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Fullmetal Alchemist 3-in-1 Omnibus Vol. 6: Volumes 16-18 by Hiromu Arakawa (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

October 30, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

fullmetalalchemist-omn-v6

Featuring an exciting sixth volume of “Fullmetal Alchemist 3-in-1 Omnibus” that features new characters, background stories on Hohenheim and Risa Hawkeye and more!  Definitely recommended!

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Image courtesy of © 2002 Hiromu Arakawa/SQUARE ENIX. All Rights Reserved.

MANGA TITLE: Fullmetal Alchemist 3-in-1: Volumes 16-18

STORY AND ART BY: Hiromu Arakawa

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: SQUARE ENIX CO., LTD.

PUBLISHED IN USA BY: VIZ Media

RATED: T for Older Teen

RELEASE DATE: November 12, 2013

In an alchemical ritual gone wrong, Edward Elric lost his arm and his leg, and his brother Alphonse became nothing but a soul in a suit of armor. Equipped with mechanical “”auto-mail”” limbs, Edward becomes a state alchemist, seeking the one thing that can restore his and his brother’s bodies…the legendary Philosopher’s Stone.

Contains Volumes 16, 17 and 18! The Elric brothers head north to Fort Briggs in search of May Chang, whose Xing alchemy may contain the answers they seek. But as Ed and Al soon discover, the only thing less forgiving than Briggs’s weather is the regiment of hardened soldiers assigned to defend it. Matters grow even more complicated when Ed and Al get thrown in lockdown and the sadistic Kimblee arrives from Central with Winry as his hostage. But even Kimblee’s cruelty pales in comparison to the evil of the new homunculi watching from the shadows…

In Japan, “Fullmetal Alchemist” (Hagane no Renkinjutushi) is a popular long running anime and manga series created by mangaka Hiromu Arakawa. The original manga series was serialized in Square Enix’s “Shonen Gangan” since 2001, while the 51-episode TV series created by BONES was shown on television in 2004 followed by a manga faithful anime adaptation with “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” airing in 2009-2010.

The popularity of “Fullmetal Alchemist” has led to many novels, OVA’s, drama CD’s, soundtracks and video games and a lot of these releases have been distributed in various countries and its popularity is a testament of how people have come to love the series which has won many awards in Japan including being voted for the #1 most popular anime series of all time.

With the popularity of this franchise and its current Blu-ray and DVD release in the U.S., its no surprise that fans are wanting to read the manga version and what best way than to do it now with the release of Viz Media’s omnibus, “Fullmetal Alchemist 3-in-1″ with the sixth volume to be released in Nov. 2013 featuring volumes 16-18.

“Fullmetal Alchemist” is a manga series about two young alchemist brothers named Edward and his younger brother Alphonse Elric (aka “Al”). Their father left them and several months after their father left, an epidemic hit their village and killed their mother. Grieving and alone without their mother, the two quickly tried to hone their alchemist skills and hope to bring their mother back alive by using a human transmutation (this is illegal and considered taboo by alchemist).

While performing the transmutation, a dark shadow comes and literally breaks apart the body of Alphonse and as for Edward, he is shown “the truth” but in return for doing the transmutation, there is a toll and in this case, he loses his legs and feet and his right arm. And the transmutation to bring their mother fails as Edward was only able to revive a disembodied figure. In a short time allowed before the dark shadow leaves, Edward was able to bond Al’s soul to a suit of armor but there are some consequences. And these consequences and guilt have plunged Edward to the lowest he had ever been.

With this opportunity, this gives Edward a chance to repair what he did wrong and help his brother. But as they investigate on how they can get their bodies back and investigating what is known as a “Philosopher’s Stone”, an unknown group is out there, observing his every move and willing to kill in order to get to Edward.

Meanwhile, a military figure named Roy Mustang is assisting the Elric brothers by giving them opportunities to find the Philosopher’s Stone but to do that, the two will be part of the military. For the Elric brothers, working together is a good idea as they hope the stone may give Edward a chance to bring his brother Al back to life and also get back his own body as well.

“Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” is a series about two young alchemist brothers named Edward and his younger brother Alphonse Eric (aka “Al”). Their father left them and several months after their father left, an epidemic hit their village and killed their mother. Grieving and alone without their mother, the two quickly tried to hone their alchemist skills and hope to bring their mother back alive by using a human transmutation (this is illegal and considered taboo by alchemist).

While performing the transmutation, a dark shadow comes and literally breaks apart the body of Alphonse and as for Edward, he is shown “the truth” but in return for doing the transmutation, there is a toll and in this case, he loses his legs and feet and his right arm. And the transmutation to bring their mother fails as Edward was only able to revive a disembodied figure. In a short time allowed before the dark shadow leaves, Edward was able to bond Al’s soul to a suit of armor but there are some consequences. And these consequences and guilt have plunged Edward to the lowest he had ever been.

Meanwhile, a military figure named Roy Mustang has come and is shocked to see that Edward was able to survive a human transmutation and also anchoring his brother’s soul and thus gives Edward a chance to join the military to fight with them but at the same time, gaining access that may give Edward a chance to bring his brother back to life and also his own body as well.

With this opportunity, this gives Edward a chance to repair what he did wrong and help his brother. But as they investigate on how they can get their bodies back and investigating what is known as a “Philosopher’s Stone”, an unknown group is out there, observing his every move and willing to kill in order to get to Edward.

So far, we have learned that Bradley is a homunculus and that the homunculus may have infiltrated the State Military.

Ed and Al continue their search of how to get their bodies back but meanwhile, Scar tries to find out the truth of why the Ishvalans were massacred.  Meanwhile, Ed and Al find themselves in the North needing Olivier’s help but can they divulge the information about Bradley, the Fuhrer is a homunculus?  Meanwhile, Ed and Al find themselves teaming up with the people they have been against.

In vol. 6 of “Fullmetal Alchemist 3-in-1 Omnibus” which features vol. 16-18, Ed and Al plan to head up North in order to find May and on their way, they meet Major General Olivier Mira Armstrong.

Meanwhile, as Scar and Marcoh try to leave town, they are being pursued by Solf J. Kimblee, the Red Lotus Alchemist and a battle ensues.

The next volume (17), Sloth finds a way to Briggs and Olivier and her men try to stop the homunculus.  Meanwhile, Hohenheim reminisces on the day he left his family and why he did it.

And in vol. 18, Winree goes to repair Ed’s arm in Briggs, back at home, Riza finds out that Bradley’s son Selim is the first homunculus known as Pride.  Scar vs. two chimeras named Jerso and Zampano.

“Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” features the following characters:

  • Edward Elric – The oldest of the Elric brothers who manage to survive a transmutation and managed to bond his brother to a suit of armor just in time. In the process, he lost his legs and his right arm in which his childhood friend Winry has created metal prosthetics known as “automail”. He is also quite short but also very destructive as he is skillful with alchemy and the fact he survived a transmutation shocks the military. Working as a State Alchemist in order to find a way to bring his brother’s body back and possibly getting his own body back.
  • Alphonse Elric – Al is the youngest brother of Edward who was bonded to a suit of armor. Almost invulnerable and very strong. Often mistaken as the eldest because of his size.
  • Roy Mustang – The Lt. Colonel of the State Military who wants to become the next Fuhrer of Amestris. He is the one who discovered Edward and Alphonse.
  • Winry Rockbell - A childhood friend of Edward and Alphonse. She is also very gifted in technical and mechanical things. Often is the person who repairs Edward’s automail (metal prosthetic limbs). And always arguing with Edward, but its quite obvious that she cares about him.
  • Alex Louis Armstrong – A strong arm alchemist who is extremely strong and hulking in size but also very sensitive.
  • Izumi Curtis - The teacher of Ed and Alphonse Eric who helped them hone their alchemy right after their mother died.
  • Maes Hughes – An old friend of Roy Mustang’s who tries to help him with his goal to become a Fuhrer. He works in military intelligence and has a loving wife and young daughter. A family man, he lets Winry stay with them when she is in town.
  • King Bradley – The head of the State Military and King of Amestris who has a major secret.
  • Riza Hawkeye – Roy Mustang’s most trusted subordinate. The voice of reason and excellent in using firearms.
  • Jean Havoc - One of Roy Mustang’s subordinates who is exceptionally trained in firearms.
  • Lin Yao – A prince of Xing who is trying to find ways of immortality in order to prepare for his goal as Xing’s future emperor. An excellent swordsman.
  • Lan Fan – Lin Yao’s bodyguard and a skilled fighter willing to protect her boss at all costs.
  • May Chang – A young princess of Xing who goes to Amestris with her panda Xiao Mei. She has the power to heal and also manipulate energy.
  • Olivier Mira Armstrong – The older sister of Alex Louis Armstrong who leads the Brigs Fortress and protects the country from Drachma.  She is cold, distrusts people and inpatient.  She believes in “Survival of the fittest”.
  • Miles - A man who is quarter Ishvalan and wants to change the country’s perception towards Ishval.
  • Buccaneer – A  huge man who has two different pieces of automail (the latest type of automail which makes Winry so excited when she is around him).

The Homunculi

The main antagonists which consist of artificial humans who are trying to create the philosopher’s stone and has become a major thorn in the military’s side. They are hard to defeat as they can regenerate.

  • Father – The main antagonist who is the creator of all homunculi.  For some reason, he looks like Hohenheim and has interest in Ed and Al.
  • Lust – A homunculi who is a sexy woman who can use her fingers to become weapons and grow to larger lengths and cut through anything.
  • Gluttony – A homunculi who likes to eat people or anything. He has powerful jaws with acidic saliva.
  • Envy – A homunculi who can assume any appearance and makes him infiltrate the military HQ quite easily and is known to create and instigate major problems.
  • Greed – A homunculi that craves money, women and worldy possessions.  After being killed by Wrath, Lin Yao who is searching for immortality wants to become the new Greed.
  • Sloth – A large muscular man who has great speed and strength for his size.  He has been digging beneath Amestris and ends up inside the Briggs Fortress.
  • Pride – A homunculus using the body of Selim Bradley, the adoptive son of King Bradley, He uses his shadows to kill.

“Fullmetal Alchemist” is no doubt a popular manga series and because so many people were introduced to anime and manga because of “Fullmetal Alchemist”, with the release of “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood”, many fans are wanting to know how the original manga series were.

And fortunately, Viz Media has done a great service to fans of popular series “Naruto”, “Bleach” and “Fullmetal Alchemist” by releasing these omnibus featuring three volumes per graphic novel for a low price!

And as the suspense continues with Roy Mustang trying to uncover more details of the homunculus infiltration into the military, one character that we are introduced to, that was an interesting addition to the series is Olivier Mira Armstrong, older sister of Alex Louis Armstrong and if you thought Alex was tough,  his sister Olivier is not just tough, she’s a no-nonsense, impatient, cold, kick-ass character!

The Briggs storyline was actually fun to watch, despite Ed and Al being limited as Olivier and the others don’t quite trust them (as the two have to hold back information from Olivier). Another storyline which I found very cool in this latest volume of “Fullmetal Alchemist” is more character development for Hohenheim, Riza Hawkeye, and others.

One thing that those who are new to the series can expect from “Fullmetal Alchemist” is that the storyline delivers in action and drama but also, it features plenty of characters and also adventure, so you pretty much get a little bit of everything with this series.

Hiromu Arakawa’s artwork and writing are quite solid and its a testament that a series that is not long-running compared to “Naruto” or “Bleach” has achieved so much success in the USA but also has been released on Blu-ray, DVD, video games as well in America. Not bad for a manga series that is 27 volumes long! In fact, that’s fantastic!

But if you have been wanting to jump in and read the manga series, it’s a great time to do that now, especially through the release of the 3-in-1 series. For its price and value, there is nothing to complain about. This is great deal for new and old “Fullmetal Alchemist” fans who have not read the manga series.

“Fullmetal Alchemist 3-in-1 Omnibus Vol. 6″ features a good balance of humor and action and if you are a fan of the anime series, you definitely will want to read the manga version!  Highly recommended!

