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Fullmetal Alchemist - The Conqueror of Shamballa and Chrono Crusade manga


a bi-weekly column by Don Houston, John Sinnott, and Todd Douglass

This week we have a look at the Fullmetal Alchemist film, The Conqueror of Shamballa.  Taking place two years after the series ends, this is film not only wraps up the series, but it does so in a powerful and moving way that will please fans of the show.  Other new releases we look at include the complete Chance Pop Sessions, a strong and heartfelt story that, while it drags in parts, is worth checking out and Trinity Blood, a retro styled show about a looming war between vampires and humans.  Todd Douglass gives his opinion of volumes 5 and 6 of Chrono Crusade, and Holly is back with more bargains.  All that and more in this week's Anime Talk.

The Latest Anime Reviews:
(Click on the links to read the full review.)

For months we've been hearing about Fullmetal Alchemist's film, The Conqueror of Shamballa. When the show ended Edward and Alphonse were left alive but in two separate worlds on opposite sides of the Gate. Al remained in the alchemic realm while Ed found himself in Munich, 1923. As the two brothers attempt to meet each other again their lives become intertwined with a Nazi plot to take magic from a place called Shamballa and use it to take over the world. Ripe with history and taken liberties the "true" closing to the Fullmetal Alchemist series is powerful and moving on just about every level. If you were ever a fan of the show you'll definitely be pleased.

The saga of Spike and the crew of the Bebop finished up in the award winning Cowboy Bebop Remix V6. Past lives seem so far away until they rise to take hold of the crew. Spike is reunited with Julia and Vicious while Ed hooks up with her long lost father in the newly enhanced volume of episodes that turned many heads when first released. Fans of the remixed audio will find this was another double dip worth getting while we all wait for the inevitable high definition versions sure to come out in the future but the stories ruled here once again as most of the threads were tied up.

Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Destiny V2 shows the universe poised once more of the precipices of war as a group of terrorists attempts to get revenge on the Earthers by dropping a large asteroid on the planet. It takes a combined effort to minimize the destruction but millions still die as the rescue operation falls short of success. This puts Athrun and the crew of the Minerva back into the thick of things as volume two shows the Gundam franchise as strong as ever.

We got the chance to revisit an oldie but goodie with Banner of the Stars II: Complete Collection a boxed set that includes all the previous episodes and extras of the series at a new, lower MSRP. The war is over but no one seemed to tell the enemy as the futuristic Empire finds administering newly captured planets a lot more trouble then it’s worth. It wasn’t the best expedition of the cast but it was a nice follow up to the first series and fans that missed out previously might want to take the chance and get it now.

Gram has found the Mars treasure he and the crew of the Aurora fought so hard to find in Mars Daybreak V6 but will they be able to keep hold of it when the entire Earth fleet attacks them with no quarter drawn? The crew captured and scheduled for execution, Gram needs to rely on an unlikely ally in order to save them from a certain death as the series closes out with a bang.

Fantastic Children V2 establishes the background of the Children of Befort, the scientific experiments leading to a near disastrous conclusion with Orsel, and the establishment of the GED Project as the plot thickens and the hunt for the living embodiment of a five hundred year old quest continues. Thoma might not know what’s going on but he shows his determination to protect friends Chitto and Helga for all comers; regardless of the consequences for him and those around him.

Slacker Renton Thurston returns in Eureka Seven V2 and Eureka Seven V3 with the young copilot of an advanced military pilot living his dream of traveling with the Gekkostate Alliance and his improbable mentor Holland as he seeks to gain the affection of lovely Eureka. His disillusionment turns his life upside down when his newfound friends all appear to be hiding some nasty secrets in their past but he has yet to learn all they can teach him about the concept of the lesser of two evils as the KLF hunts them down with increasing determination.

If you have the patience to sit through slow moving shows that pay off in the end then Chance Pop Sessions is a new thinpack collection that you'll want to pay attention to. It stars three young girls who want nothing more than to become the next music sensation. Each comes from a different background though their destinies intertwine when they all meet at a Reika concert. The story is a more realistic drama in nature though there are a few silly elements that make you really have to suspend your disbelief. In the end the emotion is strong and the heartfelt story leaves an impression.

When My HiME came out the first couple of episodes really blew reviewer Todd Douglas away. The action was intense, the story had a bit of intrigue and the nearly all female cast was curvy enough to make fanservice loves blush. As the second volume got going the action was spotty at best and the plot gave way to slower character development. With the third volume the series doesn't go much further unfortunately. A dark enemy is revealed and it would seem that they are controlling the Orphans. As Mai and friends get closer to the truth things get dangerous and a "vampire" attacks the school campus. We also learned a little bit about Natsuki's past that added depth to her character, but not enough to flesh out the series. We're roughly half way through and sadly it seems that My HiME hasn't crossed that line yet to being a must have.

Trinity Blood: Collector’s Edition shows that FUNimation isn’t content to rest on the laurels of their past successes as they pull out all stops in releasing the 2005 show from Japan that has wowed many fans at conventions this past year. The story is set five hundred years in the future with humanity and vampires about to go back to war with one another if a special task force of gun toting priests with unique powers can’t stop the plans of a small group of terrorists seeking to purify the world for a better tomorrow. The retro feel of the visuals and the homage’s paid to a number of past hits almost guarantee this one to be well received by the masses.

The second volume of Negima! has just been released and it is just as much fun as the first volume. The story of a ten-year-old magician who is assigned to teach middle school has a good mixture of action and humor, with the accent on the humor. Just what one would expect from Akamatsu Ken, the creator of Love, Hina. In this volume, Negi has to combat a vampire along with her robot body guard, gets lost on campus, and has to keep the middle school girls from fighting with the high school students. While it's not as endearing as Hina and seems to be aimed at a younger audiance that Ken's more famous work, it's still worth checking out.

