Fullmetal Alchemist Vol. #07 - Mania.com

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  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: B+
  • 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. #07

By Dani Moure     June 23, 2006
Release Date: June 19, 2006

Fullmetal Alchemist Vol. #07
© MVM Entertainment

What They Say
Ever since Ed and Al attempted human transmutation, they have desperately avoided one person: their childhood teacher Izumi. Bearing dreadlocks, an iron will and incredible alchemic skills, she is horrified that Ed and Al used her teachings to violate nature. Now she has caught them and is shipping them back to her hometown for a frightening interrogation.

Meanwhile, Lieutenant Colonel Hughes' investigation of Lab Five leads him to a startling discovery of military corruption and conspiracy that could topple the entire national government: and put Hughes in great danger...

The Review!
The story continues with many twists and turns in the latest volume of Fullmetal Alchemist.

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.

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 after the bizarre hyphen problems in the last volume where they'd been replaced with full stops, this time it's the other way around as every full stop is replaced with a hyphen. Again it's not the worst thing but it is a bit distracting and annoying, and mars the otherwise great looking disc.

No packaging was included as this was a check disc.

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.

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.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Fullmetal Alchemist continues to surprise me. It's one of those rare long shows that comes along and manages to constantly keep me entertained and wondering just what might happen next, enthralled at each and every twist of the intricate plot. This volume has a bit of everything " emotions, drama, tension, laughter and plenty of characterisation to boot.

The first episode sees Ed and Al make a shocking announcement to everyone having finished recuperating in hospital; they are going to stop their quest for the Philosopher's Stone. Everyone in Central is shocked to hear about it, but wave them off as they leave with Winry to find their old teacher. But back at Central HQ, Hughes searches for the truth about the fifth laboratory, and begins to piece the jigsaw together. Wondering why people would encourage the creation of a Philosopher's Stone then spread rumours that anyone who gets close to it will die, he then remembers the name of the soldier that started the Ishbalan war... Juliet Douglas. The name rings a bell, and it turns out that the Fuhrer's secretary is the very same Douglas, or rather a Homunculi that has taken her name. Hughes faces off against the Sloth (the new one) and the returning Lust, but the pair of them prove to much and in one of the more shocking moments of the series, Hughes is killed.

This is one of my favourite episodes so far, and acts as a nice way to close the first half of the show. The story revelations are interesting as ever, but it's the way these events will hit the characters that makes them mean even more. Roy Mustang, a man who rarely shows too much of what he feels, was clearly quite hurt and upset by Hughes' death, as of course were his family, but it's what Ed and Al might feel that hurts too, especially as they tried to protect everyone at Central by leaving and telling them they'd give up their search for the Philosopher's Stone. Obviously they won't, but it's telling of their characters and indeed how much they've grown up during the series. The events of this episode will unquestionably have a huge impact on future events.

Unaware of what has happened back in Central, Ed, Al and Winry continue their journey in a quieter episode, stopping over in Rush Valley at Winry's request " it's the automail capital of the world! They get involved with a young girl who has automail for an arm and both legs, who just wants to show their creator that it's the best automail around. But during their meeting Winry asks herself why she stays with Ed even though he doesn't show he cares about her. It ends up with Winry and the girl squaring off against the brothers, as she discovers that even though he might not show it often, Ed's feelings run quite deep.

With the adventures in the Valley over with, Ed and Al finally come face to face with their teacher once more, and she is neither not what you'd expect nor is she a happy woman! She's angry at how they've used her teachings, and things get even worse when she finds out the truth about how Al became a suit of armour and Ed got his automail. She throws them on a deserted island just like back when they first wanted her to teach them, and the brothers reminisce about that time and come to realise how they can move forward.

Following the huge impact of the first episode was always going to be tricky, but wisely the creative team decided to slow things down a bit and go the characterisation route before building back up to the plot to allow it all to sink in. The episode in the Valley is definitely enjoyable, primarily for the characters, although story-wise it's mostly throwaway. Seeing Winry come to realise that Ed does have feelings for her through his actions was a nice way to play things, and I find that she really adds a nice dimension to the cast of characters.

The next two episodes obviously focus around the teacher, and her reactions to what the brothers have done actually gave me a warm feeling because even though she scolded them, it's obvious she cares for them a great deal and is probably almost like a mother thing for them. It's nice to have a character that is able to really ground the pair and make them put things into perspective, as everyone really needs that because it stops you going off the rails. And that's exactly what the boys' time back on the island where their training started really did, it gave them a chance to think back to how it all began and what their teacher tried to teach them, and now they can move on and continue their quest for the Stone with a bit more in mind than they had before.

Another thing worth mentioning as well is the continued high production values of the series. Characters look great with it being rare that you see someone look off model at all, and the animation quality is generally good considering it's such a long series. Also noteworthy is that the opening and ending songs (and animations) change again as we thrust into the second half of the show.

In Summary:
Fullmetal Alchemist continues to be strong even as we enter into the second half of the show, with each facet of the story continuing to entice and intrigue. The show is extremely popular and easily accessible with a broad appeal, and contains plenty action and drama with good production values, and deserves its status as a fan favourite. Highly recommended.

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

Review Equipment
Philips 28" Pure Flat Widescreen TV, Pioneer DV-464 code free DVD player, JVC gold-plated RGB SCART cable, standard stereo sound.


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