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Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos – The Motion Picture (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

April 8, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

“Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos – The Motion Picture” is a wonderful film with a captivating storyline, cool new characters, plenty of action and more.  The Blu-ray also looks and sounds great and you get a good amount of special features as well.  If you want an awesome anime film on Blu-ray, “Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos – The Motion Picture” is highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2012 FUNimation Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos – The Motion Picture

ANIME RELEASE DATE: 2011

DURATION: 110 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1), English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: FUNimation Entertainment

RATED: Not Rated

Release Date: April 25, 2012

Original Created by Hiromu Arakawa

Original Character Design by Kenichi Konishi

Directed by Kazuya Murata

Screenplay by Yuichi Shinbo

Storyboard by Kazuya Murata

Unit Director: Shingo Natsume

Music by Taro Iwashiro

Art Director: Kazuo Ogura, Tomoaki Okada

Chief Animation Director: Kenichi Konishi

Mechanical Design by Shinji Aramaki

3D Director: Koki Ota

Anime Production: BONES

Featuring the following voice talent:

Rie Kugimiya/Maxey Whitehead as Alphonse Elric

Romi Park/Vic Mignona as Edward Elric

Toshiyuki Morikawa/Matthew Mercer as Melvin Voyager

Fumiko Orikasa/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Riza Hawkeye

Kenji Utsumi/Christopher R. Sabat as Alex Louis Armstrong

Maaya Sakamoto/Alexis Tipton as Julia Crichton

Megumi Takamoto/Caitlin Glass as Winry Rockbell

Sakiko Tamagawa/Shelley Calene-Black as Miranda

Shinichiro Miki/Travis Willingham as Roy Mustang

A fugitive alchemist with mysterious abilities leads the Elric brothers to a distant valley of slums inhabited by the Milos, a proud people struggling against bureaucratic exploitation. Ed and Al quickly find themselves in the middle of a rising rebellion as the exiled Milos lash out against their oppressors. At the heart of the conflict is Julia, a young alchemist befriended by Alphonse. She’ll stop at nothing to restore the Milos to their former glory – even if that means harnessing the awful power of the mythical Philosopher’s Stone.

When the hit anime TV series “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” was coming to a close, BONES wanted to make sure the adventures of the Elrich brothers, despite their adventure ending in the series, would still continue in the movies.

Set during a time when both brothers were still looking for the Philosopher stone, this is where director Kazuya Murata (“Eureka Seven”, “Figure 17″, “Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion”) and screenwriter Yuichi Shinbo (“Doraemon” films) would base the story for “Hagane no Renkinjutsushi: Mirosu no Sei-naru Hoshi” (“Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos”).  The film would also feature music from rock band L’Arc~en~Ciel and the artist Miwa.

The film was announced during the final episode of “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” and premiered in Japan in July 2011 and screened in U.S. theaters in 2012.

For those not familiar with “Fullmetal Alchemist”, in Japan, “Fullmetal Alchemist” (Hagane no Renkinjutushi) is a popular long running anime and manga series created by mangaka Hiromu Arakawa.  The original manga series was serialized in Square Enix’s “Shonen Gangan” since 2001, while the 51-episode TV series created by BONES was shown on television in 2004 followed by a manga faithful anime adaptation with “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” airing in 2009-2010.

The popularity of “Fullmetal Alchemist” has led to many novels, OVA’s, drama CD’s, soundtracks and video games and a lot of these releases have been distributed in various countries and its popularity is a testament of how people have come to love the series which has won many awards in Japan including being voted for the #1 most popular anime series of all time.

What is “Fullmetal Alchemist” about?

“Fullmetal Alchemist” is a series about two young alchemist brothers named Edward and his younger brother Alphonse Elric (aka “Al”).  Their father left them and several months after their father left, an epidemic hit their village and killed their mother.  Grieving and alone without their mother, the two quickly tried to hone their alchemist skills and hope to bring their mother back alive by using a human transmutation (this is illegal and considered taboo by alchemist).

While performing the transmutation, a dark shadow comes and literally breaks apart the body of Alphonse and as for Edward, he is shown “the truth” but in return for doing the transmutation, there is a toll and in this case, he loses his legs and feet and his right arm.  And the transmutation to bring their mother fails as Edward was only able to revive a disembodied figure.  In a short time allowed before the dark shadow leaves, Edward was able to bond Al’s soul to a suit of armor but there are some consequences.  And these consequences and guilt have plunged Edward to the lowest he had ever been.

With this opportunity, this gives Edward a chance to repair what he did wrong and help his brother.  But as they investigate on how they can get their bodies back and investigating what is known as a “Philosopher’s Stone”, an unknown group is out there, observing the Elric brothers every move and willing to kill in order to get to Edward.

Meanwhile, a military figure named Roy Mustang is assisting the Elric brothers by giving them opportunities to find the Philosopher’s Stone but to do that, the two will be part of the military.  For the Elric brothers, working together is a good idea as they hope the stone may give Edward a chance to bring his brother Al back to life and also get back his own body as well.

“Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos”

The film is set during the time Edward and Al are looking for a way to get their human bodies back.

“The Sacred Star of Milos” begins with the Crichton family who were driven away from their home.  For a young Julia Chrichton, she saw her own people being gunned down but her brother Ashley trying to prevent her from seeing any of it.

Fast forward and the teenager Ashley is studying his parent’s alchemy books and his sister are together.  They hear a scream which Ashley goes to check, when young Julia goes to look for her brother, she notices her parents hanging dead, blood everywhere and then someone attacking her brother Ashley and then she faints.

Fast forwards many years later and a criminal named Melvin Voyager has escaped from an Amestris prison and the Elric brothers (who are always anxious to visit new areas to find more information on the “philosopher stone”) decide to chase after the escaped convict.

While on the bus, a chimera attacks people on the bus and Melvin Voyager goes after it.  Unfortunately, that causes problems on the train, so the Elric brothers try to protect the people on the train while Edward tries to go after both the chimera and Melvin Voyager, who Edward finds out is an alchemist.

Meanwhile, back at HQ, Roy Mustang and Riza Hawkeye wonder why Melvin Voyager would escape from prison when he was weeks away from being released in jail?  While searching his belongings, they find part of a newspaper clip cut out and when they look at what was missing, it is a photo of an older Julia Chrichton, who was arrested for entering Table City.

At the same time, a group of people with flying contraptions have shown up and go after Julia Crichton, which Melvin Voyager is also after.

As the Elric brothers are trying to figure out what is going on, their journey leads them to the borders of Amestris and Creta and in between both countries down below is Table City, an area where people who once had their own land and forced out, were sent to live in an area which is essentially a junk yard and area where both countries deposit their waste and the city is essentially a bottomless pit.

As the Elric brothers descend into Table City, what secrets will they find and what is so special about Julia Crichton and Melvin Voyager?

VIDEO

One thing I love about anime films on Blu-ray is the fact that you know that unlike TV series, studios tend to have a higher budget, more staff and more time is dedicated in the look and feel for an anime film.  “Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos – The Motion Picture” is a big example of how the film looks fantastic thanks to its beautifully painted art backgrounds, it’s 3D use for vehicles and weaponry and more.

Presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1), one of the biggest differences that this film would have versus the TV series and previous film is the character design.  The character designs have a bit of a different style when compared to the TV series and I think that was part of the reason of the difference is to show that this is not a film derived from Hiromu Arakawa’s manga but is its own storyline featuring the Elric brothers.    The art backgrounds are just heavily detailed and are beautiful too look at.  In fact, the Blu-ray really showcases the detail of the CG work and the art.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

Another reason why I love anime films on Blu-ray is that you also tend to get a Japanese soundtrack in the same lossless soundtrack as the English dub.  So, both are in Dolby TrueHD 5.1.  I did notice that the English version had a bit more of a dynamic range but yet both are wonderful when it came to using the surround channels during the many action sequences during the film.  Also, noticed the use of surround for ambiance as well.  And for those with a subwoofer, yes,  awesome use of LFE during the action sequences as well.

I watched the film in both Japanese and English dub and fans should feel great that both are done very well. In fact, as much as I enjoy watching “Fullmetal Alchemist” in Japanese, I will have to say that FUNimation Entertainment has always done a marvelous job when it came to the voice acting of this series.  Vic Mignogna and Maxey Whitehead have literally nailed the voice of the Elric brothers and from the TV series to the film (as well as the other voice talents), I have always been impressed by the English dubwork, as well as the Japanese voice acting, so I had to watch the film in both soundtracks.  Both are fantastic!

English subtitles were also easy to read.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos – The Motion Picture” comes with the following special features:

  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Making of Sacred Star of Milos - (1:04:25) Featuring the making of “Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos – The Motion Picture” hosted by Romi Park (voice of Edward) and Rie Kugimiya (voice of Alphonse) and featuring interviews with the crew.  In Japanese with English subtitles.
  • U.S. Cast Commentary – Awesome FUNimation Entertainment audio commentary featuring Mike McFarland (ADR Director), Maxey Whithead (voice of Alfonse), Vic Mignogna (voice of Edward) Colleen Clinkenbeard (voice of Riza), Christopher R. Sabat (voice of Armstrong) .  English dub fans will want to listen to this audio commentary!
  • U.S. Trailer - (1:03) FUNimation Entertainment trailer for “Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos – The Motion Picture”.
  • Web Promo - (19:13) Super-deformed version of the Elric Brothers being interviewed.
  • Theatrical Trailers – (4:07) The Japanese theatrical trailers for “Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos – The Motion Picture”.
  • TV Spot – (:48) The Japanese TV spots.
  • FUNimation Entertainment trailers

EXTRAS:

“Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos – The Motion Picture” comes with both the Blu-ray and DVD version of the film and special features.

When it was announced that “Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos – The Motion Picture” was being made, I was quite happy.  Mainly because it gave fans a chance to enjoy the Elric Brothers and the characters once again.

With the manga series completed and the TV series also finished, despite the characters and the series being so immensely popular, it was not a long running storyline like “Dragon Ball Z”, “Bleach” or “Naruto”, nor was there a film being created every summer.

And that is probably a good thing as non-canon films that are derived from anime series are usually not that good, but in the case of “Fullmetal Alchemist”, the last film “Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa” was enjoyable but after watching “Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos – The Motion Picture”, I had a smile on my face at the very end because in my eye, I felt that this film was excellent.

While it did focus more on the Elric brothers and we didn’t see much action coming from Roy or Riza, they do make an appearance as with other popular characters such as Winry and Armstrong but the newer characters and the storyline created was so enjoyable and fascinating, and also a bit violent and kind of dark.

I loved how the film showcased both Amestris and Creta and seeing the people in Table City living in conflict and fear.  This really made the viewer enjoy these newer characters such as Julia Crichton and her friends.  And there are quite a bit of twist and turns, especially when transmutation starts to come into play…you know things are going to get crazy and by the end of the film, you’re left satisfied with how the story ends and how things end up for these characters.

As a film, it was enjoyable but I don’t know if I can see “Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos – The Motion Picture” as a final film, because just from this film alone, it does show that there are always potential to further explore adventures of the Elric Brothers.  But with that being said, I’m sure fans would even love it even more if a future film featured the involvement of creator Hiromu Arakawa.

But whether or not this film will be the last for “Fullmetal Alchemist”, based on the film alone, I enjoyed it more than the first and I really the storytelling and the characters, especially the beautifully painted art backgrounds.  Especially the stylistic choice for the film’s character design which is slightly different from the TV series.

As for the Blu-ray release, video and audio quality were great, but the making of was wonderful and for English dub fans, they will really enjoy listening to the audio commentary, especially coming from Vic Micnogna.  But you do get a good amount of special features with this release.

For those wondering if they can enjoy this film without knowing a thing about “Fullmetal Alchemist”, I think they can enjoy the film as things are explained for viewers.  But I can only hope that if one watches the film, I hope they enjoyed it enough to watch the TV series in order for things to make more sense.

For parents, this is not for young children.  There are some major sacrificing done (ie. blood sacrifice), so there is quite a bit of violence and blood, so definitely not to be watched with younger children in the room.

