Fullmetal Alchemist Vol. #06 (also w/limited edition) - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: N/A
  • Menus Rating: B-
  • Extras Rating: C-
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: MVM Entertainment
  • MSRP: 19.99
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Fullmetal Alchemist

Fullmetal Alchemist Vol. #06 (also w/limited edition)

By Dani Moure     April 13, 2006
Release Date: April 10, 2006


Fullmetal Alchemist Vol. #06 (also w/limited edition)
© MVM Entertainment


What They Say
While Al defends himself against the transmuted Barry the Chopper, Ed discovers more about the dark alchemic experiments deep within Lab Five. But the biggest threat of all may be Ed's own morality, as he's tempted with the ultimate power he's been seeking for years. Hughes issues an order to allow Armstrong, Bloch, and Ross to investigate what's going on inside the 5th laboratory.

Now Ed sees that Tucker was hiding the fact that there were human prisoners involved in the making of the stone... and that Ed would have unknowingly killed them. But Lust has Al held hostage... forcing Ed to attempt the unthinkable. Meanwhile, Al's recurring questions about his existence come to a boil. Was there ever an Alphonse Elric? Or are his memories and soul alchemically created lies?

Episodes Comprise:
21. The Red Glow
22. Created Human
23. Fullmetal Heart
24. Bonding Memories

The Review!
The action cranks right back up in one of the hottest volumes of Fullmetal Alchemist so far.

Audio:
I listened to the Japanese stereo track for my main review, and continued to really enjoy the performances of the Japanese cast. The stereo mix sounds good, with the music and effects coming across quite well. I noticed no dropouts, distortions or other technical issues with this disc.

I briefly sampled parts of the English 5.1 track, and really liked the English performances. I won't repeat my gripes with the "reversioning" process again here, but I do still find it a little irksome.

Video:
With this being a recent show, the transfer here is very good. I noticed no aliasing or other artefacts as I watched. Colours were reproduced well, and the transfer was very sharp and clean. Despite issues with video quality being mentioned in regard to the region 1 release, I didn't notice any problems during regular playback of this UK release.

We also get alternate angles for the openings and endings. This means that you can either watch the translated, English credits in the opening, or the original Japanese opening with kanji, and the same for the ending, depending on which language you select from the menu. It works well and caters to both sides of the audience, though Funimation could perhaps be a bit more comprehensive with their translated original Japanese credits.

Subtitles are in a nice yellow font, and this volume there were a couple of odd grammatical errors, where it appears as if hyphens have been replaced by a space and a full stop, making it look like an end of sentence in the middle of a hyphenated word.

Packaging:
No packaging was included as this was a check disc.

Menu:
The menus mimic the previous discs, with a brief introduction sequence featuring the show's English logo leading into the main menu. This has the show's logo at the top, with some scenes from the show playing in the centre of a circle with Ed and Al either side. You can select individual episodes from the selections below, as well as extras and setup. A piece of background music plays over the main menu, though I'd have liked to have the opening theme play here as it does on the US disc. Sub-menus are static, sporting the same circular background design but with just the text selections available, and they don't have any music playing. Once again, there's also no scene selection menu. Overall, as is often the case the menus are functional but just a bit bland in their design.

Extras:
We're down to the bare bones in terms of extras now, with just the textless opening and ending, as well as the production art galleries, making an appearance. Not even any MVM trailers this volume.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
I'm all for a good long series, but it's rare that such a show doesn't have a bit of a slow-down around the twenty-something episodes. But that's simply not the case with this sixth volume of Fullmetal Alchemist, because even though we are very nearly at the mid-point of the series the action and, most importantly, the story just keeps turning up the heat and barely lets up through the four episodes.

Picking up right where the last episode left off, Al continues his fight with the Number 66 suit of armour, but their battle is cut short by the arrival of Scar, who ends up helping out Al by shattering the prisoner's arm. Number 66 soon notices the marks on Scar's arm though, and when he mentions it Scar is curious to know exactly what it means. Meanwhile, inside the lab Ed talks with the other armour, Number 48, not wanting to kill him completely. Ed takes his head and starts moving deeper into the lab and eventually finds Tucker, the Sewing Life Alchemist, whose been mutated into a Chimera as part of his experiments to bring back Nina... and create a Philosopher's Stone.

