When I heard that Fullmetal
Alchemist: Brotherhood was being created, I wasn't all that excited. Don't get me wrong, I loved the original
anime, Fullmetal Alchemist. It
was my favorite series back when it was
released. This new series wasn't going
to be a continuation or a sequel, but a retelling.
They were going to do the same story over
again, but this time they were going to stay closer to the manga series
which it was based. That's all well and
good, but there didn't seem to be too much to gain.
If it turned out to be worse than the
original series, what's the point? And
if it turned out good, we'd just get another version of something that
already had. It sounded like a cheap
attempt to cash in on the popularity of the franchise, and I wasn't
going to be
I was wrong. Fullmetal
Alchemist: Brotherhood is excellent,
and in some
ways better than the original. It's not
just telling the same story once more; it expands the tale with new
and situations. I was floored after
watching this first collection. Both
fans who enjoyed the original anime and those who are who are new to
should strap themselves in for a great time.
Edward and Alphonse Elric are two brothers who live in a
quite village in the country of Amestris alone with their mother, their
having left them years before. The two
brothers, especially diminutive Edward, excel at the science of
are able to change the shape and function of objects using this ancient
art. When their mother takes ill and
dies before either boy reaches their teens, Ed makes a disastrous
decision: although it is forbidden,
they'll use alchemy to bring their mother back from the dead.
Gathering the elemental components that will form their mother's
body and adding a drop of their own blood to make her soul, the two
perform the ritual they've worked out only to have it backfire horribly. The thing that they make, a zombie that bears
little relation to their beloved mother isn't human, but what's worse
Al's body is disintegrated along with one of Edward's legs. Thinking quickly, Ed uses his own blood to
draw a binding circle onto a suit of armor and links his brother's soul
metal form. Something has to be given
for the spell to work though and Edward gives up the only thing he has
available: his right arm.
The binding spell works however, and the giant suit of armor
carries the wounded alchemist to the village healer, Pinako, who is
save his life. Though alive, Edward is
wracked with guilt over imprisoning his younger brother into a suit of
his brother feels responsible for the loss of Edward's arm. Edward falls into a deep depression.
Soon after the accident, the brothers receive a visitor from
the capital city. It's Col. Roy Mustang,
a State Alchemist, part of the Amestris Military. He's
heard of the two prodigies, but not that
they tampered with forbidden alchemy nor the tragic results. He wants to recruit Edward, and he still
does. He makes his pitch and dangles
something irresistible in front of the young man: access
to the great alchemy library in the
capital. Edward knows that only State
Alchemists are admitted and that great source of knowledge might just
key to the one thing that he's promised himself: To
bring his brother's body back.
Pinako, with the aid of her talented granddaughter, Winry, crafts
a metal leg and arm for Edward and he passes the State Alchemist exams
ease, impressing the judges and becoming the youngest member ever. Along with admittance comes an official
codename given by the ruler of Amestris himself, King Bradley: Fullmetal Alchemist. Now
Edward and his brother Al travel across
the country doing the military's bidding while they also look for the
stone, a powerful relic that may be able to bring Al's body back.
The first episodes were much like the original series and
told basically the same story. Less than
a third of the way through this collection however, things start to
new characters enter the stage, such as Ling Yao a prince from the kingdom of Xing.
He has arrived in Amestris because like Edward he's also on a
quest: he's seeking immortality.
There aren't just new characters. The
existing ones are fleshed out a bit more
as well, and that makes the whole series richer. Of
course they focus is still on Edward and
Alphonse, and they're still as enjoyable as ever. The
pair act like true brothers, they fight
and bicker at times, but their bond is extremely strong due to the
they've experienced. Even the supporting
characters are more than just stereotypes.
People like Alex Louis Armstrong, the muscle bound military
is constantly crying, and if not he's bragging about his (impressive)
starts off as a cliché comic relief but slowly develops a personality. Over the course of this show he turns into
almost a father-like figure for the boys.
Mustang, Ed's immediate superior is the same way.
He seems to be a subdued officer who enjoys
putting Ed in dangerous situations but as the story unfolds it becomes
that he has hopes and aspirations and that there is a reason for
that he does.
The first 33 episodes arrive on four Blu-ray discs housed in
a single-width quad case. There's a
slipcover included with the first pressings.
This set presents the show with the original Japanese Dolby
True HD 2.0 soundtrack or an English dub in Dolby True HD 5.1. While I really wish the Japanese track had a
Dolby True HD 5.1 option too, both tracks sound very good.
People who prefer dubs will be happy with
this one; the voices aren't artificially high for the women or filled
accents. The English actors did a good
job and brought their characters to life.
The Japanese track sounds a bit more 'natural' to me however and
optional subtitles offer a nice translation without any glaring
The 1080p 16X9 image looks great. I really
don't have any complaints. The colors were
vivid and strong (and they
used a wide palate too) and the blacks were nice and dark.
The level of detail was fine, what you'd
expect from an anime series that's only about 2 years old, and the
nice and tight.
There are several commentary tracks with the English voice
actors to selected episodes along with clean opening and closing
trailers for other FUNimation releases.
I have to admit I'm not a fan of commentary tracks on anime by
voice actors. Unlike director or actor
commentaries on movies, I just haven't heard any that add to my
or appreciation of the show. I spot
checked a few of these and they generally left me cold.
This is a great, great, show. Whether
you've seen the original anime series
or not, you owe it to yourself to check this show out.
It comes highly recommended.