Fullmetal Alchemist Set 4 (of 4) (Mania.com)

By:Lori Lancaster
Review Date: Friday, July 18, 2008
Release Date: Tuesday, March 11, 2008



What They Say
As the chaos surrounding the quest for the Philosopher's Stone boils over, Edward Elric is left to face his destiny and bear the burdens of his actions alone. Scar, determined to reenact the horrors of the past, must be stopped at all cost. Bust when those who sought to save lives are instead sought as fugitives of the State, the Elric brothers will be forced to flee...

Alliances shirts and factions fracture as undeniable truths glare in the light of day and the rumor of civil war drives unrest. And yet all seek the Philosopher's Stone. Al has been changed into something impossible to comprehend and as the brothers are separated, his suit of armor begins to disintegrate. Ed has precious little time left to find his sibling.

These weary young men have traveled a long and difficult path, seeking to regain what was lost. Enemies have been toppled, friends have been buried and the State will be remade. Even the one inevitable truth will be called into question: The Law of Equivalent Exchange.

Contains episodes 41-51.

The Review!

 

Audio:

For the purpose of this review, the English 5.1 track was used.  Spot checks were done on the English 2.0 audio track, with longer checks made on the Japanese 2.0 track as well.  On episode 41 there did seem to be an issue with the background music coming close to overpowering the vocal portions of the English 5.1 track.  Other than that, there continued to be a good balance between the sound effects, background music and vocals.  The sound effects continued to be well placed and used.  The audio tracks themselves were multidirectional and provided for a feeling of being completely immersed within the sound.

Video: 

This is a transfer of a recent anime series.  The colors were very vibrant and the transfer appeared to be very clean.  There do not seem  to be any noticeable interlacing issues.  There was no pan jutter or anything else of a similar nature.

Packaging:

There are three main components to this packaging.  The first being the outer box.  The front portion was an odd family portrait of sorts.  The Elric boys stand alongside their father.  Flanking the father on the other side are his former wife-turned-homunculi, and Envy.  This is on the same reflective silver background  that has graced the other boxes of the series.  There is a subscript underneath the logo that states that it is the second part for season two. The back of the box is black and features several images as well as a short summary of what you can expect.  Also listed are the extras and the episodes contained in this set.  The box isn't entirely flimsy, but it isn't as sturdy as it could be. 

Inside the outer box is a tri-fold triple hubbed dvd case and dvd sized pocket.  The tri-fold case features artwork on the outside of Trisha Elric and her sons as children on the front section.  The back scene featured a very intense looking Edward.  To his left was a slightly dismayed Trisha, a contemplative Hoenheim and an aloof Lyra. On his right side is his younger brother.  The interior of the case featured a reflective gold background. As with the previous volumes, the episode titles are listed underneath the pertaining volumes.  There is a very nice sense of continuity lining up all the series boxes side by side. 

The dvd sized pocket contains all three guidebooks for volumes eleven through thirteen.  The case itself was a very shiny reflective silver color.  It was emblazon with the alchemic symbol that saw frequent use throughout the series. The guidebooks themselves looked like they were the same ones that were released along side the original single volumes.  These covered a great deal of data.  Part of the contents include more short comments from the Japanese Staff, short character profiles, and setting data.  The setting data was basically comprised of profile shots of the characters, and close up pictures of the eyes.  Some of the characters included in this set were Hoenheim, the Fuhrer, and Rose's "Holy Mother" appearance.  At the beginning of these guide books were a series of nice reproductions of the promotional art.  At the end of the books, the corresponding volume's episode titles are given alongside a short teaser.

Menu:

The main menus of each disc featured very bold and striking black and white images.  The sub menus used very bright and colorful images.  Each menu had different background music.  These were very easy to use and navigate.

Extras: 

There were a large amount of extras included on these disks.  The normal inclusion of trailers for other Funimation titles can be seen here.  Also included are a voice actor episode commentary, production art, character profiles and textless theme songs.  The last extra for this set is a feature entitled "An Inside Look."  The production art spans a couple different categories such as illustration and model galleries.  It is easier to appreciate the artwork of the backgrounds unhindered by the cel art.  Character profiles span important supporting cast members and also key figures in certain episodes.

The voice actor commentary is presented by the two directors for the series, Mike McFarland and Colleen Clinkenbeard.  They basically discussed anything concerning the acting in 'Fullmetal.'  This included the process of casting voice actors, and why they cast certain characters first.  From the onset they wanted to bring in a very strong cast to do justice to the series.  Aside from mentioning some of their favorite episodes, characters they really liked were also discussed.  One of the most interesting things that was discussed was how they went about creating the 'German Chant.'  A large amount of research and effort went into it in order to create a realistic effect.

The last extra that was included was titled: "Fullmetal Alchemist: The Transmutation of a Phenomenon.  An Inside Look."  The voice actors for the main and supporting cast weigh-in with their thoughts on 'Fullmetal Alchemist.'  An in depth look was given to the relationships between characters and their motivations.  They also spoke about what it was they felt drew people into 'Fullmetal Alchemist.'  Overall, this includes a treasure trove of anecdotes from the voices behind the English adaptation of FMA.

Content: (Spoilers follow)

The tale of two brothers and their epic quest to right the sins they committed winds to a close.  What they sought was found, but at what price?

