Fullmetal Alchemist Vol. #13 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B-
  • Extras Rating: C-
  • Age Rating: 15 & Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: Revelation Films
  • MSRP: ¬£15.99
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Fullmetal Alchemist

Fullmetal Alchemist Vol. #13

By Dani Moure     June 12, 2007
Release Date: May 21, 2007


Fullmetal Alchemist Vol. #13
© Revelation Films


What They Say
At the end of destiny, after light and darkness have smeared into a dim, grey haze surrounding your every thought where will peace be found? When harsh lessons wrapped in blood and tears are learned and the journey has spread over eons and far-flung dimensions, is it possible for the mysteries to be made even murkier as the future begins? In between the rays of a warming sun, the brothers Elric will consider the answers that are left once the Philosopher's Stone has guided their saga to an end. True sacrifice, the deep love of family, the cruel truths of life and death... There is no great magic that soothes the pain and amplifies the joy of being human. As the Fullmetal Alchemist's tale draws to a close, our heroes and villains reap what they have sown.

Episodes
49. The Other Side Of The Gate
50. Death
51. Laws And Promises

The Review!
After 51 episodes and 13 volumes, Fullmetal Alchemist comes to a near perfect conclusion.

Audio:
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.

Video:
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.

Packaging:
The front cover of this disc features Ed sitting on a chair in his waistcoat and shirt outfit. 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.

Menu:
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.

Extras:
For the final volume, we get a couple of really good extras. The first is an "Inside Look" at the series, with the various voice actors talking about the series and the main focal points of it, such as the relationships and various aspects of the story. We also get a nice commentary on the final volume with two voice directors Colleen Clickenbeard and Mike McFarland, as they look back on the acting and the process of dubbing the series. Both extras are really good, especially if you're interested in dubs, and it's great to get some substantial extras here. We also get the textless opening and ending again, as well as the production art galleries here.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Over the last twelve volumes, everything in Fullmetal Alchemist has been building towards these final moments. Edward and Alphonse Elric have gone on a long and arduous journey, but finally their goal is in sight. Ed wants nothing more than to restore his brother to his real body, but he knows their will be a price to pay. And with Dante looming in the background, as well as the Fuhrer controlling the military, things were never going to be easy.

As Al has been captured by Dante, who is preparing him to be used for her own devices, namely finalising the Philosopher's Stone so she can once again renew her body in a new vessel (this time her chosen one is Rose), Ed is searching for his brother, and stumbles across the 400 year old underground city that Dante is using as a hideaway.

When Ed comes face to face with Dante, she tries to trick him into thinking she's really Lyra. Naturally, Ed has none of it, and with Al sprawled across the floor in the middle of a transmutation circle, he fights with Dante and the Homunculi. When Dante reveals to him that one of his fundamental beliefs " equivalent exchange " is a lie, Ed is transported to the other side of the gate. What waits for him beyond is his father, and a world where mechanical technology developed instead of alchemy " our world, and they are in London. Ed has to come to terms with the truths about himself, his beliefs and his father if he has any hope of saving Al.

Meanwhile the battle on the military front heats up, with Hawkeye leading a mission at the Fuhrer's house. It ends with Mustang and King Bradley coming face to face one last time, as we see the true nature of the Homunculi and how they are more than willing to kill without a care in the world. But Mustang has to get one over on his peer if he's to save the country from destruction at the Homunculi's hands.

What this volume of Fullmetal Alchemist does so beautifully is wrap up all the remaining plot strands that are left open as completely as possible, and it does so without pulling any punches. For this series it's not about the happy ending, and unlike so many other anime it doesn't fall in to the trap of providing a happy ending just for the sake of it. What it does is provide a logical ending that is the culmination of the ongoing journey for these characters, and it pulls no punches in doing so. One of the fundamental points of the series, right from the very first episode, has been that your actions have consequences, and to get something you have to give back. Whether it's an equivalent exchange or not, you will always pay a price for something, not matter how small. And to the full credit of the writers and director, the series stays true to that belief right until the end.

It does mean, of course, that the ending is bittersweet. Ed and Al have gone on such an incredible journey over the last 51 episodes, and so it's natural given everything they've learned that, when the moment finally comes for Al to get his body back, there will be a heavy price to pay. And sure enough there is. In the excellent scene where Al brings back Ed in his original body without automail, he comes to the conclusion that despite the amazing gift his brother has given him, it'll mean nothing if he can't keep his promise to Al and get him his body back. And that's exactly what he does, and I thought the scenes later in Munich, with Ed and his father, where Hohenheim explains that perhaps the price he paid was the fact that he is stuck, for now, on this side of the gate, and the price is not his life, was absolutely beautiful and a perfect way to conclude the series.

For Al of course, it's somewhat heartbreaking, but again it's brilliant how despite everything that happened, Al loses none of the hope or determination that has proved so prominent in both him and Ed over the course of the show. It's like he's decided to take over Ed's role and follow in his footsteps, and his going back to Izumi to train is just a perfect full circle for his character.

It's easy to gush about the ending itself, and what it means for the characters who now mean so much, but rewinding a bit, the build up was excellent as well. The action was there, but was somewhat muted, but it really fit the tone of building up to the finale in a "less is more" approach to what you see. All the Homunculi got what was coming to them, and I particularly liked what the end held in store for Wrath.

Likewise, with the military side of things, it all worked out how you knew it would based on how things had been going, but it's done in a brilliant way and the show managed to make a good point about the effects of military rule on a civilisation without completely pounding you over the head with its views. Mustang does the right thing, as you hoped he would, handing control over to a new Assembly, and even of note demoted himself back to Brigadier General, and the ex-Fuhrer got nothing less than he deserved. We get to see all the characters in some way during the epilogue scenes, and the final shot of the two brothers reaching their arms towards the sky was a great one that summed up the series, and its humanity, perfectly.

In Summary:
I could gush and gush for some time about how fitting I thought this ending was, but there's really no point. Bones have produced an outstanding series with its consistently solid animation, especially for a longer show, good music, great character designs and above all, brilliant characters and a superbly told story.

This is one of those rare shows that manages to break out from its target genre " teenage boys " and go beyond that to become a series that will appeal to a very broad audience, and deservedly so. Fullmetal Alchemist is a truly majestic series that I can't recommend enough. It may be 13 volumes long, but it's worth every penny.

Features
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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