Review for Fullmetal Alchemist - Collector's Edition Part 2
This second half series set, released just a week after the first half (strange that…), continues apace, delivering a fantastically entertaining, utterly addictive anime that you’ll want to watch more than once. My review for the first half can be found here, though you may want to check out Jitendar Canth’s excellent reviews for the series when it was issued a few episodes at a time on DVD way back in 2007 (use the search function to find them).
I’m sure, despite ‘Fullmetal Alchemist – Brotherhood’ offering an updated version closer to the original manga, that this first version will do extremely well as a Blu-Ray offer. Each disc of this 3-disc set offers up nine episodes with the third also housing some worthwhile extra features. Image quality is great; worth the upgrade from DVD despite being a non-HD series to start with. Upscale technology has come a long way and you’d be hard pushed to believe this started out non-HD.
It’s notable that a so-called ‘live action’ movie version of ‘Fullmetal Alchemist’ is slated for release in 2017, so maybe the timing of the Blu-ray release of this set is not so coincidental.
This release (two standard digi-packs, comprising the entire season) is a great option, bt if you have deep pockets and love the series then you may want to consider the special collectors set (limited to 970 globally) retailing at circa £200 - £300 which includes a small statue of ‘The Gate’, an elaborate artbook, postcards and, of course, the Blu-ray discs themselves. It sounds like a lot of money to me for a model but, with such a limited run, its sure to hold or grow its value over time.
Although the first half-set seemed to shift to a slightly lower gear towards the end, with the two young alchemist brothers once again under the watchful eye of their original alchemist teacher, Izumi, the ‘second half’ soon shifts back up a gear, and pretty much stays there for the rest of the run.
The series just never seems to lose steam. The fact that this is essentially a road movie means it just rumbles ever forward. It’s also very much a buddy movie too; arguably a coming of age series too but I’m seriously over-labelling it now. Whatever it is, it’s darn good.
So how to describe the action as it unfolds from the half-way point, without crossing over into spoiler territory? Not easy so forgive me if I cross the line. Or alternatively look away.
So we pick up on episode 28 to discover that a young boy who has been shadowing our two heroes, brother Edward and Alphonse (Al), on Yock Island is an alchemist able to transmute his own body. It also turns out that he somehow managed to acquire Ed’s limbs during their failed attempt at human resurrection.
The state military believe the boy to be a homunculus and throw him in jail – but Izumi, Ed and Al’s teacher, takes it on herself to storm the headquarters to rescue him. In the confusion, Envy (she’s been lurking since episode one and is one of a set of four with Greed, Lust and Gluttony their compatriots) manages to take the boy herself. She discovers that all he can remember about his past is that he consumed some broken fragments of the Philosopher’s Stone – the probable answer to Ed and Al’s quest to return Al to human form. (You following? If it sounds a bit mad and random, it really doesn’t seem that way when you watch it!).
After a brief respite back in their home town, it’s full-tilt for the brothers again as the quest continues. Things get hairy when Al is also kidnapped though Izumi and Ed are soon on his tail. In the meantime, his kidnapper, the perfectly named ‘Greed’ (a rogue alchemist who wants to know how to transmute a soul to armour among other secrets) is hunted by one and all – including the state. Later, when Ed stabs Greed in a battle, having got past his shield with alchemy, he learns that is possible to ‘kill’ homunculi. You just have to be near the human remains that they were created with when you do your killing. So now Ed and his brother have the secret to disposing of the homunculi who seem to stand between them and the stone.
And so the adventure continues with Ed and Al finally meeting their Father and travelling through a ‘Gate of Truth’ to a war torn London during WW1 in the final part of their journey to return Al to his original state. Sacrifices, loyalty and love are the name of the day as the series concludes in a way which I won’t spoil here.
Of course, much more happens besides – tears, laughter, injustices, passion and adventure every mile of the way.
The second half series set comes with some nice contextual features, all housed on Disc 3.
· The Transmutation of a Phenomenon - An Inside Look (31:24) is an SD archival piece from the time of the original release with the US voice cast (being interviewed. Their enthusiasm is infectious and I don’t think I imagined real tears on the eyes of Ed’s voice-actor when he describes one particular scene, did I? They certainly take the job seriously.
· Episode 51 Commentary features Mike McFarland and Colleen Clinkenbeard, who co-directed the US voice cast and also appeared themselves.
· Japanese Commercial (00:20)
· L'Arc en Ciel "Ready Steady Go" Video (4:00) A great little music video for the title song which, by the time you’re through all the episodes, you’ll know off by heart. The band are clearly hugely popular in Japan – check out one of their gigs below!
· Ura Hagane: Comedic Previews (30.00) Previews for all episodes.
· U.S. Trailer (1:45)
· Textless Opening Songs:· "Melissa" (1:45)
· "Ready Steady Go" (1:30)
· "Undo" (1:30)
· "Rewrite" (1:40)
· Textless Closing Songs:· "Indelible Sin" (1:20)
· "To the Other Side of the Door" (1:30)
· "Motherland" (1:30)
· "I Will" (1:30)
If you bought and enjoyed the first 27 episodes, then this second half set is a no-brainer. I’m happy to report that the second half is every bit as fun as the first and. Having watched the entire series twice now, I can also confirm that it has tons of replay value. I enjoyed it even more second time around – there’s just so much in it that you really won’t remember it all. Definitely recommended.