Blu-ray Review “Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood: Collection One & Two”

Actors: Maxey Whitehead, Vic Mignogna, Christopher Sabat, Caitlin Glass
Directors: Mike McFarland
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: FUNimation
DVD Release Date: April 24, 2012 / July 17, 2012
Run Time: 825 minutes / 775 minutes

Series: 5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

When “Fullmetal Alchemist” ended its original series run in 2004, I was left wanting much more. Then shortly after in 2005 “Fullmetal Alchemist- The Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa” was released and delivered a good ending to the show. But that wasn’t the last we saw of this series, in 2009 “Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood” started. This series, unlike the first anime which had an original story, follows the story of the manga series. So it is not a sequel or prequel. It is a new series. FUNimation is behind this release and is bringing this fantastic series to Blu-ray in two collections. “Collection One” contains episodes 1-33 and “Collection Two” finishes out the series with episodes 34-64. If you are a fan of “Fullmetal Alchemist” this is a fantastic series that even rivals the original…there I said it. I love originals series but if you read the animes, it is even cooler to see the stories come to life.

Collection One Official Premise: Edward and Alphonse Elric’s reckless disregard for alchemy’s fundamental laws ripped half of Ed’s limbs from his body and left Al’s soul clinging to a cold suit of armor. To restore what was lost, the brothers scour a war-torn land for the Philosopher’s Stone, a fabled relic which grants the ability to perform alchemy in impossible ways. The Elrics are not alone in their search; the corrupt State Military is also eager to harness the artifact’s power. So too are the strange Homunculi and their shadowy creator. The mythical gem lures exotic alchemists from distant kingdoms, scarring some deeply enough to inspire murder. As the Elrics find their course altered by these enemies and allies, their purpose remains unchanged – and their bond unbreakable.

Collection Two Official Premise: In the shadows beneath Central, the Elrics encounter Father, the creator of the Homunculi. His face is familiar – as is the new face of Greed – but his alchemy is unlike anything the brothers have ever seen. As Father’s dark plot takes shape, Ed and Al brave the frigid north to meet the top officer of the fortress Briggs: General Olivier Armstrong. With icy nerve and burning intensity, she commands the hardest soldiers in the land. When you witness her leading the warriors of Briggs in battle against the unstoppable, rampaging Sloth, you’ll know – the stakes are higher than ever

Collection One includes: 1. Fullmetal Alchemist, 2. The First Day, 3. City of Heresy, 4. An Alchemist’s Anguish, 5. Rain of Sorrows, 6. Road of Hope, 7. Hidden Truth, 8. The Fifth Laboratory, 9. Created Feelings, 10. Separate Destinations, 11. Miracle in Rush Valley, 12. One Is All, All Is One, 13. Beasts of Dublith, 14. Those Who Lurk Underground, 15. Envoy from the East, 16. Footsteps of a Comrade-in-Arms, 17. Cold Flame, 18. The Arrogant Palm of a Small Human, 19. Death of the Undying, 20. Father Before the Grave, 21. Advance of the Fool, 22. Back in the Distance. 23. Girl on the Battlefield, 24. Inside the Belly, 25. Doorway of Darkness, 26. Reunion, 27. Interlude Party, 28. Father, 29. Struggle of the Fool, 30. The Ishvalan War of Extermination, 31. The 520 Cens Promise, 32. The Fuhrer’s Son, 33. The Northern Wall of Briggs

Collection Two includes: 34. Ice Queen, 35. The Shape of This Country, 36. Family Portrait, 37. The First Homunculus, 38. Conflict at Baschool, 39. Daydream, 40. Homunculus (The Dwarf in the Flask), 41. The Abyss, 42. Signs of a Counteroffensive, 43. Bite of the Ant, 44. Reviving at Full Throttle, 45. The Promised Day, 46. Looming Shadow, 47. Emissary of Darkness, 48. The Oath in the Tunnel, 49. Filial Affection, 50. Upheaval in Central, 51. The Immortal Legion, 52. Combined Strength, 53. Flame of Vengeance, 54. Beyond the Inferno, 55. The Adults’ Way of Life, 56. The Return of the Fuhrer, 57. Eternal Leave, 58. Sacrifices, 59. Lost Light, 60. Eye of Heaven, Gateway of Earth, 61. He Who Would Swallow God, 62. A Fierce Counterattack, 63. The Other Side of the Gateway, 64. Journey’s End

FUNimation (like usual) really gave “Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood” a wonderful presentation. The 1080p transfer for each episode is near perfect and very impressive within its 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The colors are extremely vibrant and sharp. The line detail is also notable and transfers well onto the screen in high-def. These series on both collection are presented with the show’s original Japanese language and also an English dub. The Japanese audio only includes a Dolby True HD 2.0 track, while the English dub gets a more meaty Dolby True HD 5.1 track. I am usually gung ho for the original language track but I have to go with the English track for this series. I just love the voice actors and top that with a better audio track and it easily wins me over.

