This is a transfer of a recent anime series. The colors are very vibrant and the transfer seems 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.
There are three main components to this packaging. The first being the outer box. The front portion features three of the Sins standing next to the Elric Brothers. 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 that it is the first 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 an overlapping triple hubbed dvd case and dvd sized pocket. On the front of the tri-fold case there is a charming scene featuring Ed, Winry, Al and a cat. In it the scene, Winry is acquanting Ed with the business end of her wrench. The back sections are covered with a collage of Scar, Al, and a disguised Edward. The interior of the case features a reflective gold background. In the first section it lists the episode titles for this set.
The dvd sized pocket contains all three guidebooks for volumes eight through ten. The case itself is a very shiny reflective silver color. It features 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 covered a great deal of information. Contents for these include short comments from Winry's, Roy's, and Al's Japanese voice artists. Also included were various pieces of production artwork, and short character profiles with their matching 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.
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.
As has been the norm for these dvds so far, there were a large amount of extras included. The normal inclusion of trailers for other Funimation titles can be seen here. Also included were more examples of production art, character profiles, textless versions of the theme songs, and three animation shorts. The production art spans two 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. This artwork was also reproduced to a certain degree in the corresponding guidebooks. I liked the way the artwork has been presented. In general, characters are not showcased before their arrival in the series. Also enjoyable is the detail that can be seen in some of the props that the characters carry.
The final set of extras on these volumes is an episode of the animated short series entitled "Mr. Stain on Junk Alley." As always, the story started out with a simple premise and expanded into something with more serious overtones. In the episode featured here, he found an old mix tape and inserted it into an old boom box. This boom box was modified into a person of sorts. It seemed that the music on the tape was enchanted. As one might imagine, troubles did arise. As with previous episodes, this short clocked in at just slightly over seven minutes.
The past casts deep shadows on the present as the boys find themselves besieged on all sides by friends and foes alike.
The action didn't skip a beat as it continued onwards from the cliffhanger of the last box set. Perhaps due to the nature of the strangers' appearance and his skill with alchemy, Edward found himself at odds with the new boy. Even though there was constant tension between Ed and the new boy, they were beginning to come to terms with each other before fate intervened. The situation ultimately begged the question of how things might have changed if there was only a minor difference. One could imagine that if the boy had not been threaten by Edward to begin with, the whole chain of events may not have occurred. There would have been no large scale chase. The boy still might have been discovered by other means. However, if he had not felt threatened, he probably wouldn't have given into the temptation offered to him as well. The first disk in this set saw a large amount of new character introductions. Long awaited answers were also given by means of well placed flashbacks for both Izumi and the brothers.
Establishing side characters with rich side stories is something that this series is very good at. The second part of this box set saw the introduction of the homunculi named Greed. His character was first mentioned in the previous box set as the being that had been sealed in Laboratory 5. Greed himself was a rather curious fellow. His name instantly conjured up imagery of the vices of Man. Perhaps all the time he spent sealed in that room gave him a new perspective on life. It could have even been the friendship and loyalty that the other former inmates gave him. At times it felt as if the whole Greed thing was merely a cover. As if he merely traveled the same worn out road out of comfort and custom. He certainly seemed rather reluctant to leave his other two friends behind when an attack was staged at their hideout. He cared enough about Martel to insure her protection before he went off to Dante's. His motto had always been "To live life the way he wanted." Still out of all the Homunculi, he seemed the most content and at ease around humans. This did cause Ed's relationship with him to be a rather curious one. Greed apparently did have an odd respect for Ed. This stemmed from the fact that the younger brother was "virtually immortal" in Greed's eyes.
The last disk started off with a combination of two side stories from the original manga. As the "Flame Alchemist" logo came up, it was clear that this was designed to lighten up the series slightly from the events of the last disk. This was a very interesting look into the group dynamics of Mustang's handpicked team. The first half of the episode dealt with the search for a girlfriend for Havok. The second half was a story about a mysteriously disappearing warehouse. One of the funny things was Havok's reaction throughout the whole episode. He was obviously still suffering from the effects of the previous half of the episode. The rest of the last volume was filled with backstory. The most interesting parts were those dealing with the real truth behind Ishbal, and how certain people came to be in the positions they were.
One thing is fairly certain. As 'Fullmetal Alchemist' winds up to the last box set, it is constantly turning darker and darker. Character deaths seemed more common place. Each one felt more bloodier and graphic than before. It was not a case of killing off characters simply for the drama. Each character death served a reason. They all taught the boys the harsh reality of the world. This series has always been good with providing realism. It is nice that the creators do not seem to pull any punches in this respect. Although at the same time, it is good that they tempered these harsh realities with the lighter side of things. As in the case with the placement and inclusion of the "Flame Alchemist" episode. The artwork continues to a pleasure to watch. The range of facial expressions that gave 'Fullmetal Alchemist' it's charm are still in constant use. The characters themselves seem rich not only in personality and side-story, but in their expressions themselves. They have managed to make an otherwise inanimate suit of armor come alive with the full range of emotions belonging to a small boy. The background art continues to be beautiful. The plot continued to evolve as more layers were added to it. The background music was also nice to listen to just on its own. The sound effects themselves adding that extra touch of realism needed.
With the end looming ever nearer on the horizon, there was no hint of loosing any of the steam this series had built up. More new characters were introduced. Some of them came with very interesting backstories. There was also more of the hidden past uncovered. The truth behind Ishbal, the truth of Lab 5, even the origins of some of the Homunculi. The character of Greed and his interactions with others were certainly something very interesting to see. This set definitely had a wealth of information. However, as 'Equivalent Exchange' dictates, there was a price for this. Each new kernel of truth caused the line between enemies and friends to blur. As with previous sets, the series was able to successfully continue it's trademark delivery of intense action balanced out with light comedy. The music and sound effects continued to be a pleasure to listen to. As has been stated previously, the "viridian" line up and these box sets are rather attractively priced. This series does have enough action, drama and comedy stirred in to keep most viewers interested.
Japanese Language 2.0, English Language 2.0, English Language 5.1, English Subtitles, Trailers, Textless Opening and Closing, Production Art Gallery, Mr. Stain on Junk Alley,Character Profiles
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).