Here at DVDTalk we have a love affair with Fullmetal Alchemist. Ever since the first series began being released in the States it has been on the top of our favorite anime lists, across the board. When the remake, Brotherhood was announced, well...I don't think I need to tell you that we were pretty stoked. Through four volumes we've been sitting through one of the best damn shows of the past decade, and now the final volume is upon us.
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is an identical to the manga retelling of the popular franchise. It's closer to source material and that's a fantastic thing. The story is better, there's more continuity, and quite honestly the lack of filler is really, really appreciated. In every installment the sense of drama rises so that events reach a boiling point and the climaxes are much more satisfying as a result. Considering this entire fifth volume includes twelve episodes that move at a breakneck speed right up to the end, I don't think I have to tell you that it's pretty damn good.
Up until this point there's been a lot going on in the show. Without giving too much away, I'll simply say that the previous installment left things with the heroes squaring off against the forces of the homunculi deep within the heart of Central. The whole country has been turned into a giant alchemy circle and the intent is to use the people as sacrifice for some dark cause. That vial mission becomes clear as this volume unfolds, though I'll leave those details for you to discover.
Just who is the main villain pulling the strings? Well, it's basically the original homunculi, the Dwarf in the Flask that Hohenheim Elric new from centuries ago. Let's just say he's sick of being trapped inside of a container and he strives for something more. All truth is revealed to Edward and Al in the process and the outcome is unlike anything you could have though (if you haven't read the manga that is). It's a far different, and much better, ending than what the original series offered.
Everything about this finale has a certain definitive end to it. Ed, Al, Scar, Mustang, Winry, Ling, everyone; there's simply no question left by the end of it all. It was fulfilling in a way that few other anime have been for me. I've never been a fan of cryptic endings and I love it when things are left wrapped up quite neatly. There's really no stone unturned in the final moments of Brotherhood. It's heartfelt, emotional, and if you've been invested in the growth of the characters you'll undoubtedly feel satisfied. You really get the sense that the book has been closed by the end, and it's very rewarding. You'll appreciate me cutting out the details of the episodes here once you finally sit down and watch them. There are some real tear-jerkers and surprises in store!
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is presented on Blu-ray with a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The show has been enhanced for a 1080p presentation with an AVC codec. In many ways this Blu-ray transfer is on par with expectations set by previous installments. That is to say the picture is solid all around. Colors are sharp, details are abundant, and there's little to nothing to complain about. Sure the picture features edge enhancement and the occasional rough looking line, but these elements weren't that distracting. All around this Blu-ray transfer is a step up from the DVD; it's just won't produce the "oo's" and "ah's" other shows do.
Dolby TrueHD tracks are present here in the form of English 5.1 and Japanese 2.0. The quality of both tracks is solid and on par with expectations for those looking for a lossless track. Fidelity is good all around, there's some nice LFE, and by and large the quality is sharper and cleaner than the DVD presentation. The track of choice here is the English 5.1. The quality of the dub is astounding and the selection offers a more immersive experience with some nice use of the rear channels and decent directionality.
This final installment of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood features a collection of outtakes, an audio commentary for episode 64, clean animations, and some trailers. The outtakes are worth a laugh and the commentary is something to watch/listen to once you've wrapped up the series.
Throughout its run I haven't been able to get enough of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. The show is simply something to behold from start to finish. It doesn't skip a beat and it continuously improves upon itself with is simply unheard of. It's a rare show indeed and I was wholly entertained right up to the end. I highly recommend this release across the board.
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