The special features may not be the greatest in terms of featurettes but there is sure a nice collection of audio commentary tracks for various episodes. Collection one contains audio commentaries on episodes 1, 10, 14, 23, 28. Collection two contains audio commentaries on episodes 36, 40, 46 and 64. The commentaries are focuses on key episodes and are a must for die-hard fans! Both Collection one and two have textless opening songs – “again”, “Hologram”, “Golden Time Lover” and textless closing songs – “Let it Out”, “ISO”, “Tsimaoda Te”. Collection two includes some outtakes, which are also fun and worth checking out. Lastly wrapping up the extras are trailers included on both collections.


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Blu-ray Review “Fullmetal Alchemist- The Movie: The Sacred Star of Milos”

Actors: Vic Mignogna, Maxey Whitehead, Alexis Tipton
Directors: Mike McFarland
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: Funimation Prod
Release Date: April 24, 2012
Run Time: 110 minutes

Film: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

I have been a fan of “Fullmetal Alchemist” since day one.  I really enjoyed “Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos”.  I thought it was a great entry in the animes universe. The focuses on our heroes Alfonse and Edward but also introduces a bunch of other great new characters.  I did notice how they did shift the focus of the film to one of the newbies, Julia and focused some of the story on her. But I thought it still worked well and kept me very entertained and interested throughout. The series has never looked better in my eyes and I really hope that they are planning future films, maybe with Julia again (hint hint). If you are a fan of the series, this comes highly recommended.

Official Premise: A fugitive alchemist with mysterious abilities leads the Elric brothers to a distant valley of slums inhabited by the Milos, a proud people struggling against bureaucratic exploitation. Ed and Al quickly find themselves in the middle of a rising rebellion, as the exiled Milos lash out against their oppressors. At the heart of the conflict is Julia, a young alchemist befriended by Alphonse. She’ll stop at nothing to restore the Milos to their former glory – even if that means harnessing the awful power of the mythical Philosopher’s Stone.

FUNimation Entertainment has been very kind of the “Fullmetal Alchemist” series and “The Sacred Star of Milos” is no different.  It delivers a stunning presentation within its 1080p transfer and 1.78:1 aspect ratio.. The colors are very sharp and bright. Like with the last movie in the series, this one also includes both the original Japanese language track and my favorite, the English dub with very impressive Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround tracks.  I just love the English cast from the series and this is a rare time when I prefer over the original language. The action is well-used with either track and works perfectly with the films non-stop action.

The special features are seem like they don’t come with much but I enjoyed what they had quite a bit. “Fullmetal Alchemist: Making of Sacred Star of Milos” is a very solid hour long behind-the-scenes look into the production of the film. It is in Japanese with English subtitles. There is a fantastic commentary track from the English dub cast including Maxey Whitehead (Alfonse), Christopher R. Sabat (Armstrong), Vic Mignogna (Ed), and many others from the crew. Lastly there is a U.S. Trailer, Web Promo, and TV Spot included. What I like most about this film is that you don’t really need to know the series that well to be able to enjoy and follow unlike the last movie “Conqueror of Shamballa”. Don’t miss this!

Blu-ray Review “Fullmetal Alchemist- The Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa”

Actors: Romi Pak, Rie Kugimiya, Shun Oguri, Kazuko Kato, Masane Tsukayama
Directors: Seiji Mizushima, Mike McFarland
Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: Funimation
Release Date: November 17, 2009
Run Time: 105 minutes

Film: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3.5 out of 5 stars

When “Fullmetal Alchemist” completed its 51 episode run, I was left dying for more…as was every other fan. “Conqueror of Shamballa” is our answered prayer. Of course this was before the second series “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” was developed. There is one catch though, you would have had to watch the original series first before watching this, since it picks up right after the end. There is no explanation of the the storyline or back story of the characters, so be sure to watch the series first unless you will feel lost. Nonetheless, this movie is an epic conclusion to the series and a perfect compliment to the series. If you’re a fan of the “Fullmetal Alchemist” series, then this is a must watch!

