What They Say:
The heavens tremble and the planet quakes as the souls of heroes and villains teeter on the edge of darkness and light. The final chapter of the sweeping epic ¬ Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood ¬ is here. The Flame Alchemist¹s rebel army pushes the forces of Central to the brink of collapse ¬ until the enemy¹s 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 in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Part 5?
As this was a two disc release, I watched the first disc in English and the second disc in Japanese – the English release comes in a very high powered 5.1 Dolby Track whilst the Japanese has a standalone 2.0 Stereo track, though it is also very strong. The releases from Manga are getting better and better in their audio releases, with stand out moments through and through such as the explosions with Envy, and the general changing of music which happens frequent and epic – again, no problems regarding audio in matching the subtitles or any timing issues as this final release of FMA: Brotherhood continues to be strong.
The video likewise had no problems, they were no glitches or slowdown, and linked in well with the Japanese subtitles, there are no transition problems and works very well in both widescreen and full screen format. And trust me, there was a lot that could have gone wrong considering how much was constantly changing in terms of location in this release, but the colours are vibrant, there was no issues with freeze frame when pausing, problems like that would have been very obvious, but overall as mentioned, no problems with transition and a quality release visually, combined with no audio subtitle issues makes this a worthy release overall from Manga.
There was no packaging for this release.
The menu is basic, set on a full red background with the FMA: Brotherhood Logo, where you can select on both discs Play All, Set Up, Episodes and Extras(on disc 2 only) – audio selection is easy as is extras, the episode select screen however is a bit more awkward than normal as not only is the fact you can’t select any of the scenes, but you have to navigate each episodes by clicking on the right or left button, rather than what I feel is an easier option in having all the episodes on one screen and then selecting it. Sadly this is the same problem that Brotherhood has had throughout, it’s one blip on an otherwise solid release
The extras were only on the second disc, but for dub fans we get a couple of treats. First of all is the episode 64 (final episode) commentary between Mike McFarland (ADR Director, Line Producer, VA of Havoc), Vic Mignogna (Ed) and Maxey Whitehead (Al). Whilst it’s still a fun commentary, it’s also a good commentary regarding the final processes, and how they feel now it’s over. In particular Vic, who was Ed in the first season of course as well, and how it holds a special role in his heart, as they all pick their favourite moments of the series, how they feel about the Ed/Winry scene at the end, how Maxey feels she did compared to the original voice (and how Aaron loved her performance) – it was great seeing how flattered Maxie was as she’s one of my favourite new voice actresses since I heard her as Ellis in El Cazador De La Bruja, whilst they do talk about how the series changed between the original and Brotherhood (open ended vs. closed) and just enjoy talking about the experience overall.
The second extra is a selection of outtakes, introduced my Mike. Sadly I felt it wasn’t long enough – with 64 episodes I felt there must have been a heck of a lot more, and it only seemed to cover the latter half of the series, which was a shame as they were genuinely funny and just wished there was a lot more of them.
Lastly, we get the final textless openings and endings for the season.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Excuse me I have something in my eye…
The journey in Brotherhood was 64 episodes long, the longest series I’ve reviewed up to date for the UK. And it has been worth every episode. I was a casual fan of the original FMA, and knowing Brotherhood was more based on the manga, I definitely was looking forward to it. And at the end, this could easily enter my top 20 anime list on just how everything was resolved so well, how the characters have developed, and just some genuine shock/tear jerking movements (I cried three times during my first watch) makes it one of my favourite shows to date.
So much happens that it could easily get lost, yet everything is hit really quickly before you get to the real meat. For example, first episode – we get Mrs. Bradley on a radio show as some of Mustang’s soldiers are trying to use Bradley’s apparent death to their advantage to focus on a coup d’etat for Roy, which immediately then cuts to Roy helping out Ed, Scar and the chimeras, before he gets into a battle with the emerging Envy. This is something from way back in the first volume everyone was hoping for considering Envy was the one who murdered his best friend Hughes, and it also shows how well the characters are developed. Roy goes into a rage, whilst Scar says that if he doesn’t calm down, he will lose to his anger much as he did. Scar has become one of my favourite characters simply because of his development – a villain with a reason, to put his ideologies aside and seeing what is the greater good, and by the end of the series it definitely works in his favour.
Roy’s development as well is great because it showcases one of my favourite pairings of the series, him and the beautiful Riza Hawkeye. Riza sees through a ruse of Envy’s, and it because of her that Roy doesn’t go completely berserk, both against Envy and later against another scientist. Through these interactions and facial expressions, we see degrees of trust, respect and love between the two and just how much Roy cares about her is shown when Riza is nearly killed, and he has to choose between helping her and forcibly becoming one of the sacrifices for Father. I really wish more had been made from these two, but what there is, is pure gold.
