Anime: Fullmetal Alchemist #4: The Fall of Ishbal

Vandemar

imageIt’s been a while since the last installment of FMA and, with the show on hiatus during the summer, fans have been getting antsy for something, anything, Fullmetal Alchemist. DVD #4 comes at a perfect time, easing those summer anime urges and preparing us for the shows continuation in September. Disc 4, The Fall of Ishbal, is a manigicent installment in the series, with one of my favorite episodes (“Fullmetal vs. Flame”) and some strong installments in the Scar story arc.

Episode 13: Fullmetal vs. Flame leads off these four episodes. Edward returns to Eastern Headquarters to report to Colonel Mustang, dreading his “long-winded, snide remarks,” not to mention the inevitable short jokes. A monster by name of Black Hayate is terrorizing the tough soldiers of HQ, but the real centerpiece of this episode is Edward’s alchemy assessment. Since he doesn’t have much to show for his efforts regarding the Philosopher’s Stone, he challenges Mustang to a head to head alchemy showdown!

imageDestruction’s Right Hand, Episode 14, takes us back to Liore. Fighting in the streets and outright rebellion have forced the military to intervene and Rose returns, shielding some children from the military men. The simpering girl we once knew has grown much stronger. Elsewhere, Edward and Alphonse are hunting Dr. Marcoh, a deserter from the Ishbal War, while the Homunuculus scheme and plot, and Scar stalks State Alchemists at Central and East.

imageMajor Armstrong and Scar battle in the opening of Episode 15, The Ishbal Massacre. Colonel Mustang and Major Hughes investigate the “right hand of destruction’s” sudden appearance in Eastern, and are horrified to learn Scar is one of the survivors from the Ishbal Massacre, and he just might have good reasons to hate State Alchemists.

Episode 16, That Which is Lost, deals with the aftermath of Scar’s actions in the previous episode. Ed and Al, with the large Major Armstrong in tow, head for their hometown to get repairs and try to recover from their encounter with scar. However, things soon go awry when Al is offloaded at the wrong station and wounds up being used as, well, a suit of armor…

imageThis DVD is worth buying for many reasons. The major reason is inside Alchemy Text Four, the cool insert they put in this installment. Inside, you will find Colonel Mustang and Alphonse Elric in the trenchcoats and fedoras of noir detectives. And Al is holding kitties. I hadn’t even popped in the DVD yet, and I had to give it a good review. That’s at least an 8. The character profiles within it are outstanding, but…trenchcoats and fedoras. Also inside is a two-page spread of the battle between Mustang and Ed, which I would pay a lot of money to own in poster form.

There are a lot of extras on this disc. While Funimation has never skimped on the extras with the Fullmetal Alchemist discs, this one’s a true collectible. The music video for Ready Steady Go will undoubtedly please female fans eager to watch JRockers L’Arc-en-Ciel bounce around and look cool. There’s a whole episode of Spiral thrown in, just to be cool. The art galleries will undoubtedly inspire fan artists for our next Fan Art Contest. The trailer for the new Fullmetal Alchemist 2: Curse of the Crimson Elixir game not only contains awesome Roy and Armstrong action, it may just send me to the store to pick it up today.

imageI must confess Fullmetal Vs. Flame is one of my favorite episodes. It’s humor at HQ, the big fight scene, and also develops some of the characters, such as Colonel Mustang, who goes from cocky jerk who hangs around to cocky almost-sympathetic character. Not to mention Scar, who at this point is the invincible machine that has the State Alchemists on the run and just can’t be stopped. What’s amazing is how little scenes that might be throwaways in other series come back thirty episodes later. So much is set in motion here that has tremendous consequences later in the series.

The bottom line is this is a must-own if you’re a Fullmetal Alchemist fan. If nothing else, it fits quite swankly in your awesome Starter Set tin.

Technical/Extras: 10
I am a sellout for 1920s fashions and kittens. Fortunately, I won’t look too foolish, as this is one of the best-looking and best-animated series ever, and the music makes the soundtrack CDs worth buying.

Entertainment: 9.5
The flashback episodes are very, very talky, and it can be kind of hard to sit through if you’re expecting more action after the big fight of episode 13.

Overall: 9.5

Episodes: 13: Fullmetal vs. Flame, 14: Destructions Right Hand, 15: The Ishbal Massacre, 16: That Which Is Lost

Extras: Textless songs, production art, image gallery, character profiles, “Ready Steady Go” Music Video, Tofu Records Commercial for L’Arc-en-ciel, Bonus episode section: Spiral Episode 1, Alchemy Text 4

Shannon “Vandemar” Drake is the Community Development Manager for Warcry’s efforts in all things that aren’t games. He also serves as Site Manager for FMA Warcry, which is being updated as we speak, and frequently contributes to the hubsite. He will talk about anime until you roll your eyes and walk away, which makes him sad. And then he’ll play video games and feel better.

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