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Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Part 3 Anime Blu-ray Review

As Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood moves through the middle period of the series, it's covering some very interesting ground. Ground that does slow the show down a bit but is important for establishing more of what the larger picture is. The show opens with a look at the first encounter that Ed and Al along with Ling have with Father hidden deep under Central Command. Father is an interesting character at this point because he's gathering his sacrifices, his pawns, who are only just becoming aware of what their role is in things or that they even have a role. So much of what has come up until now has been reaction rather than being proactive as the brothers seek out a way to return to their bodies but ended up caught up in something far more. The encounter with Father has one very fascinating event that dramatically changed one of them though. While Ed and Al can't be dealt with all that harshly because of their position as sacrifices, Ling has no such luck and Father has Envy all set to brutally shred him. But there's always been that something about Ling that lets him get away with things and seeing him convince Father that he wants something more, enough to have Father imbue him with some of the material that makes homunculus, is positively creepy. That he becomes the new Greed, with Lings personality being consumed by it, makes watching the body of Ling move about even creepier. He has this air of confidence combined with the smoldering brutality just below the surface that's positively disturbing.  Read More

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Part 2 UK Anime DVD Review

I will confess that I didn't see much of the original Full Metal Alchemist anime, and whilst I have read a fair bit of the manga, I've not yet completed it so whilst the first collection of Brotherhood definitely was good, I was wondering if the death of one of my favourite characters would hamper the show, or cause it to go into greater things. You'll be happy to know it's the latter. It starts off wrapping off the end of the last arc in glorious style - it's confirmed that King Bradley, the head of the military, is in fact a homunculus (Wrath) and along with a squad, goes into the Devil's Nest to 'help' Ed and Al, but in fact goes down there to capture Greed, and mercilessly kills his underlings, including one hiding in Al's armour. It's bloody, animated brilliantly and sent chills up my spine. It's wrapped up nice enough with Greed being returned and destroyed by the mysterious Father, but immediately goes into a brand new arc, one that I was looking forward getting this far in the manga - the introduction of the character Lin, the twelth prince of a country named Xing, who is searching for immortality. He's quite a character, seemingly very jovial, sneaky and trying to take the easy way out, especially with him taking advantage of the Elric brothers every chance he can get, but once his eyes open, you know you'd better start running. It also culminates with Scar returning, and now joined by a little girl named Mei, also from Xing, who is a surprisingly talented martial artist and alchemist herself. One thing this selection has done brilliantly is somehow get both this new characters together, and use some of the secondary characters and incorporate them into the story, making you feel for every single person in the show. The character Maria Ross, a seemingly normal member of the military, is accused thanks to meddling from the shape shifting Envy, of killing Hughes. It even brings in the return of Barry The Chopper (and surprisingly comic despite his nature when he has a weird fascination with Riza Hawkeye) back into the fray, and somehow it all works with his interactions with Mustang, the Elrics being tricked and the revelation of Mustang's plan as he realizes she's innocent. The comic timing and revelations however are also supplemented with the huge sadness when the Elrics and Winry realize that Hughes is dead - that scene when Winry goes to the Hughes' not knowing and Alicia hoping it's her dad knocking on the door - it's being added to my top 10 tearjerkers' Read More

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Part 2 Anime DVD Review

The original Full Metal Alchemist series was one that was a bit hit-or-miss for me. I loved the first season but found the second season to drag; it never seemed cohesive to me, almost like the writers did not know what they wanted to do with it. Makes sense since the manga was not complete when it came time to make season two, and the manga writer Hiromu Arakawa did not want the anime to spoil what was still to come in the manga, so a new direction was written on the fly. So now with FMA: Brotherhood, they are attempting to redo the series, correcting the later mistakes of the first. The first thirteen episodes of Brotherhood covered the same material as the first twenty-six episodes with a few minor alterations, but this set now starts delving into the new material. And so far, the redo is well worth the effort. The last set left off with military intelligence officer Maes Hughes stumbling onto the truth behind the homunculi and the top brass of the military and being killed by Envy. At the same time, Edward and Alphonse are continuing their search for a legendary Philosopher’s Stone while doing their own investigation into the mystery of the homunculi. After finding out that they are important to the homunculi’s plan, this investigation leads them to plan a trap to draw out the homunculi by egging on the serial murderer, Scar, knowing that the homunculi would never allow Scar to kill either Edward or Alphonse. With this plan, they are able to capture Gluttony, but in the process, they learn that Fuhrer King Bradley, the supreme commander of the State Military, is also a homunculus, making their position even more dire. When Gluttony escapes and goes on a rampage, he swallows Ed, Lin Yao, and Envy, setting off a chain of events that leads Ed and Al to head to confront this secretive "Father" of the homunculi. When Lieutenant Maria Ross is framed for Hughes’s murder and sentenced to death, an already suspicious Roy Mustang decides officially enter the conflict, allowing Ross to escape from military pursuit while faking her death. Knowing this will draw out the ire of King Bradley, Mustang approaches a general whom he believes he can trust with his suspicions about Bradley, only to find out that the entire high command are openly under Bradley’s control. Bradley opts not to strike immediately back at Mustang, preferring instead to transfer all of Mustang’s subordinate’s away from Central and effectively isolating Mustang, also making his position all the more precarious. Starting with this set, FMA: Brotherhood really diverges from the storyline of original anime series, and so far, I am really liking the changes. For starters, this series is doing a much better job with building the sense of danger that surrounds Ed, Al, Mustang, and their mission. In the original series, there was never really a sense that things were ever truly out of their control. But by the end of this set, not quite halfway through the entire series, we are already at a point-of-no-return for our protagonists. Their situations do not seem like they could be any worse. Aside from the increased sense of danger, I am also liking the changes they have made with some of the characters. There were quite a few aspects of characters’ stories and backgrounds that I did not particularly like in the first series that are no longer true. Staying intentionally vague, certain dynamics just no longer exist, and it seems to all work that much better. We have somewhat new stories for Scar, Mustang, Hoenheim, and even Ed and Al. Character histories just make a lot more sense to me this time around. Granted, there is still plenty of time for all of this to change, but for now it is going well for me.

