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Fullmetal Alchemist: The Complete Series (Limited Edition)

FUNimation // Unrated // September 15, 2015
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). style=""> 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:


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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.
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style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">


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. He aspires to make movies and has written two screenplays on spec. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.

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