OK, so here goes. IMO, FMA Brotherhood > FMA1 in almost every way. Now you may not agree with me, but thats what this article is for. I am going to try my best to convince you that FMA Brotherhood is the better series. FMA Brotherhood is better for a whole whack of reasons, which i am going to neatly organize for your viewing pleasure.
FMA brotherhood has a better story. Of course, why shouldn't it, since it is faithful to the manga. FMA1 was good.... up until around episode 30, where it ran out of steam and went off track, as requested by hiromu (well, the latter part anyways). So the anime studio went on a limb and did the best it could to finish off the anime in a non-canon way. Since they did not create the story, they were not sure how it would end, so they made up their own villains and fabricated the homunculi's origins and their motives.
Oddly, they only came up with backstories for four, leaving the reader totally and utterly confused. Who are the homunculi? Who is Dante?
Apparently we are only told that they are failed human transmutations that were picked up by Dante (old woman who switches bodies to stay alive) who was taking a convenient stroll around the neighborhood(s), or seven, in this case, and fed them "red stones" which are apparently like philosopher's stones except made from red water, which is some mysterious elixir that is not really explained. Anyways they turn into their previous human forms and for some reason they also gain a red tattoo and are immortal. WTF? And they are called by one of the seven deadly sins, even though only a few of them seem to display any such traits. Dante is apparently hohenheim's past lover, and they created philosopher's stones accidentally from the remains of some witch hunt 400 years ago. WTF?
In FMA brotherhood, homunculi are in fact made by the same person, who uses his own soul to create them, and siphons off philosopher's stones from his body to sustain them, which explains their immortality, and apparently added the ouroburo's tattoo as a watermark of some sort to identify them. He names the homunculi after parts of his soul that he siphoned off, e.g. his seven deadly sins, each of which carries a portion of his self and identity. He has sinister ties to hohenheim, as well as the mysterious fall of the country of xerxes, to which the two are inexplicably tied to, for again, sinister reasons, which are explained IN DETAIL later on in the show.
Then on to the protagonists. The only one who gets any real development is ed. he makes up 80% of all character development in the story. Take the relationship between ed/al, for instance. Two characters that are supposedly the central protagonists. Ed makes up 90% of the Ed/Al brotherhood, which is supposed to be an equal 50/50. Al follows Ed around like a dog and has no personality or resolve whatsoever, getting lost or falling into a trap every 3 episodes and relying on his brother to save him. Oh and ed gets gold hair/eyes, while al is stuck with dirty blond hair and grey eyes. A little unfair don't you think? What else is unfair is that ed gets to transmute without a circle, because he's JUST THAT GREAT, while al, who paid a higher toll than ed, doesn't. I know that people question why it is called FMA brotherhood when FMA1 focuses more on "brotherly love", but it doesn't seem like brotherhood, its more like a dog and his master.
The military officers get no development in FMA1, save for a few scenes of comic relief. Its almost as if they have no identities, no personalities, they are simply faces to give a little diversity. Havoc (his fight with lust is eradicated in the first anime), Breda (his role in influencing the amestris media as well as taking part in raiding central are gone), Falman (his numerous contributions to the story and involvement with various factions of the military are eliminated), Hawkeye (her rationalle during the ishval war and deep history with mustang, as well as her role in fighting the villains is removed, replaced with small insignificant scenes as bystander or comic relief), all characters that i liked very much, drained of their personalities and role in the story to become mere fodder for the main characters in the story. General Archer. My GOD, what a bad character. And not as in evil, but as in poorly made. I didn't like him to begin with, but by the end of FMA1 he became the 1900's answer to the terminator. LITERALLY. o.0.o.0.o.O, and not to mention the fact that the whole military were like zombies, following his every command without objection, and who can forget General Olivier Armstrong, Major armstrong's very strong and domineering older sister, who is an awesome badass character. also Captain Buccaneer. OWNAGE. Two characters not present in FMA1.
The Xingese characters do not exist in FMA1. That means Ling, Lan Fan, Fu and Mei-Chan (characters that you may or may not know depending on whether or not you have read the manga/brotherhood, and if you haven't, YOU SHOULD NOT BE READING THIS (Spoilers). Their interactions with the characters in FMAB play a huge role in the story, as well as comic relief.
Yoki and Scar, two characters that were butchered in the first anime, hold strong and true in FMA brotherhood, Yoki actually being helpful at times and becoming inadvertedly intertwined with the protagonists, and Scar as a good guy for once fighting for what he believes is right, rather than a terrorist who practically defecates on liore, turning it into a giant philosopher's stone, a scene so painful that i do not want to watch it again. EVAR!
The ending of FMA1 was the worst ending i have ever seen. Dante decides to use Al, now a living philosopher's stone, to jump to another human body (e.g. rose, who is now a mute from being raped and carries her rape baby around with her) and when ed makes an appearance she sends him to the other side of the gate, somewhere in london in our world, where a blimp crashes onto our world's ed and kills him, sending him back to their world. This is when envy, seeing ed as an obstacle, charges at him, and though ed easily fends him off at first, when he transforms into his true form, hohenheims son from 400 years ago who died of mercury poisoning, ed falters and is stabbed in the chest.