Overall, “Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos – The Motion Picture” is a wonderful film with a captivating storyline, cool new characters, plenty of action and more.  The Blu-ray also looks and sounds great and you get a good amount of special features as well.  If you want an awesome anime film on Blu-ray, “Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos – The Motion Picture” is highly recommended!

 

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood – Part Five (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

July 27, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

“Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” ends with part 5 and what a thrilling, pulse-pounding finale it came to be!  Action-packed, battles galore, the ending is much better than the previous series!  Highly recommended!

Images courtesy of ©Hiromu Arakawa/FA Project, MBS. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Part Five

DURATION: Episodes 53-64 (300 Minutes)

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition 16×9 HD Native, Dolby TrueHD English 5.1 and Dolby TrueHD Japanese 2.0, Subtitles: English

RATED: TV 14

COMPANY: FUNimation Entertainment

RELEASE DATE: August 2, 2011

 

Originally Created by Hiromu Arakawa

Directed by Yasuhiro Irie

Series Composition by Hiroshi Ohnogi

Music by Akira Senju

Character Design by Hiroki Kanno

Art Director: Takeshi Satou

Art Design: Kazushige Kanehira

Anime Production by BONES

Featuring the voices of:

Rie Kugimiya/Maxey Whitehead as Alphonse Elric

Romi Paku/Vic Mignogna as Edward Elric

Iemasa Kayumi/Kent Williams as Father

Megumi Takamoto/Caitlin Glass as Winry Rockbell

Shinichiro Miki/Travis Willingham as Roy Mustang

Unshou Ishizuka/Aaron Dismuke as Van Hohenheim

Ai Satou/Brittney Karbowski as Mrs. Bradley

Akemi Okamura/Cynthia Cranz as Paninya

Anri Katsu/John Burgmeier as Dolcetto

Atsuki Tani as Berthold Hawkeye

Chika Fujimura/Gwendolyn Lau as Sheska

J. Michael Tatum as Scar

Fumihiko Tachiki as Sloth

Fumiko Orikasa/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Risa (Riza) Hawkeye

Go Shinomiya as Storch

Kikuko Inoue/Laura Bailey as Lust

Wendy Powell as Envy

The Flame Alchemist’s rebel army pushes the forces of Central to the brink of collapse – until the enemy’s fallen leader returns to take control. As mortals and monsters wage war, young Edward and Alphonse Elric must face a cruel being with the unholy power of a god. After endless adventures and countless struggles, the boys find the fate of the world in their weary hands. When the Gateway closes and the circle is complete, who will be left alive to celebrate the astonishing sacrifices made?

“Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” ends with part 5 and what a thrilling, pulse-pounding finale it came to be!  Action-packed, battles galore, the ending is much better than the previous series!  Highly recommended!

In Japan, “Fullmetal Alchemist” (Hagane no Renkinjutushi) has been a popular long running anime and manga series created by mangaka Hiromu Arakawa. The original manga series was serialized in Square Enix’s “Shonen Gangan” since 2001, while the 51-episode TV series created by BONES was shown on television in 2004 and was followed by a film to conclude the series.

The popularity of “Fullmetal Alchemist” has led to many novels, OVA’s, drama CD’s, soundtracks and video games and a lot of these releases have been distributed in various countries and its popularity is a testament of how people have come to love the series which has won many awards in Japan including being voted for the #1 most popular anime series of all time.

Despite it’s popularity, the series could have gone on longer but because the anime series was created when the manga was only several years old, the anime series only lasted 51-episodes and there were differences between what the director featured on the anime series and what Arakawa had in the manga.

So, in 2009, a new series titled “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” (Hagane no Renkinjutsushi: Furumetaru Arukemisuto) was created by BONES and this time around, the series would follow the manga much more closely. Currently there are over 60 episodes that have aired in Japan and the series is still ongoing. Also, unlike the previous anime series, this series would be created in HD (540p). The first 13 episodes of “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” would feature its first 13-episodes covering the first 26-episodes from the original anime series but from that point on, the series becomes a whole new storyline which features more characters and for the most part, something new and different for the viewers, especially fans of the original series.

To make sure that there is a difference between this series aside from the storyline differences compared to the original, the staff is different this time around as well as the character designs. The director for “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” would be Yasuhiro Irie (who worked on RahXephon”, “Cowboy Bebop”, “Macross Plus”, “Gunparade March”), series composition by Hiroshi Ohnogi (“Eureka Seven”, “Area 88, “Aquarion”, “RahXephon”, “RIN”, “Skullman”), music by Akira Senju (“Red Garden”, “Mobile Suit Victory Gundam”, “Silent Service”), character designs by Hiroki Kanno (“Angelic Layer”, “Eureka Seven”, “Ninja Scroll”, “RahXephon”) and art design by Takeshi Satou (“Mobile Suit Gundam 00″, “Ghost Slayers Ayashi”, “Please Twins!”).

“Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” is a series about two young alchemist brothers named Edward and his younger brother Alphonse Eric (aka “Al”). Their father left them and several months after their father left, an epidemic hit their village and killed their mother. Grieving and alone without their mother, the two quickly tried to hone their alchemist skills and hope to bring their mother back alive by using a human transmutation (this is illegal and considered taboo by alchemist).

While performing the transmutation, a dark shadow comes and literally breaks apart the body of Alphonse and as for Edward, he is shown “the truth” but in return for doing the transmutation, there is a toll and in this case, he loses his legs and feet and his right arm. And the transmutation to bring their mother fails as Edward was only able to revive a disembodied figure. In a short time allowed before the dark shadow leaves, Edward was able to bond Al’s soul to a suit of armor but there are some consequences. And these consequences and guilt have plunged Edward to the lowest he had ever been.

Meanwhile, a military figure named Roy Mustang has come and is shocked to see that Edward was able to survive a human transmutation and also anchoring his brother’s soul and thus gives Edward a chance to join the military to fight with them but at the same time, gaining access that may give Edward a chance to bring his brother back to life and also his own body as well.

With this opportunity, this gives Edward a chance to repair what he did wrong and help his brother. But as they investigate on how they can get their bodies back and investigating what is known as a “Philosopher’s Stone”, an unknown group is out there, observing his every move and willing to kill in order to get to Edward.

In part two of “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood”, we learn that Bradley is a homunculus and that the homunculus may have infiltrated the State Military.

In part three, Ed and Al continue their search of how to get their bodies back but meanwhile, Scar tries to find out the truth of why the Ishvalans were massacred. Meanwhile, Ed and Al find themselves in the North needing Olivier’s help but can they divulge the information about Bradley, the Fuhrer is a homunculus? Meanwhile, Ed and Al find themselves teaming up with the people they have been against.

In part four of “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” and division in the State military have been drawn as information of Bradley being a homunculus is now known and a war between the rebellious members of the State Military led by Mustang take on the homunculus.

And here we are with the final volume of “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood”.  It’s an explosive finale as we get to see Mustang vs. Envy, Scar vs. Bradley, Armstrong vs. Sloth and a whole slew of surprises that will definitely be quite exciting for the fans who have stuck with this series since the beginning.

Will Elric get Al’s body back?  Will Elric get his limbs back?  Will the military be able to defeat the Homunculus?

This is the way that Hiromu Arakawa had wanted “Fullmetal Alchemist” to be, how it was meant to end and what a thrilling conclusion right to the final episode!

“Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” features the following characters:

  • Edward Elric – The oldest of the Elric brothers who manage to survive a transmutation and managed to bond his brother to a suit of armor just in time. In the process, he lost his legs and his right arm in which his childhood friend Winry has created metal prosthetics known as “automail”. He is also quite short but also very destructive as he is skillful with alchemy and the fact he survived a transmutation shocks the military. Working as a State Alchemist in order to find a way to bring his brother’s body back and possibly getting his own body back.
  • Alphonse Elric – Al is the youngest brother of Edward who was bonded to a suit of armor. Almost invulnerable and very strong. Often mistaken as the eldest because of his size.
  • Roy Mustang – The Lt. Colonel of the State Military who wants to become the next Fuhrer of Amestris. He is the one who discovered Edward and Alphonse.
  • Winry Rockbell - A childhood friend of Edward and Alphonse. She is also very gifted in technical and mechanical things. Often is the person who repairs Edward’s automail (metal prosthetic limbs). And always arguing with Edward, but its quite obvious that she cares about him.
  • Alex Louis Armstrong – A strong arm alchemist who is extremely strong and hulking in size but also very sensitive.
  • Izumi Curtis - The teacher of Ed and Alphonse Eric who helped them hone their alchemy right after their mother died.
  • Maes Hughes – An old friend of Roy Mustang’s who tries to help him with his goal to become a Fuhrer. He works in military intelligence and has a loving wife and young daughter. A family man, he lets Winry stay with them when she is in town.
  • King Bradley – The head of the State Military and King of Amestris who has a major secret.
  • Riza Hawkeye – Roy Mustang’s most trusted subordinate. The voice of reason and excellent in using firearms.
  • Jean Havoc - One of Roy Mustang’s subordinates who is exceptionally trained in firearms.
  • Lin Yao – A prince of Xing who is trying to find ways of immortality in order to prepare for his goal as Xing’s future emperor. An excellent swordsman.
  • Lan Fan – Lin Yao’s bodyguard and a skilled fighter willing to protect her boss at all costs.
  • May Chang – A young princess of Xing who goes to Amestris with her panda Xiao Mei. She has the power to heal and also manipulate energy.
  • Olivier Mira Armstrong – The older sister of Alex Louis Armstrong who leads the Brigs Fortress and protects the country from Drachma. She is cold, distrusts people and inpatient. She believes in “Survival of the fittest”.
  • Miles - A man who is quarter Ishvalan and wants to change the country’s perception towards Ishval.
  • Buccaneer – A huge man who has two different pieces of automail (the latest type of automail which makes Winry so excited when she is around him).

The Homunculi

The main antagonists which consist of artificial humans who are trying to create the philosopher’s stone and has become a major thorn in the military’s side. They are hard to defeat as they can regenerate.

  • Father – The main antagonist who is the creator of all homunculi. For some reason, he looks like Hohenheim and has interest in Ed and Al.
  • Lust – A homunculi who is a sexy woman who can use her fingers to become weapons and grow to larger lengths and cut through anything.
  • Gluttony – A homunculi who likes to eat people or anything. He has powerful jaws with acidic saliva.
  • Envy – A homunculi who can assume any appearance and makes him infiltrate the military HQ quite easily and is known to create and instigate major problems.
  • Greed – A homunculi that craves money, women and worldy possessions. After being killed by Wrath, Lin Yao who is searching for immortality wants to become the new Greed.
  • Sloth – A large muscular man who has great speed and strength for his size. He has been digging beneath Amestris and ends up inside the Briggs Fortress.
  • Pride – A homunculus using the body of Selim Bradley, the adoptive son of King Bradley, He uses his shadows to kill.

VIDEO:

“Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood – Part Part Five” is presented in 1080p HD 16×9 via a HD native source. It’s important to note that although the conversion was made to 1080p, I’ve read that the actual Japanese original masters were created in 540p. With that being said, this is a TV series and one can’t expect OVA or film quality but I manage to compare the DVD and Blu-ray version and the Blu-ray looks much more colorful, much more detailed and looked much better and more colorful than its DVD counterpart.

I did notice edge enhancement and I’m sure the conversion of a 540p source to 1080p possibly led to the jaggies that can be seen at times. Granted, I’m a bit picky when it comes to video quality but the fact that this is created by BONES (a busy anime production company) and the fact that this is not an OVA or film, for a TV series, “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” looks very good. Granted, it’s not uber-vibrant but there is a good amount of shading, detail, blacks are deep and overall, I felt the Blu-ray looked much better than its DVD counterpart.

AUDIO:

“Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood – Part Part Five” is presented in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and in Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0. Overall, the 5.1 lossless soundtrack sounds very good and there is a good amount of surround usage and its much more immersive than its Japanese lossless counterpart. There is quite a bit of action in this second volume, plenty of battles are featured and many episodes that utilize the surround channels.

