Fullmetal Alchemist Vol. #08 - 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. #08

By Dani Moure     October 04, 2006
Release Date: October 23, 2006

Fullmetal Alchemist Vol. #08
© MVM Entertainment

What They Say
As the Elric brothers are leaving Yock Island, a strange boy emerges from the foliage with no memory of how he arrived. Inexplicably, he can perform alchemy without a transmutation circle. Even stranger, he can transmutate his own body, merging with his surroundings! Meanwhile, the search for Scar gets a forward leap as a former military officer spots him in the southern slums.

Elsewhere, Lt. Colonel Archer makes his move for the mysterious wild boy, who he believes is a homunculus conspirator. Infuriated by the arrest, Izumi leaps into action, single-handedly attacking the military with her staggering alchemic power.

Episodes comprise:
29. The Untainted Child
30. Assault on South Headquarters
31. Sin
32. Dante of the Deep Forest

The Review!
Revelations continue layer the story 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 happenings with them on the last discs, it's pleasing to say they've gone back to normal.

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)
Sometimes you're not quite sure what to expect when you watch the next volume in a series. Some shows are wildly inconsistent, offering ups and downs with each new disc, while others remain consistent but at varying levels of quality. With Fullmetal Alchemist this just isn't a problem, because you know you're always going to get something very, very good. And like many of the earlier volumes, this disc introduces some new story elements, and then continues to new parts of the story before masterfully tying it all back to things that have happened before.

The focal point of the disc is a young boy that the brothers Elric meet as they're about to leave Yock Island. The boy is something of a mystery, living out in the wild on his own but there is something slightly familiar about him to Ed's eyes, but he's not entirely sure what. Bizarrely, the boy is also able to use alchemy, and (much like Ed) without a transmutation circle to boot. Izumi takes the boy in, but Ed in particular is keen to get to the bottom of his strangeness. The brothers soon realise the boy seems to have Ed's arm and leg that he lost during the attempt to bring back his mother, and that he is actually a Homunculus.

Soon the military arrives wanting to take custody of the boy, which Izumi naturally objects to. A three-way face off begins between Ed and Al, who want to find out the truth about his limbs, the military, who just want him in custody and Izumi, who feels responsible for him. Things are made infinitely more complicated by the appearance of Envy and the other group of Homunculi, who want to take the boy in as their own.

As if it wasn't enough to just cover that ongoing story, we also see movements of Scar and the Ishbalans in the background as well as have Ed and Al meet their teacher's teacher.

The set of episodes here represent everything that is good about this series; the story is excellent with its many twists and the characters are just sublime and act so perfectly. In some shows, dragging out the story of the wild boy might have meant it overstayed its welcome, but on this show it's used as an excellent device to send several characters into emotional turmoil.

Most affected by his presences is Izumi in many ways, since she wants to shed much of her regret and guilt by taking him in. She really is given a huge and varied array of emotions to get through, from the almost joy in seeing him initially to her realising his true nature and how it might effect her, and then even more so during her battles with the military to stop them taking the boy away.

Ed and Al are faced with some interesting adversities of their own. There's more great conflict for the pair, not least because of them having a showdown with their teacher but even fighting Armstrong when push came to shove. It's always wonderful though to get to know these characters more and more with different stories, because they are so deep an really developed well on the whole.

In fact it's the conflict and characters that this series thrives on. There's so much detail and so much to take in that it's sometimes easy to miss or gloss over one of the nuances within. And this is all without even mentioning any of the several sub-stories that continue to impress. We get to see more of the Ishbalans who, along with Scar, are now on the move, and we also get so many revelations and details about the Homunculi as well. It's a great feat to squeeze everything in just how we needed it, and these sorts of things are what layer the story so well that we know what is going on in the wide world around the brothers.

There's a lot more of interest in the story though, since as more questions were answered many, many more were left open (at least for now). Why are the Homunculi really taking the boy under their wing? What is the military's role in it? Did he really take Ed's arm and leg (or proclaim it in some way?)? These questions (and the others), I'm sure, will be answered as the show continues but for now they just help add to the suspense and really keep building up the show in order to make us want more and more.

In Summary:
Fullmetal Alchemist is one of the strongest shows around here at the moment, seamlessly melding the characters and the story into something special. With movements continuing between all the sides as they posture, you can't help but want to get the next disc as soon as possible to continue where you left off and see where the show is going. The series is extremely popular and easily accessible with a broad appeal, and contains plenty action and drama with good production values, and at this stage deserves its status as a fan favourite. Highly recommended.

Japanese Language (2.0),English Language (5.1),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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