By this point, you already know that 'Fullmetal Alchemist' was the tale of two brothers who sought the legendary Philosopher's Stone.  Their goal having been to right the wrongs they had previously committed.  As is the case with objects surrounded by power and intrigue, it caused more problems than it solved for the two.  It resulted in the lines between enemies and friends blurring completely as former enemies gave aid.  Before this ultimate power came into the brother's hands however, another battle of epic proportions occurred.  Oddly enough, the setting for this battle stage was the city of Lior.  Originally the site of Ed's first triumphs as a State Alchemist,  Lior had seen many a hardship since.  Ed was desperate for this city not to become another Ishbal, but it seemed like destiny and fate would not be denied.  The realism on the first volume was frightening at times. One of the interesting things that occurred was the continuing circle of sacrifice.  Scar's brother had originally sacrificed himself to save his brother during the Ishbal war.  Scar himself had been left with several unresolved feelings stemming from this.  For example, at the same time that he loved his brother, he hated him as well. Yet, he found the sacrifice that his older brother made to be grand.  He compared his relationship with his brother with the Elric brothers.  While he and his brother were perhaps at odds, the Elric brothers lived for each other.  Not wanting to allow Al to die, Scar decided to give the same sacrifice that his brother had given for him.  Quite a turn for a young man who originally wanted to kill off all the State Alchemists.  His growth and change of character gave hope to the idea that perhaps things could change.   Even if it was only one person at a time.

The second to last volume brought with it a deep look into their country's own history.  One of the more important aspects was the knowledge of how the original Philosopher's Stone emerged.  While the secrets of the past were being uncovered, current events had started to heat up even more.  Due to what had occurred at Lior, the Elric boys were in serious trouble.  Their main ally through all this was the ever present Mustang.  The relationship between Ed and Roy had never been a smooth one.  It could be argued that this was because similar personalities cause friction.  Although, Mustang had the tendency to behaved more like a teasing and protective elder brother.  He had previously shown this nature in his constant remarks concerning Edward's lack of height.  His protective side shone through when he tried to shield the boys from Hughes' murder, and the civil war in Lior. Roy himself constantly tried his best to protect the boys, even to the point where he put his own dreams and life in danger.  Oddly enough, he was the only person who was able to truthfully state that he and Ed were the same.  During most of the series, various people claimed to share a kinship with Ed through their seemingly similar reactions to the same situations.  One of the first had been the man with the automail arm.  He had claimed that they both sought power.  Ed stated that he had automail out of necessity, and not because he sought strength. 

The last disk launched a trio of episodes that seemed to meld into one.  Even more startling truths were revealed concerning alchemy and Edward's own family.  One of the oddest facts revealed was what lay beyond their side of The Gate.  This revelation led to the knowledge of what the power source for alchemic reactions was. Ultimately, it caused Lyra to state that "Equivalent Exchange" was a farce.  At the end of what can only be a tragic series of events, the brothers finally gain what they thought they wanted most, but a hefty price was paid. 

As things came full circle, it was not readily apparent how everything would turn out.  The last few episodes exercised a good deal of suspense that held out until the end.  All the while the viewer was left to hope against hope that everything would work out for the two brothers.  'Fullmetal Alchemist' was able to deliver a truly powerful story line that was rich with plot and character development.  Expertly woven within this was a wonderful mixture of original background music and sound effects.  This all came together to created a world that was quite enthralling.   One of the biggest messages in this series was that of 'hope.'  To always keep moving forward and to keep trying to reach your goals.  Ed said it to Rose in the beginning, and Rose said it to him later on as well. "Get up and move forward."  As always, the animation used in this series was fantastic.  The range of facial expressions that the characters had were part of what gave Fullmetal Alchemist it's charm.  They were able to convincingly turn an otherwise inanimate suit of armor into a real little boy. In various other episodes, the animators managed to give a nice range of facial expressions to most of the supporting cast as well.  Seeing so many various emotions on all the characters made it easier for a person to immerse themselves into the story.

In Summary: 

The television series for Fullmetal Alchemist has finally comes to a close.  Most of the major characters had their loose strings tied up. As in previous arcs, the action and plot continued to easily intertwine to tell the story of two brothers who sought to right the wrong they had committed.  This series was granted the realistic ending it deserved. Through out their journey, the richness of the characters, the depth of the story telling, the music, and the artwork all combined to create a wonderful story. It continually provided action, drama, and a healthy dose of comedy.  For those that may have been dismayed by the end of the series, take heart.  There is a follow up movie out as well.  At this price point it would be a shame not to collect the series if you haven't done so already.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Textless Songs, Production Art, Image Gallery, Character Profiles, Inside Look

Review Equipment
106" 16x9 DaLite HC Screen, Panasonic PT-AX100U LCD Projector 720p native, AMD 64 x2 4200, Windows x64, NVidia PureVideo, FFDShow, CoreAVC, AC3Filter and Various Media Players DVD Upconversion handled by NVidia software, Sony STR-DE835 500W Receiver DD/DTS,  Klipsch Reference System (RB-61, CS-52 and RS-42) speakers, Sony SA-WMS5 100 Watt powered subwoofer, DVI to  HDMI (PC to Projector),  Digital Coaxial Cable (PC to Receiver).



Mania Grade: A+
Audio Rating: B
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: A
Extras Rating: A
Age Rating: 13+
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
MSRP: 49.98
Running time: 315
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Fullmetal Alchemist