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Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 7, 2009 by  



“Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa” receives its High Definition transfer and for the most part, the Blu-ray version features vibrant, colorful animation and an aggressive, immersive lossless audio soundtrack.  Also, includes plenty of special features as well.  Overall, a solid anime on Blu-ray release that is worth having in your collection!

Images courtesy of  © 2005/2009 Hiromu Arakawa – HAGAREN THE MOVIE.  All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa

DURATION: 104 minutes

 

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition 16×9, Dolby True HD English 5.1 and Japanese 5.1, Subtitles: English

 

RATED: TV PG

 

COMPANY: FUNimation Entertainment

 

RELEASE DATE: November 17, 2009

 

Originally Created by Hiromu Arakawa

Directed by Seiji Mizushima

Script by Shou Aikawa

Storyboard by Masahiro Ando, Seiji Mizushima, Shingo Kaneko, Shinji Aramaki, Soichi Masui, Yutaka Nakamura

Music by Hirohito Shinohara, Michiru Oshima, Tadahito Kimura

Opening and Ending Theme by L’Arc~en~Ciel

Character Deisgn by Yoshiyuki Ito

Art Director: Kazuo Ogura

Mechanical Design by Jin Fukuchi

3D Director: Hiroaki Matsuura

Sound Director: Masafumi Mima

Director of Photography: Susumu Fukushi

Animation by ANIPLEX

Featuring the voices of:

Rie Kugimiya/Aaron Dismuke as Alphonse Elric

Romi Paku/Vic Mignogna as Edward Elric

Hidekatsu Shibata/Ed Blaylock as Mabuse/Fritz Lang

Kazuko Katou/Kelly Manison as Dietlinde Eckart

Kenji Utsumi/Christopher R. Sabat as Alex Louis Armstrong

Masane Tsukayama/John Swasey as Karl Haushofer

Megumi Toyoguchi/Caitlin Glass as Winry Rockbell

Michiko Neya/Colleen Clinkebeard as Riza Hawkeye

Miyuu Sawai/Leah Clark as Noah

Rikiya Koyama/Jason Douglas as Rudolf Hess

Shun Oguri/Jason Liebrecht as Alphonse Heiderich

Toru Ohkawa/Travis Willingham as Roy Mustang

Houko Kuwashima/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Rose Tomas

Keiji Fujiwara/Sonny Strait as Officer Hughes

Kotono Mitsuishi/Lauren Goode as Gracia

Masao Harada/Jimmy Foronda as Denny Brosh

Masashi Ebara/Scott McNeil as Hoenheim Elric

Mayumi Yamaguchi/Wendy Powell as Envy/Dragon

Mitsuki Saiga/Meredith McCoy as Maria Ross

Miyoko Asou/Juli Erickson as Pinako Rockbell

Nana Mizuki/Luci Christian as Wrath

Naomi Wakabayashi/Gwendolyn Lau as Sheska

Seiji Sasaki/Bob Carter as Sig Curtis

Shoko Tsuda/Christine Auten as Izumi Curtis

Takehiro Murozono/Kyle Herbert as Vato Falman

Tetsu Shiratori/Kevin M. Connolly as Kain Fuery

Tomoyuki Shimura/Josh Berry as Heymans Breda

Unshou Ishizuka/John Gremillion as Huskisson

Yasuhiro Takato/Chris Cason as Gluttony

Yasunori Matsumoto/Mike McFarland as Jean Havoc

It is 1923 in Munich. Two years have passed since Edward Elric’s sacrifice ripped him out of his world and into ours, separating him from his younger brother, Alphonse. In that time, Ed’s continued research into rocketry has allied him with Alphonse Heiderich, a fellow researcher who oddly resembles Ed’s brother.

Back in his own world, Al has been unlocking new secrets of alchemy and gaining incredible powers, all in the hopes of finding Ed.

Battling the occult, ideological extremists, and monstrous Homunculi lurking in the shadows, can the brothers find a way to reunite without causing chaos and bloodshed? What will happen when the world of alchemy and the world of modern science collide?

 

“Fullmetal Alchemist” , the popular manga series by Hiromu Arakawa has been going strong since 2001 and is still ongoing in Japan.  With a 51-episode TV anime series, the final episode which aired on October 2004 ended with a cliffhanger in which the main characters, brothers Ed and Alphonse Elric were separated from each other.  With young Alphonce vowing to be reunited with his older brother.