The Japanese lossless soundtrack is still good, especially if you have a receiver in which you can change the setting to stereo on all channels. I do prefer the Japanese lossless soundtrack in terms of acting especially during the more emotional moments in this second volume (which there are many). But I’ve watched the series in both Japanese and English and for the most part, both are well done and similar to “Dragon Ball Z” and “One Piece”, the English dub has caught my attention and this time around, I was watching many of the episodes in English. But both voice acting are well done.

Subtitles are in English.

NOTE: You can not use your audio button to switch from Japanese to English and vice versa while watching the series. You will need to press your guide button to switch to another audio. Also, you can not optionally remove English subtitles unless you choose the English lossless soundtrack. So, for those who want to watch the series in Japanese with no English subtitles may be disappointed by this.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood – Part Five” comes with the following special features:

  • EPISODE 64 Commentary – Audio commentary by Mike McFarland (ADR Director/Line Producer and voice of Havoc) and Maxi Whitehead (voice of Alfonse) and Vic Mignona (voice of Elric).
  • Outtakes – (7:33) Outtakes by the English dub voice talents from the entire series (Note: there is profanity in the outtakes).
  • Textless Opening and Closing Songs – The textless opening and two ending theme songs.
  • Trailers – FUNimation Entertainment trailers.

The final episodes of “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” is finally here.

And what an explosive final volume it turned out to be!

If there were two words that came to mind after watching “Part Five” it would be the words “Kick Ass”.  Because there is a lot off butt-kicking in this series.  You want to see Mustang go all out, oh..well, wait until you see the battle between Mustang vs. Envy.  And you can learn how his anger has to be tempered but also getting to see that caring side that he has towards Risa.

Another butt-kicking moment was to see Armstrong vs. Sloth but also seeing who else comes to the rescue to battle Sloth.  One of the coolest and also more hilarious moments of the series.

You get to see one of the coolest fighting moments in the series as Scar takes on Bradley.  And of course, it doesn’t end there.  Every character gets into the action and the battles are pretty significant, bloody but also…as mentioned, “Kick Ass”.

But most importantly, unlike the previous series, we do get a conclusion to what happens to Elric and Alfonse.  And for me, this is how Hiromu Arakawa ended it, had wanted it and I would take this ending over the original series anyday.  It was well-done, well-written and from beginning to end, I felt the series was much better executed.

As for the Blu-ray release, PQ and AQ is good and voice acting for both lossless soundtracks are well-done.  This time around, I found myself more comfortable listening to the English dub track and this is coming from a guy who prefers to watch anime in Japanese most of the time.  But both are well-acted and fans should not have a problem with either.  As for the special features, we get an audio commentary with English voice talent Maxi Whitehead (Al) and Vic Mignona (Elric) to discuss their feeling of working on the series and how they felt about the series vs. the original version.  And we also get a gag reel of all the outtakes during the making of the series.  Plus the usual trailers and textless opening and ending themes.

I was able to compare the DVD and the Blu-ray release of “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” and the artistic backgrounds and its details are much better looking on Blu, the colors are more cleaner, sharper and more colorful on Blu and for the most part, for a TV series, I’m quite content with the PQ. I felt the black levels were good and again, for a TV Series released in 2009, the picture quality is good not great (it’s not 1080p) and there is a hint of edge enhancement but it’s still pretty good. And in this part four, you also get two audio commentary as well.

Overall, “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” was fantastic from beginning to end.  But this final part V pretty much validated for me that I preferred this version over the original.  The story and battle sequences were intense but for the most part, I felt that “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” story-wise was very appealing, exciting and addictive.

I know there are some who are very hooked on the original that they didn’t want to try “Brotherhood” but I highly recommend giving this series a try since this series, an adaptation of the manga series that is very faithful to Arakawa’s work, unlike the previous series which creators had to come up with a different storyline because the manga was not completed at the time.

“Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” ends with part 5 and what a thrilling, pulse-pounding finale it came to be!  Action-packed, battles galore, the ending is much better than the previous series!  Highly recommended!

Fullmetal Alchemist 3-in-1: Volumes 1-3 by Hiromu Arakawa (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

July 21, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Are you new to “Fullmetal Alchemist” and want to know how it all began? Look no further as Viz Media is releasing “Fullmetal Alchemist” as part of their 3-in-1 series. Featuring the first three volumes of the manga series, read the action, adventure and drama of Hiromu Arakawa’s popular hit series! Definitely recommended!

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Image courtesy of © 2002 Hiromu Arakawa/SQUARE ENIX. All Rights Reserved.

MANGA TITLE: Fullmetal Alchemist 3-in-1: Volumes 1-3

STORY AND ART BY: Hiromu Arakawa

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: SQUARE ENIX CO., LTD.

PUBLISHED IN USA BY: VIZ Media

RATED: T for Older Teen

PAGES: 576

RELEASE DATE: June 7, 2011

In an alchemical ritual gone wrong, Edward Elric lost his arm and his leg, and his brother Alphonse became nothing but a soul in a suit of armor. Equipped with mechanical “”auto-mail”” limbs, Edward becomes a state alchemist, seeking the one thing that can restore his and his brother’s bodies…the legendary Philosopher’s Stone.

Alchemy: the mystical power to alter the natural world, somewhere between magic art, and science. When two brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric, dabbled in these powers to grant their dearest wish, one of them lost an arm and leg…and the other became nothing but a soul locked into a body of living iron. Now they are agents of the government, slaves of the military -alchemical complex, using their unique powers to obey their orders…even to kill. But their powers aren’t unique. The world crawls with evil alchemists. And in pursuit of the ultimate alchemical treasure, the Philsopher’s Stone, their enemies are even more ruthless than they are…

In Japan, “Fullmetal Alchemist” (Hagane no Renkinjutushi) is a popular long running anime and manga series created by mangaka Hiromu Arakawa.  The original manga series was serialized in Square Enix’s “Shonen Gangan” since 2001, while the 51-episode TV series created by BONES was shown on television in 2004 followed by a manga faithful anime adaptation with “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” airing in 2009-2010.

The popularity of “Fullmetal Alchemist” has led to many novels, OVA’s, drama CD’s, soundtracks and video games and a lot of these releases have been distributed in various countries and its popularity is a testament of how people have come to love the series which has won many awards in Japan including being voted for the #1 most popular anime series of all time.

With the popularity of this franchise and its current Blu-ray and DVD release in the U.S., its no surprise that fans are wanting to read the manga version and what best way than to do it now with the release of Viz Media’s omnibus, “Fullmetal Alchemist 3-in-1″ with the first volume feature manga volumes 1-3.

“Fullmetal Alchemist” is a manga series about two young alchemist brothers named Edward and his younger brother Alphonse Elric (aka “Al”).  Their father left them and several months after their father left, an epidemic hit their village and killed their mother.  Grieving and alone without their mother, the two quickly tried to hone their alchemist skills and hope to bring their mother back alive by using a human transmutation (this is illegal and considered taboo by alchemist).

While performing the transmutation, a dark shadow comes and literally breaks apart the body of Alphonse and as for Edward, he is shown “the truth” but in return for doing the transmutation, there is a toll and in this case, he loses his legs and feet and his right arm.  And the transmutation to bring their mother fails as Edward was only able to revive a disembodied figure.  In a short time allowed before the dark shadow leaves, Edward was able to bond Al’s soul to a suit of armor but there are some consequences.  And these consequences and guilt have plunged Edward to the lowest he had ever been.

With this opportunity, this gives Edward a chance to repair what he did wrong and help his brother.  But as they investigate on how they can get their bodies back and investigating what is known as a “Philosopher’s Stone”, an unknown group is out there, observing his every move and willing to kill in order to get to Edward.

Meanwhile, a military figure named Roy Mustang is assisting the Elric brothers by giving them opportunities to find the Philosopher’s Stone but to do that, the two will be part of the military.  For the Elric brothers, working together is a good idea as they hope the stone may give Edward a chance to bring his brother Al back to life and also get back his own body as well.

In the first volume, a woman named Rose trusts a charlatan (who has a Philospher’s Stone) who promises to bring her dead husband back, but the Elric Brothers knows that there is no such way.   Meanwhile, as the Elric Brothers head back to headquarters, the train is hijacked.

In the second volume, the Elric Brothers come in contact with a mad scientist named Dr. Tucker who is learning transmutation and learn of the crazy and tragic things he has done.  Meanwhile, a mysterious man with a scar has arrived.  Who is this man known as Scar?  And what happens when the military try to apprehend him?

Meanwhile, the Elric Brothers try to look for a scientist known for creating the Philosopher’s Stone.

In the third volume, Edward’s automail is damaged and the only person he knows that can repair it is his childhood friend Winry Rockbell.  So, Edward and Al head back home along with Armstrong to get the repairs done.  Meanwhile, the Homunculus go after Scar and the military work hard in to decrypting the code of how a Philosopher’s Stone is created and leading Edward and Al to confront their true enemy.

“Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” features the following characters:

  • Edward Elric – The oldest of the Elric brothers who manage to survive a transmutation and managed to bond his brother to a suit of armor just in time.   In the process, he lost his legs and his right arm in which his childhood friend Winry has created metal prosthetics known as “automail”.  He is also quite short but also very destructive as he is skillful with alchemy and the fact he survived a transmutation shocks the military.  Working as a State Alchemist in order to find a way to bring his brother’s body back and possibly getting his own body back.
  • Alphonse Elric – Al is the youngest brother of Edward who was bonded to a suit of armor.   Almost invulnerable and very strong.  Often mistaken as the eldest because of his size.
  • Roy Mustang – The Lt. Colonel of the State Military who wants to become the next Fuhrer of Amestris.  He is the one who discovered Edward and Alphonse.
  • Winry Rockbell - A childhood friend of Edward and Alphonse.  She is also very gifted in technical and mechanical things.   Often is the person who repairs Edward’s automail (metal prosthetic limbs).  And always arguing with Edward, but its quite obvious that she cares about him.
  • Alex Louis Armstrong – A strong arm alchemist who is extremely strong and hulking in size but also very sensitive.
  • Riza Hawkeye – Roy Mustang’s most trusted subordinate.  The voice of reason and excellent in using firearms.

The Homunculi

The main antagonists which consist of artificial humans who are trying to create the philosopher’s stone and has become a major thorn in the military’s side.  They are hard to defeat as they can regenerate.

  • Lust – A homunculi who is a sexy woman who can use her fingers to become weapons and grow to larger lengths and cut through anything.
  • Gluttony – A homunculi who likes to eat people or anything.  He has powerful jaws with acidic saliva.
  • Envy – A homunculi who can assume any appearance and makes him infiltrate the military HQ quite easily and is known to create and instigate major problems.

“Fullmetal Alchemist” is no doubt a popular manga series and because so many people were introduced to anime and manga because of “Fullmetal Alchemist”, with the release of “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood”, many fans are wanting to know how the original manga series were.

And fortunately, Viz Media has done a great service to fans of popular series “Naruto”, “Bleach” and “Fullmetal Alchemist” by releasing these omnibus featuring three volumes per graphic novel for a low price!

One thing that those who are new to the series can expect from “Fullmetal Alchemist” is that the storyline delivers in action and drama but also, it features plenty of characters and also adventure, so you pretty much get a little bit of everything with this series.

Hiromu Arakawa’s artwork and writing are quite solid and its a testament that a series that is not long-running compared to “Naruto” or “Bleach” has achieved so much success in the USA but also has been released on Blu-ray, DVD, video games as well in America.  Not bad for a manga series that is 27 volumes long!  In fact, that’s fantastic!

But if you have been wanting to jump in and read the manga series, it’s a great time to do that now, especially through the release of the 3-in-1 series.  For its price and value, there is nothing to complain about.  This is  great deal for new and old “Fullmetal Alchemist” fans who have not read the manga series.

Highly recommended!

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Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood – Part Four (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

April 4, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

“Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” continues the action and excitement for part four but this time around, the action is much more intense! Definitely put this series high on top of your anime on Blu-ray to buy list!

