DVD Review: Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Part 3

By Animaven on January 17, 2011

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There are few shows that evoke rabid fandom like “Fullmetal Alchemist.” With the original series, production company Studio Bones developed an anime loyal to the universe of the manga created by Hiromu Arakawa, but in production, Bones hit the wall that all great anime based on an ongoing manga encounter: what is an anime to do when original content runs out and the show must go on? Some, like “Naruto” and “Bleach” rely on filler arcs to kill time while the manga catches up. “Fullmeal Alchemist,” however, went a completely different path: Bones took the foundation the manga provided and created their own story, approved by Hiromu Arakawa. That series made history and became a fan favorite; one need only look at the sea of blue military uniforms at any convention to confirm it.

With “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Part 3,” Bones got a chance to go back to the powerhouse series and re-write their own history, following the manga’s path and delivering an anime that gave new story to hungry fans. In Funimation’s first “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” DVD set, audiences were re-introduced to Edward and Alphonse Elric, two young brothers who, through use of alchemy, tried to bring their dead mother back to life and paid a steep price - the loss of Ed’s arm and leg and Al’s entire body. Ed joins the military in order to mine state resources to right their wrong, and in doing so get caught up in adventure, intrigue, and a fight against some truly dastardly villains. Set one worked as a catch-up, a quick blitz through the ground both series had in common. Set two saw the beginning of the manga storyline. It watched a bit like landing in an alternate reality at first; villains acted out of new motives, heroes made different choices. The world of “FMA” broadened to outlying countries, which came with new characters. Set two signified the transition to the new story.


With set three, the story is in full swing. The new rules are established, and fans can kick back and immerse themselves in the textured world, intricate plot and characters with so much emotional depth and complexity that they inspire die-hard loyalty amongst the fans. At the end of set two, Ed and Al, along with their new comrade from the Asian-esque country of Xing, Lin, squared off with the homunculi Gluttony and Envy, which led to Lin, Ed and a now dragon-shaped Envy trapped inside Gluttony, who takes Al to meet “Father,” the man who created the homunculi. When all parties reunite, Ed and Al end up with more questions than answers and Lin, through his hubris, undergoes an unfortunate transformation. Looking for sense and a foothold against the tide of enemies, Ed and Mustang find themselves face to face with Wrath, who breaks down Mustang’s collection of personnel. In a moment of introspection, Mustang likens his men to chessboard pieces, with himself as the king, the only standing piece left. It is one of the more poignant moments in the set, closely mirrored by Hawkeye’s revelation of the consequences of Mustang’s plan - consequences that spell doom for his chess pieces, but a doom they gladly accept for the greater good.


Ed and Al pursue answers to the questions raised by “Father”, a journey that takes them northward. In the northern fortress of Briggs, the Elric brothers encounter the cold and stunning General Olivier Armstrong, sister to Major Armstrong. In the episodes in the north, the enemy’s hand is revealed, new villains step forward and the good guys gain an unlikely ally.

“Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” differs to the original series in a few key ways. The art style is a little closer to the manga, though it isn’t different enough to alienate fans. There’s a little more comedic chibi art, which is a tiny adjustment for “FMA” fans. The show follows the two romantic stories, between Ed and Winry and Mustang and Hawkeye, with a little more intent, which some fans will find highly satisfying (Hawkeye/Mustang shippers will be especially pleased with this set). Funimation’s wildly talented voice cast features a little bit of shuffling between the first and second series, but the transition is seamless and the final product is as perfectly molded to the characters as possible. The bottom line, though is that “Brotherhood” is more of what made “FMA” great, and the third set features the kind of skilled storytelling with phenomenal action that fans expect from the franchise.


Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Part 3, released by Funimation Entertainment, features episodes 27 through 39 on two discs. Bonus features include two commentaries featuring the voice actors behind Olivier Armstrong, Envy, Scar, Captain Buccaneer and hosted by line producer and ADR director Mike McFarland, who voices Havoc. The commentaries offer inside looks into the making of the show and crafting the voices as well as the actor’s insights into the series. Textless openings and closings as well as a collection of trailers for other Funimation titles round out the bonus features. The anime is viewable with English and Japanese audio and English subtitles. The set is available on blu-ray, for $54.98 and DVD for $49.98, with a release date of December 28th, 2010.

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