If you haven't watched Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood yet, then you're missing out on one of the biggest things to happen to anime in a while. The series is a powerful retelling of the franchise that is more closely aligned to the manga than the original. The tone is darker, the story is far more complex, and the characters head down some interesting paths. If you enjoyed the original, you'll love Brotherhood, and if you haven't seen either, then this is the one to check out.
The third installment of Brotherhood has recently come my way and I just finished giving it a watch. The content here is no less powerful than what came before, and if anything, I'd say this volume is one of the more important. New characters are introduced, old characters have life-altering events take hold, and the ultimate goal of the villain is brought sharply into focus. There's hardly a stone left unturned here, and by the end you'll be on the edge of your seat for more. I know I was.
This installment picks up with a recap episode of sorts with Hohenheim (Ed and Al's father) being the focal point. Through his perspective events that have transpired are examined and interspersed in between are some new nuggets exclusive to his character. There's something strange about him for sure, and the direction they bring him is far different than what we saw in the original series. After his episode we get right to the action with our heroes coming face to face with the show's big villain.
Gluttony brings Alphonse to the homunculi's layer and soon enough Ed and Ling escape with Envy to join them as well. Ed and Al are more than a little disturbed by the fact that the big bad guy is a mirror image of their father, but that doesn't stop them from trying their luck at taking him down. A big fight erupts that's brought to a quick end as their alchemic power is sapped and they effectively become useless. Making matters worse is the fact that Ling is overtaken by Greed and essentially becomes a new homunculi.
One thing leads to another and eventually the Elrics are let go, only to be placed under the watchful eye of King Bradley and the first homunculi ever created, though I'll leave its identity a secret. The biggest movement in this installment is the trek north that the Elric brothers undertake. They discover another form of alchemy that's out there and it seems to be unaffected by the energy drain that happened to them. The only problem is that stand before them is a massive fortress known as Briggs.
It's in Briggs that we're introduced to Armstrong's sister (she's the blonde on the cover), and things take a turn for the worse as the Crimson Alchemist is released from prison and chases Scar that way as well. The two storylines converge and by the end of this installment things are left up in the air. I literally found myself yelling at the TV that FUNimation would end it where they did. The next volume can't get here soon enough!
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood continues to be one hell of a ride. The show is packed with action, drama, and amazing production values. It's easily my pick as the best anime I've watched all year and the show seems to get better and better with every volume. I'm looking forward to what's next for the Elrics, and until then you can consider this installment highly recommended.
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. 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.
Bonus features for this installment include an audio commentary, clean animations, and trailers for other FUNimation releases.
The original Fullmetal Alchemist was one of my favorite shows, and Brotherhood's new direction outclasses it in every way. The show basically has everything you could want in an anime. From incredible action to drama, intense characters, and an immersive story, this latest retelling of the franchise has it all. This volume is just as powerful as the two that came before it, and I absolutely can't wait for the fourth release. Highly Recommended!