Images courtesy of ©Hiromu Arakawa/FA Project, MBS. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Part Four

DURATION: Episodes 40-52 (300 Minutes)

 

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition 16×9 HD Native, Dolby TrueHD English 5.1 and Dolby TrueHD Japanese 2.0, Subtitles: English

 

RATED: TV 14

 

COMPANY: FUNimation Entertainment

 

RELEASE DATE: April 5, 2011

 

Originally Created by Hiromu Arakawa

Directed by Yasuhiro Irie

Series Composition by Hiroshi Ohnogi

Music by Akira Senju

Character Design by Hiroki Kanno

Art Director: Takeshi Satou

Art Design: Kazushige Kanehira

Anime Production by BONES

 

 

Featuring the voices of:

Rie Kugimiya/Maxey Whitehead as Alphonse Elric

Romi Paku/Vic Mignogna as Edward Elric

Iemasa Kayumi/Kent Williams as Father

Megumi Takamoto/Caitlin Glass as Winry Rockbell

Shinichiro Miki/Travis Willingham as Roy Mustang

Unshou Ishizuka/Aaron Dismuke as Van Hohenheim

Ai Satou/Brittney Karbowski as Mrs. Bradley

Akemi Okamura/Cynthia Cranz as Paninya

Anri Katsu/John Burgmeier as Dolcetto

Atsuki Tani as Berthold Hawkeye

Chika Fujimura/Gwendolyn Lau as Sheska

J. Michael Tatum as Scar

Fumihiko Tachiki as Sloth

Fumiko Orikasa/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Risa (Riza) Hawkeye

Go Shinomiya as Storch

Kikuko Inoue/Laura Bailey as Lust

Wendy Powell as Envy

Edward and Alphonse Elric’s reckless disregard for alchemy’s fundamental laws ripped half of Ed’s limbs from his body and left Al’s soul clinging to a cold suit of armor. To restore what was lost, the brothers scour a war-torn land for the Philosopher’s Stone, a fabled relic which grants the ability to perform alchemy in impossible ways.

The Elrics are not alone in their search; the corrupt State Military is eager to harness the artifact’s power. So too are the strange Homunculi and their shadowy creator. The mythical Stone lures exotic alchemists from distant kingdoms, scarring some deeply enough to inspire murder. As the Elrics find their course altered by these enemies and allies, their purpose remains unchanged – and their bond unbreakable.

 

In Japan, “Fullmetal Alchemist” (Hagane no Renkinjutushi) has been a popular long running anime and manga series created by mangaka Hiromu Arakawa. The original manga series was serialized in Square Enix’s “Shonen Gangan” since 2001, while the 51-episode TV series created by BONES was shown on television in 2004 and was followed by a film to conclude the series.

The popularity of “Fullmetal Alchemist” has led to many novels, OVA’s, drama CD’s, soundtracks and video games and a lot of these releases have been distributed in various countries and its popularity is a testament of how people have come to love the series which has won many awards in Japan including being voted for the #1 most popular anime series of all time.

Despite it’s popularity, the series could have gone on longer but because the anime series was created when the manga was only several years old, the anime series only lasted 51-episodes and there were differences between what the director featured on the anime series and what Arakawa had in the manga.

So, in 2009, a new series titled “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” (Hagane no Renkinjutsushi: Furumetaru Arukemisuto) was created by BONES and this time around, the series would follow the manga much more closely. Currently there are over 60 episodes that have aired in Japan and the series is still ongoing. Also, unlike the previous anime series, this series would be created in HD (540p). The first 13 episodes of “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” would feature its first 13-episodes covering the first 26-episodes from the original anime series but from that point on, the series becomes a whole new storyline which features more characters and for the most part, something new and different for the viewers, especially fans of the original series.

To make sure that there is a difference between this series aside from the storyline differences compared to the original, the staff is different this time around as well as the character designs. The director for “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” would be Yasuhiro Irie (who worked on RahXephon”, “Cowboy Bebop”, “Macross Plus”, “Gunparade March”), series composition by Hiroshi Ohnogi (“Eureka Seven”, “Area 88, “Aquarion”, “RahXephon”, “RIN”, “Skullman”), music by Akira Senju (“Red Garden”, “Mobile Suit Victory Gundam”, “Silent Service”), character designs by Hiroki Kanno (“Angelic Layer”, “Eureka Seven”, “Ninja Scroll”, “RahXephon”) and art design by Takeshi Satou (“Mobile Suit Gundam 00″, “Ghost Slayers Ayashi”, “Please Twins!”).

“Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” is a series about two young alchemist brothers named Edward and his younger brother Alphonse Eric (aka “Al”). Their father left them and several months after their father left, an epidemic hit their village and killed their mother. Grieving and alone without their mother, the two quickly tried to hone their alchemist skills and hope to bring their mother back alive by using a human transmutation (this is illegal and considered taboo by alchemist).

While performing the transmutation, a dark shadow comes and literally breaks apart the body of Alphonse and as for Edward, he is shown “the truth” but in return for doing the transmutation, there is a toll and in this case, he loses his legs and feet and his right arm. And the transmutation to bring their mother fails as Edward was only able to revive a disembodied figure. In a short time allowed before the dark shadow leaves, Edward was able to bond Al’s soul to a suit of armor but there are some consequences. And these consequences and guilt have plunged Edward to the lowest he had ever been.

Meanwhile, a military figure named Roy Mustang has come and is shocked to see that Edward was able to survive a human transmutation and also anchoring his brother’s soul and thus gives Edward a chance to join the military to fight with them but at the same time, gaining access that may give Edward a chance to bring his brother back to life and also his own body as well.

With this opportunity, this gives Edward a chance to repair what he did wrong and help his brother. But as they investigate on how they can get their bodies back and investigating what is known as a “Philosopher’s Stone”, an unknown group is out there, observing his every move and willing to kill in order to get to Edward.

In part two of “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood”, we learn that Bradley is a homunculus and that the homunculus may have infiltrated the State Military.

In part three, Ed and Al continue their search of how to get their bodies back but meanwhile, Scar tries to find out the truth of why the Ishvalans were massacred. Meanwhile, Ed and Al find themselves in the North needing Olivier’s help but can they divulge the information about Bradley, the Fuhrer is a homunculus? Meanwhile, Ed and Al find themselves teaming up with the people they have been against.

Now here we are in part four of “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” and division in the State military have been drawn as information of Bradley being a homunculus is now known and a war between the rebellious members of the State Military led by Mustang take on the homunculus begins.

“Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” features the following characters:

  • Edward Elric – The oldest of the Elric brothers who manage to survive a transmutation and managed to bond his brother to a suit of armor just in time. In the process, he lost his legs and his right arm in which his childhood friend Winry has created metal prosthetics known as “automail”. He is also quite short but also very destructive as he is skillful with alchemy and the fact he survived a transmutation shocks the military. Working as a State Alchemist in order to find a way to bring his brother’s body back and possibly getting his own body back.
  • Alphonse Elric – Al is the youngest brother of Edward who was bonded to a suit of armor. Almost invulnerable and very strong. Often mistaken as the eldest because of his size.
  • Roy Mustang – The Lt. Colonel of the State Military who wants to become the next Fuhrer of Amestris. He is the one who discovered Edward and Alphonse.
  • Winry Rockbell - A childhood friend of Edward and Alphonse. She is also very gifted in technical and mechanical things. Often is the person who repairs Edward’s automail (metal prosthetic limbs). And always arguing with Edward, but its quite obvious that she cares about him.
  • Alex Louis Armstrong – A strong arm alchemist who is extremely strong and hulking in size but also very sensitive.
  • Izumi Curtis - The teacher of Ed and Alphonse Eric who helped them hone their alchemy right after their mother died.
  • Maes Hughes – An old friend of Roy Mustang’s who tries to help him with his goal to become a Fuhrer. He works in military intelligence and has a loving wife and young daughter. A family man, he lets Winry stay with them when she is in town.
  • King Bradley – The head of the State Military and King of Amestris who has a major secret.
  • Riza Hawkeye – Roy Mustang’s most trusted subordinate. The voice of reason and excellent in using firearms.
  • Jean Havoc - One of Roy Mustang’s subordinates who is exceptionally trained in firearms.
  • Lin Yao – A prince of Xing who is trying to find ways of immortality in order to prepare for his goal as Xing’s future emperor. An excellent swordsman.
  • Lan Fan – Lin Yao’s bodyguard and a skilled fighter willing to protect her boss at all costs.
  • May Chang – A young princess of Xing who goes to Amestris with her panda Xiao Mei. She has the power to heal and also manipulate energy.
  • Olivier Mira Armstrong – The older sister of Alex Louis Armstrong who leads the Brigs Fortress and protects the country from Drachma. She is cold, distrusts people and inpatient. She believes in “Survival of the fittest”.
  • Miles - A man who is quarter Ishvalan and wants to change the country’s perception towards Ishval.
  • Buccaneer – A huge man who has two different pieces of automail (the latest type of automail which makes Winry so excited when she is around him).

The Homunculi

The main antagonists which consist of artificial humans who are trying to create the philosopher’s stone and has become a major thorn in the military’s side. They are hard to defeat as they can regenerate.

  • Father – The main antagonist who is the creator of all homunculi. For some reason, he looks like Hohenheim and has interest in Ed and Al.
  • Lust – A homunculi who is a sexy woman who can use her fingers to become weapons and grow to larger lengths and cut through anything.
  • Gluttony – A homunculi who likes to eat people or anything. He has powerful jaws with acidic saliva.
  • Envy – A homunculi who can assume any appearance and makes him infiltrate the military HQ quite easily and is known to create and instigate major problems.
  • Greed – A homunculi that craves money, women and worldy possessions. After being killed by Wrath, Lin Yao who is searching for immortality wants to become the new Greed.
  • Sloth – A large muscular man who has great speed and strength for his size. He has been digging beneath Amestris and ends up inside the Briggs Fortress.
  • Pride – A homunculus using the body of Selim Bradley, the adoptive son of King Bradley, He uses his shadows to kill.

“Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood – Part Four” features episodes 40-52 on two Blu-ray discs. Here is a basic, spoiler-less summary of each episode:

DISC 1:

  • EPISODE 40 – Homunculus (The Dwarf in the Flask) – In this episode, Hohenheim’s past is revealed.
  • EPISODE 41 – The Abyss - Ed vs. the Chimeras, Darius and Heinkel.
  • EPISODE 42 – Signs of a Counteroffensive – Hohenheim vs. Pride.  Also, a new transmutation circle is discovered.
  • EPISODE 43 – Bite of the Ant – Briggs vs. the Drachman forces.  Envy returns.
  • EPISODE 44 – Revving at Full Throttle – Hohenheim reveals his past to Al.  Meanwhile, Greed confronts Bradley.
  • EPISODE 45 – The Promised Day – Greed vs. Bradley.  Ed tries to get Greed to become an ally.
  • EPISODE 46 – Looming Shadows – Roy informs Olivier about Selim’s true identity, meanwhile Ed tries to send Winry back home.
  • EPISODE 47 – Emissary of Darkness – Ed and his group go to see Hohenheim and tell him about the Promised Day.  Meanwhile, something is wrong with Al.
  • EPISODE 48 – The Oath in the Tunnel – Lan Fan and Lin vs. Gluttony, meanwhile Heinkel takes on Pride.

DISC 2:

  • EPISODE 49 – Filial Affection – Hohenheim reminisces on the day he left his family and why he did it.
  • EPISODE 50 – Upheaval in Central – Roy Mustang, Mrs. Bradley and others are cornered by the Central soldiers.
  • EPISODE 51 – The Immortal Legion – Olivier vs. Sloth.
  • EPISODE 52 – Combined Strength – Al uses the Philosopher’s Stone to fight against Kimblee and Pride.

VIDEO:

“Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood – Part Four” is presented in 1080p HD 16×9 via a HD native source. It’s important to note that although the conversion was made to 1080p, I’ve read that the actual Japanese original masters were created in 540p. With that being said, this is a TV series and one can’t expect OVA or film quality but I manage to compare the DVD and Blu-ray version and the Blu-ray looks much more colorful, much more detailed and looked much better and more colorful than its DVD counterpart.