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Part 2 Blu-ray Review

Watching Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood in its second collection is definitely proving to be an interesting challenge now that watching the simulcast is done and over with. With this phase of the series, we're seeing more of the layers to it revealed and it's very easy to leap ahead with where these little subplots that are introduced end up going. And this series, while complex yet simple, has a lot going on in it and a good deal of it is fairly obvious, but they introduce things early on that you get surprised that they're as overt about it as they are. But it's done that way simply to get to the crux of the story in a more interesting way. Having Bradley talk easily about who he really is with people like Mustang at this stage and having it still kept a relative secret has you asking more about who knows what, rather than what it is that they know. The thirteen episodes here run across a few different areas but one of the main themes about it is the coming together of key players really starting to understand that there is a significant threat at hand, and it may not be what they thought it was. While up until this point you essentially had just Ed and Al getting a handle on the reality of homunculi running around, especially after the things they saw in the 5th Laboratory, here we're seeing more people coming to grips with it. The most amusing is with Mustang as he has a sort of back and forth practically with himself over it, but there's a sequence that involves Ed and Al trying to draw out Scar and they end up getting Gluttony as well. And that has Hawkeye putting in a ton of bullets into him with no real effect, as well as an eventual scene where Ling cuts him up well and he rebuilds himself. With more people seeing the homunculi running around, the more it cements in reality. Read More Click Me!

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Part 1 UK DVD REview

Being a fan of the original FMA, I hadn't had a chance to check out this new version yet, but I had heard that things stick a lot closer to the manga than the original. The original series was a very good story about two brothers looking to reclaim their bodies back after a failed alchemy experimentation to resurrect their dead mother so I was looking forward to see how this new version would differ. The first episode is basically a re-introduction to the characters, as pretty much every major character from the military and our beloved Elric brothers appears in a battle to trap a rogue alchemist named the Ice Alchemist. It isn't until the 2nd episode that the story begins to what we know and love. The Elric brothers, Ed - a young man who has a height complex, is a State Alchemist at a young age who has the unique ability to transmute things without the aid of what is considered a pre-requisite for all alchemists, a transmutation circle. His brother, Alphonse appears to be a giant suit of armour, but the episode basically explains everything well - both as a reminder for fans of the original, and newer fans never seeing it before as it tells the story of why Ed's brother is a suit of armour and why Ed lost his arm and leg. It's quite terrifying in some places and these scenes definitely stick out more in Brotherhood than the original as it definitely a lot darker. It leads to their childhood friend Winry and her grandmother to fix them up, and the appearance of State Alchemist Roy Mustang to convince him to become a State Alchemist to look for the way to return their bodies back to normal. And as you could say, the rest is history. Read More Click Me!

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood - Season 1 - Episode 64 - Review: "Journey's End"

With a series as long as Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood and with as diverse cast as it has, it really does demand an epilogue episode in order to tie up loose ends. The series could have easily ended on the previous episode and gone out on a high with sacrifice, blood and intensity, but I'm quite glad to have an episode that spends its time giving me just a little bit more of each of these characters to see how they're progressing. In particular, I loved that it opened on Mustang and showed how he's trying to do right by the Ishvalan's and not letting his blindness hold him back from taking on things full throttle before he becomes Fuhrer. Though he's somewhat of a complicated man, he's the right type and has gone through the right things to turn the country back on the proper path. Scar's arc through this series has been quite engaging as well as we've seen him go from a time of vengeance to one of healing at long last. Rescued at the end by General Armstrong, she's giving him a new lease on life as he takes on his third life having died twice now in his own eyes. His redemption throughout the series has been fascinating to watch and seeing him working alongside Ed, Al and the rest towards the end was exciting, especially when he got to take on the Fuhrer full on in a battle of men. He's had some defining and exciting moments throughout the series and seeing him reaching this point, where he's almost becoming a holy figure in a way, is perfect. Read More Click Me!