But darker forces are at work and Lust and Gluttony are on the scene, joined by another Homunculi, Envy, and their goal is to get Ed to create a true Philosopher's Stone. They capture Al in order to use Ed for their own devices, and he comes very close to doing the unthinkable and using the human prisoners as part of the transmutation to create a Stone which he could then use to recreate Al's body and restore his soul to his human form. While Lt. Col. Hughes sends the military to go and investigate the situation, and eventually bring Ed and Al home, the impact of events will not be so easy to get over.

The arrival of Winry doesn't do much to cheer up the brothers, especially Al who is left reeling from what Number 66 kept telling him about the possibility of him not being "real". In the confusion Al lashes out at his brother and Winry and runs away, only to stumble across Scar and the Ishbalans, who themselves are under attack once more.

While the last volume started with some quieter episodes before getting into the action, the first two here open the volume with a great bang, featuring some intense action and some massive story developments. I commented in my review of the last volume that I thought the writers had done a brilliant job of drip-feeding scenes with Lust and Gluttony to the point that they were really intriguing characters who we new had a much bigger plan, and a chunk of it is revealed in this volume much to my delight. The Homunculi, who we're told are human-like beings created by alchemy, have been planning all along to try and draw Ed in particular towards the 5th Lab to get him to produce a Philosopher's Stone, because like him that is what they really desire. And why? Because they want to be human. It's an interesting reason because it's quite understandable, and not really all that different to why Ed wants one himself. He wants it to return Al to his human form, while Lust, Envy and Gluttony want it to become proper humans themselves. I really liked how, despite their pretty heinous actions, they were given an understandable reason for wanting the Stone because it really gives us an opportunity to empathise with them.

We're also privy to plenty more action with Scar and the Ishbalans, and their story is pretty captivating because it's almost as though history is repeating itself again. They're charged down and forced out of their makeshift new home by some military mercenaries, and though Ed and Al help out (and perhaps earn the respect of Scar in the process), there's someone more sinister behind the scenes orchestrating the whole thing, and she looks like another Homunculi (if not one of the ones we've already seen in disguise).

Another interesting aspect brought to this volume is some real conflict between Ed and Al, with them both dealing with some nagging issues that have been bothering them for some time. For Al, it's the recent questions he's had over whether or not his existence is real, or whether his memories were all actually created by his brother, and he bottles up his feelings on the issue only to really bite at both Ed and Winry when he finally lets his feelings loose. He runs away (just the reaction you'd probably expect from a young boy), and that causes Ed to remember the big question he has for Al, and it's really nice to see Winry convince Ed to talk to Al about it. So when they finally see each other again, Ed finally asks Al the question he's been wanting to for so many years, does Al blame him for what happened? The issue is really well handled here, with the natural reactions you'd expect from two boys who've had so much weight on their shoulders and have bottled up their feelings.

There's a lot of other great character stuff in here as well, from the return of Tucker and his obsession with binging back Nina (and the implications that has) to the nice little moments with Hughes talking about his daughter. When you add in the story developments which are just getting more and more interesting, as we find out more about the Philosopher's Stone and all the goings on around researching it, as well as more of the Ishbalan story, and you have a real winner with this volume.

In Summary:
Fullmetal Alchemist continues to just get better and better with each episode, as more facets of the story and characters are revealed. This volume has a number of pivotal moments within it, and that just makes it all the more exciting. The show is really accessible with a wide appeal, having great action with plenty of drama, and great production values to go with it. This is a series that really deserves to be doing the business for MVM.

Features
Japanese Language (2.0),English Language (5.1),Textless Opening and Ending,Production Art

Review Equipment
Philips 28" Pure Flat Widescreen TV, Philips DVP5100 code free DVD player, JVC gold-plated RGB SCART cable, standard stereo sound.

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