I did notice edge enhancement and I’m sure the conversion of a 540p source to 1080p possibly led to the jaggies that can be seen at times. Granted, I’m a bit picky when it comes to video quality but the fact that this is created by BONES (a busy anime production company) and the fact that this is not an OVA or film, for a TV series, “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” looks very good. Granted, it’s not uber-vibrant but there is a good amount of shading, detail, blacks are deep and overall, I felt the Blu-ray looked much better than its DVD counterpart.

AUDIO:

“Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood – Part Four” is presented in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and in Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0. Overall, the 5.1 lossless soundtrack sounds very good and there is a good amount of surround usage and its much more immersive than its Japanese lossless counterpart. There is quite a bit of action in this second volume, plenty of battles are featured and many episodes that utilize the surround channels.

The Japanese lossless soundtrack is still good, especially if you have a receiver in which you can change the setting to stereo on all channels. I do prefer the Japanese lossless soundtrack in terms of acting especially during the more emotional moments in this second volume (which there are many). But I’ve watched the series in both Japanese and English and for the most part, both are well done and similar to “Dragon Ball Z” and “One Piece”, the English dub has caught my attention and this time around, I was watching many of the episodes in English. But both voice acting are well done.

Subtitles are in English.

NOTE: You can not use your audio button to switch from Japanese to English and vice versa while watching the series. You will need to press your guide button to switch to another audio. Also, you can not optionally remove English subtitles unless you choose the English lossless soundtrack. So, for those who want to watch the series in Japanese with no English subtitles may be disappointed by this.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood – Part Four” comes with the following special features:

  • EPISODE 40 Commentary – Audio commentary by Mike McFarland (ADR Director/Line Producer and voice of Havoc) and voice talents John Swasey (Van Hohenheim) and Aaron Dismuke (young Hohenheim)
  • EPISODE 46 Commentary – Audio commentary by Mike McFarland (ADR Director/Line Producer and voice of Havoc) and Caitlyn Glass (ADR Director/voice of Winry Rockbell).
  • Textless Opening and Closing Songs – The textless opening and ending theme songs.
  • Trailers – FUNimation Entertainment trailers.

With the latest volume of “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” – Part Four, the only words I can think of to describe the episodes in this volumes is probably… “the sh*t has hit the fan!” and I mean literally.

There is no secret in the military that Bradley is a homunculus and you have no doubt in your mind that this is going to be a violent and bloody battle and it will be interesting to see how things progress between Roy Mustang’s group vs. the homunculus and how much it differs from the original “Fullmetal Alchemist”.

For the Elric brothers, while Ed is featured quite a bit, it’s Al who gets quite a bit of the spotlight and the writers definitely show how much this young kid has matured and also how much different he is from his older brother.

Suffice to say, this latest volume is action packed and if there is something you will see quite a bit, it’s impaling scenes, death scenes and episode after episode, the writers deliver.  Also, when it comes to explaining the past of van Hohenheim, everything is quite intriguing and also entertaining.

Overall, I really enjoyed part four of “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” and how well-paced, how action-packed and how much deeper the episodes were. This latest volume was quite addicting and I definitely enjoy how the series has continued to grow and improve with each episode.  This is possibly the most action-packed volume of “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” by far.

As for the Blu-ray release, as explained with my review for the first volume, some people may have issues that this series is not true 1080p but created in 540p and then upscaled to 1080p. As many Japanese companies are going through cost-cutting situations due to their economy, we are going to see some anime released in 4:3 instead of widescreen and we are going to see Japanese companies not taking advantage of true 1080p and focusing on creating anime series in 540p. It’s the nature of the industry right now and if we want to support anime, we’ll need to support them even during these tough times.

But with that being said, I was able to compare the DVD and the Blu-ray release of “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” and the artistic backgrounds and its details are much better looking on Blu, the colors are more cleaner, sharper and more colorful on Blu and for the most part, for a TV series, I’m quite content with the PQ. I felt the black levels were good and again, for a TV Series released in 2009, the picture quality is good not great (it’s not 1080p) and there is a hint of edge enhancement but it’s still pretty good.  And in this part four, you also get two audio commentary as well.

Overall, “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” may not please the die-hards who have loved the original anime TV series but the fact is, we are getting a series that is now closer to the manga series and also more episodes than the original release. Not to say one should forget the original series but in a way, the “Fullmetal Alchemist” brand has moved on to bigger and better and the FMA: Brotherhood series is much more consistent to what the creator, Hiromu Arakawa intended.

“Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” has the making of a great anime series and part four continues the excitement of the previous three volumes. Definitely put this series high on top of your anime on Blu-ray list!

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood – Part Three (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

January 5, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

“Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” part three continues the action and excitement of the previous two volumes.  Also, introducing viewers to Olivier Armstrong and also storylines that revolve around Riza Hawkeye, Scar and a few others.  Definitely put this series high on top of your anime on Blu-ray to buy list!

Images courtesy of ©Hiromu Arakawa/FA Project, MBS. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Part Three

DURATION: Episodes 27-39 (320 Minutes)

 

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition 16×9 HD Native, Dolby TrueHD English 5.1 and Dolby TrueHD Japanese 2.0, Subtitles: English

 

RATED: TV 14

 

COMPANY: FUNimation Entertainment

 

RELEASE DATE: December 28, 2010

 

Originally Created by Hiromu Arakawa

Directed by Yasuhiro Irie

Series Composition by Hiroshi Ohnogi

Music by Akira Senju

Character Design by Hiroki Kanno

Art Director: Takeshi Satou

Art Design: Kazushige Kanehira

Anime Production by BONES

 

 

Featuring the voices of:

Rie Kugimiya/Maxey Whitehead as Alphonse Elric

Romi Paku/Vic Mignogna as Edward Elric

Iemasa Kayumi/Kent Williams as Father

Megumi Takamoto/Caitlin Glass as Winry Rockbell

Shinichiro Miki/Travis Willingham as Roy Mustang

Unshou Ishizuka/Aaron Dismuke as Van Hohenheim

Ai Satou/Brittney Karbowski as Mrs. Bradley

Akemi Okamura/Cynthia Cranz as Paninya

Anri Katsu/John Burgmeier as Dolcetto

Atsuki Tani as Berthold Hawkeye

Chika Fujimura/Gwendolyn Lau as Sheska

J. Michael Tatum as Scar

Fumihiko Tachiki as Sloth

Fumiko Orikasa/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Risa (Riza) Hawkeye

Go Shinomiya as Storch

Kikuko Inoue/Laura Bailey as Lust

Wendy Powell as Envy

In the shadows beneath Central, the Elrics encounter Father, the creator of the Homunculi. His face is familiar, but his alchemy is unlike anything the brothers have ever seen. As Father’s dark plot takes shape, Ed and Al brave the frigid north to meet the top officer of the fortress Briggs: General Olivier Armstrong. With icy nerve and burning intensity, she commands the hardest soldiers in the land, leading the warriors of Briggs in battle against the unstoppable, rampaging Sloth.

 

In Japan, “Fullmetal Alchemist” (Hagane no Renkinjutushi) has been a popular long running anime and manga series created by mangaka Hiromu Arakawa. The original manga series was serialized in Square Enix’s “Shonen Gangan” since 2001, while the 51-episode TV series created by BONES was shown on television in 2004 and was followed by a film to conclude the series.

The popularity of “Fullmetal Alchemist” has led to many novels, OVA’s, drama CD’s, soundtracks and video games and a lot of these releases have been distributed in various countries and its popularity is a testament of how people have come to love the series which has won many awards in Japan including being voted for the #1 most popular anime series of all time.

Despite it’s popularity, the series could have gone on longer but because the anime series was created when the manga was only several years old, the anime series only lasted 51-episodes and there were differences between what the director featured on the anime series and what Arakawa had in the manga.

So, in 2009, a new series titled “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” (Hagane no Renkinjutsushi: Furumetaru Arukemisuto) was created by BONES and this time around, the series would follow the manga much more closely. Currently there are over 60 episodes that have aired in Japan and the series is still ongoing. Also, unlike the previous anime series, this series would be created in HD (540p). The first 13 episodes of “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” would feature its first 13-episodes covering the first 26-episodes from the original anime series but from that point on, the series becomes a whole new storyline which features more characters and for the most part, something new and different for the viewers, especially fans of the original series.

To make sure that there is a difference between this series aside from the storyline differences compared to the original, the staff is different this time around as well as the character designs. The director for “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” would be Yasuhiro Irie (who worked on RahXephon”, “Cowboy Bebop”, “Macross Plus”, “Gunparade March”), series composition by Hiroshi Ohnogi (“Eureka Seven”, “Area 88, “Aquarion”, “RahXephon”, “RIN”, “Skullman”), music by Akira Senju (“Red Garden”, “Mobile Suit Victory Gundam”, “Silent Service”), character designs by Hiroki Kanno (“Angelic Layer”, “Eureka Seven”, “Ninja Scroll”, “RahXephon”) and art design by Takeshi Satou (“Mobile Suit Gundam 00″, “Ghost Slayers Ayashi”, “Please Twins!”).

“Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” is a series about two young alchemist brothers named Edward and his younger brother Alphonse Eric (aka “Al”). Their father left them and several months after their father left, an epidemic hit their village and killed their mother. Grieving and alone without their mother, the two quickly tried to hone their alchemist skills and hope to bring their mother back alive by using a human transmutation (this is illegal and considered taboo by alchemist).

While performing the transmutation, a dark shadow comes and literally breaks apart the body of Alphonse and as for Edward, he is shown “the truth” but in return for doing the transmutation, there is a toll and in this case, he loses his legs and feet and his right arm. And the transmutation to bring their mother fails as Edward was only able to revive a disembodied figure. In a short time allowed before the dark shadow leaves, Edward was able to bond Al’s soul to a suit of armor but there are some consequences. And these consequences and guilt have plunged Edward to the lowest he had ever been.

Meanwhile, a military figure named Roy Mustang has come and is shocked to see that Edward was able to survive a human transmutation and also anchoring his brother’s soul and thus gives Edward a chance to join the military to fight with them but at the same time, gaining access that may give Edward a chance to bring his brother back to life and also his own body as well.

With this opportunity, this gives Edward a chance to repair what he did wrong and help his brother. But as they investigate on how they can get their bodies back and investigating what is known as a “Philosopher’s Stone”, an unknown group is out there, observing his every move and willing to kill in order to get to Edward.

In part two of “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood”, we learn that Bradley is a homunculus and that the homunculus may have infiltrated the State Military.

In part three, Ed and Al continue their search of how to get their bodies back but meanwhile, Scar tries to find out the truth of why the Ishvalans were massacred.  Meanwhile, Ed and Al find themselves in the North needing Olivier’s help but can they divulge the information about Bradley, the Fuhrer is a homunculus?  Meanwhile, Ed and Al find themselves teaming up with the people they have been against.

“Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” features the following characters:

  • Edward Elric – The oldest of the Elric brothers who manage to survive a transmutation and managed to bond his brother to a suit of armor just in time. In the process, he lost his legs and his right arm in which his childhood friend Winry has created metal prosthetics known as “automail”. He is also quite short but also very destructive as he is skillful with alchemy and the fact he survived a transmutation shocks the military. Working as a State Alchemist in order to find a way to bring his brother’s body back and possibly getting his own body back.
  • Alphonse Elric – Al is the youngest brother of Edward who was bonded to a suit of armor. Almost invulnerable and very strong. Often mistaken as the eldest because of his size.
  • Roy Mustang – The Lt. Colonel of the State Military who wants to become the next Fuhrer of Amestris. He is the one who discovered Edward and Alphonse.
  • Winry Rockbell - A childhood friend of Edward and Alphonse. She is also very gifted in technical and mechanical things. Often is the person who repairs Edward’s automail (metal prosthetic limbs). And always arguing with Edward, but its quite obvious that she cares about him.
  • Alex Louis Armstrong – A strong arm alchemist who is extremely strong and hulking in size but also very sensitive.
  • Izumi Curtis - The teacher of Ed and Alphonse Eric who helped them hone their alchemy right after their mother died.
  • Maes Hughes – An old friend of Roy Mustang’s who tries to help him with his goal to become a Fuhrer. He works in military intelligence and has a loving wife and young daughter. A family man, he lets Winry stay with them when she is in town.
  • King Bradley – The head of the State Military and King of Amestris who has a major secret.
  • Riza Hawkeye – Roy Mustang’s most trusted subordinate. The voice of reason and excellent in using firearms.
  • Jean Havoc - One of Roy Mustang’s subordinates who is exceptionally trained in firearms.
  • Lin Yao – A prince of Xing who is trying to find ways of immortality in order to prepare for his goal as Xing’s future emperor. An excellent swordsman.
  • Lan Fan – Lin Yao’s bodyguard and a skilled fighter willing to protect her boss at all costs.
  • May Chang – A young princess of Xing who goes to Amestris with her panda Xiao Mei. She has the power to heal and also manipulate energy.
  • Olivier Mira Armstrong – The older sister of Alex Louis Armstrong who leads the Brigs Fortress and protects the country from Drachma.  She is cold, distrusts people and inpatient.  She believes in “Survival of the fittest”.
  • Miles - A man who is quarter Ishvalan and wants to change the country’s perception towards Ishval.
  • Buccaneer – A  huge man who has two different pieces of automail (the latest type of automail which makes Winry so excited when she is around him).

The Homunculi

The main antagonists which consist of artificial humans who are trying to create the philosopher’s stone and has become a major thorn in the military’s side. They are hard to defeat as they can regenerate.

  • Father – The main antagonist who is the creator of all homunculi.  For some reason, he looks like Hohenheim and has interest in Ed and Al.
  • Lust – A homunculi who is a sexy woman who can use her fingers to become weapons and grow to larger lengths and cut through anything.
  • Gluttony – A homunculi who likes to eat people or anything. He has powerful jaws with acidic saliva.
  • Envy – A homunculi who can assume any appearance and makes him infiltrate the military HQ quite easily and is known to create and instigate major problems.
  • Greed – A homunculi that craves money, women and worldy possessions.  After being killed by Wrath, Lin Yao who is searching for immortality wants to become the new Greed.
  • Sloth – A large muscular man who has great speed and strength for his size.  He has been digging beneath Amestris and ends up inside the Briggs Fortress.
  • Pride – A homunculus using the body of Selim Bradley, the adoptive son of King Bradley, He uses his shadows to kill.

“Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood – Part Three” features episodes 27-39 on two Blu-ray discs. Here is a basic, spoiler-less summary of each episode:

DISC 1:

  • EPISODE 27 – Interlude Party – An episode summarizing what took place in episodes 14-26.
  • EPISODE 28 – Father - Hohenheim faces a demon identical to him.  Lin is turned into Greed.
  • EPISODE 29 – Struggle of the Fool – Father creates a new Gluttony.  Bradley threatens Ed that he will kill Winry if he quits the military.
  • EPISODE 30 – The Ishvalan War of Extermination – Marcoh tells Scar the reason why the Ishbalans were killed.
  • EPISODE 31 – The 520 Cens Promise – Scar, Marcoh and the others leave town, meanwhile Roy tries to get some help.
  • EPISODE 32 – The Fuhrer’s Son – Ed and Al meets the Fuhrer’s adopted son Selim where they meed Bradley’s wife.
  • EPISODE 33 – The Northern Wall of Briggs – Ed and Al make their way to Briggs in hopes they can find May.
  • EPISODE 34 – Ice Queen – Ed and Al meet Olivier, the Ice Queen of Briggs.
  • EPISODE 35 – The Shape of This Country – Olivier and her crew try to stop Sloth anyway they can.

DISC 2:

  • EPISODE 36 – Family Portrait – Hohenheim reminisces on the day he left his family and why he did it.
  • EPISODE 37 – The First Hominculus – Riza finds out that Bradley’s son Selim is the first homunculus known as Pride.
  • EPISODE 38 – Conflict at Baschool – Scar vs. two chimeras named Jerso and Zampano.  Scar takes Winry as a hostage.
  • EPISODE 39 – Daydream – We learn the reason of why Scar took Winry as a hostage.

VIDEO:

“Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood – Part Three” is presented in 1080p HD 16×9 via a HD native source. It’s important to note that although the conversion was made to 1080p, I’ve read that the actual Japanese original masters were created in 540p. With that being said, this is a TV series and one can’t expect OVA or film quality but I manage to compare the DVD and Blu-ray version and the Blu-ray looks much more colorful, much more detailed and looked much better and more colorful than its DVD counterpart.

I did notice edge enhancement and I’m sure the conversion of a 540p source to 1080p possibly led to the jaggies that can be seen at times. Granted, I’m a bit picky when it comes to video quality but the fact that this is created by BONES (a busy anime production company) and the fact that this is not an OVA or film, for a TV series, “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” looks very good. Granted, it’s not uber-vibrant but there is a good amount of shading, detail, blacks are deep and overall, I felt the Blu-ray looked much better than its DVD counterpart.

AUDIO:

“Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood – Part Three” is presented in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and in Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0. Overall, the 5.1 lossless soundtrack sounds very good and there is a good amount of surround usage and its much more immersive than its Japanese lossless counterpart. There is quite a bit of action in this second volume, plenty of battles are featured and many episodes that utilize the surround channels.

The Japanese lossless soundtrack is still good, especially if you have a receiver in which you can change the setting to stereo on all channels. I do prefer the Japanese lossless soundtrack in terms of acting especially during the more emotional moments in this second volume (which there are many). But I’ve watched the series in both Japanese and English and for the most part, both are well done and similar to “Dragon Ball Z” and “One Piece”, the English dub has caught my attention and this time around, I was watching many of the episodes in English. But both voice acting are well done.

Subtitles are in English.

NOTE: You can not use your audio button to switch from Japanese to English and vice versa while watching the series. You will need to press your guide button to switch to another audio. Also, you can not optionally remove English subtitles unless you choose the English lossless soundtrack. So, for those who want to watch the series in Japanese with no English subtitles may be disappointed by this.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood – Part Three” comes with the following special features:

  • EPISODE 28 Commentary – Audio commentary by Mike McFarland (ADR Director/Line Producer and voice of Havoc) and voice talents Wendy Powell (Envy) and Kent Williams (Narrator/Father).
  • EPISODE 36 Commentary – Audio commentary by Mike McFarland (ADR Director/Line Producer and voice of Havoc) and voice talents J. Michael Tatum (Scar), Stephanie Young (Olivier) and Phil Parsons (Buccaneer).
  • Textless Opening and Closing Songs – The textless opening and ending theme songs.
  • Trailers – FUNimation Entertainment trailers.

The last volume of “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood”, it was an emotional but action-packed volume that will literally win you over to the series and may even make you forget how the previous “Fullmetal Alchemist” series was.  The third volume features episodes 27-39 and showcases more battles between the Elric brothers and the homunculus but most of all, seeing them team up with Scar.

And as the suspense continues with Roy Mustang trying to uncover more details of the homunculus infiltration into the military, one character that we are introduced to, that was an interesting addition to the series is Olivier Mira Armstrong, older sister of Alex Louis Armstrong and if you thought Alex was tough,  his sister Olivier is not just tough, she’s a no-nonsense, impatient, cold, kick-ass character!

The Briggs storyline was actually fun to watch, despite Ed and Al being limited as Olivier and the others don’t quite trust them (as the two have to hold back information from Olivier). Another storyline which I found very cool in this latest volume of “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” is more character development for Riza Hawkeye, her past and if anything, giving viewers a more intimate side of the alchemist.

Overall, I really enjoyed part three of “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” and how well-paced, how action-packed and how much deeper the episodes were. This latest volume was quite addicting and I definitely enjoy how the series has continued to grow and improve with each episode.

As for the Blu-ray release, as explained with my review for the first volume, some people may have issues that this series is not true 1080p but created in 540p and then upscaled to 1080p. As many Japanese companies are going through cost-cutting situations due to their economy, we are going to see some anime released in 4:3 instead of widescreen and we are going to see Japanese companies not taking advantage of true 1080p and focusing on creating anime series in 540p. It’s the nature of the industry right now and if we want to support anime, we’ll need to support them even during these tough times.

But with that being said, I was able to compare the DVD and the Blu-ray release of “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” and the artistic backgrounds and its details are much better looking on Blu, the colors are more cleaner, sharper and more colorful on Blu and for the most part, for a TV series, I’m quite content with the PQ. I felt the black levels were good and again, for a TV Series released in 2009, the picture quality is good not great (it’s not 1080p) and there is a hint of edge enhancement but it’s still pretty good.

Overall, “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” may not please the diehards who have loved the original anime TV series but the fact is, we are getting a series that is now closer to the manga series and also more episodes than the original release. Not to say one should forget the original series but in a way, the “Fullmetal Alchemist” brand has moved on to bigger and better and the FMA: Brotherhood series is much more consistent to what the creator, Hiromu Arakawa intended.

“Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” has the making of a great anime series and part three continues the excitement of the previous two volumes.   Definitely put this series high on top of your anime on Blu-ray list!

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood – Part One (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

May 24, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

“Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” has the making of a great anime series!  It will make you laugh, cry and by the end of the first volume, you are left with wanting more!  If you are looking for an anime TV series on Blu-ray that has a great balance of cool characters, an addictive storyline and for the most part, looks good and sounds wonderful in HD.  Definitely put this series high on top of your anime on Blu-ray list!

Images courtesy of ©Hiromu Arakawa/FA Project, MBS. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Part One

DURATION: Episodes 1-13 (325 Minutes)

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition 16×9 HD Native, Dolby TrueHD English 5.1 and Dolby TrueHD Japanese 2.0, Subtitles: English

RATED: TV 14

COMPANY: FUNimation Entertainment

RELEASE DATE: November 17, 2009

Originally Created by Hiromu Arakawa

Directed by Yasuhiro Irie

Series Composition by Hiroshi Ohnogi

Music by Akira Senju

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

Character Deisgn by Hiroki Kanno

Art Director: Takeshi Satou

Art Design: Kazushige Kanehira

Anime Production by BONES

Featuring the voices of:

Rie Kugimiya/Maxey Whitehead as Alphonse Elric

Romi Paku/Vic Mignogna as Edward Elric

Iemasa Kayumi/Kent Williams as Father

Megumi Takamoto/Caitlin Glass as Winry Rockbell

Shinichiro Miki/Travis Willingham as Roy Mustang

Unshou Ishizuka/Aaron Dismuke as Van Hohenheim

Ai Satou/Brittney Karbowski as Mrs. Bradley

Akemi Okamura/Cynthia Cranz as Paninya

Anri Katsu/John Burgmeier as Dolcetto

Atsuki Tani as Berthold Hawkeye

Chika Fujimura/Gwendolyn Lau as Sheska

J. Michael Tatum as Scar

Fumihiko Tachiki as Sloth

Fumiko Orikasa/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Risa (Riza) Hawkeye

Go Shinomiya as Storch

Kikuko Inoue/Laura Bailey as Lust

Wendy Powell as Envy

Edward and Alphonse Elric’s reckless disregard for alchemy’s fundamental laws ripped half of Ed’s limbs from his body and left Al’s soul clinging to a cold suit of armor. To restore what was lost, the brothers scour a war-torn land for the Philosopher’s Stone, a fabled relic which grants the ability to perform alchemy in impossible ways.

The Elrics are not alone in their search; the corrupt State Military is also eager to harness the artifact’s power. So too are the strange Homunculi and their shadowy creator. The mythical gem lures exotic alchemists from distant kingdoms, scarring some deeply enough to inspire murder. As the Elrics find their course altered by these enemies and allies, their purpose remains unchanged – and their bond unbreakable.

In Japan, “Fullmetal Alchemist” (Hagane no Renkinjutushi) has been a popular long running anime and manga series created by mangaka Hiromu Arakawa.  The original manga series was serialized in Square Enix’s “Shonen Gangan” since 2001, while the 51-episode TV series created by BONES was shown on television in 2004 and was followed by a film to conclude the series.

