Fullmetal Alchemist Vol. #10 (of 13) (Mania.com)

By:Dani Moure
Review Date: Monday, March 26, 2007
Release Date: Monday, February 19, 2007



What They Say
Forced to go on foot after their vehicle explodes, Al questions Ed for the first time about the direction of their mission, prompting a heated brawl. With the half-snake, half-woman Marta as their guide, Ed and Al arrive at the ruins of Ishbal. Their shock at the devastation is magnified as Marta divulges the real cause of the Ishbal war, and the dark series of events that led to her transformation into a chimera. Once again, Ed and Al must question everything they believed. Meanwhile, someone high up the military ladder has ordered an investigation on Colonel Mustang.

Episodes
37. The Flame Alchemist, The Bachelor Lieutenant And The Mystery Of Warehouse 13
38. With The River's Flow
39. Secret Of Ishbal
40. The Scar


The Review!
The brothers Elric head closer to their destination, with some comedy, drama and shocks along the way.

Audio:
I listened to the Japanese stereo track for my main review, and continued to really enjoy the performances of the Japanese cast. The stereo mix sounds good, with the music and effects coming across quite well. I noticed no dropouts, distortions or other technical issues with this disc.

I briefly sampled parts of the English 5.1 track, and really liked the English performances. Though I do sometimes feel areas of the translation are a little loose, this is just a preference and the dub does flow very well.

Video:
With this being a recent show, the transfer here is very good. I noticed no aliasing or other artefacts as I watched. Colours were reproduced well, and the transfer was very sharp and clean. In my main Philips player, this volume did seem to have issues with the alternate angles, with the disc breaking up before pausing when the angles came into use. This hasn't happened with past volumes so it's worth mentioning here, but it didn't occur on my PC or laptop.

We also get alternate angles for the openings and endings. This means that you can either watch the translated, English credits in the opening, or the original Japanese opening with kanji, and the same for the ending, depending on which language you select from the menu. It works well and caters to both sides of the audience, though Funimation could perhaps be a bit more comprehensive with their translated original Japanese credits.

Subtitles are in a nice yellow font, and I noticed no spelling or grammatical errors.

Packaging:
The front cover of this disc features Lt. Hawkeye in a wraparound image. The logo placement and disc title are the same as past volumes, though Revelation have added the episode numbers included just under the volume name. The back cover has mostly the same layout as past discs, except there is no technical grid. The relevant information is all clearly listed at the bottom though. The cover is also reversible with the clean version of the wraparound cover image.

Menu:
The menus mimic the previous discs, with a brief introduction sequence featuring the show's English logo leading into the main menu. This has the show's logo at the top, with some scenes from the show playing in the centre of a circle with Ed and Al either side. You can select individual episodes from the selections below, as well as extras and setup. A piece of background music plays over the main menu, though I'd have liked to have the opening theme play here as it does on the US disc. Sub-menus are static, sporting the same circular background design but with just the text selections available, and they don't have any music playing. Once again, there's also no scene selection menu. Overall, as is often the case the menus are functional but just a bit bland in their design.

Extras:
Continuing with the bare bones in terms of extras, we get just the textless opening and ending, as well as the production art galleries here.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
I've often said how much I enjoy receiving new volumes of Fullmetal Alchemist these days, and as the story races closer towards its end that feeling is only reinforced, with this volume being another good one as we're getting several steps closer to the payoff. There's really no better time for Revelation Films to have picked up the series and start releasing it monthly, because these final five discs really put the show in to full throttle.

Given the amount of drama and intensity the show has gained over the past couple of discs, it makes sense for the show to take a bit of a breather and turn its eye to a bit of comedy. It's probably the last chance the writers will have before the end which is sure to just get even more dramatic, so although it feels a little out of place its quite a welcome change of pace. The episode focuses on Col. Mustang and the team at Central, as Lt. Havoc has been asked by the higher ups to investigate him, and we follow him through a day in the life as it were. There are a few nice touches around this episode, such as the little "Flame Alchemist" logo that opens the episode, and also there's a lot of fun as the characters run around scared of the mysterious warehouse 13.

As you'd expect, the episode does little to move the story on, aside from a couple of moments with Sheska as she starts investigating Hughes' death again. That strand forms the basis of the next episode, as Winry visits Hughes' grave and bumps in to Sheska. The pair start looking in to the hows and whys of his death, and they come up with the name Captain Juliet Douglas, a woman who was supposed to be dead but is actually now serving as the Fuhrer's secretary. Winry decides to tap the phone lines, and this leads her and Sheska to a confrontation with Juliet and the discovery that she is not who she claims to be.

Meanwhile Ed and Al have a little bust up, the kind that brothers often have. One thing it's easy to forget when watching this series is how young the leads are, considering the pressures they're under constantly. But the writers do a great job with moments like the little spat they have that separates them to remind us that they really are quite young and it's all handled in a very realistic way.

The first of several characters makes a comeback, as Martel joins the brothers once more as they reconcile and continue their journey to Ishbal. She appears to offer a different perspective on events in Ishbal, describing to Ed and Al the true reasons behind the war and what really started it. With that said, Ed and Al are tracked down by the military and Ed gets sent to Liore, another blast from the past that looks set to come to the fore. The townspeople has been turned in to a giant transmutation circle, and Scar is in town with Lust and Gluttony watching his actions closely.

There are some excellent back and forth exchanges between Ed and Scar, as Ed continues to try and find the truth about Ishbal while Scar is looking to get revenge and impress his opinion upon Ed, at least after they've had a bit of a go at each other and Scar has revealed his past. We get to see the real motivation behind Scar's actions, and it all looks like it's going to come to a head very soon.

It's a real action packed ending to the disc in more ways than one, as back with the military there are some sterling scenes with Al, Martel and the Fuhrer, all culminating in an absolute shocker of a final sequence. I certainly wasn't expecting what happened and the way it did almost left me with my jaw on the flaw. There's a real ruthlessness about it that makes you realise just how high the stakes have become.

In Summary:
As Fullmetal Alchemist nears its conclusion, this volume gives us some fantastic story revelations and some great action. The ending left me wanting more as soon as humanly possible, and I just find with each volume the series continues to get better and better. I can't wait to see how it all ends and I look forward with great anticipation to seeing how we get there over the next few volumes. Next disc now, please!

Features
Japanese Language (2.0),English Language (5.1),Textless Opening and Ending,Production Art

Review Equipment
Philips 28" Pure Flat Widescreen TV, Philips DVP 5100 code free DVD player, JVC gold-plated RGB SCART cable, Pioneer HTP-GS1 5.1 Surround Sound System.



Mania Grade: A-
Audio Rating: A-
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: A-
Menus Rating: B-
Extras Rating: C-
Age Rating: 12 & Up
Region: 2 - Europe
Released By: Revelation Films
MSRP: £15.99
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Fullmetal Alchemist