What They Say:
The Flame Alchemist’s rebel army pushes the forces of Central to the brink of collapse – until the enemy’s fallen leader returns to take control. As mortals and monsters wage war, young Edward and Alphonse Elric must face a cruel being with the unholy power of a god. After endless adventures and countless struggles, the boys find the fate of the world in their weary hands. When the Gateway closes and the circle is complete, who will be left alive to celebrate the astonishing sacrifices made?
For this viewing, I checked out the English dub, which is offered in 5.1. The mix is decent, with some nice left/right and front/back directionality on the sound effects. The dialogues stays centered, though, but there is no dropout or distortions on any of the tracks. With a series based in action like this, I would have liked to have seen some more directionality on the effects, and I am always a sucker for directionality in the dialogue, but this is still a nice mix.
This release is very pretty. Colors and lines are solid, and I did not see any technical issues at any point. It handles the brightest of reds just as well as the deepest of blues and anything in between. It should be noted that there is an obvious disconnect in style between the background and foreground in many scenes, especially outdoor scenes. The characters appear to be cell shaded, while the backgrounds are done with a more traditional color scheme. This is not as apparent on lesser setups. I personally love this style of animation, but I know that there are plenty who do not, so it is worth mentioning.
This is a fairly simple box, but it has a nice design. The two discs come in two thinpaks, with a slip sleeve art box to contain them. The front image has Pride, Father, and Fuhrer Bradley looking menacing which has a bit of a foil effect, so it shines to varying degrees based on the color. The back of the box has some screen shots, summary, and technical details, all with the same foil effect. The thinpak covers have some nice images too, one of a grown Ed and human Al and one of Mustang and Hawkeye. Nice pictures can be seen from the inside too, and though I do not think they were specifically designed for it, they would work well as reversible covers.
The menu is really basic. It is just a plain red screen with some white splotches near the edges. It looks a bit like some red paper that has gotten its edges wet and bled some of its color. The selections are in black, too, which can make it a little hard to see on smaller setups, especially from a distance. It does not look bad, but they certainly did not spend a lot of time designing it.
There are some decent extras on this release. There are textless versions of the opening and closing, and some commentaries for episodes forty and forty-six. There is also a seven minute outtake reel that has some great stuff.The best extra though are the four collector’s postcards included in the box. While there are some cool pictures here, I am still saddened that Funimation has been ignoring my pleas for more Winry.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With Fuhrer Bradley apparently dead, the rebel forces led by Roy Mustang and General Armstrong manage to capture Central Headquarters with little problem. At the same time, Ed, Al, and their various allies are underneath the capital hunting down Father and the remaining homunculi. While their progress has been stalled by the immortals, the fortuitous arrival of Mustang and Hawkeye quickly turn the tables. Finally seeing the opportunity to settle some old-scores with Envy over the death of Maes Hughes, Mustang allows the rest of the crew to proceed to join Hoenheim in confronting Father.
In fact, everything seems to be going as well as possible until the Fuhrer returns, having escaped the assassination attempt on the train. With the Fuhrer back in the fold, the Central soldiers fight with a renewed vigor against the rebels, and his abilities alone swing the sides back to Father’s side. The question becomes whether or not the Armstrongs and Greed can hold Bradley’s forces at bay long enough for the rest to stop Father before the eclipse sets in.
A running theme of my reviews for the first four parts of Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood was how disappointed I was with the first Full Metal Alchemist series and how Brotherhood was more than fixing my issues. My only hope was that the conclusion would live up to the greatness that the first 52 episodes had laid out for us. The good news? It did.
One of the things that Brotherhood did much better than the first series was increase the tension. All throughout Brotherhood, there was a greater sense of the dangers inherent with the homunculi completing their plans than the first series had, which gave us a better sense of the urgency of Ed and Al to get to the bottom of everything and stop Father.
With this added tension, we got much better characterization as well. Bradley’s treachery is hinted at in the very first episode, and we see it for real much earlier. In fact, I loved how Bradley didn’t even try to keep what he was doing a secret from his subordinates, and took the attitude of “If you don’t like it, try to stop me.” This helps add to Mustang’s character as his role in Brotherhood is to try and counteract the Fuhrer, frankly giving him more purpose that the first series. But most importantly is what it does to Ed and Al; they grow up much faster this time around and helps give some gravity to their choices and actions.
And of course, it helps to add importance to the final confrontation between our heroes and Father. In the first series, the homunculi destroyed a town in order to form a Philosopher’s Stone so they could become human. In Brotherhood, Father looks to destroy the entire country of Amestris in order to create a Philosopher’s Stone so powerful he could challenge God himself. Father is already more powerful than anything that is thrown at Ed and Al the first time around, and this plan is far more grandiose than anything the homunculi could come up with; add this in to the better, steadier build to the conclusion, and this series just carries a lot more weight.
The only thing I didn’t like about this last set was how it left us with a whole bunch of questions. For starters, there was a moment right after Bradley’s train explodes that General Grumman comes off just as untrustworthy as the rest of the General Staff as he reveals his own ambitions. But he shows up later as if nothing happened. The final episode as well seemed to open a lot of doors for a sequel series, though there’s nothing currently in the works, and the just released movie is actually a side-story rather than a follow-up (as Conqueror of Shamballa was to the first series). While I would possibly welcome a series, I like the way this one ended and would have preferred a more concrete finale. But that’s just me.
Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood is a series that I struggle to find issue with. The few nits I can pick with it are really more me doing my due diligence and trying to find something to complain about. I’m willing to admit that some of my love for this series might just be that they fixed all of the issues of the first series and let Full Metal Alchemist hit the potential it showed before, and maybe it isn’t quite as great as I want to think it is. But even with that admission, this series is still fantastic, and the conclusion here is more than fitting. I can’t recommend it any higher.
Episode 64 Commentary, Outtakes, Textless Songs, Trailers
Content Grade: A
Audio Grade: A-
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: B+
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: August 2, 2011
Running Time: 300
Video Encoding: 480i/p
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Magnavox 37MF337B 37” LCD HDTV, Sony BDP-S360 BluRay Player w/HDMI Connection, Durabrand HT3916 5.1 Surround Sound System