I’m really enjoying Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. I haven’t read the manga, but I loved the first anime, even when it diverged from the source material, so I’m not someone that demands an adaptation be a frame-for-frame duplicate, it just has to be good!
Anime is a totally different medium of entertainment to manga and as such, the dream of a ‘perfect adaptation’ is impossible to realise, because what works in a comic won’t always work for animation. The transition between the two effects everything, from the way the dialogue flows to the selection of a certain scene at the expense of another; an anime series will always have a limited number of episodes to fill and when the source material is particularly long-running, not every single panel can be included. This is a limitation of anime and one should approach an adaptation with that in mind.
The problem is that hardcore fans are often unwilling to compromise, and, in the case of FMA: Brotherhood, this really seems to be effecting the reception of the series, as if the fandom is literally expecting to watch a slideshow of the manga, and when it doesn’t materialise, they feel betrayed, despite the fact it was never going to be like that anyway.
It’s frustrating because depending on which reviews you read, FMA: Brotherhood is either a great, exciting series or just a terrible waste of time. I think it has been fine so far, but all the whining seems to be obscuring its true quality.
A great adaptation should always be true to the spirit of the original, but it should also have its own personality. An extreme, yet perfect example is Gankutsuou, which retains the decadent, rich corruption of Parisian society in Alexandre Dumas‘s The Count of Monte Cristo, whilst transporting his story thousands of years into the future. Mahiro Maeda got away with it because the majority of anime fans aren’t as well-versed in 19th century French literature and as such, saw Gankutsuou as a stand alone work of anime, and as difficult as it may be, I think people should try to view FMA: Brotherhood in the same way too; wanting it, or any adaptation, to be a perfect duplicate of the original will always end in bitter disappointment.