Anime: Fullmetal Alchemist The Complete Series (Blu-Ray)
Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: Spetember 15th, 2015
Retail Price: $64.98
Odds are, if you are an anime fan you are well aware of the beloved series Fullmetal Alchemist. The series began as a manga in 2001, running until 2012 with an anime series that was created in 2003. Fullmetal Alchemist is a 51 episode series that focuses on brothers Edward and Alphonse Elric. The two attempted to resuscitate their deceased mother which fails and causes severe body altering life consequences. After they realize that they were unprepared for such a serious task, they set out on a quest for something known as the philosopher’s stone which is used to conduct alchemy and return their bodies to their once healthy state. For Alphonse, he needs his body again because his consciousness has been placed into a suit of armor, and Edward whose arm and leg have been lost. The journey kicks off an elaborate fictional world that the two dive into, and Fullmetal Alchemist quickly becomes an intense ride.
In the beginning (for roughly the first 10 episodes or so) the series follows the initial plot of the manga. When the anime was being adapted, the series passed the publication of the manga and began to create their own version of Fullmetal Alchemist. By the third episode of the series, I was completely intrigued by the direction and if the Elric brothers could achieve their goal and deal with the never ending enemies at every turn. The early arcs of the series range from entertaining to moving, with the episodes taking time to introduce many different characters to the series. There are separate factions of characters with the Elric brothers and their random in-between supporters who aid their quest for the philosopher’s stone. The military presence in the series plays a prominent role, guided by the fire alchemist Roy Mustang. As Edward’s superior, Mustang additionally takes on a paternal role and guides the brothers as best as possible and portray a character with a strong moral compass. Hughes is another supporting character and best-friend to Mustang, whose storyline covers all emotional bases. One of the major strengths to Fullmetal Alchemist is the well developed supporting characters that while they can seem like too much, usually provide crucial progression for the story.
With so many different heroic figures in the series, Fullmetal Alchemist balances the scale by creating a powerful antagonist group known as homunculi. These beings are attempted resuscitations of humans who are now genetically altered but still resemble their original identities to some extent. The homunculi find their power source from a fragmented philosopher’s stone that they must ingest, and without it they couldn’t exist. There are seven different homunculi in Fullmetal Alchemist, with each of them representing and named after one of the seven deadly sins. One of the more interesting homunculi figures is a female known as Lust. Lust was created when Scar’s brother (Scar was a less-than interesting character) attempted to revive his deceased lover. Though Lust can cause her fair share of trouble, her direction in the series sends the homunculi to desire attaining her humanity again. It’s interesting to see the internal struggle between her humanity and homunculi identity, providing a rough conclusion for Lust. Greed also serves a purpose to Fullmetal Alchemist as a fan favorite homunculi and a seeker of immortality. Though none of the homunculi are taken lightly, Greed radiates a general dangerous aura about him that comes to a head when Edward and Greed face off towards the ending of the anime. Introducing villainous figure with sympathetic history creates a well rounded portrayal of protagonists and antagonists with lines sometimes blurred. Of course, not every character in Fullmetal Alchemist is a success, with Scar’s storylines feeling sometimes drawn out, and there are a few odd homunculi who could be utilized less, but for the most part the characters are a major selling point for the original anime.
The animation in Fullmetal Alchemist is a great example of artwork, especially for new anime viewers because the characters are easy to differentiate (except for the several blue military outfits.) The sequences that show alchemy or connections to the other side are effective uses of animation for the series entirety. The blu-ray enhancement is a stellar contribution to the anime and makes it even more visually pleasing for viewers. In the beginning of Fullmetal Alchemist I enjoyed the music, but as it went on it became too repetitive. One song in specific is played at almost every serious moment with a woman humming “woah” without stop. It almost parodies itself by using the song in so many moments, and it can even overshadow the dialogue but besides that…the additional music is used extremely well. The voice cast is large and well selected for the anime with Sonny Strait, Travis Willingham, Laura Bailey, and Vic Mognogna (but above all, the supporting cast stands out the best.)
For a series taking its own direction, it does fair well despite rough patches from time to time. There are moments that feel as if they could be polished and tweaked to maximize the entertainment, and certain arcs seem to feel like filler which can make it a task on occasion to push through. For overall story, the ending of the series kills off a majority of its characters we’ve come to like and the actual conclusion itself provides an ending that feels all to abrupt for investing yourself in over 50 episodes of an anime. Of course, the ending is in part because a film titled Conqueror of Shamballa was needed as a follow up, but as someone who also watched the film I was saddened by the ending of the series. Fullmetal Alchemist has many successful ideas and concepts for the popular anime, but with a larger elaborate series comes a few bumps in the road too. I can recognize why there are major supporters of the anime series, but it does feel like the series stretched itself more than needed. If you enjoy action, a large amount of episodes, and endless characters, Fullmetal Alchemist could be the anime for you so check it out now available from FUNimation.
Overall Rating: 6.5/10
Aedan’s Final Thoughts:
-The Blu-Ray upgrade is a marvelous addition to the anime, and makes the series fun to relive in full HD picture.
-Once again, all of my favorite characters meet their demise in Fullmetal Alchemist so be careful who you become attached to, the body count is high.
-I think that viewers could benefit from skipping certain arcs which feel repetitive such as Scar’s constant journey.
-The opening and ending themes for Fullmetal Alchemist are superbly selected, and I could listen to them on repeat.