The popularity of “Fullmetal Alchemist” has led to many novels, OVA’s, drama CD’s, soundtracks and video games and a lot of these releases have been distributed in various countries and its popularity is a testament of how people have come to love the series which has won many awards in Japan including being voted for the #1 most popular anime series of all time.

Despite it’s popularity, the series could have gone on longer but because the anime series was created when the manga was only several years old, the anime series only lasted 51-episodes and there were differences between what the director featured on the anime series and what Arakawa had in the manga.

So, in 2009, a new series titled “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” (Hagane no Renkinjutsushi: Furumetaru Arukemisuto) was created by BONES and this time around, the series would follow the manga much more closely.  Currently there are over 60 episodes that have aired in Japan and the series is still ongoing.  Also, unlike the previous anime series, this series would be created in HD (540p).  The first 13 episodes of “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” would feature its first 13-episodes covering the first 26-episodes from the original anime series but from that point on, the series becomes a whole new storyline which features more characters and for the most part, something new and different for the viewers, especially fans of the original series.

To make sure that there is a difference between this series aside from the storyline differences compared to the original, the staff is different this time around as well as the character designs.  The director for “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” would be Yasuhiro Irie (who worked on RahXephon”, “Cowboy Bebop”, “Macross Plus”, “Gunparade March”), series composition by Hiroshi Ohnogi (“Eureka Seven”, “Area 88, “Aquarion”, “RahXephon”, “RIN”, “Skullman”), music by Akira Senju (“Red Garden”, “Mobile Suit Victory Gundam”, “Silent Service”), character designs by Hiroki Kanno (“Angelic Layer”, “Eureka Seven”, “Ninja Scroll”, “RahXephon”) and art design by Takeshi Satou (“Mobile Suit Gundam 00″, “Ghost Slayers Ayashi”, “Please Twins!”).

“Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” is a series about two young alchemist brothers named Edward and his younger brother Alphonse Eric (aka “Al”).  Their father left them and several months after their father left, an epidemic hit their village and killed their mother.  Grieving and alone without their mother, the two quickly tried to hone their alchemist skills and hope to bring their mother back alive by using a human transmutation (this is illegal and considered taboo by alchemist).

While performing the transmutation, a dark shadow comes and literally breaks apart the body of Alphonse and as for Edward, he is shown “the truth” but in return for doing the transmutation, there is a toll and in this case, he loses his legs and feet and his right arm.  And the transmutation to bring their mother fails as Edward was only able to revive a disembodied figure.  In a short time allowed before the dark shadow leaves, Edward was able to bond Al’s soul to a suit of armor but there are some consequences.  And these consequences and guilt have plunged Edward to the lowest he had ever been.

Meanwhile, a military figure named Roy Mustang has come and is shocked to see that Edward was able to survive a human transmutation and also anchoring his brother’s soul and thus gives Edward a chance to join the military to fight with them but at the same time, gaining access that may give Edward a chance to bring his brother back to life and also his own body as well.

With this opportunity, this gives Edward a chance to repair what he did wrong and help his brother.  But as they investigate on how they can get their bodies back and investigating what is known as a “Philosopher’s Stone”, an unknown group is out there, observing his every move and willing to kill in order to get to Edward.

“Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” features the following characters:

  • Edward Elric – The oldest of the Elric brothers who manage to survive a transmutation and managed to bond his brother to a suit of armor just in time.   In the process, he lost his legs and his right arm in which his childhood friend Winry has created metal prosthetics known as “automail”.  He is also quite short but also very destructive as he is skillful with alchemy and the fact he survived a transmutation shocks the military.  Working as a State Alchemist in order to find a way to bring his brother’s body back and possibly getting his own body back.
  • Alphonse Elric – Al is the youngest brother of Edward who was bonded to a suit of armor.   Almost invulnerable and very strong.  Often mistaken as the eldest because of his size.
  • Roy Mustang – The Lt. Colonel of the State Military who wants to become the next Fuhrer of Amestris.  He is the one who discovered Edward and Alphonse.
  • Winry Rockbell - A childhood friend of Edward and Alphonse.  She is also very gifted in technical and mechanical things.   Often is the person who repairs Edward’s automail (metal prosthetic limbs).  And always arguing with Edward, but its quite obvious that she cares about him.
  • Alex Louis Armstrong – A strong arm alchemist who is extremely strong and hulking in size but also very sensitive.
  • Izumi Curtis - The teacher of Ed and Alphonse Eric who helped them hone their alchemy right after their mother died.
  • Maes Hughes – An old friend of Roy Mustang’s who tries to help him with his goal to become a Fuhrer.  He works in military intelligence and has a loving wife and young daughter.  A family man, he lets Winry stay with them when she is in town.

“Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood – Part One” features a total of 13-episodes on two Blu-ray discs.  Here is a basic summary of each episode:

DISC 1:

  • EPISODE 1 – Fullmetal Alchemist – Edward and Al are sent to capture rogue State Alchemist Isaac McDougal.
  • EPISODE 2 – The First Day - We learn how Edward lost his limbs and how Al was bonded to a suit of armor.
  • EPISODE 3 – City of Heresy – Ed and Al arrive at Liore and learn about Father Cornello’s “miracles”. Does he really know alchemy?
  • EPISODE 4 – An Alchemist’s Anguish – Who is the mysterious man who has murdered State Alchemists?
  • EPISODE 5 – Rain of Sorrows – After the battle against the mysterious man, now Edward and Al must take on Scar.
  • EPISODE 6 – Road of Hope – The Elric brothers and Armstrong go to Resembool to find a former State Alchemist.
  • EPISODE 7 – Hidden Truths – Ed and Al arrive back in Central and find out that the library they need to visit has been burned down by someone.
  • EPISODE 8 – The Fifth Laboratory – Al vs. Barry the Chopper while Ed takes on Slicer.
  • EPISODE 9 – Created Feelings – The aftermath of the battle and Al starts to have conflicted feelings.

DISC 2:

  • EPISODE 10 – Separate Destinations – Both Edward and Al go to visit their old alchemist teacher Izumi Curtis.  Meanwhile, tragedy hits the State Alchemists.
  • EPISODE 11 – Miracle at Rush Valley – The Elric brothers and Winry visit Rush Valley (where the best automail creators live).
  • EPISODE 12 – One is All, All is One – Ed and Al learn the truth about their teacher.
  • EPISODE 13 – Beasts of Dublith – Al is captured by homunculus.  Edward searches for his brother.

VIDEO:

“Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” is presented in 1080p HD 16×9 via a HD native source.  It’s important to note that although the conversion was made to 1080p, I’ve read that the actual Japanese original masters were created in 540p.  With that being said, this is a TV series and one can’t expect OVA or film quality but I manage to compare the DVD and Blu-ray verson and the Blu-ray looks much more colorful, much more detailed and looked much better and more colorful than its DVD counterpart.

I did notice edge enhancement and I’m sure the conversion of a 540p source to 1080p possibly led to the jaggies that can be seen at times.  Granted, I’m a bit picky when it comes to video quality but the fact that this is created by BONES (a busy anime production company) and the fact that this is not an OVA or film, for a TV series, “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” looks very good. Granted, it’s not uber-vibrant but there is a good amount of shading, detail, blacks are deep and overall, I felt the Blu-ray looked much better than its DVD counterpart.

AUDIO:

“Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood – Part One” is presented in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and in Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0.  Overall, the 5.1 lossless soundtrack sounds very good and there is a good  amount of surround usage and its much more immersive than its Japanese lossless counterpart.

The Japanese lossless soundtrack is still good, especially if you have a receiver in which you can change the setting to stereo on all channels.  I do prefer the Japanese lossless soundtrack in terms of acting.  For example, the scene where Edward is screaming in pain after performing the transmutation is incredibly acted by Romi Paku, Vic Mignona did a good job but I felt Romi was much more emotional and you can hear that pain in his voice.  But the English lossless of course, has a much better sound overall.  So, it all comes down to preference.

Subtitles are in English.

NOTE: You can not use your audio button to switch from Japanese to English and vice versa while watching the series.  You will need to press your guide button to switch to another audio.  Also, you can not optionally remove English subtitles unless you choose the English lossless soundtrack.  So, for those who want to watch the series in Japanese with no English subtitles may be disappointed by this.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood – Part One” comes with the following special features:

  • EPISODE 1 Commentary – Audio commentary by Mike McFarland (ADR Director/Line Director and voice of Gene) and voice talents Colleen Clinkenbeard (Riza Hawkeye and Rose Thomas), Travis Willingham (Roy Mustang) and Maxey Whitehead (who plays Al).  The talent talk about the differences of playing the character in the original series and playing the characters now.
  • EPISODE 10 Commentary – Audio commentary by American voice talent Caitlyn Glass (ADR Director and voice of Winree Rockbell), Sonny Strait (voice of Hughes) and Laura Bailey (voice of Lust).  The talent talk about the differences of their characters compared to the original “Fullmetal Alchemist” series.
  • Textless Opening and Closing Songs – The textless opening and ending theme songs.
  • Trailers – FUNimation Entertainment trailers.

EXTRAS:

“Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” comes with a cardboard slipcase and four postcards (note three of the four postcards are seen via the images on this review).

“Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” made me laugh, made my cry but for the most part, made realize how much I love this series and how happy I am that we are getting the version based on the manga series.

Not to say that I don’t miss the original anime series but “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” is what should have been to begin with but overall, I enjoyed this Blu-ray release.

The first 13-episodes pretty much covers the first 26-episodes of the original series, so certain parts of the storyline that were much more fleshed out in the series will definitely upset the hardcore fans of the original series but I felt that the point is to get over the primary 13-episodes and then afterward, go full force in a different direction from the original anime series.

As that is one major difference between the two series, “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” also features a different look for some of the characters and more characters are introduced.  The series is much darker, bloodier but it eventually works itself out.  The storyline of Hughes is not as fleshed out as in the original but still, the impact of what happens to him is still there.

The brotherly bond between Edward and Al is still there and it was great to see Winry so direct in how she gets her emotions across was quite nice.  But of course, these are the first 13-episodes and there are over 60-episodes in Japan (and the series is still ongoing).  But I have no doubt that this will be one of the more exciting ongoing long series to be available on Blu-ray that I have no doubt in my mind is going to be action-packed, hilarious, fun, sad and even more than what we got with the original series.

The only thing that I know where people will have their differences in opinion is the actual picture quality of the series.  As many Japanese companies are going through cost-cutting situations due to their economy, we are going to see some anime released in 4:3 instead of widescreen and we are going to see Japanese companies not taking advantage of 1080p and focusing on 540p.  This is going to be a major contention with videophiles wanting the best for anime in the US (and have been disgruntled by the amount of upscale releases).

Personally, I’m not as critical because this is a TV series (you can’t expect OVA or film quality) and just because it’s from BONES, like any major anime studio, sometimes the staff are working on multiple series and for those familiar with Japanese anime studios, sometimes these series are turned in to the network up-to-the-last minute of being aired on television.

But with that being said, I was able to compare the DVD and the Blu-ray release of “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” and the artistic backgrounds and its details are much better looking on Blu, the colors are more cleaner, sharper and more colorful on Blu and for the most part, for a TV series, I’m quite content with the PQ.  I felt the black levels were good and again, for a TV Series released in 2009, the picture quality is good not great (it’s not 1080p) and there is a hint of edge enhancement but it’s still pretty good.

Overall, “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” may not please the diehards who have loved the original anime TV series but the fact is, we are getting a series that is now closer to the manga series and also more episodes than the original release.  Not to say one should forget the original series but in a way, the “Fullmetal Alchemist” brand has moved on to bigger and better and the FMA: Brotherhood series is much more consistent to what the creator, Hiromu Arakawa intended.

“Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” has the making of a great anime series!  It will make you laugh, cry and by the end of the first volume, you are left with wanting more!  If you are looking for an anime TV series on Blu-ray that has a great balance of cool characters, an addictive storyline and for the most part, looks good and sounds wonderful in HD.  Definitely put this series high on top of your anime on Blu-ray list!

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