Official Premise: It is 1923 in Munich. Two years have passed since Edward Elric’s sacrifice ripped him out of his world and into ours, separating him from his younger brother, Alphonse. In that time, Ed’s continued research into rocketry has allied him with Alphonse Heiderich, a fellow researcher who oddly resembles Ed’s brother. Progress has been slow, however, and Ed has become discouraged. But when he saves a quiet Gypsy girl with the power to read minds, Ed is quickly pulled into a plot by the Thule Society and the burgeoning Nazi Party that could drag both worlds into a terrible war. Back in his own world, Al has been unlocking new secrets of alchemy and gaining incredible powers, all in the hopes of finding Ed. Battling the occult, ideological extremists, and monstrous Homunculi lurking in the shadows, can the brothers find a way to reunite without causing chaos and bloodshed? What will happen when the world of alchemy and the world of modern science collide?

FUNimaton Entertainment is known for delivering very sharp Blu-ray releases.  The 1080p transfer is quite impressive.  The animation on the film seems different from the series but still looks good. Since the film is so epic the action is well portrayed and looks impressive. There are two audio tracks on this release. The English track, Dolby TrueHD 5.1, is preferred and easily takes the win on this release. The English voice cast has become so recognizable and fan favorite for the series. The Japanese track also includes a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track and hardcore fans will still enjoy and appreciate, but I have to go with the English track here.

The special features are very impressive for the film. There are three full-length audio commentary tracks. The first is with director Seiji Mizushima, Kugimiya Rie (Al), Toyoguchi Megumi (Winry), and Park Romi (Ed). The second is with Seiji Mizushima, Miyahara Yohei (technical director), and Oyabu Yoshihiro (production desk). The last is hosted by Mike McFarland (Jean Havoc) and Colleen Clinkenbeard (Riza Hawkeye/Rose Thomas) and plays more like a voice over interview with cast chatting over the film. There is a 40 minutes “The Making of Fullmetal Alchemist: Conqueror of Shamballa”, the featurette includes interviews with director Seiji Mizushima and packs some nice behind the scenes clips. “Talk Session with Seiji Mizushima, Romi Park, Rei Kugimiya, and Toru Okawa” is a sit down with the director and voice cast from the series to chat about the film and the series. There were also seven trailers for “Conqueror of Shamballa” and some production art.

Blu-ray Review “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood – OVA Collection”

Actors: Maxey Whitehead, Vic Mignogna, Christopher Sabat, Caitlin Glass, Travis Willingham
Directors: Caitlin Glass, Mike McFarland
Rated: Unrated
Studio: Funimation
Release Date: May 22, 2012
Run Time: 60 minutes

OVA Collection: 3 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Since the very first episode, I have been a life long fan of the anime series “Fullmetal Alchemist”. So when I saw that there was an OVA collection available for the series, I couldn’t wait to see it. There are four short episodes included on this release are “The Blind Alchemist”, “Simple People”, “Chronicle of the Teacher”, “Yet Another Man’s Battlefield”. Being such a big fan of the show, I have to admit though I was a little disappointed in these since they are rather forgettable. But I do not think it matter much since hardcore fans of the show should be excited to get an extra content that they can.

Official Premise: Amazing secrets and startling facts are exposed for the first time in the Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood OVA Collection, a new assortment of stories set in never-before-seen corners of the FMA universe. Join Ed and Al as they chase rumors of successful human transmutation into a web of shocking family drama and lies. Sneak a glance at hidden sides of Winry and Hawkeye’s personalities. Survive the frigid north with a young Izumi Curtis as she fights to gain a deeper understanding of alchemy. Explore the legendary friendship shared by Mustang and Hughes and watch them grow from military school rivals into hardened brothers transformed by the horrors of the Ishvalan War. You thought you knew the whole story. You thought all the tales were told. The Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood OVA Collection offers proof: You were wrong.

FUNimation Entertainment has delivered a wonderful release here. The OVA shorts look beautiful with their 1080p transfers and are presented in 1.78:1 aspect ratio. Like past high definition presentations in the “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” franchise, FUNimation has delivered again.  The colors are vibrant and looks very sharp.  There are two audio tracks on this release.  Believe it or not the English: Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track takes the cake on this release.  The English voice cast has become so recognizable and fan favorite for the site. The Japanese track only includes a Dolby TrueHD 2.0 audio, but hardcore fans will still enjoy.  In terms of special features we get 16 short commercials in “Fullmetal Four Panel Comic Theater”, which adds up to over 40 minutes of footage. They are specifically made for laughs and are quite funny.