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood - Season 1 - Episode 63 - Review: "The Other Side of the Gate "

The final arc of the series has certainly been one that has moved to epic levels and a big emotional chunk of it occurred in the previous episode with Alphonse essentially sacrificing himself so that Ed can have his arm back and use his powers to his full extent. Ed's taking everything he can against Father at this point, but even when he's down and nearly out there's always some way of gaining a bit more power to carry on. Considering the years he's been around, it's little surprise that he'd sacrifice everything and anything to continue on his quest. And that includes a really strong segment right at the start when he thrusts his fist right into Greeling's body to try and take out the Philosopher's Stone from there so he can gain a bit more power. It's an epic struggle inside Greeling's body though as Ling refuses to let him while Greed goes on that everything was a lie to begin with and that he really wants to get inside of Father's body where he belongs, so he can try and end him in the way that only Greed can do. Greed, both as himself and as a part of Greeling, has been the best of the homunculi to appear in the series and the bonding with Ling really brought out a great side of him that made him so much more than any of the other homunculi. He truly became a core part of the cast as it went on and had some of the best stylistic moments of them all. Read More Click Me!

Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood - Season 1 - Episode 62 - Review: "The Violent Counterattack"

The nature of Father is one that's pretty much that of a spoiled god, though Hohenheim calls him out early on the fact that he can't really be considered a god since all he engages in is destruction. Father's view of everything being a lower life form outside of himself highlights his nature pretty easily as he has little issue in using anything and everyone in pursuit of his goals and reaching his own destiny. With so much time behind him now and the ability to start again, he's simply intending to wash away much of what's in front of him first so he can do so without distraction. And he does so by drawing out the bodies/souls of those he took in from Xerxes all those years ago and setting them to claw against Hohenheim and the rest. Having a tiny baby prodding at Izumi is truly one of the more disturbing images in this series. While the fight aboveground goes on, it's really amusing to see Greeling taking on a strong leadership role that stems from his human aspect. That doesn't sit well with General Armstrong and the two are amusing to watch as they both have their reasons for assuming control of the situation and trying to do what's necessary. Armstrong in particular has some really strong moments here, including the very quiet time she spends over Bradley's body when she discovers it and understands just how much has gone on around her. The fallout in general with regards to the attack by Father leads to a number of good quiet scenes, from May realizing the sacrifice that Al made for her to seeing how Hohenheim did everything he could to protect all of them. Ed's issues with his father are really coming to a head here as events move past everything that the two have had issue with over the years. Read More Click Me!

Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood - Season 1 - Episode 61 - Review: "He Who Would Swallow God "

Amestris has come to an end and it's positively haunting as everyone seems to be dead, laying where they were, as an eerie silence covers the country. The stillness is unnerving to say the least, but even more so when you realize that the sacrifices appear to be all that's left. With supposedly some fifty million people having been ended because of the homunculus' plans, it's more than those who have survived can bear. But the entire problem still resides in that Father has now seemingly obtained immense amounts of power from his plan and is ready to use it in order to establish his full rule. Considering the time scale involved with what the flask homunculi has been working with, it's little surprise that Hohenheim does have something up his sleeve in order to try and restore the balance of life to Amestris and to the world itself. It's an intriguing plan that takes quick effect as there really is no time to lose, and it's the kind of thing that definitely feels epic and powerful. Yet in the short term, it's a plan that minimizes the main cast of characters for the duration and leaves us just watching massive amounts of energy floating around. Though he's the namesake of the series, Ed takes a bit of a back seat as the show turns the main characters into Hohenheim and the homunculi as their story is one that is ages old. Read More Click Me!

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood - Season 1 - Episode 60 - Review: "Heaven's Eye, Earth's Door "

After the choice that Mustang was forced into in the previous episode, it ended in a way that's truly cruel for him as he's had his sight taken from him at the time when things are their most dangerous. It was a key move that was of critical importance to Father as it now has all five of the Sacrifices present and accounted for and having lost something important to them. As important and disturbing of a move as it was, it's one that also changes the game a little bit as Ed realizes that Mustang's personal gate was forced open and that gives him some ideas. It doesn't hurt that they can use their alchemy down here now as well. One of the more interesting fights of this final arc has been the battle between Bradley and Scar as the two of them are incredibly intense in their actions. It's interesting that Bradley has shuffled off most everything of his self at this point, giving in to the primal need to fight and to do it to the death if necessary. Scar was much like that at the beginning of the series with his sense of purpose, but he's now at the interesting point where he's fighting for something more and has allies in that fight. It's not quite a reversal of positions, but one where he's changed a fair bit since he first attacked within Central and started to kill State Alchemists. Read More Click Me!