ENGLISH DD 5.1 / 2.0 AND

  RELEASE DATE:   01/27/2009
  REVIEW DATE:   03/08/2009

Innocence and flesh were sacrificed when two young brothers ignored the laws of alchemy in an attempt to resurrect their mother. The horrors they recklessly unleashed that night marked the beginning of a journey that leads from darkness to light and back.
In an era of war and corruption, State Alchemist Edward Elric and his brother Alphonse desperately search for the Philosopher's Stone. The legendary artifact is their last hope to restore what was lost – or it could be their undoing. The grisly truths found in the quest for the relic will test their souls in ways unimaginable.

Murder stalks the brothers from the shadows and false prophets conspire to steal their faith. Morality is assaulted by military atrocities and scientific abominations. Amid the ashes of their childhood, Edward and Alphonse will discover the power to create is but a breath away from the power to destroy. The bond of brotherhood will be their greatest weapon in the fight for their lives.

Contains episodes 1 to 25.

Hiromu Arakawa delivered a manga series that has captivated the imagination of fantasy and animation fans across the globe. The anime adaptation of the story does no less by giving viewers an immersing world filled with action, danger and amazing feats of alchemy and of the soul.

Fullmetal Alchemist is a story that has a little bit of everything. Foremost it is a fantasy adventure, but it does hold aspects of horror. It can be intensely dramatic but has shining moments of comedy and laughter. There is a hint of potential romance, but most of all it is the story of family and the tale of two brothers who defy everything – law, death and more in order to atone for what they did wrong and make right wherever they can.

The first season introduces viewers to the Elric brothers Al and Edward as they journey to right the terrible, nightmarish mishap that occurred when they attempted to resurrect their dead mother using alchemy. Alchemy isn’t like pulling a rabbit out of a hat if you know the magic word. It is based on a law of equal return. Therefore to bring the dead back to life requires an equal exchange. Ed and Al were not prepared for the calamity they caused. Now somewhat older and slightly wiser, the brothers travel together to uncover the secrets of the Philosopher’s Stone, the only alchemic artifact that might be able to get Edward back the half of his body that was taken in the spell, and more importantly, Al’s entire body. For now, his soul is held only by a giant suit of armor, and should anything happen to the rune that holds him in place…

They risked everything to bring their mother back, now they risk everything again in order to save each other. Their journey lands them first in the way of the military. Soon Ed joins the State Alchemists in the hopes that it will lead him to the truth behind the Philosopher’s Stone. He needs to learn how to make one if he hopes to save his brother from being eternally trapped in that suit of armor. But to rejoin body and soul is no small feat, and with every step closer to the truth, Ed is in danger of losing not only his life, but perhaps his sanity. The stone is tied into the secrets behind the Ishbal massacre. But it is a truth many within and outside the military will go to any length to keep.

The second half of the first season shows the strength of the bond between the Elric brothers, while deepening the mystery of the dangers they find themselves surrounded by. During their investigation into the corruption within the military, the truth behind the Ishbal Massacre, and the Philosopher’s Stone, they uncover horrifying secrets that will test their will and their sanity. What they have discovered has left them weary and wounded and threatens to tear their hope asunder.
The second arc focuses on the terrifying secrets of Lab 5. Transmuted foes, tragic chimeras and the deadly seven sins – the homunculi are after them. The serial killer Barry the Chopper and the murderous and vengeful Scar are only two of the deadly people the Elric brothers must face. Scar however is a character so much deeper than just a foil for the brothers. The second arc shows some of his past and the quest he has to kill off all the alchemist warriors and why. Things only get worse for the Elric brothers. The secret behind the stone places Ed in a terrible position, one that tests his morals and his convictions as well as his grip on reality. When the homunculus Lust captures Al, Ed must make a horrific decision that could tear the brothers apart forever.

It is a series with a great deal happening and a lot of story and character development to take in. And yet the brilliance of the script is such that all of that comes across as effortless as air. It smoothly pulls the viewer in and sweeps them away in the gripping twists and dramatic events that the journey portrays. After the events of Lab 5, Al questions not only his path, but his very existence. It creates a huge rift between the tightly bound brothers.

Meanwhile they have not been alone exactly in all of this. The righteous alchemist military commander Hughes and his small band of soldiers have chosen to secretly investigate the military and the lab in order to find out what the truth is despite the risks. It leads to one of the more shocking, tragic and emotional moments in the anime when one of the people that Al and Ed have called friend gives the ultimate sacrifice to uncover the truth. The road to redemption has never been so enthralling or so dangerous.

There’s a special ending on episode 25 to keep ones eyes open for. The overall score is a subtle one that skillfully augments the various emotional layers of a scene while providing diverse music that can impart faraway lands and different cultures.

The animation is done by BONES, famous for many of anime’s top titles such as Rahxephon, Cowboy Bebop the movie, Darker Than Black, and many, many more. The visuals are stunning. Not only has the production captured the splendid art and character designs from the manga, but the wide scope of colors and striking action sequences along with the amazing alchemic magical sequences are each riveting to watch.

The anime boasts an outstanding cast. Laura Bailey stands out for her incredible rendition of the sultry and deadly Lust. Laura Bailey is known more for her poignant and quiet characters such as tender hearted innocent girl Tohru in Fruits Basket, so much so that you’d never know it was the same person voicing the evil and seductive homunculus Lust in Fullmetal Alchemist.

The anime holds a massive yet fascinating cast. Again the storytelling is lauded for how well it handles the much involved development of each character while not sacrificing pacing, excitement or the main plot. The rare character studies offered and woven into the story make it a far richer and deeper tale than could ever have been expected.

The first season box set holds an impressive array of bonus features. DVD extra features include production art galleries, clean opening and ending animation, FUNimation trailers, original Japanese commercials, and character profiles. It also has L’Arc-en-Ciel music video “READY STEADY GO!”, Tofu Records commercial ads for L’Arc-en-Ciel, Square Enix commercial, and a bonus addition of the full first episode of Spiral the anime in the extras section of volume four. DVD bonus features also include English cast commentary on episode 19 by Mike McFarland (ADR Director and voice of Havoc), Vic Mignogna (Edward Elric), and Aaron Dismuke (Alphonse Elric). And also on episode 25 and where Mike McFarland is joined by Travis Willingham (Roy Mustang) and Sonny Strait (Hughes).

It also comes with the guidebooks that holds the content of the original ones released in the separate two box sets that made up season one that were released earlier by FUNimation. The book looks at the settings, the story, and the characters in the anime with accompanying full color images from the anime as well as design art and black and white sketches, and interviews with various members of the Japanese cast and crew. The book also includes episode summaries but don’t read the guidebooks until after you’ve seen the episodes as they do hold some spoilers.

Inspiring story and outstanding animation! FMA is one of the best fantasy anime series, not only of the decade but ever!

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