15 January 2012 | b_rad099
An Excellent filler episode but also something more...
I had the chance to see this at my local theater, a treat since they usually don't get such obscure titles and I'm usually forced to resort to waiting on blu-ray releases. This time I was able to see the beautifully hand drawn animation up on the big screen in all its glory.
I am a relatively new fan of the series but have been well exposed to the mythos by now. This film, unlike the film tied to the earlier series (Conqueror of Shamballa), is not an ending/finale as much as it is a filler episode that fits into the Brotherhood series. It should be viewed as another chance to spend time with the Elric brothers, though perhaps this time on an ever slightly more epic journey than usual. I feel viewing it this way, which is how I went into it, will merit the most enjoyment.
I don't think anything needs to be said about the voice acting, this dub is terrific, truly one of the best. I know some fans only watch the subs but this is well known as one of those anime that almost every fan finds the English dub to be on par or in some cases above the original one.
The visuals were fantastic and the action was excellently staged. The only downside is that Ed and Al seem to play side characters in this film, whereas in comparison to Conqueror of Shamballa they were definitely main characters there. While I would have liked more of them and more stakes for them in the story that didn't stop me from greatly enjoying the film. The story keeps one eager to see what will happen and where things will go, even though a few too many scenes without any presence felt by Ed or Al left me wondering when they would return to the screen.
It isn't that I didn't enjoy the side characters, just that Ed and Al were always on my mind when gone too long as this is a Fullmetal Alchemist film. The side characters are interesting and well designed, there is a large back story about two warring countries and another caught between and a smaller back story about a brother and sister who, like Ed and Al, lost their parents The large amount of plot is well explained without getting too expository, several flashback sequences definitely help.
The film starts out very linear, light and fun but soon gets very dark and heavy as it begins to pile on the plot twists towards the end, back-to-back-to-back at one point. I didn't mind personally but I mention it just to help others decide whether they want to find this in a local theater or wait for the spring blu-ray release.
On another note, if this film didn't carry the title Fullmetal Alchemist or if Ed and Al hadn't been in the story I would have felt like I was watching an older Hayao Miyazaki film, which I say as a compliment. Even the character designs reminded me very much of Nausicaa or other similar films.
So while I do wish Ed and Al were more involved both physically and emotionally, they mostly stand on the sidelines and give their opinions to these new characters who may make the same mistakes the boys once did, it is nevertheless a good if not great film. It is especially engaging for those who love hand drawn animation as I do.