Galaxy Angels was first released in region one in 2004 in four separate volumes.  Bandai has now collected the entrie first season of this amusing and entertaining show in a reasonably priced set.  (Ya just gotta love season sets of anime!  No long waits between volumes and half the price!)  While this comedy show only runs 15 minute per episode, that short format suits the style and tone of the series very well.  Short on plot but long on goofy action, this series is a good candidate if you're looking for something light and silly to watch.

Be sure to take a look at recommendations by DVDTalk's twisted cast of reviewers in their Best Of Anime 2003Best Of Anime 2004, and Top Ten Anime discs of 2005 articles.

Upcoming Releases

Scheduled for release on October 3, 2006
Title (click on the title to purchase at Amazon.) Studio MSRP
Basilisk Vol. 2 FUNimation 29.98/SE 34.98
Case Closed The Movie: The Time Bombed Skyscraper  FUNimation 24.95
Inu Yasha Vol. 46 Viz 24.98
Papuwa Vol. 2 ADV Films 29.98
Strawberry Marshmallow Vol. 3 Geneon 24.98/39.98 w/ box
Trigun: Remix Vol. 3 Geneon 29.98
Viewtiful Joe Vol. 5 Geneon 19.98
Yu Yu Hakusho Collection 2 FUNimation 34.98 

Scheduled for release on October 10, 2006
Title (click on the title to purchase at Amazon.) Studio MSRP
Dan Doh! The Super Shot Complete Collection Bandai 79.98
Fantastic Children Vol. 4 Bandai 19.98
Flame of Recca Vol. 9 Viz 24.98
Gaogaigar Vol. 2 Media Blasters 29.95
Get Backers Season 1 Box Set ADV Films 59.98
Green Green Vol. 3 Media Blasters 19.95
IGPX: Immortal Grand Prix Vol. 5 Bandai 24.98
Midori Days: The Handheld Collection Media Blasters 39.98
Speedgrapher Vol. 3 FUNimation 29.95/LE 34.95
Vermillion Pleasure Night Vol. 3 ADV Films 19.98
X: Remix Vol. 4 Geneon 29.98


Holly's Anime Bargains
Presented by Holly Beeman

Amazon Slick Catch:
Neon Genesis Evangelion: Platinum Collection: $45.96, [review] retail price: $89.98 - 49% off!

Check Out Your Local Best Buy for:
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Saint Seiya: Collection 1: $29.64, [review] retail price: $49.98 - 40% off!
Saint Seiya: Collection 2: $29.64, retail price: $49.98 - 40% off!
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For more anime deals check out the Official - ANIME Bargains! - Thread.  Updated daily by yours truly!

Anime Talk Looks at Manga:

Chrono Crusade Volumes 5 & 6
by Todd Douglass

The Chrono Crusade manga has been out for some time and the same can be said for the anime for that matter. Both concepts are published by different facets of ADV and by now there is no doubt you have heard of the series. After all, it's a franchise based upon nuns with guns who fight demons. What more could an otaku want?

Chrono Crusade takes place in 1928 and focuses on a young member of the Magdalene Order named Rosette Christopher. She's a teenage sister with a nose for trouble and a knack for getting in over her head. Wherever she goes she leaves behind a wake of destruction and needless to say her boss doesn't particularly enjoy having to pay for the damages. Then again, Rosette wouldn't have that bad of a time if those pesky demons would stop attacking people. Luckily for her she's not alone in her adventure and the Order has her partnered up with a kid called Chrono.

If you read my recap of the first two volumes then you know that I use the term "kid" loosely. Chrono is actually a powerful demon who has taken the form of a child. So you may be asking yourself "What is a nun doing teaming up with a demon?" Well, when Rosette was a little younger she came upon Chrono and the two formed a pact of sorts. Rosette's soul and life force now resides in a watch that hangs around her neck, and each time Chrono uses his powers she takes one step closer to death. Sadly there are many instances where the seal must be broken and the power unleashed, so it's a great foreshadowing of things to come and really adds to the drama of the series.

The first four volumes were fantastic. To say that they had everything would be an understatement. The groundwork for the show was laid out and several characters were introduced. At the end of the last volume Rosette and Joshua (her long lost brother) were standing face to face. Let's just say that when the fifth volume gets going the reunion isn't quite as joyous as you'd think it would be.

You see, Joshua is now part of the demon world and is also the bearer of Chrono's horns. To make matters worse Aion is there to witness things and interfere like all bad guys should. The tension heats up as guns are pointed this way and that. The true battle picks up once Chrono arrives and gets the crap blasted out of him. He and Aion get into a fight which inevitably breaks the seal on Rosette's watch. The fight gets worse as it goes on though the outcome isn't quite as you'd expect. In the end it would seem that Aion's goal was to snatch Azmaria for some devious purpose. Though I'm not going to spoil what he's got in mind for her just yet.

While things slow down for a spell and Rosette recuperates the manga reveals something about Father Remington that definitely fleshes out his character. We basically learn about his motivation and what makes him so strong. At the end of the fifth volume Rosette is about to dive into Chrono's soul to talk with him and help him. What she sees basically fills in the back story for the entire series and really puts things in perspective. Few series give readers moments like this volume does where everything just melts away and you're overcome by a sense of awe.

If you're looking for a good read definitely check out this manga, since it's one of the best that I have experienced. Every volume just keeps getting better and better.

What do you think about the column?  Like what you see?  Don't like it?  Have a comment or suggestion?  Drop us an e-mail and let us know!


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