Fullmetal Alchemist Set 2 - Mania.com



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  • Audio Rating: A
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: A
  • Extras Rating: A
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
  • MSRP: 49.98
  • Running time: 400
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Fullmetal Alchemist

Fullmetal Alchemist Set 2

By Lori Lancaster     January 28, 2008
Release Date: November 20, 2007


Fullmetal Alchemist Set 2
© FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.


What They Say
Deep within the confines of a secret State laboratory Ed's morality will be put to the ultimate test, even as elsewhere Al is left to battle for both his life and his sanity. As rumors of military corruption and conspiracy draw others into the investigation, those closest to the Elrics look to suffer the most.

Contains episodes 17-28.

The Review!
Audio:
For the purpose of this review, the English 5.1 track was used. Spot checks were done on the Japanese and English 2.0 audio tracks as well. There was a nice balance between the sound effects, background music and vocal parts. The music itself had a full robust sound while not over taking the vocal track in the least. The usage of sound effects was spot on through out the episodes. This was coupled with good use of multidirectional audio tracks. This ultimately provided the 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 seemed 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 features three of the main characters alongside an important supporting character. This is on a reflective silver background with the logo for the series emblazoned a few inches up from the bottom. There is a subscript underneath that states it is the second part for season one. The back of the box is black. It features several images and 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 an overlapping triple case and dvd sized pocket. The tri-fold case features artwork on the outside of Ed and Al as children on the front section. A scene with Envy yanking Ed's hair while Al and some of the Homunculi watch covers the other two back sections. The interior of the case features a reflective gold background. In the first section it lists the episode titles for episodes 17-28 under the pertaining volumes.

The dvd sized pocket contains all three guidebooks for volumes five through seven. The case itself is a very shiny reflective silver color. It is emblazoned with an alchemic symbol that sees frequent use throughout the series. The guidebooks look like they might be the same ones that were released along side the original single volumes. These cover a great deal of information. Contents for these include more short comments from the Japanese Staff, short character profiles, and setting data. Setting data is basically comprised of pictures that are circulated to the animators to make sure that everyone draws certain things the same way. This set includes pictures of some of the minor and supporting characters. At the beginning of these guide books are nice reproductions of 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 and it was very enjoyable. 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 voice actor episode commentaries, production art, character profiles, textless theme songs, and three animation shorts. 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 actor commentaries revisit two of the most compelling episodes in this set. Mike McFarland takes part in the commentary for both these episodes. His two guest voice actors are those who play a big role in the particular episode that was chosen. In the first Actor Commentary they discussed episode 19. Guest voice actors were Vic Mignogna and Aaron Dismuke. They comment on the little nuances that bring life to the characters and add depth to the scenes. Hearing the interactions and how friendly the voice actors are with each other was rather nice. The other actor commentary was focused upon episode 25. Sonny Strait and Travis Willingham joined Mike McFarland on this one. This commentary has a rather 'Mystery Science Theater 3000' feel to it. The voice actors commented on their favorite scenes in the episode. They also spoke about some of the extra preparations they undertook in preparing for this episode. Sprinkled throughout the interview are interesting little tidbits and anecdotes. These commentaries end up showing that the kinship the voice actors feel with their characters is part of what made the English dub rather successful.

The final set of extras on these volumes is an animated short entitled "Mr. Stain on Junk Alley." The stories start out with a simple enough premise and expand into something that contains darker overtones. In one episode the main character found a set of magical crayons echoing the tale of "The Magic Paintbrush." However it isn't greed that turns things to disaster, but rather an unfortunate act of violence. In another episode, a bizarre 'bust' that the young man creates comes to life one night. It ends up possessing his cat. What follows then is a series of rather odd events. It all culminates in a friendship and acceptance of this new creature, only to have him dissolve into nothingness. These animated shorts clock in at just slightly over seven minutes, but pack in a lot into a very short time span.

Content: (Please note that portions of this section contain spoilers.)
Does the end result really justify the means? The key to realizing their deepest desire lies within their grasp, but is Edward Elric prepared to do whatever it takes to see it come to fruition?

The Elric brothers were already far underway in their quest for the Philosopher's Stone. A total of four years had passed since the start of their journey. They appeared to have been enjoying a bond as strong as ever with one slight problem. It seemed that Ed had kept something secret from Al. It was this secret that created the tension that arose between the brothers. This also caused strife between them during several episodes in this boxset. When the truth was finally revealed, it was something so simple yet so complex at the same time that the viewer doesn't know whether to laugh or cry at the older brother's plight.

