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Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood - Part 5 (2 Discs) (Blu-ray Details)

Unique ID Code: 0000156695
Added by: Jitendar Canth
Added on: 25/6/2013 15:49
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    Review for Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood - Part 5 (2 Discs)

    10 / 10


    They only went and did it! Manga Entertainment only went and finished Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood on Blu-ray, 2 years after things were looking so bleak for the format that they had to unceremoniously dump the series after two volumes. Time marches on, and the HD and Blu-ray take up in the UK has a relentless inevitability about it now. Two years ago, we didn’t have four channels broadcast in HD on terrestrial television, and while CRT TVs had vanished from the high street, they still prevailed in the living room. Now HD screens are increasingly the main set in a house, and people are coming around to the wonders of high definition. Also the costs of manufacturing Blu-rays have come down to where smaller runs are economic to produce. Now, even small, independent boutique distributors of niche television and cinema are releasing on Blu-ray.

    Manga Entertainment can finally afford to give Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood the treatment it deserves, and for early adopter fans who took a chance on the first two volumes, they’ve finished off the final three this year. The real treat is for fans that have yet to try Brotherhood’s Blu-rays, as with the release of volume 5, Manga are re-releasing the series in its entirety, almost. The Japanese company nixed the complete collection idea at the last minute, so there will be a Part 1 collection with half of the series released on the same day as this volume 5. It will come with a deluxe artbox, which will have space in it prepared for Part 2, out later this year, and first time Blu-ray buyers will then have a very pretty Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood Collection indeed.

    I don’t need much of an excuse to re-watch this series, but getting to see one of the most epic finales to an anime story ever, this time in high definition is more than enough reason for me to make some time for this show. Once again, this review cuts and pastes liberally from the DVD review. That material is in italics.

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    Alchemy is the art of the transmutation of matter by means of an incantation, a mystical circle, or sheer willpower alone. For centuries charlatans and the deluded pursued the creation of gold by alchemical means but to no avail. But in Full Metal Alchemist, alchemy is a realised science. Set in an alternative world during the early years of the twentieth century, the transmutation of elements is indeed a reality, and the state regards such talent highly indeed. Full Metal Alchemist tells the story of brothers Edward and Alphonse Elric, two precocious alchemists who are on a quest. The young brothers had attempted the unspeakable, resurrecting their mother. But the Law Of Equivalent Exchange cannot be flouted, only objects of equal mass can be transmuted, and the dead cannot be brought back to life. The attempt failed disastrously. Now, Alphonse is a disembodied spirit bound to a suit of animated armour, while Edward has replaced his leg and arm with metal automail, but it’s his prodigious facility with alchemy that has earned him the name, Fullmetal Alchemist. Now they search for a means to restore their bodies.

    This fifth collection of Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood concludes the story with 12 episodes across 2 discs from Manga Entertainment.

    Previously on Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood, it appeared that the elements of the conspiracy had fallen into place for Ed, Al and their allies, that they finally understood what was going on. They also realised that time was running out, that the plans of Father and the Homunculi were about to come to fruition, with the entire nation of Amestris to be sacrificed for their grand ambitions. To counter that, Ed’s allies put into action their counter plans, they moved against the puppet government itself, and Father who pulls the strings, beginning with an assault on the Fuhrer King Bradley. While Al faced off against Pride and the Crimson Alchemist Kimblee, Ed and the others snuck into Central, at the same time that the Flame Alchemist Roy Mustang, and Brigadier General Armstrong’s forces from Briggs launched a coup d'état. But at the same time, the beleaguered generals in Central unleashed their secret weapon, an army of immortal soldiers, while Envy had returned to the capital, and regained his powers.

    Disc 1

    53. Flame of Vengeance
    54. Beyond the Inferno
    55. The Adults’ Way of Life
    56. The Return of the Fuhrer
    57. Eternal Leave
    58. Sacrifices
    59. Lost Light
    60. Eye of Heaven, Gateway of Earth

    Disc 2

    61. He Who Would Swallow God
    62. A Fierce Counterattack
    63. The Other Side of the Gateway
    64. Journey’s End

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    Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood gets a 1.78:1 widescreen transfer at 1080p resolution. I got pretty technical about it in my review for the volume 3 Blu-ray, so I won’t repeat that here. Suffice it to say that while it may have been animated at less than 1080 lines of resolution and up-scaled for the HD broadcasts and these Blu-rays, Brotherhood looks pretty damn fine in its HD incarnation. The image is clear and sharp throughout, detail levels are stupendous, and the colour depth is a world away from the DVDs. Watching the show with no visible compression artefacts, and at its native frame rate is by far the preferable means to consume it. The only issues you might notice are a couple of lines affected by aliasing in the upscale process, and a smidge of digital banding, particularly in darker scenes.

    The images in this review are sourced from the PR, and aren’t necessarily representative of the final retail release.


    You have the choice between Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround English, and Dolby True HD 2.0 Stereo Japanese. The English track will play back with the signs track locked on, while the Japanese audio has the translated subtitles locked during playback. This is the one sticking point where the DVDs have an advantage over the Blu-rays, as their subtitles are optional. It’s a price we have to pay to get the show on Blu-ray. In Japan, where Blu-rays are more expensive and with fewer episodes, but in the same region as the US where these discs were originally authored, they would much rather that Japanese fans buy domestic, rather than opt for the comparative bargain of importing. One way of doing that is by marring the Japanese option with needless subtitles. Of course with us being in Region B, we technically don’t need the subtitles locked, but we have to live with the legacy of Funimation’s authoring. One thing, Funimation opted for a thin white font for their subtitles on the Blu-rays, and in comparison to the usual yellow text on the DVDs, it is not quite as easy to read.

