Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Part 3 - Mania.com



UK DVD Review

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: NA
  • Menus Rating: B-
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 13 and Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe/Japan
  • Released By: Manga UK
  • MSRP: £24.99
  • Running time: 325
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Fullmetal Alchemist

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Part 3

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Part 3 UK Anime DVD Review

By Christopher Homer     February 18, 2011
Release Date: February 21, 2011


Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Part 3
© Manga Entertainment UK

Part 3 continues into what made Part 2 so good, with first establishment of the characters, bringing almost everybody into an integral part of the show, and even manages to bring in new characters which don’t slow the plot down, and instead make it even more invigorating into what is already becoming a must watch show for me.
 
What They Say
This complete collection includes episodes 27-39 of the adventure anime series FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST - BROTHERHOOD following the brothers Alphonse and Edward Elric as they try to restore what they lost in a misguided attempt to bring back their deceased mother through alchemy - an incident that left half of Edward's body gone, replaced by mechanical prosthetics, and Alphonse's body gone completely, his soul inhabiting a suit of armour. Now, the two must embark on a journey to find the Philosopher's Stone, an artefact with the powers to bring back what they lost. FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST - BROTHERHOOD follows the same premise as the first FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST anime series, but follows the story from the original manga completely.

The Review!
Audio:
As what is becoming standard in my set reviews now, I decided to actually review both audio tracks by watching part of both discs in Japanese and in English. The English track has a 5.1 Dolby Surround Audio track whilst the Japanese is the standard 2.0 Stereo Track. The audio seemed fine, but seemed a little bit weaker than expected on the English track despite the Dolby Surround (though still stronger than the Japanese 2.1) In terms of resolution and in combination in the video, there weren't any problems, and once again, the fight sequences are very good (just hearing the clang of Mei’s kunai come out is enough to send shivers – then you get the final few episodes involving Scar...)
 
Video:
I moaned a little at the watermarking I noticed in the previous disc, I am happy to say that Part 3 had no problems, in wide screen and full screen parts - the subtitles were timed with the video and the colours were very clear. This is especially good considering the snow based areas that were focused on in Part 3 where problems like that would have been very obvious, but overall as mentioned, not problems with transition and a quality, and surprisingly colourful release (several changes in the op/endings helped)

Packaging:
There was no packaging for this test disc.

Menu:
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 - 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, that means it’s the same menu as the previous releases so it gets knocked down a little because of that.

Extras:
Like the previous two collections, we get a couple of good dub commentaries for English fans. Both consist of having ADR Director Mike McFarland on board, the first one is on episode 28 where he is joined by last year’s Amecon GOH Wendy Powell (Envy) and Kent Williams (Father/The Narrator) – it’s weird that it’s mentioned Kent is a 12 year veteran and the only role I definitely know him is as Hatori from Fruits Basket, but both of them comment on how involved their characters are, especially Wendy’s take on Envy but along with adding some fun facts (like about how the VA of Ling, Todd Hakenborn has cosplayed as Ling to set up panels) and the fact that Kent actually taught Alphonse’s VA Maxie Whitehead in theatre class – the commentaries are always fun as you never know what they are going to say.
 
The second commentary is on episode 36, where Mike is joined by Michael J Tatum (Scar), Phil Parsons (Buccaneer) and everyone’s new favourite, Stephanie Young (Olivier) – needless to say the entire commentary is basically one giant love fest on Olivier’s character and how much a gorgeous badass she is. Interesting other points is how Michael sees Scar’s view of life whilst Young jokes that like Olivier she tends to attracts bands of misfits in the booth. Overall, a lot of fun in both commentaries with the usual bout of interesting points and their thoughts on their characters.

Content:
I enjoyed the first Full Metal Alchemist, but for me it was a B series, quite standard, excellent at points but I always felt it was a bit overrated (and yes, I’ve been torn to pieces for that comment) – I knew Brotherhood was based on the manga and never really continued to read it after a brief point.
Trust me, I’m finding the copies as I type. Brotherhood continues to be amazing, and becomes one of those rare series that they have a great series with intriguing, interesting characters where they could ruin the dynamic by adding new characters. Amazingly, despite the already huge cast, the edition of the Fort Briggs arc, in particular the addition of Olivier brings us a new side to the series, one that is intensely awesome.
 
We get a recap ep to start (even that is interesting as it’s told in Hohenheim’s point of view) but quickly hits us with punch after punch. Ed, Al, Envy and Ling are in the mysterious ‘father’s’ domain, the creator of the homunculus. He is able to seal Al and Ed’s alchemy powers which basically forces Ling’s hand, and willing accepts a philosopher stone, turning him into a new Greed. That alone brings us a brilliant and fun battle within and without as Ling seems to have some mild control over Greed’s thoughts and processes, (giving the Elrics a message to give to Lanfan whilst talking like Greed for example) which considering Greed was already an intriguing character, this makes him even more interesting. In between that, Gluttony is apparently killed, and of all people, Scar and May actually save the Elrics (albeit inadvertently). Their escape leads them to Bradley, who basically blackmails them to following his orders otherwise Winry will die. However, more and more people are learning of Bradley’s secret courtesy of Roy, In addition, Scar finds Murdoch who after his role in the Ishbalian war wants Scar to kill him...
 
A lot is happening, and that’s just the first couple of episodes. The way everything mingles in together flawlessly is what separates FMA: Brotherhood as a top series. Thanks to a combination of Riza and Murdoch, we learn the true story of the Ishbalian War – which is rather interesting especially as due to this, get to see how the relationships of characters like Roy, Riza and also Hughes got together, and how the Ishbalian War was won – courtesy of a man who was given a brief cameo way back in the first episode, Kimblee – the Crimson Alchemist who was given a philosopher’s stone...and went berserk after it.
 