This is when al decides to revive him using himself, and even though he has the souls of thousands of people in him, somehow these are all magically used up pulling ed back from the dead, killing Al. Ed, realizing what he had done, transmutes himself once again to bring Al back. Then, without warning, it flashes to the future, where apparently the whole government has been overthrown, god knows what happened to the military, and where Al, who shouldn't have been alive in the first place, appears as a 10 year old boy that was magically resurrected using ed and al's memories. WTF? Then Al asks Izumi to train him, leading up to a cliche train scene where they both stick up their hands at the same time.
Then comes the movie. Oh boy.. where to start. Al turns into a mini-ed, which makes him look like a fat chick with a red coat, and becomes as good an alchemist as his brother. Well... almost, because NOBODY can be as good as ed. Sheesh. Somehow Ed manages to meet parallel versions of everyone he knows, who happened to be born at exactly the same time and have exactly the same personality. creepy o_0. Anyways noah tricks him into revealing some sort of alchemy code which she reveals to the thule society and they send this crazy psychotic woman through the portal, which they opened using envy..? and a cliche scene where hohenheim dies right in front of ed's eyes. Oh and what happened to alfons? he had a stroke or something just to make ed feel guilty about leaving.
ok so ed flies into shamballa, where al just happens to be, crashing in an alleyway, where winry, whom he abandoned for 3 years, hugs him wholeheartedly. And then an army of metal suits of armour invades central, where mustang comes in at just the right moment, having quit his bid to become fuhrer to resign as a lowly soldier in some remote outpost. cliche much? the whole scene screams cliche. Then he just takes command and the like 10 people there manage to take on a platoon of walking metal armour with ak-47's. Then mustang gets on some sort of parachute and takes flight, complete with an eye patch. all he needs is a parrot and some pirate leggings. anyways, he meets up with ed and al who are trying to save the world. Ed ambushes this crazy lady who has morphed into some creepy tree spirit and al comes to the rescue, and they save the day once again. and then ed decides to turn his back on everyone he knows and loves just to return to our world to fight terrorism or something heroic like that. just as ed is about to fly away, al TELEPORTS into a suit of armour 50 feet away and back to our world, where they are greeted by nazis and the tree spirit who is shot dead. Anyways after the al clone's funeral, they meet up with lust clone and scar clone and say some mumbo jumbo about disarming bombs and stopping world war II.
In FMA brotherhood everything is well organized, you can see what is going on and there is minimal confusion. All of the suspicious activity in the military culminates in the discovery of a conspiracy to use the entire country as a philosopher's stone, as they did with xerxes, which all leads to one man named father, who has massive connections to the military and every aspect of amestris, and is the one who founded amestris several hundred years ago for this very sinister and selfish goal, which the homunculi, who view themselves as superior beings, not lost humans, vehemently support, because of the loyalty to the father who gave them life and a near endless supply of philosopher's stones. You will find however that the rebellious homunculi, greed, also plays a big role in the story, all of the characters get significant character development, and in a realistic way, rather than a stretched out, awkward, emotional way. all of the characters connect and resonate with each other in a big way, and in the end they work together to destroy the main villains, father and these sinister homunculi that were created as secret agents, so to speak. Everything in the story has a meaning, and a purpose, such as the ishvalan war, which was started not for some sick thrill, but to carve a crest of blood, part of a much larger plot to create a transmutation circle around amestris, to be activated on the day of the solar eclipse, referred to as the promised day. so they deal with the enemy in a realistic manner and realistically his whole plan falls apart, and he is defeated in a believable manner, not like *cough *cough dante *cough eaten *cough by gluttony *cough. in the end everything is tied together fairly neatly and it is generally a happy ending, but NOT a fairy tale ending, because the underlying moral is that you can take charge of your own future and set it right with your own hands (you wouldn't want a story that teaches that you can manipulate and kill and destroy and everything works out for you in the end) There are basically no loose ends, and the loose ends that are present are miniscule at best, and are often resolved simply by explaining the plot more clearly to the viewers, since alot happens in FMAB.
Lastly, i didn't not like the art and animation style of fma1. They made ed super bishie cute, almost to the point of looking like a girl, and darkened and thickened his hair alot, removing the ponytail and making him look more "modernized". This look does not suit him at all IMO, he deserves a clean cut, badass look, gold hair, gold eyes, xerxesian ancestry. Same with Al. In FMA1 he is portrayed as a dilution of hohenheim and trisha, which makes him look really bad. He has dirty blond hair and ugly grey/green eyes. I like the golden hair golden eyes look, because it really associates ed and al.
I did not care for the animation style. Everything was fuzzy and hazy and excessive. the character's hair and face looked more bishounen, hair was thicker and didn't work very well for action scenes. Everything was shot with this grey film and it looked very dark and depressing. FMA brotherhood is dark as well but it portrays it better, clean, crisp animation, similar to real life, and lets you see everything thats going on very well, all of the subtle details, and overall good color balance. In FMA1 all of the details are fuzzy, and even the focal points lose their intensity and surrender to poor animation.
It is for all these reasons that i did not like FMA1. I hope you will agree with me. FMAB > FMA