Review by: Edward Zacharias
Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: $49.98 US
Running Time: 625 minutes
Rating: TV PG
Release Date: Available Now
The groundbreaking conclusion to one of anime’s most adored epics.
Fullmetal Alchemist has been called a lot of things but if there’s one word that can best sum up the series about two brothers on a journey to get back what was lost to them it would be: perfect. This is a series that has everything you could ask for in an anime and then takes it to another level that makes it easy to see why FUNimation continues to release it and why the series has such a strong and loyal following. Fullmetal Alchemist, The Complete Second Season brings us the last 26 episodes on four discs that will surely not fail to make you laugh, cry and sing its praises all over again.
The first season set ended with episode 25 and that brings us to the Second Season as the woman both Ed and Alphonse Elric call “Teacher” arrives in South Headquarters looking for the brothers only to find Colonel Roy Mustang and company wondering the same thing. As it turns out, Ed and Al are traveling with their childhood friend, Winry Rockbell, as they reach a town where automail is quite popular. This is but a small pit stop before heading on to their main destination … Ishabal, where the one called Scar is sure to be heading as well.
In the meantime, Major Armstrong approaches Mustang with whispers that somebody high up has an interest in the Philosopher’s Stone and is also connected with the murder of Brigadier General Maes Hughes. While it seems that Mustang has put the murder of his friend to rest, it is the clumsy librarian named Sciezka who continues to look into the matter and believes there’s a conspiracy seeing as the mysterious Colonel Archer has ordered all files pertaining to the investigation be destroyed. There’s definitely something wrong going on in Central Headquarters.
Still, Ed and Al have their hands full when Teacher (also known as Izumi) finally catches up to them. A big part of their alchemy training with Izumi is finally revealed as well as the secret shame Teacher has been hiding for a long time that offers an insight why the woman occasionally coughs up blood. The child they encounter in an island has no past but it is clear that he’s not human and knows alchemy, which is why the Homunculi take the boy after a failed attempt to rescue him from military headquarters. The child is given the name of Wrath and it’s definitely a fitting name, indeed.
On their continued quest for Scar, the Philosopher’s Stone and the truth behind the Homunculi, the Elric brothers look up an old woman named Dante … a meeting that is interrupted by the Chimera that escaped Lab 5 led by Greed. A lot is revealed about the Chimera as well, including the military’s experiements on them and their involvement in the Ishbal uprising. Sadly, in these finale episodes, the Lab 5 Chimera feel more like victims and their fate to the Homunculi is actually heartbreaking.
The series isn’t without its share of truly spectacular battles as well as jaw-dropping dramatic moments as bits and pieces of this puzzle begins to come together. When the boys do reach Ishabal, more about Scar and the war surfaces and a shocking fact becomes apparent when King Bradley makes an appearance. More importantly, Scar’s fate in the final episodes is also shocking and his connection with the Homunculi named Lust is surprising. More interesting yet, Ed’s mission back to Liore finds Rose (remember her from the very first episode?) has become a Virgin Mary-like figure.
Speaking of the Homunculi, their quest to become human becomes more understandable when their true nature comes into light. Ed and Al’s father also makes an appearance to place the final piece of the puzzle. After Ed and Al are hunted down by the military by orders of the Fuhrer, Colonel Mustang plans a revolt to overthrow King Bradley based on what the boys tell him about the Fuhrer. This all leads to a final battle. Personally speaking, the ending was one of the best in anime and for those who don’t think so there’s Fullmetal Alchemist The Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa to fill some of the gaps.
The beauty of Fullmetal Alchemist is its story and characters that come together to create a truly memorable and compelling epic. It’s the kind of story that has its share of funny moments (Episode 37 being one of the more comical) and genuinely heartbreaking moments as well (the death of Hughes as well as the fate that befalls most of the Homunculi in the end). More importantly, Ed and Al’s plight and the sacrifices each one makes for the other feels so sincerely touching the you wonder why other anime series aren’t able to capture this feeling.
Fullmetal Alchemist, The Complete Second Season, is the best package so far and one that should be a part of you collection. Does the new packaging make it worth buying if you already bought it before in its other collections set form? No, not really, but for those who missed out on any version should buy these season sets right now. If this is your first time viewing Fullmetal Alchemist, then you are most definitely in for a treat.
DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN
In the final 26 episodes of the series, Ed and Alphonse come closer to the truth about Ishbal, the Homunculi, their father and – finally – about the Philosopher’s Stone. As they move closer to uncovering the these mysteries, Colonel Mustang stages a coup in what will lead to a finale you will not soon forget.
VIDEO QUALITY: A
FUNimation has released Fullmetal before in other sets but this one just seems more vibrant. The series always had amazing animation and it definitely shows.
AUDIO QUALITY: A+
The strong voice cast in the English dub as well as the original Japanese voice cast is downright impressive to the point that they make the wonderful cast of characters even more charming. Add a magnificent original score by Michiru Oshima and great opening and closing theme songs and we have a winner.
The second season set isn’t jam-packed with extras but what is there is nothing to sneeze at either. Aside from the insightful Inside Look featurette (Vic Mignogna tells a fun story of how he got Ed to sound like he had a swollen cheek) and audio commentary for the final episode and an assortment, the set packs all those awesome Guide Books as well.
The Second Season of Fullmetal Alchemist is nothing short of brilliant but fans already know that seeing as the series has been released in a set before but if you happened to have missed those then this is the absolute Must Have Fullmetal Alchemist collection you really do have to buy.