What can be said about Fullmetal Alchemist at this point that hasn't been said already? I mean, we've reviewed the first series multiple times, checked out the movie, and have been working our way through the second series, Brotherhood like nobody's business. Across the board we here at DVDTalk love the series, and it's received loads of praise. Should the fourth installment of Brotherhood be any different?
If you haven't read a review for Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood yet (or the original series for that matter), please feel free to utilize our search engine. I'm not going to bother recapping the series for this review, and instead we're looking at the fourth installment as it is. In this second-to-last volume of Brotherhood we received episodes 40 through 52 presented on two DVDs.
With there being only one volume left, and Brotherhood being as dramatic a series as it is, it's only natural that there's a sense that it's all building to something. The show really lines up all the pieces for its final run and there's not much in terms of climax here, but there are more than a few pivotal moments. Since this volume has a lot that pertains to the story thus far and for that of the end of the series, I'll endeavor to keep spoilers at a minimum.
What goes on in this volume is broken up into several storylines that converge towards the end. It's clear that the final run is going to be the joining of each thread, and the way they are strung together is rather impressive.
One of the biggest events from this installment is the reintroduction of Hohenheim. Of course we all know him as simply Ed and Al's father, but the fact that the main bad guy is an identical clone of him was something of a mystery. We discover Hohenheim's origins, and how the clone came to be. Let's just say he's much older than one would think and the air of mystery that surrounds him is extraordinarily thick. It's also fair to say that it's because of him events in the world have unfolded as they have and the situation that stands today is Hohenheim's doing.
After we get the episode Hohenheim's "This is Your Life", the show branches off to feature the other components of the series at this point. Scar, Alphonse, Winry, and the rest are heading north while trying to find out the reason why Xing alchemy is different from their own. Therein lays the answer to defeating the homunculi and stopping the countrywide transmutation circle. Meanwhile Roy Mustang and his company are setting their plans in motion and communicating with old compatriots to overthrow Wrath from his position of power.
Edward obviously gets a lot of the focus here and we get to see the conclusion to his bout against Kimbley. Ed is left for dead, but he wins support from an unexpected source. I suppose it's true to say that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Eventually Ed finds himself squaring off against Pride and has a reunion with Alphonse and Winry. Lin from Xing strikes an accord with Greed and memories of his old life begin to return. They create a strange existence with the two of them frequently trading off, and Greed eventually chooses to leave the Homonculi.
As it stands, by the end of this fourth installment the series leaves a rather obvious feeling for how things are going to go for the next batch of episodes. Basically all roads lead to Central and the Homonculi are planning on using everyone in the country as a sacrifice to further their own powers and immortality. Can Ed, Al, Roy, Scar, and everyone else stop them in time? We'll find out soon enough. For now consider the series a must own.
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 two audio commentaries (episodes 40 and 46), clean animations, and trailers for other FUNimation releases.
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is awesome. It's an epic beyond reproach and with each installment the series pushes the envelope for action and drama. Having seen (and loved) the first series, watching Brotherhood has been an absolute treat. It's a must own and just keeps getting better! Highly Recommended!