In the film “Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa”, the film continues years later after the final TV episode.

We learn that Ed was whisked from his homeworld of Amestris and is now living in the planet Earth, in Munich, Germany in 1923.   He doesn’t have his alchemist powers but he lives a life learning about rocketry with Alfonse Heiderich, a young man who resembles Ed’s younger brother.  The reason why Ed wants to learn about rocketry, is that he he hopes a rocket will take him back to his own time and homeworld through the gate.

While living in Germany, he sees many of the people with similar faces of those he knows from Amestris but knows this world is quite different.  During his travels, he and Alfonse ride with a group of gypsies and one named Noa has a sight in regards to Ed as a person with no home.

Through events, Ed befriends Noa and takes her home with him (note: In real world events, especially during this time period,  Germany is shown as the beginning of the introduction of Hitler, the Germans believing they are the superior race and have a hatred towards gypsies and Jews) and we see how people despise Noa because she is a gypsy but Ed defends her no matter what.

Meanwhile, he spots a person in Germany who looks like King Bradley (a deadly homunculus that Ed had to face in his own world).  Fearing that this man may be a homunculus, Ed attacks him.  But Ed quickly learns that this man is not a monster but he is in fact, searching for a dragon that is supposedly in a castle.

The dragon ends up being the homunculus known as Envy and when Ed tries to fight it, he is captured by members of the Thule Society (a group which later became known as the Nazi party).  This is where Dietlinde Eckhart learns that Ed is from another world and thus she tries to use Ed to open the gate.

Meanwhile, Dietlinde prepares the Thule Society soldiers to go through the gate in the other world which she tells them is Shamballa (note: another historic connection between Hitler and Nazi Germany, belief in a pure-land known as Shamballa which is said to exist in Tibet).

In Amestris, we see Al who lost his memories as shown in the final episode of the TV series.  Being trained in alchemy by Izumi Curtis, Al wants to reunite with his brother but also get back his memories.  He then sees soldiers that came from Germany through the gate, dead in Amestris.  He merges his soul with the armor which then temporarily brings Al into Germany where he finds his brother Ed.  The two are reunited but temporarily in which Al is brought back to Amestris.

Now, Al is determined to reunite with his brother by opening the gate in order to bring Ed back home.  Meanwhile, Ed learns that the Thule Society wants to go to Amestris to capture the weapons in that world in order to have Hitler start a revolution in Germany and now Ed must try to stop this from happening.

Featuring an exciting, action-packed film about two brothers who have been trying to reunite with each other, we are treated to more battles between the homunculus but also what happens when the Thule Society managed to break through the gate to Amestris.

Will Ed be able to stop the Thule Society?  And will Al trying to open up the gate, end up causing problems for the people of Amestris?

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16×9).  The high definition transfer features a good amount of detail especially during the darker areas which were not well seen on the DVD.

You can see the detail of the artistic backgrounds quite clearly and for the most part, animation is very good, colorful and for the most part, BONES did a great job in producing the overall animation and art backgrounds for this film.

But where this film shines is the audio.  If you have a good audio receiver and speaker setup, one thing that I really appreciated is how the action sequences come alive.  I mean front and center channel is crystal clear but you can hear good usage of the subwoofer via LFE, the booms and crashes are well heard.  Great use of surround channels and for teh most part, the audio sounds great Dolby TrueHD 5.1.

But it is important to emphasize that the English lossless soundtrack is much more pronounced, punchier and louder than the Japanese lossless soundtrack.  Similar to the “Origin” film release from FUNimation Entertainment and even the “Burst Angel” Blu-ray release, the English lossless soundtrack is much more pronounced but it’s no surprise as FUNimation Entertainment had every opportunity to improve on the sound and how the audio was distributed through the various channels.  But there is a difference between the two lossless soundtracks especially during the action sequences.

As for the vocal dub work, both English and Japanese voice acting are well done.  If anything, the Japanese counterpart has two talented female voice actresses doing the voice of Ed and Al and the US version has a guy and a younger voice actor doing the voices.  So, it’s all about your preference but FUNimation Entertainment did a great job in selecting the voice talent for the series and that same talent for the film.

