In my review of the first Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood boxset, I said that the
show promises to be great. The second collection takes the ball handed off by the
first and runs away with it. This set does not disappoint and lays down many more
layers to an already deep and fascinating storyline. Kick back, grab some Pocky,
pop open an ice-cold bottle of Ramune, and prepare yourself for anime awesomeness.
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood follows the journey of Edward and Alphonse Elric
to restore parts their bodies. In an attempt to use alchemy to bring back their
mother from the dead, Edward lost his arm and leg and Alphonse lost his entire body--his
soul is now fused to a suit of armor. Edward is now a state alchemist in the military
of their nation, Amestris. As they seek out the Philosopher's Stone, which amplifies
an alchemist's ability and may be the key to bringing back Alphonse's body, they
are caught in an enormous tale of intrigue that reaches the highest levels of the
While Edward and Alphonse are fantastic lead characters, the supporting cast is what nudges
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood above all the
rest. This is a huge supporting cast and most of the characters have subplots deep
enough to warrant spinoff series. Characters such as Col. Mustang, Ling, Hawkeye,
Winry, and Scar are all fleshed out in this set of episodes. Perhaps the only disappointment
is that Winry, who seemed to be on her way to becoming a main character, leaves
the Elric boys after a very emotional scene. Hopefully, she is given more to do
after this than just serving as the Elric's personal automail Ms. Fix-It.
Col. Mustang receives a lot of attention in these 13 episodes. He is an intriguing
character. He's highly ambitious and seeks to someday become Fuhrer of Amestris.
However, it's apparent that there is much more to his motives than he ever lets
on to any other characters. Col. Mustang proves himself to be quite the scheming
puppeteer in a scene dealing with the death of a certain character.
Early in this collection, Ling Yao makes his debut in the series along with his
bodyguard, the tough as nails, Lan Fan. They hail from the empire of Xing, a large
nation east of Amestris on the other side of a desert. Ling seeks to achieve immortality.
This cannot be achieved through alkahestry, which is the Xingese form of alchemy
that specializes in healing. He thinks that perhaps Amestrian alchemy might lead
him to his goal of eternal life. Lan is a badass tough girl, but to explain why
would ruin a pretty rad scene. I didn't like them in the earlier portions of this
set, particularly Ling Yao. He seemed greedy and self-serving, which he is, but
there's much more to this character than his quest for immortality. Ling's fighting
style is crafty and very dirty for a supposed "good guy." His action scenes are
fun to watch as he uses the homunculi's overconfidence against them. I had major
concerns that the pair's addition to the series would knock the show down from the
pedestal I placed it on. The cast was already enormous and more characters may have
become overwhelming. However, Ling Yao and Lan Fan turn out to be awesome characters
that grow on you in later episodes.
The homunculi firmly establish themselves as the front line of antagonists in this
set. Homunculi are human-like creatures fashioned into existence through alchemy.
There is a small group of them who follow an individual known only as Father. They
are named after the seven deadly sins, such as Lust, Greed, Envy, and Gluttony.
Their origins are explored in some depth--what they are, what they are made of, and,
surprisingly, who this mysterious Father truly is.
I would love to make it through this gushing review of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Collection 2 with no complaints. There's something, however, that I just can't let
go: why did the producers have to change the opening and closing theme music? The
first episode in this set begins and ends with the original, epic music and then,
they're never heard from again. I'm sad to say, the change is for the worse. The
original themes, "Again" by Yui and "Uso" by Sid, were a perfect match for this
series and among the best theme songs for any anime show. Switching music actually
happens frequently in anime series, especially longer ones such as this one. But
does it always have to be a switch to a lesser song? The new theme music is not
bad, but it's typical. They don't stand out whereas the original songs made me want
to run to the nearest anime store and throw down some of my hard-earned cash for
the soundtrack. The theme music will change again in the next set, so I look forward
to hearing what's next.
This is a rare series where there is never a dull moment. The show is constantly
adding new variables to the equation and answering questions with deeper questions.
You find yourself pondering just how the writers are going to write themselves out
of this corner. Revelations you expect to take an entire series to be revealed are
thrown out there quite early, and then more layers are added upon them. The only
thing that's frustrating is that the set contains just 13 episodes--I could watch
the entire 64 episode series in a weekend. My reaction to the huge cliffhanger at
end of the last episode in this set: "Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!" I need more Fullmetal
Alchemist: Brotherhood. Now.
Audio: Once again the English language, 5.1 Dolby Digital track sounds great. The
fronts and dialogue are crystal clear and the surround sounds get used to good effect.
I already grieved over the unfortunate loss of the original theme music, but the
excellent soundtrack within the show remains intact. I have really come to enjoy
Maxey Whitehead's work as Alphonse Elric. There's a sadness in Al's voice that echoes
with every line. It's not depressing, but you feel his longing to break out of the
armored prison even during the lighter parts of the show.
Video: Stunning. The image is bright, vibrant, and free of any noticeable artifacts
or line noise. The video is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. The style
of the characters is relatively simple, but executed to perfection. The image
here is about as good as you will ever see from an anime television series on
Extras: The special features include textless opening and closing credits for the
new themes. Yay. There are also two episode-long commentaries with the English voice
actors. The first commentary has Mike McFarland, the ADR Director reprising his
role as mediator. The other two voice actors in the first commentary are Vic Mignongna
(Edward Elric) and Chris Patton (Greed). Mike interviews the two about their characters
and their feelings on the new series versus the original anime. I loved that they
debated the gender of Envy and settled on gender-neutral--I'm glad that I'm not the
only one who is confused about whether the homunculus is male or female.
The second commentary features Mike McFarland, again, as the mediator, Todd Haberkorn(Ling
Yao), Monica Rial(May Chang), and Trina Nishimura(Lan Fan). This is a newcomers'
commentary as all these characters are introduced in this set. The commentary is
solid and informative with the actors discussing their roles. Is it bad that I miss
the hilarity and chaos that ensued with the unmediated commentary in the first collection
of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood?
Final Thoughts: I'm going to lay it out there like this: Every self-respecting anime
fan needs to have this series on their shelf. Period. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
is the best anime series to come out in quite some time. I have only seen the first
26 episodes of the 64 episode series and I am fully confident that this show will
become one of the pillars of anime against which future series are measured. This
is a series to pull out and show newbies how awesome anime is. And then hook them.
I love this show and you will, too. Highly Recommended.
Bobby is a programmer by trade and a wannabe writer. Check out his other reviews here. You can also check out his blog about harmless nonsense or follow him on Twitter