    Once again, I took this opportunity during the re-watch to take in the English dub, watching more than half of these episodes that way. Having lived with Japanese FMA ever since the first series, it did feel a little weird hearing a different language from familiar faces, with a couple of odd sounding voices for certain characters, but the quality of the dub is strong, and pretty soon I was switching between the two versions without noticing much difference. The English voice cast do capture the characters in much the same way as the Japanese voice cast create them, but never once does the show sound like a copy of the Japanese version. While the Japanese stereo is strong, particularly when pro-logicked up, the English surround track gives the show a little more space, particularly during the action sequences. The quality of the audio isn’t immediately all that different from that on the DVDs, but at certain points during the episodes, particularly during more strident moments, the added fidelity and clarity of lossless audio becomes clear, the audio is richer, and much more defined.

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    Just the one audio commentary this time around, on the final episode Journey’s End. The Elric brothers, Vic Mignogna (Ed), and Maxey Whitehead (Al) join ADR director Mike McFarland to deliver the best audio commentary yet for FMA:B. It’s a look back on the series as a whole, as well as a commentary on the conclusion, it’s interesting and insightful, and well worth listening to.

    There are also outtakes on disc 2, 7 minutes of goof-ups and goofing around, none of which managed to make me smirk, let alone laugh,

    You also get the textless credit sequences here, and missing from the DVD release, but present here, you also get the textless ending for the final episode. Very useful.


    I can’t believe that Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood has come to an end. It’s the kind of show that you just want more and more of. However all good things, as they say, and even a story as long running and as involving as Fullmetal Alchemist has to conclude at some point. Actually, Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood’s conclusion began six episodes into the previous volume. The final arc that resolves the story, fashions a worthy conclusion for this epic series, the confrontation between Ed, Al and their allies and the forces of Father and the homunculi that takes place over a few hours in Central, actually stretch over some eighteen episodes of screen time. That’s close to seven hours of anime, and makes the butt-numbing conclusion of Return of the King look like amateur hour.

    There’s nothing at all butt-numbing about the conclusion of Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood though. It is brilliant, amazing, stunning storytelling, a conclusion that will have you glued to the screen for every single frame, will deliver in every possible way when it comes to wrapping up the story. It makes sure to follow every character arc through, that no loose ends are left dangling, and wrings as much drama, action, and excitement out of the story as is humanly possible. Oh, and plot twists and reversals… just when you think you have something tied down and understood, just when you think that there couldn’t possibly be any more dimension to this rich and complex story, Fullmetal Alchemist unveils a new revelation that will have you gasping at its audacity, and its ability to remain true to the core strengths of the story. Of course I’m not going to tell you one damn thing about the ending. You really have to buy this set and find out for yourself.

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    So which do I prefer, the original Full Metal Alchemist anime, or the definitive manga adaptation Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood? Well, it turns out that I’m just like Greed; I want it all. Both shows are spectacular anime, stunning storytelling, and utterly compelling, albeit in different ways. The original series is a little smaller, not quite as cohesive, but the worldview that it constructs, dramatically different to how Brotherhood plays out, really does get under the skin. The original series isn’t as hot in its narrative, but by God does it get the emotional strength right! It has poignancy, angst, pathos and tragedy in extremis. Just when you least expect it, it will break your heart, and it will do it again and again. The origin of the homunculi in that first series is a case in point (the result of the sin of the alchemist attempting human transmutation).

    Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood goes a different way in its origin story, and it takes a little longer to develop its characters to the point where you can empathise with them. Certainly by the end of the show I was seeing the homunculi in a different light, whereas for most of the run, they seemed more like stock villains. But Brotherhood has the space to be leisurely in its character development, even if it isn’t leisurely about telling its story. And it’s the story that is Brotherhood’s strength. It’s a far grander, magnificent edifice of a narrative. Emotionally not as robust as its predecessor, it’s when it comes to spinning a yarn that this series triumphs. For 64 episodes it holds the attention like nothing else, it pulls you in and drowns you in a rich and vivid fantasy tale that just builds and builds to a tremendous, earth-shattering crescendo of a climax. This is the best storytelling I have seen in anime form.

    As mentioned in the commentary on the final episode, you now have the best of both worlds. If you want an open-ended conclusion, which leaves everything in the air, questions unanswered and rich with possibilities, go for the first series, which had a cliff-hanger of a conclusion. That cliff-hanger was resolved in the Conqueror of Shamballa feature film, which itself was somewhat open-ended. If you want a conclusion that is as final as possible, signed, sealed, delivered with a kiss, with all the ayes dotted and tees crossed, then you want Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood, which has as satisfying and as well constructed a conclusion to an anime series as I have ever seen.

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    The Greatest Story Ever Told isn’t a patch on Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood. Brotherhood is a useful reminder that great anime shows do indeed get deserving conclusions. If you’re torn between getting Brotherhood and the original, I’ll make it easy for you. Get both!

    You realise what this means? I’m going to have to buy volumes 1 and 2 on Blu-ray now. This isn’t just typical collector mentality wanting consistency in my collection. The Blu-rays really are that much better than the DVD, especially volume 1, which on DVD was an NTSC-PAL conversion. I’ve said repeatedly that Brotherhood was something of an upscale, as like a lot of recent HD anime it was animated at less than full 1080p resolution. In fact for Brotherhood it was animated at 540 lines of resolution, which almost makes it an SD upscale. There are a lot of anime up-scales out there as companies rush to take advantage of the Blu-ray fanbase, and I only wish they looked as good as Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood. This one is actually worth double-dipping on.

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