detail demonstrates this. The character intros are so clean, and they represent the characters well.
The filler fight scene is sublime. Seeing Ed face off against the homunculi really makes you think of the possibilities had they gotten to face off in the main storyline all at once. Every single second, down to Winry mouthing the Japanese lyrics, is entertaining, and it sets the tone for Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood perfectly.
5. “RAY OF LIGHT” by Shoko Nakagawa (episodes 51-60)
This is a nice song. It’s just that, though; just nice. Overall, this ending is pretty bland. It’s a lot of static character shots with flowing hair in the wind. If it weren’t for the story already be gripping, this ending wouldn’t instill in viewers an overwhelming desire to watch the next episode. The song is alright, but everything else is . . . meh.
4. “Let It Out” by Miho Fukuhara (episodes 15-26)
A lot of the problems I have with “RAY OF LIGHT” are existent in this closing as well. Static character shots with hair flowing in the wind. It’s super bland, but the song is just a little catchier than Ending #5, and it features something that #5 doesn’t have: slow walking toward the distance!! But seriously, having the Elric family photos board featured here is a nice touch along with flashbacks of the young Elrics.
3. “Tsunai Da Te” by Lil’B (episodes 27-38)
Lil’B sounds like a rap name, and this is a rap song with a catchy hook. That’s what elevates this song over the previous two. This ending is pretty much all static shots of Winry. This is good and bad. Good because Winry needed more exposure at this point in the story. She’s a great character, but she really comes into her own during this section of the story. It’s bad because it’s a little boring. The song makes up for it with a faster pace.
2. “Shunkan SENTIMENTAL” by SCANDAL (episodes 39-50)
This song gets me so hyped every time because of the one time it’s used as the outro song as Ed and the gang get ready for the Promised Day. This song increased excitement levels for the next episode tenfold, and the tunnel intro/outro parallels are very artistic. It’s a catchy song with great visuals.
1. “Uso” by SID (episodes 1-14)
This is art (literally). The whole ending is a very cute, primative and hand drawn version of Ed and Al. They start off by sparring in a surprisingly detailed manner, but then the visuals get deeper, expanding to encompass more characters and themes. It’s artistically simple, and it’s entertaining to watch. Although the hype levels weren’t significantly high after seeing this after every episode, it’s hard to not appreciate this ending more than the others. It’s a great song, artfully drawn visuals, and it has a creative twist at the end: the anime versions of Ed and Al drew the whole thing. What’s not to love?