After Ed learns about the war from Riza, he returns to Al and mentions that Scar and May’s alchemy was working in the battle with Father, and realise that May’s alchehistory technique might bring them better luck in trying to bring back their bodies now they know how the philosopher stone is created. Meantime, Kimblee is released from prison courtesy of Envy – as they want to use him to kill Scar. And flowing nicely with that, Scar actually doesn’t kill Murdoch, but instead rescues him to use in their aid. Everything leads into the fact they are heading to the same location, the north. Including the Elrics – as they are given a letter of introduction by Armstrong to visit his sister, Major General Olivier Armstrong, the head honcho at the northern base, Fort Briggs. The other major plot that is added is the addition of Bradley’s son. At first seems innocuous enough....
 
Heading north, May and Murdoch have managed to avoid detection with a copy of Scar’s brother’s notes as they attempt to decipher if it can create eternal life as Scar separates from them to allude the military. Kimblee does catch up with him but Scar manages to keep him at bay and escape – but the big issue is the introduction of the Briggs group. Three new characters in particular make a big impression, Miles – a part Ishbalian who holds loyalty to the military, Buccaneer, a powerful warrior with specific enhancements to automail in the cold weather (and royally screws up Ed to start)...but the one everyone will remember is of course, Olivier – Armstrong’s older sister. She’s just...wow. One part ice queen, one party team mom, and 8 parts total badass. She’s doesn’t take any you know what, dismisses the Elrics as busybodies and goes through her own rules. Yet she cares about her team, is totally a one woman army (must be that Armstrong blood) and protects the north with an iron fist. This is proved when a random homunculus named Sloth digs through a tunnel into Fort Briggs, and is pretty much an invincible giant of a man.. Olivier forms a plan using the Elrics and her own military to stop him which is...quite frankly, ingenious.
 
Even more badassary when a military officer named Raven is a spy and basically brings another philosopher stone to heal Kimblee, Olivier tricks him into revealing the plans that Bradley has in creating an immortal army (her reaction to being touched is hilarious) – which later results in the loyalty of her group when she kills him. However, things gets thrown a bit when Kimblee arrives, and worse he brings Winry in as a hostage under the pretense she’s brought in to help fix Ed’s automail in the weather. This leads to the final arc before the next collection – when Scar, May, Murdoch, Ed, Al, Winry and Miles all get together in one place – and Miles manages to convince Scar about alchehistory, Winry actually helping Scar with his wounds and the fact they need Scar to help decipher his brothers notes, a plan is involved with a truce between the groups to escape Kimblee...but is it countered by the plan the military have in Fort Briggs...
 
Trust me on this – there is a ton more I could write, but this review would be a millennia long. Let’s just say that this series is excellent when it comes to characterisation – almost everybody gets a moment. Riza Hawkeye, slowly becoming one of my favourites, you see her basically turn into this bodyguard girl for Roy and how it’s effected her, but at the same time you get nerves of steel seeing her confront Bradley’s son...who turns out to be the first homunculus Pride – whilst she wasn’t in it much, my new fave of last Lan Fan shows she’s still awesome without one arm, and you get the feeling her depression of what’s becoming of Ling will only make her stronger – I’m certain she’ll return. May’s fun moments at her thoughts of the Elric brothers combined with her fear at what the philosopher’s stone entails is excellent, and of course the introduction of the Briggs troupe – Miles who wants to remove prejudice in the military, Buccaneer who wants to protect those he cares about, and Olivier, a one woman army who hates people seeing her as a beautiful woman, and not for the complete badass she is, everything adds to such a unique flavour.
 
There are comic moments as well (the character Yoki who was in a small arc in FMA gets a flashback to that saga and the Elrics completely forget about it was hilarious) and the two new sidekicks that Scar’s group gets at the end (two chimeras Jerso and Zampano) look set to be fun, not to mention Riza’s teasing of Ed when she mentions Ed is in love with Winry (and of course, when Winry gets a little too close fixing the automail...). Mostly however its very story driven now and it’s a rare series when the addition of more characters actually helps the story and doesn’t slow it down.
The only reason this doesn’t get an A+ is that two major new parts of the story got little focus, namely Ling transforming into Greed and the introductions of Pride and Sloth. Sloth might have just been added to confuse things, but Pride appears to be a big party of the story if Riza’s thoughts are true, whilst Ling has got his wish but at a cost, yet we don’t know much more. I’m sure this will be addressed later on and they will be both big parts of the story, so I’m eagerly awaiting the next saga with interest. For the time being, Al chasing after Scar’s group to warn them of the trap, Ed’s play acting with Kimblee and Winry of all people coming up with a really brave plan, combined with Roy’s plotting over Bradley (Roy didn’t get too much to do compared to the previous saga, disappointing...but made up due to Olivier’s rivalry with him) and the threat if Scar will break the truce despite doing a blood bond with a fellow Ishvalian – a lot more questions and a lot more to look forward to.
 
In summary:
FMA: Brotherhood is becoming a top 20 series for me – Black Lagoon and Bamboo Blade were first time series that I loved but neither of them have the depth that FMA: Brotherhood has. Granted, it could also mean it could end badly, but the way this has effortlessly flowed throughout the story, I doubt it. The addition of Olivier and her troupe actually adds more than hampers everything, and little bits all added to together fit in together to tell one captivating tale. More please. Very, VERY highly recommended.
 
Features
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, Textless Opening/Closing - Episode 14/23 Dub Commentaries with ADR Director Mike McFarland (also Havoc's VA), Wendy Powell (Envy), Kent Williams (Narrator/Father), Michael J Tatum (Scar), Stephanie Young (Olivier) and Phil Parsons (Buccaneer)

Review Equipment
Playstation3, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.


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