As for subtitles, subtitles are in English but they are locked-in and automatically show up when you select the Japanese audio.  You can not use your remote to switch from audio channels unless you select it through your guide button via the menus.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa” comes with the following special features (in 480i Standard Definition, Dolby Digital English 2.0 with English subtitles):

  • The Making of Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie – 40 Minute Documentary with Director Seiji Mizushima and Staff – (40:04) A video diary of director Seiji Mizushima and staff working on the film and seeing the challenges the BONES staff  faced throughout the making of the film and trying to complete the film before deadline.
  • Talk Session with Seiji Mizushima, Romi Park, Rie Kugimiya and Toru Okawa – (54:09) A hilarious, informative but also tearful talk session with director Seiji Mizushima, Romi Park (voice actress of Ed), Rie Kugimiya (voice actress of Al), Toru Okawa (voice actor of Roy).
  • Japanese Theatrical and TV Trailers – (4:41) Japanese and TV trailers for “Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa”.
  • Production Art Image Gallery – (1:10) A short featurette showcasing the production art with a piano melody.
  • Japanese Actor Commentary – Audio commentary by Romi Park (voice of Ed), Rie Kugimiya (voice of Al), director Seiji Mizushima and Toyoguchi Megumi (Voice of Winry Rockbell).  A hilarious commentary in which the four talk about the voice talent taking part in the film and what they wanted to accomplish.  Also, a lot of joking around with the director and the voice talent.
  • Japanese Staff Commentary – Audio commentary by director Seiji Mizushima, technical director Yohei Miyahara and production Yoshihiro Oyabu who talk about the technical aspects of creating the film, the animation, storyboards and more.  Informative and humorous.
  • US Actor Commentary – An enjoyable and insightful commentary with the directors and many of the voice talent of “Fullmetal Alchemist the movie” who talk about their favorite characters, what they thought about working on the series and the film and more.
  • Trailers – FUNimation Entertainment trailers.

For many fans of “Fullmetal Alchemist”, many have waited for the “Conquer of Shamballa” theatrical film to see how the anime series storyline concludes.  The film did well in Japan making the film the seventh best earning film in Japan in 2005 and also becoming the seventh top grossing anime film of all time.

While in the US, the film received a limited theatrical debut but for its DVD release, many fans purchased the regular DVD as well as the limited edition version and was well-received by anime fans.

Personally, when I first watched the film, I absolutely loved it and how serious and how the storyline was complex but still easy to follow as we saw the two worlds collide.  So, the film incorporated solid animation, drama and action all in one.  With that being said, many of you may be wondering if this Blu-ray release of “Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa” is worth the upgrade.

First, if you own the limited edition, definitely keep it because you get that cool 18-page booklet and the cool box.  But truth-be-told, this Blu-ray release is fantastic in terms of picture and audio quality.

As expected, the film features vibrant colors and the colors stand out compared to its DVD counterpart.  But where this Blu-ray shines is the audio.  As mentioned in my review for the audio, the lossless audio soundtrack is awesome.  If you have a  good 5.1 or 7.x surround sound setup, you care definitely going to enjoy how this film sounds.  Granted, it’s the English dub that sounds very good with the Japanese lossless soundtrack not having the same amount of punch or loudness than its English counterpart.

Special features are pretty much the same as what you saw in the limited edition DVD.  But if you bought the single disc version on DVD years ago, you should be happy to see the 40-minute behind-the-scenes of the making of the film, the Japanese discussion, the three commentaries and more.

For those who have never watched the television series, I will say that there are some parts that may go over your head as there is some dialogue that refer to the TV series.  But for the most part, as a viewer, you can figure things out and the film tends to keep things centered on the main storyline of brothers trying to reunite and two worlds that are more or less going to clash.  So, I think that some viewers can get by without watching the TV series but I do recommend that you watch the TV series before watching the film, so you can understand certain characters and also to enjoy the film even more.

Overall, this Blu-ray release is awesome, especially if you have a solid receiver and good speaker setup.  Personally, if you own a Blu-ray player, a good home theater setup and are a “Fullmetal Alchemist” fan, this is a no-brainer, this Blu-ray is definitely worth upgrade.

“Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa” is definitely recommended!






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