Fullmetal Alchemist Vol. #12 - Mania.com

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  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: 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. #12

By Dani Moure     May 17, 2007
Release Date: April 23, 2007

Fullmetal Alchemist Vol. #12
© Revelation Films

What They Say
The quest for the Philosopher's Stone is wrought with madness. Beings without souls mingle in the shadows with unnatural half-man, half-animal beasts. Armies are driven by secret devils. As the Elrics dig into the darkest realms of humanity, one thing is clear... the hunt for the truth behind truths has aged these boys into weary young men. Alphonse wears the weight of the world on his hollow metal shoulders; Scar's actions in Lior change the boy into something impossible to comprehend. Edward dirties his hands to gain an advantage against the homunculi. The players flutter on wings of desperation, in doomed orbit around the Philosopher's Stone.

The Review!
The various plot threads start drawing to conclusions in the penultimate 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.

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 Mustang in a very upright pose. 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.

Continuing with the bare bones in terms of extras, we get just the textless opening and ending, as well as the production art galleries here.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With this being the penultimate volume of the series, leaving only three episodes until it's all over, the writers of Fullmetal Alchemist have started to wrap things up and give us some firm answers to some of the show's earliest ongoing mysteries. For Ed and Al, this means they're put through the emotional rollercoaster quite dramatically, in particular when it comes to the continuing saga revolving around their mother.

There're plenty of revelations to kick off the disc, with Dante and Hohenheim continuing where things left off at the end of the last volume. In a rare appearance on this disc, we find out that they've actually been around for 400 years, and were once apparently in love (although Hohenheim quickly points out that Trisha is the only woman he has ever really loved). The pair of them have been using the philosopher's stone to transfer their souls to different bodies over time, hence their being around so long. Of course, in Dante's case, she's been using the Homunculi to find her a philosopher's stone just so she can continue living.

The showdown leads to an even more interesting encounter " the reappearance of Sloth who's taken the form of Trisha. It's quite disturbing and leads to the disappearance of Hohenheim, while simultaneously setting up a showdown with Ed and Al. This ends up being the main focus of this disc, as on three fronts the brothers end up battling the Homunculi.

For Al, events take an interesting turn and once he and Ed decide to go after their father, Al takes things into his own hands now he essentially is the philosopher's stone, and goes to visit Shou Tucker. Tucker continues to be as disturbing as ever, as he works his way to bringing his daughter back potentially putting Al's life at risk.

Meanwhile Ed enlists the help of Izumi to track down the Homunculi, and the first Homunculi they run into are Lust and Wrath. As the three show down, one of the more emotional moments on the disc takes place as Lust turns on Wrath because, ultimately, she wants him to make her human in the end if he gains that ability. The scene where she reveals this, and later when Ed asks why she would want to be human again, really demonstrate the biggest strength of the series, and that's its depth of character. Seeing Lust's turn would mean little had we not seen the turmoil she's gone through over the course of the series in dealing with her memories and who she really is, and it's a huge credit to the writers that in the end it means so much.

But with Lust now on Ed and Al's side, the next showdown is between Lust and Wrath, which comes to a pretty sad conclusion. But at the same time, Sloth takes advantage of Al and this leads to the ultimate showdown between Ed, Al and the Homunculi that looks like their mother. Again the emotions run extremely high, especially for Al who has a very hard time separating Sloth from his mother. For Ed, it's easier but not without some pain, and it ends up being quite hard to watch as Sloth remembers Trisha's life and her sons, only for Ed to deal the final blow. It's even hard not to feel something for Wrath as he watches while his "mother" dies.

As if that wasn't enough though, the third Homunculus battle here leaves Ed and Al separated again, with potentially deadly consequences for Al. But while all this is going on, Mustang and Armstrong are staging an uprising in the military. Mustang and his men are sent away by the Fuhrer, essentially to meet their demise (since they know way too much), but with a bit of craftiness Mustang manages to stay behind in central with Hawkeye, while Havoc is with Armstrong, pretending to be Mustang, leading the men. It all leads to an encounter between Mustang and Ed in which both put everything on the table and decide to do what's right for everyone rather than what's best for themselves.

The true strength of the series really does continue to be its characters. From the tremendously emotional moments like the boys facing off against Sloth, to the more touching scenes like Ed talking with Izumi about how Wrath cried at Sloth's death but he didn't, everything means so much now because of how well the characters have been built up over the course of the series. It's a real testament to the quality of writing in this show that you can say that almost 50 episodes on. And with the final pieces in place, we can be ready for the final battles to take place in the final volume.

In Summary:
At this point, Fullmetal Alchemist can do little wrong. The show has a great story that rarely fails to entertain, but the true strength is in the characters, and that's something that just can't be stressed enough. The strength and depth of the cast is outstanding, and just raises the show to another level at this stage as everything means so much. It may be long, but Fullmetal Alchemist is a great show that will appeal to such a wide range of people, and I can only continue to recommend it.

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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