Fullmetal Alchemist – Brotherhood Collection 5 Blu-ray (Episodes 53-64) (Cert 15)
2 Discs (Distributor: Manga Entertainment) Running time: 280 minutes
It’s a veritable battle bonanza in this Blu-ray release of the final instalment of this exceptional reboot of the modern classic with nary an occupied space in Amestris not playing host to some form of bloodshed. Deep below Central the party consisting of Edward Elric, Scar and the chimera Darius and Zanpano are outnumbered by the seemingly unstoppable mannequin soldiers receive a helping hand from Colonel Mustang and Riza Hawkeye. Nearby May Chung is fleeing from homunculus Envy while Hohenheim collides with his evil doppelganger Father. Meanwhile the Armstrong siblings not only have their hands full with suspicious central soldiers and the giant homunculus Sloth but they also have their own swarm of mannequin soldiers to contend with. Elsewhere on the rooftops of central, the Briggs soldiers collide with the Central soldiers. And just as things are slowly beginning to slow down, someone returns from the dead to settle a few scores and reclaim their castle.
Even with the end now in sight this is still the tip of the proverbial iceberg as far as the plot line which concludes in the twelve episodes featured here. There are still plenty more shock revelations to come, alliances to be formed and broken and there is even room to squeeze in a new protagonist! There is no more to said since once again this reviewer would be guilty of providing spoilers but suffice to say, the old clichés of “ending with a bang” and “explosive finale” have never been more applicable than they are here. Sure, we get a pastoral but much needed post conclusion episode that wraps up the loose ends and sets the characters off onto pastures new but this is not before we are treated to a chaotic, occasionally surreal but action packed does of mayhem to bring the main plot to a close.
If you’ve followed the series from the start – and frankly there is little chance of anyone joining the adventure at this late stage – then the heavy sell is not required and no doubt the events of the last volume have left you salivating for this final outing. It’s hard to predict whether anyone will feel disappointed with how the conclusion is played, since at this point when the show was airing in Japan the manga was running approximately one month ahead so much of the source material was effectively crammed into the final few episodes to the point that the originally announced sixty-three episode run was extended by one more. That said, it is equally hard to imagine anyone finding much fault with how this was handled and even with a slight sprint to the end and an almost imperceptibly minor drop in artwork quality, the conclusion is satisfying enough despite the hurdles placed in front of the capable production team of Studio Bones.
When the successes and failures of TV talent shows such as The X-Factor speak of their “incredible journey” eyes are rolled and scorn is poured on them for spouting such hackneyed rhetoric; for the Elrich brothers and the many companions, friends, foes and those in between, their journey HAS been an incredible one and that sense of melancholy our fictional heroes feel in the final wrap up is oddly palpable to the viewer as well. This emotional attachment one develops with the characters is just one of the strengths of the FMA franchise and indeed a testament to the writing of creator Hiromu Arakawa. She has created not just two very original and endearing main protagonists but a strong and easily identifiable supporting cast that garner equal love from the FMA faithful all set in a fantasy world that seems remarkably authentic.
There is really little else to say about Fullmetal Alchemist – Brotherhood except that no-one should feel let down by this faithful adaptation or indeed dismiss the first animated attempt which introduced many of us to the brother’s Elric and the world of Alchemy even if it was forced to divert off course halfway through its run. This has been one of the more consistent “epic” shows in Anime and a real benchmark setter in many ways.
A five star classic and deservedly so and these belated HD releases make it all the more of a treat.
True HD English Language 5.1
Dolby True HD Japanese Language 2.0
Disc 2 only:
Episode 64 commentary
Textless Opening Song – Rain
Textless Closing Song – Ray Of Light
Textless Closing Song – Hologram
Rating – *****
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