Fullmetal Alchemist Vol. #10 (also w/box) - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
  • MSRP: 29.98/49.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Fullmetal Alchemist

Fullmetal Alchemist Vol. #10 (also w/box)

By Chris Beveridge     June 28, 2006
Release Date: June 27, 2006


Fullmetal Alchemist Vol. #10 (also w/box)
© FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.


What They Say
Al prompts a heated brawl with Ed by questioning him about the direction of their mission for the first time. The half-snake, half-woman Marta then leads the two brothers to the ruins of Ishbal and reveals the devastating cause of the Ishbalan war.

Contains episodes 37-40:
The Flame Alchemist, The Bachelor Lieutenant, and the Mystery of Warehouse 13
With the River's Flow
Secret of Ishbal
The Scar

The Review!
Revealing more truths and connections from the past with Ishbala, the series takes on a continually darker tone but not before sneaking in a few really good laughs.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this series in its original language of Japanese. The shows stereo mix is nicely active as there's a lot of good directionality to be found across the forward soundstage here between the alchemy moments, dialogue and some of the brief action sequences. While not as immersive as some other high action shows, this is a more well-rounded mix and it comes across well. We had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback of either language track.

Video:
Originally airing in 2003 and 2004, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. Being such a recent production and with good production values to it, the show really shines well, especially in these early episodes, with great looking detailed backgrounds and well animated characters running around. Though like every show it has its fair number of pans and stills, there's a greater sense of life to this show than in a number of other series of the same vintage. The color mix is really good with some beautiful blues and greens mixed in but it also plays well with the darker fantasy oriented colors as well. The color gradient issues shows up lightly in a few areas but it doesn't detract too much since it's pretty minimal and doesn't cause any noticeable blocking. Cross coloration and aliasing are both fairly non-existent and we've got a really good looking transfer here that shines nicely.

Packaging:
Using the same artwork as the Japanese release but with a much better looking logo, Hawkeye gets her own cover and her serious nature looks great here both against the transmutation circle design but also on the clear grey of the reverse side. She's still one of my favorite characters even as little used as she is in the series. The back cover has the remainder of the image from the front cover but lightens it up and places a number of shots from the show and several paragraphs worth of summary to it. It's a nicely laid out piece that gives you a really good idea of what to expect. The discs episode numbers and titles are included as well as the extras. The production information fills out most of the bottom of the cover and most of the technical information is nicely laid out in the grid. Though a bit small and scrunched, it provides a quick and easy location for all the key technical bits that I think a consumer should be able to find without having to look all over. The keepcase is clear and the reverse side of the cover is the same as the character artwork on the front cover but it carries all the way across without being obscured by logos or anything else. The included booklet is really beautifully done with lots of a high quality artwork included both in the character pieces and in the small art sections that follow. It goes into a bit about a couple of the characters and setting before doing a breakdown of some of the secondary characters from the series and several showcases of animation from the show. This booklet should in no way be read prior to seeing the episodes on this disc however.

Menu:
Unlike a lot of the busier and flashier menus that FUNimation generally has, this one is going for simple and effective. With a close-up of Hawkeye from the cover done in black and white while one of the alchemist symbols is off behind her in vibrant red, a bit of music plays along in a bout a minute long loop that's very soft and subtle. The navigation strip is along the bottom in a good looking fantasy character font and the overall feel of the menu is restrained but very apt for the show. Access times are nice and fast and the layout is easy to navigate though as with past menus, I still dislike their language setup. With no listing of what the actual settings are once chosen, you hope that when you make them that it's taken. Due to their style of language settings which are combined with alternate angles for the opening and closing credits, we never rely on our players' language presets for FUNimation titles.

Extras:
The extras continue to be along what's considered standard for most releases. These include the usual suspects such as the textless songs, the character profiles and art gallery material.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With only a few more volumes to go, the series has been pretty good with making revelations along the way that shift the way the characters are dealing with their long term goals and agendas, but also moving towards more epic making confrontations. This volume starts to show the levels to which some are going to go to create a new Philosopher's Stone, but it also takes a bit of time to have a bit of fun.

