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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Fullmetal Alchemist: The Complete Series (Limited Edition) (Blu-ray)
Fullmetal Alchemist: The Complete Series (Limited Edition) (Blu-ray)
FUNimation // Unrated // September 15, 2015 // Region A
List Price: $64.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Neil Lumbard | posted October 20, 2015 | E-mail the Author
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Fullmetal Alchemist - Complete Series Blu-ray Review

Fullmetal Alchemist (2003-2004) is the first anime adaptation based upon the popular manga series created, written, and illustrated by Hiromu Arakawa. The anime series is produced by Masahiko Minami (Cowboy Bebop, Wolf's Rain, Escaflowne), Hiro Maruyama (Angel Beats!, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood), and Ryo Oyama (Darker than Black, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood).  The story of the series is centered upon the Elric brothers Edward and Alphonse, who are alchemist brothers searching for the philosopher's stone.

Edward and Alphonse (Al) Elric are two brothers who become alchemists. Alchemists are able to use alchemy, an advanced science, to do a number of different things akin to magic but they must give up something under the law of equivalent exchange. When the two brothers were young boys they used alchemy to try to resurrect their dead mother. The transmutation went wrong and instead of bringing their mother back to life, Edward lost an arm and a leg while his younger brother Al lost his entire body. Al's soul remains and is attached to a full metal suit.

The brothers decide to try and find the philosopher's stone, which could help them to bring back Al's body and restore Edward's arm and leg. Edward becomes a state alchemist working with the military and they continue to try and find information on the philosopher's stone as they traverse the region. As they go about their journey to find the philosopher's stone the Elric brothers end up encountering a number of madmen and monsters. Edward and Al use alchemy to help others along their quest while also working against the foes they encounter along the way.

The series features an impressive music score composed by Michiru Oshima (Patema Inverted). The music of the series is complimentary to the style of the storytelling and it works quite well within the saga. Oshima crafted a strong score which is one of the more impressive production elements.

The series was animated by acclaimed animation studios Bones (Wolf's Rain, RahXephon, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood) and Aniplex (Gurren Lagann, Paprika, R.O.D.). The animation on this series is absolutely amazing. The character designs are superb. The art throughout the episodes is cinematic and beautiful. This is a well designed anime with art direction by Kazuyuki Hashimoto (Sailor Moon) and Norifumi Nakamura (Soul Eater). The artistic style of Fullmetal Alchemist is stunning. This is one of the best animated anime series from its time-period and the series art holds up as an extraordinary achievement.

The series was written by Sho Aikawa (Love Hina), as based upon the manga created by Hiromu Arakawa. As the manga still wasn't that far along at the time of the series creation the anime version doesn't stick as closely to the manga storyline as Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. Even so, Fullmetal Alchemist manages to be an incredibly well-written anime with a great storyline and many important themes to explore. The series explores themes about family, science, and war.

Fullmetal Alchemist was directed by Seiji Mizushima (Shaman King). The series is well directed with an excellent blend of action, comedy, and drama. The series excels at being an entertaining and emotionally resonant series at the same time. The series remains an ambitious and exciting production which was superbly directed by Mizushima.

The legacy of this anime series continues. Fullmetal Alchemist is one of the most significant anime productions to come out during the 2000's. Though many viewers now prefer the more faithfully adapted Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood this remains an incredible anime which is entertaining, heartfelt, and essential.

The Blu-ray:


Video:

Fullmetal Alchemist arrives on Blu-ray from Funimation Entertainment with a strong 1080p MPEG-4 AVC encoded presentation in the original 1.33:1 full frame aspect ratio. The release is upscaled from standard definition to 1080p high definition. This is one of the better upscaling efforts I have seen for an anime series. While there is some general softness to the image because of the original SD source, the art on Fullmetal Alchemist looks much more crisp and beautiful than before. The high-def upscale presentation delivers bolder and richer colors. The image has a few detriments: the biggest drawback being occasional moments of banding present. Even so, this release actually is impressive and is a worthwhile upgrade for fans.

Audio:

The audio on this Blu-ray release is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 English surround sound and Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Japanese stereo (with English subtitles). The surround sound version for the English dub sounds reasonably good with nice dialogue reproduction and use of the surrounds. The music score composed by Michiru Ohshima sounds lovely. This is a solid lossless audio presentation.


Extras:

This Limited Edition release includes 10 collectible art-cards and a booklet featuring creator's notes: an interview with the head director, screenwriter, and producer of Fullmetal Alchemist. The included interview is quite interesting and worthwhile. They discuss the production of Fullmetal Alchemist, the high-def upscale, and the impact of the anime.

On-disc supplements include commentaries featuring English dub VA's and ADR directors on episodes 19, 25, and 51.

The Transmutation of a Phenomenon - An Inside Look (31 min.)

Ura Hagane: Comedic Previews (30 min.)

L' Arc en ciel Music Video

Lastly, the release includes textless opening/closing themes from throughout the series, a Japanese commercial, and a U.S. trailer.

Final Thoughts:

Fullmetal Alchemist is a great anime series with excellent storytelling. The saga of the Elric brothers is one which is entertaining, emotionally resonant, and powerful. The series is also beautifully animated and superbly produced from studio Bones and Aniplex.

Even though the more faithfully adapted Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood was created after the manga was completed, the original Fullmetal Alchemist anime adaptation remains an impressive and important anime creation with a legion of fans. This is a quality anime series which holds up incredibly well.

Funimation's Blu-ray release features a strong 1080p high-definition upconversion from the SD source. Fans of the series should consider this release a worthwhile upgrade. The extras in the limited edition set are also worthwhile.

Highly Recommended.

Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema, and a student who aspires to make movies. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.

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