Standalone FMA1 quite good, but never lives up to it's hype. FMA1 is clearly overrated. I've seen way better series. However, I've seen far worse as well.
The Art and Animation
is fairly good, since it's BONES after all. I have my issues about the character designs, which you can read here
The Background art is well done. Not the best I've ever seen, but it works well.
: As for the OST, it works. For this series at least. It conveys the atmosphere of the Series well, which is Dramatic, Angsty and Melancholic. Listening to the OST without the Anime made me sleepy though. Every tracks sounds the same. It could have been one track and no one would have noticed. It lacks variety. The only outstanding track on the OST is "Bratja" and the only other track I came to like is "Amestris". (And I'm someone who likes classical music and listens to OST all the time.)
The voice acting is fairly good. (I'm talking about the japanese, I didn't watch the english dub.) I was a fan of Romi Paku before I've watched FMA, but FMA made me really love her. However, in FMA1 she sounds a bit too girly. In FMA:B she did an outstanding job as Ed, in FMA she was just...good. As for Kugimiya, I'm tired of her. As Alphonse she is convincing and very good. I'd say Alphonse is by far her best role. I didn't recognize her at first. All in all the voice acting is well done. I really like Michiko Neya (Riza Hawkeye) as well. The voice actors were chosen very well.
Let's say: the first third (the flashbacks) was...mixed. There were quite good episodes (Barry the Chopper, Nina, The other Elrics) and really bad ones (psyren, alchemy exam, and episode 4) the otheres were...alright.
The second third was well done, my overall favorite episode is episode 27.
The third third was lacking, disappointing and pointless. There were plotholes all over the place, some actions were questionable and irreproducible. Some even laughable. Sometimes I wanted to hit my head. The climax (The 2 last episodes) was a bit better, the final outcome was bittersweet and alright and I had my hopes up for the upcoming movie. I really looked forward to it...
To sum it up: Without the last third the series would have been really good. The last third ruined it. It brought up characters no one needed and some characters acted really OOC. And it has way too much coincidences. Even the first two thirds weren't solid all the time. It was full of ups and downs.
6/10 (Because of the setting and the second third.)Characters:
FMA definetely suffers from the bad main character syndrome. Ed and Al were the ONLY main characters throughout the series and pushed the others into the background. Some charactes didn't get their chance to develop and wasted their potential.
Eds and Als Character were even butchered beyond recognition. Ed was made into a crybaby, his ideals were thrown away (Ed doesn't kill. Never ever.) and he was far from a likable character. I just couldn't really care about him. Many of his actions were rather half-assed. And his teenage whining was annoying.
As for Al he was made into a dependent whiny boy. He always clings onto ed and couldn't stand up for himself. He didn't have any real resolve.
The side characters were sometimes rather flat, especially Mustangs gang. Other characters were done quite well like Izumi, Scar and Armstrong. Some characters felt pointless like Sheska (really, what was her purpose?), Archer, Rose and, sadly, Winry.
As for the homunculus they were a mixed bag. Lust and Envy were done well, as well as Pride (Bradley) however I absolutely despied Wrath and Sloth. They were a pain to watch. Gluttony was...alright. What I really asked myself was: Who the hell wanted to revive someone as Gluttony? So, out of the Homunculi Lust was altogether my favorite. Her background was handled very well. The goal of the Homunculi, becoming a real human was comprehensible.
Dante as a villain was gruesomely shallow. Her only actions were talking and shooing around the Homunculi. I always thought the only reason why she's there is to have someone behind the scenes. It felt really forced.
I was really disappointed with the series. I expected more.