The most important flashback in the series so far comes in the first episode of this box-set. In the city of Xerxes, we are introduced to the characters Slave 23 and a clouded Homunculus in a bottle. This mysterious being gives the slave the name Van Hohenheim and the knowledge to become an alchemist. As the years go by, the king of Xerxes summons the Homunculus and asks if there is a way to become immortal. While the unknown monster agrees that there is a way, it’s all a plot for something much more terrifying and devastating. The plot so far has hinted at this, but showing what actually happened is still both shocking and informative since we know more about Hohenheim’s past.
We are then thrown back into the main plot, with Scar’s group escaping the military through a cave, and Edward with Major Miles planning to take down the military alchemist Kimblee. This doesn’t work out for Edward and gets to the point where he is seriously injured – but thanks to some unlikely help, he survives. Intelligence about the military’s true plans begin to spread around the country and it’s at this point where our heroes start to come back together and gain allies, both obvious and in the most unlikely of places.
It also shows that almost every character in the series has had a purpose, all the right people have discussed everything about Alchemy and Alkahestry, and how transmutation circles have played a huge part in the story. Side characters are revealed as information brokers, and the garrison at Fort Briggs shows their military strength. It all becomes so fulfilling.
As the episodes progress, we also see the return of nearly all of Father’s Homunculi and a proper introduction to “Pride” (who was supposedly the first to be formed of this group of antagonists) a very deadly foe who uses any shadow to his advantage. When you see him pitted in battle against the heroes, it’s really thrilling to realize how dangerous he can be. Trust me, I’ve taken many screen shots from the excellent battle scenes throughout these fights.
The animation is top class, showing well-orchestrated battle scenes and beautiful locations. The same goes for both the dubbed and Japanese voice actors, whose performances make the characters sound convincing, which benefits both the serious and funny moments.
Events are starting to lead up to the final battle, with an all-pervading sense of a “calm before the storm” that I want to see the conclusion of. With its thrilling fights that have kept me on the edge of my seat, the unexpected turn of events the series has thrown at me, and its well-timed comedy, Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood is simply phenomenal.
The opening animation is both epic and fluid which makes it so enjoyable every time I watch it; the J-rock song “Chemistry – Period” excels even more. The closing tune by “Scandal – Shunkan Sentimental” is also a catchy J-Rock tune with a more basic animation that still packs a punch. There are new openings and closings by the end of the box-set that show what to expect from the final episodes.
This time, the commentaries are both on disc one. The first is a talk on episode 40 which gives us more detail on how Edward, Alphonse, and Van Hohenheim differ from each other as well as giving an in-depth talk on the episode itself. The second commentary has both ADR Directors discussing how Edward and Winry have grown throughout the series, while also making some comparisons between the new and the old series. Textless Openings and Closings are on disc two.
Outstandingly epic and packed full of awesomeness; just buy it already.