And of course, we have the Elric brothers themselves. The main plot is stopping Father, with the help of Hohenheim. Izumi, Roy and May are later roped into helping as well (Roy/Izumi not by choice, May thanks to Scar) thanks to Bradley returning along with Selim, a.k.a Wrath and Pride. They force Mustang to perform human transmutation to make him become one of the sacrifices, and in a shocking moment, he loses his sight. There is so much to talk about here, but will keep it short. Bradley faces Scar in a battle to death (and earlier Bradley had returned, facing off against Buccaneer, and Greed/Ling before he’s delivered a blow into the sewers and finds the underneath passage where Scar and the others are) whilst Ed’s group have to face against the near invincible father. Despite help from the Armstrongs, Ling and Ranfan among others, he still seems invincible. Here, Al has to make a difficult choice to try and gain victory, and it’s truly touching the moments in the portal where Al reunites with his original body, but has to make a truly tough choice.
Father’s main deal in a real scary moment is when he causes the nationwide human circle to become one with God. Ed’s retaliation is built up so brilliantly combined with Hohenheim’s gamble that it’s beyond majestic. Admittingly, the only reason this doesn’t get an A+ is I felt after how it looked like Father was near invincible, Hohenheim’s plan, whilst there were more than enough hints throughout the show, literally was dealt with in 3 minutes, basically making that incredibly shocking scene somewhat redundant. However, the way the gambit work, combined with Hohenheim (also a victim of good character development) wants to prove he is a father to his two sons, is just brilliantly orchestrated, and you are cheering with Ed as much as his friends are during the final battle.
Here, I’ve just talked about the tip of the iceberg. It’s a show where character development went through the full arsenal, and things from as early as the first disc (particularly the deaths of Hughes and Nina) are brought back to show the thoughts of characters like Ed, Al and Roy. But almost any character that has some decent airtime get their moment in the spotlight this volume to show their characterization. Maria Ross during the radio show, the Armstrong siblings, in particular Alex showing he’s not afraid of battle and Olivier, one of my favourites, showing how she deep down did care for her subordinates and brother. The Curtis’, how they saw the Elrics as sons (and a hilarious friendship between Alex as well – despite all the tears, there were some genuine funny moments as well), the lovely Lanfan when her grandfather is killed and she literally passes judgment on Bradley, Greed – he gets some great moments in this disc when he is talking to Ling and for the first time ever, he lies…not to his advantage which is something you wouldn’t fathom someone named Greed to do, May gets some great moments (and not only fights Father BY HERSELF AT ONE POINT, she has to make the decision as badly as Al did during his sacrificial choice) and when you see the final episode and how her clan and Ling’s clan eventually make peace, you’re crying along with her…especially when you see what seems to happen in literally the last scene of the show. And last but not least, we have Winry. She doesn’t get to do much this volume, but the last episode…well, let’s just say that if you don’t smile from it, you don’t have a heart.
It’s one part action (the battles between Scar/Bradley, Ling/Bradley, Envy/Roy, Father vs. the sacrifices), one part tearjerker (what happens to Roy as a sacrifice, Lanfan’s grandfather, Al’s decision, May’s reaction), one part story telling (Roy choosing whether to save Riza or risk the country, Scar defying his god to face against Bradley, the relationship between the Elrics and the finale involving Hohenheim) and even some elements of comedy (the chimeras and the Armstrongs the main cause of that). It literally moves at such a pace to fit so much in, and to wrap up everything that it could have got lost in the shuffle. Yet it flows in so naturally that you don’t forget a thing, all your favourite characters get their moments, the ending is sublime and many tears were shed. Our favourite pipsqueak gets an ending that you may not have expected, because his sacrifice for his brother literally did catch me off guard when he doesn’t want to create or use a Philosopher stone, but it’s done so masterfully that you are glued to the set.
FMA: Brotherhood is so far the series of the year for me, and I doubt that will change.
FMA Brotherhood finishes in amazing style, wrapping up loose ends, getting endings both happy and sad for pretty much all the cast, the dreams of the Elrics seemingly all done whilst everything else whilst not back to normal, at least gives you a sense of closure. Great animation and music, fantastic character development, a story following through to the end, great battle sequences, heart breaking decisions, and tears of joy and sorrow, you will be hooked on this anime classic. Whether you liked the original or not, or if you never saw it, check it out and see what the fuss is about – you won’t regret it. Highly recommended.
Japanese Language, English Language, English Subtitles, Episode 64 Commentary, Outtakes, Textless Opening, Textless Ending
Content Grade: A
Audio Grade: A
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B –
Extras Grade: B+
Released By: Manga Entertainment
Release Date: 12th September 2011
Running Time: 293 minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Review Equipment: Playstation3, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.