The first volume of the boxset introduced the issue of 'trust' and the effect it had upon the Elrics. Without trust the brothers would fall apart as easily as unchained links. This would then result in them becoming easy prey for their enemies. At the onset of volume five, Alphonse already doubted whether or not he was truly Ed's brother. More importantly he wondered if such a boy had ever existed. It is through this issue of trust that Major Armstrong's relationship with the boys became more defined as well. Major Armstrong cares very much for the young Elric boys. It was very apparent in how he repeatedly tried to defuse the tension between Ed and Al. The first such scenario occurred in the first episode of volume 5. He had been listening outside the room where the Elric bothers were conversing. Ed had started to confess that there had been something he had been meaning to tell Al. It was then that the Major had burst into the room in an
attempt to cease the serious conversation.

The next volume introduced a new Homunculi character and a new State Alchemist. During the events of the mini-arc, Edward underwent a moral crisis. A "whatever it takes" mentality settled in as their goal seemed to have finally been within his grasp. Unfortunately, it no longer appeared to matter whom he had to sacrifice in order to retrieve the stone. This contrasted greatly with the fact that Ed had previously stated that he valued all life above everything else. To him it had not mattered even if that life was that of a criminal. It has always been stated through out time that "power corrupts," and that "absolute power corrupts absolutely." At this juncture, it seemed that the same would continue to hold true even for the 'People's Alchemist.' The allure of rendering "Equivalent Exchange" null and void would have been very great. This would have granted them the ability to finally restore their bodies. It is easy to see how the older brother could fall under the spell that such power would create. What then is the sacrifice of unknown criminals compared to fulfilling a promise to his brother? The outcome of this scenario may have been assumed by many ahead of time. Part of the thrill was to see the struggle of the title character in such a situation.

The last volume took a good hard look at what motivated Roy. Aside from having revealed Roy's past, it became apparent as to why Maes supported Mustang as he did. The lasting effects of the war that took place in Ishbal including Scar's past were also covered. As a result, Scar's drive and motivation became easier to understand as well. Which in turn garnered more sympathy for the plight of the Ishbalans. Due to the ending of a story arc, a new opening song was also introduced at the beginning of the second episode of this disk. Another new character was introduced as well. With the arrival of this person from their past, a deeper look into the Elric's childhood was also given. This look mainly covered their early training. This in turn gave insight into how they were able to attempt to do human alchemy at such a young age as well.

This boxset contained many strong plot driven episodes. Some of the best episodes included were a trio of episodes based around what occurred at the mysterious lab. One of the reasons for this was the nonstop continuous action. Right from the onset, it was so enthralling that each episode ended in what seemed like a flash and on a cliff hanger as well. It was not all just about the action though. The conflicts between what was the true 'reality' of the given situation, coupled with Ed's moral crisis made the people seem more than mere two dimensional characters. Al's opponent used his lingering doubts concerning the 'truth' of their situation. When this was combined with Ed's internal conflict, it added a greater dimension to the situation.

The range of facial expressions that the characters have are part of what gives Fullmetal Alchemist it's charm. Everything from Major Armstrong's muscle-man poses complete with sparkles to Ed's continuously extreme faces are a pleasure to see. They have managed to make an otherwise inanimate suit of armor come alive with the full range of emotions belonging to a small boy. Everything from wildly embarrassed, to sad, to mad can be seen. It isn't only the main characters that continue to receive this treatment. In various other episodes, the animators manage to give a nice range of facial expressions to most of the supporting cast. Seeing so many various emotions on all the characters makes it easy to immerse one's self into the story. The background art is also beautiful. The plot itself continues to evolve. Many of the stories do not seem to be filler either. This series continues to drop various tidbits in the episodes that help paint the bigger picture of what still yet is to come. Wonderful art and engaging plot are not the only things that make for a successful show. The final touch to everything is the unique music and sound effects. The background music is rather nice to listen to just on its own, and the sound effects add that extra touch of realism needed.

In Summary:
Fullmetal Alchemist continues to live up to it's reputation of intense action heavily sprinkled with drama and comedy to balance it out. As evidenced with the formerly mentioned episodes of 19-21, there are times where it manages to just wrap you up so deeply in the plot that time passes very quickly before you know it. That said, the only fault I found with it was the fact that volume 7 ends with a cliffhanger. It should be a testament to it's story telling skills that people are so easily able to become wrapped up in it that they eagerly await the fates of the characters. There are several times when series introduce new characters only to never have them show up again. Such is not the case with this series as we see quite a few characters return as part of the supporting cast. One of the many things that makes watching this series so enjoyable is the depth of the universe and of the characters themselves. There is a whole incredible backstory here that makes a person gasp at seeing how everything is intertwined. How the past has effected the future, how people are interconnected, and how the sins of the past need to be rectified before hoping to continue on into the future. At this price point it would be a shame not to get it , if you have not already done so with their single release or "viridian" line up. There is enough action, drama and comedy mixed in to keep most viewers interested.

Features
Japanese Language 2.0,English Language 2.0,English Language 5.1,English Subtitles,Textless Opening and Closing,Production Art Gallery,Actor Commentary,Character Profiles

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).

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

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jnager 3/13/2012 8:27:05 AM

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