Fullmetal Alchemist Vol. #09 - 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: Revelation Films
  • MSRP: £15.99
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Fullmetal Alchemist

Fullmetal Alchemist Vol. #09

By Dani Moure     January 22, 2007
Release Date: January 22, 2007

Fullmetal Alchemist Vol. #09
© Revelation Films

What They Say
The boys are separated when kidnappers take Al to their hideout, leaving Ed frantic to find his brother. Izumi steps in to help her protégés as always, and finds they've learned something from life she could never have taught them alone...responsibility. Major Armstrong battles Greed's men in the sewers in an attempt to save Al, while up above, Ed escapes the military's clutches for a showdown with Greed.

As Lust suggests the battle is part of some larger plan, Greed morphs his body into an impervious shield, and swears Ed must kill him if he wants to see Al again. Lust and Gluttony meet Wrath for the first time and quickly set out on the Elric Brother's trail. Will Ed and Al reach their destination before they're overtaken? And if they do, are they ready for what they'll find?

Episodes comprise:
33. Al, Captured
34. Theory of Avarice
35. Reunion of the Fallen
36. The Sinner Within

The Review!
The latest volume of Fullmetal Alchemist brings some more revelations, some fighting and a number of decisions for the characters to make.

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. Though I do sometimes feel areas of the translation are a little loose, this is just a preference and the dub does flow very well.

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. In my main Philips player, this volume did seem to have issues with the alternate angles, with the disc breaking up before pausing when the angles came into use. This hasn't happened with past volumes so it's worth mentioning here, but it didn't occur on my PC or laptop.

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 I noticed no spelling or grammatical errors.

The front cover of this disc features Greed getting stabbed by Ed. The logo placement and disc title are the same as past volumes, though Revelation have added the episode numbers included just under the volume name. The back cover has mostly the same layout as past discs, except there is no technical grid. The relevant information is all clearly listed at the bottom though. The cover is also reversible with the clean version of the wraparound cover image.

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)
It's always a pleasure to receive a new volume of Fullmetal Alchemist, and unfortunately it's something that doesn't happen often enough. Certainly, a delay in the release of this disc after that of the last volume was frustrating to say the least. This time there is a better reason though, as FUNimation's UK titles have switched distributors, so those shows released by MVM under sub-license from FUNimation themselves, such as this show, are now being handled by Revelation Films. The switch is pretty much without a hitch, since the discs continue to be authored by Madman in Australia just as they were before. So knowing that, we can kick back and enjoy the disc.

The episodes on this disc really continue to bring the Homunculi and Scar stories to the fore, and start to bring everything together as the show starts to build towards its conclusion. In the first two episodes on this disc, we pick up where we left off last disc, as Al is captured by Greed, with one of his henchwomen inside Al's armour. Izumi meanwhile finds out about Al's capture, and with a bit of pushing from an old woman, she realises how far her protégés have come and that they must make their own choices in life now. Of course, she also goes after Al to try and rescue him, since it's not exactly something she could stay out of.

Likewise, the military have been tracking Greed and found the bar he's been hiding out at, and let Ed know of its location. But the fight isn't going to be easy as Greed tries to show why he is the ultimate shield... until the military rain on his parade. The race is then on as Greed runs away with some of the chimeras and Al, only to have Major Armstrong stand in his way. While Greed lets a chimera deal with Armstrong, he ends up face to face with two of the other Homunculi, who have instructions from above to not let him get away. Eventually the inevitable happens and after all the running, Ed and Greed face off one last time; but does Ed have what it takes to finish Greed off once and for all?

These two episodes focus nicely on the two brothers, showing in many ways how far they have come, especially when viewed through the eyes of Izumi. We see a lot of resolve in both Ed and Al during the time around Greed, and in particular we really see how Ed has grown in terms of the things he is willing to do to get Al's body back. Although he's not happy once he's disposed of Greed, it was a necessary action under the circumstances and I really don't think it's something he would have been able to do when the series began.

What was also good about these two episodes was how we got more hints of what is going on with the Homunculi, as Lust and Gluttony are sent after Greed to dispose of him, while Greed reveals how he wants to see the Homunculi dead. And of course, Ed finally finds out how the Homunculi really come to life, which is a pretty big revelation. It all leads to Ed and Al wanting more than ever to go to Ishbal to find out more.

But while the first two episodes focus on Ed and Al, the third episode on the disc focuses on one of the more interesting supporting characters " Lust. It's one of my favourites because it shows both a softer side to her, as well as just how ruthless she and the other Homunculi are. Following the battle between Greed and Ed, Lust starts to question who she is and where she came from again, as she has done many times in the past. She soon runs in to a man from her past, who she once gave a Philosopher's Stone to help his village. Though she is pleased to see this blast from the past, he soon reveals that he needs her help again.

The writers do an excellent job in really making you believe in the more vulnerable side of Lust, believing in her feelings for Lujon and in her apparent willingness to help with his plight. Of course, it all ends a bit tragically in superb style, as everything is turned on its head when it's revealed that the Homunculi were behind the whole disease in the village in the first place, and thus we're quite heavily reminded that they are the enemy for a reason. Lust's final words, "You were my one blemish" as she disposes of Lujon are really telling. Likewise, the moment when Libia returns to the village with Ed, Al and Winry is just heartbreaking.

In the final episode, our three adventurers continue on to Ishbal, and find the military holding a group of Ishbalans. In trying to find out why, they take two kids on board but as they try to get away they face some resistance from the military. It's an interesting episode as our crew find out a lot more about what the Ishbalans have done, what they think of their own, in particular Scar, and of course they decide to go after Scar as well. Most revealing of all though is what Winry finds out about the death of her parents, and it's definitely something that will be great to see followed up on.

In Summary:
Fullmetal Alchemist gets stronger and stronger with each volume, and this one is a great disc to start with for Revelation Films. The story continues to move on at a nice pace, and the characters are really being moulded by the things they're going through. Given how eager this show leaves you to see more, it's great to know we'll get a volume a month for the rest of its run. I can't wait for the next disc.

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

Review Equipment
Philips 28" Pure Flat Widescreen TV, Philips DVP 5100 code free DVD player, JVC gold-plated RGB SCART cable, Pioneer HTP-GS1 5.1 Surround Sound System.


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