Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Part Two – Blu-ray Review

Review by: Eduardo Zacarias

Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: Blu-ray: $54.98 US; DVD: $49.98 US
Running Time: 320 minutes
Genre: Action
Rating: TV 14
Release Date: Available Now

Another dose of an anime series so good you’d swear alchemy was involved in its making.

In our review of Part One of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, we couldn’t stop singing its praises enough because – let’s face it – it’s not easy to follow the treasured original series or capture the essence of Hiromu Arakawa’s manga yet Brotherhood manages to pull it off superbly. While the first part was a familiar-yet-still-amazing introduction, Part Two is where things really get started and you will love every second of it.

With Alphonse Elric having been captured by Greed’s chimera thugs made up of ex-military fiends such as Dolcetto, Martel and Roa in the last episode of Part One, the second chapter begins with King Bradley himself leading a team that includes Armstrong into the Devil’s Nest. Meanwhile, Edward and his teacher, Izumi, battle the homunculus named Greed only to see him slip away into the sewers where he encounters and faces off against the Fuhrer. Trust me when I say that the battle, including the one involving Armstrong and Roa, are nothing short of awesome.

The incident in the sewers is an ugly one and those who remember the original series knows what happens to Martel (who hid in Al’s armor) but the incident makes no sense to both Ed and Al now that they’re reunited. Why was King Bradley here and why didn’t he take any of the chimera henchmen alive for questioning? Why did he slaughter them all? This is a question that also makes Colonel Roy Mustang rather suspicious of the Fuhrer’s activities.

The aftermath of the fight and what happens to Martel reawakens Al’s memories of what happened when they went through the gates of the Truth. Al has a bad feelings about his real body as well as the fact that his soul might not stay bonded to the suit of armor. Speaking of souls bonded to a suit of armor, Barry the Chopper attacks a woman that happens to be Lieutenant Riza Hawkeye. Not only does she capture Barry but makes him aid them in Mustang’s plan to flush out Brigadier General Hughes’ murderer.

Meanwhile, two different strangers from the land of Xing arrive. One is a little girl named May Chang who is rescued by Yoki who is still hanging out with the killer known as Scar. She has come in search of the famed Fullmetal Alchemist for the purposes of saving her people. At the same time, another person from Xing arrives and meets Ed an Al. He is Ling Yao who travels with two bodyguards (Lan Fan and Fu) who know the young man’s secret as well as his reasons for having traveled so far. While Ed is annoyed by Ling, this young man becomes a valuable ally.

In one of the more emotional moments of Part Two, Ed, Winry and Al return to Central where they learn of Maes Hughes’ death. The impact of this news drives Ed and Al to help the investigation. They blame themselves for having gotten Hughes killed over their personal quest to find the Philosopher’s Stone. When Lieutenant Marie Ross is implicated in the murder of Hughes, however, the Elric brothers as well as those working under Mustang feel that the girl is being set up. What results is a great cover-up.

There are also some great and rather shocking confrontations such as when Mustang’s plan to flush out the killer brings Gluttony and Lust after them. With Hawkeye trying desperately to survive her encounter with Gluttony, Mustang and Havoc battle Lust in one of the more unforgettable and suspenseful fights. The outcome is an interesting twist that has Havoc is an awful state and Mustang badly injured. It’s also surprising that there is actually more than a few casualties as well.

Speaking of surprising twists, Ed’s trip to the ruins of Xerxes reveals the identity of Winry Rockbell’s parents and when Ed lures this killer out into the open it is Winry who finds herself facing her parents’ killer. We are also revealed a big chunk of Scar’s life and his motivation for not only avenging the slaughter of the Ishvalans but also the crime he committed. Ed even meets up with his father back in their hometown.

Still, the best part is the connection they make to King Bradley as Mustang begins to gather allies and information about the homunculus after having went up against Gluttony and Lust. The Fuhrer’s connection to all of this becomes clear when Ling and Lan Fan go head-to-head with him. I won’t say more except that Ed and Ling make a most unusual discovery … inside the belly of Gluttony.

A more exhilarating, emotional and impressive Part Two makes Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood really start to take off in familiar yet interesting new heights that will please fans of the series and manga. With the introduction of new characters and many intense nail-biting moments, Part Two takes off like a freight train for a ride you will not want to see stop. Fullmetal Alchemist fans, this is the one set you really must have in your collection … period.

BLU-RAY REVIEW BREAKDOWN

MOVIE/EPISODES: A
Edward and Alphonse aren’t the only ones who find King Bradley’s involvement in an operation that takes out the Homunculus named Greed and his followers. It is Colonel Mustang who takes it upon himself to flush out those responsible for the death of Maes Hughes. Meanwhile, strangers from the distant land of Xing come searching for the truth behind alchemy. Then, Mustang and his loyal subordinates discover a most unsettling possibility about the Fuhrer.

VIDEO QUALITY: A+
Once again, FUNimation outdoes itself in the quality of its Blu-ray releases because this series looks amazing in high-definition. With a crisp picture that makes the animation look gorgeous, here’s hoping they will release the original series on Blu-ray.

AUDIO QUALITY: A
If you’ve seen the original anime series you know what to expect from the music and, more importantly, the voice acting. The Japanese voice cast continues to be amazing but you have to hand it to the English dub voice cast that is perfect. I agree with the first audio commentary track, Maxey Whitehead (Alphonse) definitely deserves lots of love from fans in future events. Oh, and the new closing theme song is so lovely we play it often in the office.

EXTRAS: B+
The Blu-ray comes complete with trailers, textless opening and closing songs but – most importantly – two audio commentary tracks. The commentary for Episode 14 features Mike McFarland (ADR Director and voice of Havoc) with Chris Patton (voice of Greed) and Vic Mignogna (Ed Elric) and it’s an interesting conversation. However, the commentary for Episode 23 has Mr. McFarland again as well as Monica Rial (voice of May), Todd Haberkorn (voice of Ling) and Trina Nishimura (voice of Lan Fan) is delightfully lively.

OVERALL: A
Part Two of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is a thrilling, powerful and beautifully executed chapter in the Brotherhood series. A lot happens in these 13 episodes as we meet new allies, secrets are revealed and the confrontations in this second part are powerfully riveting. In other words, Part Two of this series is an anime event you should not miss.

Review copy provided by FUNimation Entertainment

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