Fullmetal Alchemist Collection 1 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: C-
  • Menus Rating: D
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: All
  • Region: 3 - Southeast Asia
  • Released By: Odex Private Limited
  • MSRP: SGD$39.90
  • Running time: 335
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Fullmetal Alchemist

Fullmetal Alchemist Collection 1

By Jerry Chu     March 27, 2006
Release Date: December 19, 2005


Fullmetal Alchemist Collection 1
© Odex Private Limited


What They Say
While still young boys, Alphonse and Edward Elric found themselves suddenly alone when their mother died of an illness. As the two brothers stood at their mother's grave, Ed resolved to use their talent for alchemy to revive her. However, the use of alchemy for human transmutation (transmutation: (physics) the change of one chemical element into another (as by nuclear decay or radioactive bombardment)) is forbidden, and the brothers paid a heavy price when they tried and failed to resurrect their mother: Ed lost his left leg in the process, while Al's entire body was consumed. Only by giving up his right arm was Ed able to save Al's soul, binding it to a nearby suit of armor.

Now determined to find the secrets of human transmutation to restore himself and his brother, Ed becomes a State Alchemist in service to the military, in order to gain access to the military's many resources. With Al by his side, they travel across Amestris to find clues that will lead them to the fabled Philosopher's Stone (Philosopher's Stone: the philosophers stone, a longtime "holy grail" of western culture western alchemy.
A mysterious gem that is said to be able to circumvent the standard rules of alchemy and its principle of equivalent exchange. They soon learn, however, that there are many others who seek the Philosopher's Stone for sinister reasons, and the brothers quickly find themselves caught up in many horrible events that are linked to a dark and disturbing conspiracy.

The Review!
Fullmetal Alchemist has been one of the more popular anime series to hit Japan in the past few years garnering a huge male and female fanbase. Here in North America, the complex series licensed by Funimation has graced television airwaves and DVD home video to much success amongst more established anime brands like Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex in the past few years. The series by [insert director/creator] and animated by BONES studio boasts some solid animation and complex storylines for a 50+ episode series and poised to become a global phenomenon. Enter Odex, one of the premier distributors of licensed Japanese animation on video compact disc (VCD) within the Southeast Asia region and based in Singapore, the company had taken it upon themselves to launch a legitimate licensed release for this popular series against a proliferation of counterfeit releases and dominance of the VCD format over DVD within that region

Audio:
Audio for Fullmetal Alchemist is rich and detailed, with a good audio mix balancing between the sound effects, voice over dialogue, and score. Viewers are treated to a dub track in both its original Japanese language and Mandarin Chinese. Taking a listen to both audio tracks, I was truly impressed with the voice acting and even began wondering why anime sounds so "right" in every other language besides English.

Video:
Video quality is inconsistent in some areas throughout the release, but for the most part is definitely on par Japanese releases. For those living in the Southeast region and still hanging onto the VCD format, take a look at the DVD video quality for Fullmetal Alchemist and you'll definitely notice a huge step up from those found on VCDs. While I did find some pixilation within static eye catches, whether or not this was a pass through defect from the original masters from Japan or just a case of Odex not paying closer to attention during the encoding process is unclear. Colors are vibrant and crisp with the subtitles fitting nicely against the animation itself.

Packaging:
The gatefold digipack has never screamed out, "look at me, I'm a premium DVD release" , but in the context of this release, it definitely fits the mold. At first glance, the collection actually looks like a bootleg release and with a huge problem of counterfeit DVD box sets readily available, Odex has positioned Full Metal Alchemist firmly against these cheap knockoffs as a high quality, high value alternative. Each of the individual DVD within the collection features key art of the main characters from the series within the pitart. While the digipack itself was sturdy, I had a bit of a problem with the locking mechanism holding the disc in place. There's just so much that could have been done to make the packaging look a bit more polished, a bit more professional. For instance, do we really need to have the entire cast members listed on the pitart for each DVD?

Menu:
Menus were pretty laughable and looked like it was created as more of an afterthought during the production cycle rather than as an integral part overall presentation of the DVD. The menu for the most part is static, with little motion, aside from a bouncing gun or character here and there.

Extras:
None.

Content:
The Fullmetal Alchemist collection features the first 14 episodes chronicling the adventures of two brothers mastering the powers of alchemy and dedicating themselves to discover a way to undo the past. The series opens up immediately with tons of action introducing the two main characters of the series, the Elric brothers, Edward and Alphonse.

The story begins with the two brothers in search of the Philosopher's Stone, an object of immense power said to hold the ability to amplify the powers of an alchemist. The reason for the brother's search lays just as much within their dark past as it does for the present. The two brothers had dabbled in forbidden alchemy as part of an attempt to revive their dead mother. When the experiment goes terribly wrong - Edward must sacrifice his body in order to save his brother, trapping his brother's soul within a suit of armor. Now, they journey as State Alchemists in hopes of finding this Stone that may potentially restore Alphonse within his own body.

Intense action sequences abound mixed in with some very subtle comedic moments, Fullmetal Alchemist does a nice job in knowing when to be serious and when to get a few laughs. These changes in pace helps to flesh out the characters and exposes the endearing qualities for each of the main characters. The story line continues to jump back and forth between the Elric brother's past and present - each time revealing to the audience a bit more information about the characters and more importantly, laying the foundation for what will surely become a much larger story arc involving a secret organization immersed in alchemy and conspiracy, whose group follows the journey of the brothers with keen interest.

In Summary:
Having been a huge success both in Japan and here in the United States, Odex picked a gem of a title to test its DVD release within the Southeast Asian territories. Fullmetal Alchemist has its die-hard legion of fans and the series does its best to keep you with each episode. The storyline slowly plays itself out and weaves in nicely with the development of Edward and Alphonse. The inconsistencies on the DVD did cast a shadow over this otherwise above average release. I consistently found both misspelling and improperly time subtitles barely matching dialogue throughout each of the episodes.

With rampant bootlegs available for all the latest anime series from Japan, Odex is doing its part to legitimizing the home entertainment with this area. Fullmetal Alchemist should be lauded for its price point and should not be taken as a benchmark against the original Japanese or North America releases. Overall I would definitely recommend this release for those still on the fence on buying the American release based on price and looking solely on content, the Odex release is a cost alternative release minus the English dub track and extras.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,Mandarin 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Chinese Subtitles,Malay Subtitles

Review Equipment
Panasonic 53 inch PT53WX42 HDTV, Skyworth Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via Monster component, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Bose 5.1 Multi-Channel Surround with 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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