The opening episode is simply priceless on a lot of levels as it kicks off with changing the series name to "Flame Alchemist" as it sort of focuses on Colonel Mustang. We've got the group he's got with him doing his work and he's messing with them in the way that he knows how by avoiding work and just causing trouble. While several of the soldiers have been assigned to keep track of his every movement, something that borders on driving them to insanity, they also have to deal with him on a professional level and it just gets weird. Mustang's working on a different level at times and his personality doesn't help at all, but he does think of his underlings in some form. With Havoc being so out of it from dealing with documenting Mustang's every move, Mustang sets one of them to find a girlfriend for Havoc so that he'll settle down some.

The concept itself is already fun but the first person they end up setting him up with is Armstrong's sister. Since Armstrong's family is that of nobility, they have a huge mansion and plenty of wealth but Havoc can only envision a female version of Armstrong. The initial meeting and discovery of what his family is like is hilarious and the way it all just falls apart is priceless. This episode is also nicely balanced out by some actual investigation bits as Sheska's continuing her work on figuring out what's going on in the laboratories, but this also leads to another series of comical events as Mustang leads a group of them to investigate a warehouse and they play up the potential of ghosts and scary monsters. Seeing a lighter side of these characters isn't new as they've snuck stuff in like this throughout, but gibing over most of an episode for it was a really nice treat before the darker pieces come into play again.

The serious side of the show has a couple of intriguing angles that it follows. Winry's been piecing together some odd things in her trying to figure out who it was the murdered Hughes and it's led her to Sheska now and the two of them end up sharing some minor bits of information that paints a larger and more disturbing picture. Sheska's able to talk to someone at long last about the Fuhrer's secretary and the way that she apparently died some time ago and if she was really still alive today she'd be almost twice as old as the woman they know now. Their interest in figuring out what's going on causes Winry to play at being a soldier by wearing one of the uniforms, looking great of course, and working with Sheska in infiltrating Central so they can tap some phones to get an idea of what's really going on. All that's needed is for the new information to make it to the right people and some eyes will really open wide to it.

The other angle that gets played up is a patching up of the relationship between Ed and Al that's been strained recently. Al's become not necessarily close to Martel since things have happened but he's intent on not letting her get away with murder. The two have an interesting relationship as this progresses and the way she rides around in Al is almost amusing if not a bit creepy. She and Al have an interesting side arc to things that leads them to Kimbly and some more connections to the past, but it's Ed's arc that really brings in a lot of revelations as he ends up dealing with Scar once again but only after discovering that Rose has been changed dramatically since he last saw her. Originally starting as a confrontation between Ed and Scar but interrupted by Lust and Gluttony's appearance, we get to see more of the differing views of what happened to cause the Ishbalan tragedy.

There's simply so much going on at times that this show really is starting to get to the point where it merits marathon sessions in order to keep it all straight. The Fuhrer's becoming more interesting as we start to see what's really going on with him, some of the seemingly filler stories of the past are having a much stronger relevance now, and the movitations of many of the characters is no longer as obvious as it once seemed as they now find new things to work towards.

In Summary:
This all has the feel of the start of the end, and with just three more volumes to go you can sense the pick-up in the pace and plotting as a number of plots are starting to intersect in obvious ways. The conflict of the past is looking to be repeated in the present and under much the same conditions, conditions that have been distorted by those who won. The real truth is slowly creeping out though by those who lived through it and were ruined by it, leading to some challenging times for those who've grown up since then. The mix of comedy and drama works very well on this volume and there are some brutal moments to be seen here that changes things dramatically. This is a great new entry in the series and only heightens expectations for the final run.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Clean Opening,Clean Closing,Production Art Galleries,Character Profiles

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Samsung BD-P1000 Blu-ray player via HDMI -> DVI with upconversion set to 1080i, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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