Live-action Fullmetal Alchemist director explains all-Japanese casting

Confusion swirled over the casting choices made for director Fumihiko Sori’s live-action Fullmetal Alchemist film. Despite shooting taking place in Italy, and the fact the manga’s story encompasses a European ensemble led by brothers Ed and Alphonse Elric, it was decided that the cast for the film would be entirely Japanese.

Sori recently stepped in to explain his line of thinking over the decision. On Twitter, he said that while he wouldn’t deny the character names and locations were western, the characters themselves were, in spirit, “exceedingly Japanese”. He also made the excellent point that manga author Hiromu Arakawa originally wrote FMA’s most infamous and beloved moments in Japanese.

“The most important point in this story is the relationship of the bond between the brothers,” Sori went on. “I don’t think anything is different from the feelings of love between siblings around the world.” The only thing that shifts, he feels, are the sociopolitical factors of older and younger brothers’ relationships in different countries. Depending on where you are in the world, a different social standing may be placed on the eldest, informing the reverence with which young Al sees and speaks to Ed.

“Since culture and the way people think differs greatly from country to country, I think it’s impossible to entrust this Japanese style story and characters with Japanese mentality to foreign actors. Ultimately, it was a choice between facial features or what’s inside,” Sori said. “Which answer is correct varies from person to person. For this movie, because I was putting so much importance on the characters’ mental state, I picked a Japanese cast.”

Sori did worry about the film’s choices, but felt a great sense of relief when it was met with overwhelming positivity at its US debut screening in New York. It’s hard to differ with his point that using a European cast may have clashed with some of the subject matter, and muddied the soul of the story through cultural misunderstanding. It is, after all, still a Japanese film, so we think it’s better this way. We can deal with crossing our fingers for a decent western adaptation, right?

About Elisabeth (1360 Articles)
Otaku blogger, mum and hyper-pixie of the cosmic realms. Might have made that last part up. Or did I?

2 Comments on Live-action Fullmetal Alchemist director explains all-Japanese casting

  1. Honestly, I’ve never understood the fuss over stuff like that. It was the same for me with the GitS US film. You taloir your product to your primary market, which for GitS was the West, and for this would have been Japan. I don’t strictly agree with the point about a European cast muddling it, as a decent actor or actress should be able to adapt, but in the end, it’s the quality of the film that matters more than anything. If the final product is enjoyable, then it’s job done.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I totally agree with the comment above. Why people just seem to bother or make a fuss about stuff like this really is beyond me as well. I for one don’t care who plays a certain role, as long as the casting makes sense and the actor or actress does a decent job 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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