Oh. My. God.
I just had an otaku-gasm. I'm sorry if that's too much info, but hot damn, if you haven't seen Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood then you simply don't know what I'm talking about. I just marathon-watched the second part on Blu-ray and I can't stress enough how epic it was. Every single episode in this 13 episode collection brought the intensity to a whole new level unlike any other show I have watched before; including Fullmetal Alchemist.
Before I start geeking out too much about what makes this set of episodes so great, let me fill you in on what Brotherhood is all about. I'm going on the assumption that you know the original Fullmetal Alchemist series. If for any reason you don't, just use the little search feature at the top of this page; we have a ridonkulous amount of reviews for the series. Well, Brotherhood is a pressing of the reset button for the series. This time around the show follows the manga much more closely. What does that mean? Well, let's just say that after the familiar beginning, this second installment steers the show in a whole new direction.
In the first 13 episodes of the Brotherhood we were introduced to the Elrics, Winry, Scar, the Homunculi, Mustang, Hawkeye, and several other important personalities. To make a long story short Edward and Alphonse Elric are young State Alchemists living with signs that they committed an alchemy taboo; they attempted to transmute a human and bring their mother back from the dead.
Since Al lost his body and Ed lost an arm and leg they have been searching for the Philosopher's Stone and information about how to get their original bodies back. Toss in a mystery involving monsters, shadows of a war, and more plot exposition than you could shake a stick at and you had a complex chunk of episodes that followed the original show to the letter. Things started getting interesting towards the end, however, and with this installment we get a whole new set of action.
Well, now comes the tough part! How exactly do I discuss this installment without giving away some of the highlights? I mean, there are climactic moments and plot twists in each and every episode. Characters die, new faces are introduced, and revelations about current events and the past are continuously thrown at you. How is a reviewer supposed to keep this content spoiler free?
For starters we can focus on the new additions to Brotherhood. Early on in this installment a young prince from the kingdom of Xing arrives looking for clues that will lead him to the Philosopher's Stone. Fate causes him to bump into the Elrics, and they become allies somewhere along the way. Speaking of the Elrics, they and Winry head to Central and get the piece of bad news about Hughes. In addition to that Mustang is moving things forward with a mission he has taken upon himself. Scar is kicking around as well and he's tossed into the mix with a bit of hstory.
I hate to keep things brief, but to be perfectly honest I don't want to ruin anything for someone interested in picking this up. Just do it. The show does not disappoint on any level and I can't stress enough how these 13 episodes absolutely blew me away. I was speechless and had a tingle running up my leg countless on more than a few occasions while watching these episodes. That hasn't happened in a very long time for me.
If you enjoyed the original Fullmetal Alchemist, buy Brotherhood. If you enjoy anime in general, buy Brotherhood. Hell, if you just want something original to watch that qualifies as "epic", buy it. You'll be glad you did! It may seem cliché to say, but this is the must have anime of 2010.
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 that have come from watching other anime that has been upconverted. The original resolution wasn't anywhere near 1080p and as such some of the quality just isn't quite up to the high definition standard. With that in mind it's worth noting that the show still looks very good. 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. This transfer is more than adequate and serves as a nice stage for the action and fluid animation.
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.
Once again Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood comes with two audio commentary tracks. This time around we receive commentaries for episodes 14 and 23. There are also clean animations (loved the new ending sequence, by the way) and some trailers.
The first release of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood was impressive in its own right, however, the familiar territory left things feeling a tad stale. Great, but stale. This second collection of episodes is entirely new territory. Watching the 13 episodes here was, without a doubt, the best time I've spent with any anime since I started reviewing. I've watched a lot of great shows and yet, somehow, the content here trumped them all. The third installment can't get here soon enough!