Anime: Fullmetal Alchemist #5: The Cost of Living

Vandemar

imageWe’ve covered the previous installments and now Fullmetal Alchemist #5: The Cost of Living is upon us. This is an interesting discs with more action than #4 and a few jaw-dropping revelations that really give FMA its teeth. Episodes 17-20 are when Fullmetal Alchemist pulls away from the pack, into some truly different territory. Interesting developments include Winry and her bullying of/caring for Ed, more background on the Elric brothers, and Major Armstrong going from a comic relief goofball to a fully fleshed out character. Though he’s still a goofball.

17: House of the Waiting Family
After four years away, the Elrics-with Major Armstrong-finally arrive back at Granny’s house, carrying Alphonse in a giant crate. Winry, of course, has a lot to say about how clumsy Ed is with his automail and the downtime forces him to spend time thinking about his past.

18: Marcoh’s Notes
The brothers make it to Central to hunt for Marcoh’s notes, but they’re being shown around by Maria Ross and Denny Broch, and face bigger problems than the military escort in their attempt to find the notes. The explosive revelation of this episode rattles the series and the brothers all the way to their core.

image19: The Truth Behind Truths
The Philosopher’s Stone is close, so very close, but the Elrics have discovered a horrifying truth about the object of their search. Edward is just about ready to give up, but Ross persuades him to go on, which leads to an investigation of an old alchemy laboratory.

20: Soul of the Guardian
This episode kicks off with an epic fight between the Elric Brothers and the guardians of the Fifth Laboratory. The secret of the guardians is shocking enough, but when one of them gets inside Al’s head, the kinship between the brothers themselves is threatened.

The animation and sound are outstanding, as usual. Fight scenes have a fluidity real actors would envy and FMA’s battles are exciting, while also being tense. Edward always comes across as a fantastic fighter, but it never feels like he’s entirely invincible and that vulnerability lends weight to the combat. The sound, too, is amazing, with a mostly-classical score that’s always deployed at the perfect moment, heightening tension or making a funny scene funnier. Funimation didn’t skimp with the extras on a flagship series and otaku of all kinds will find the actor commentary interesting, while the character profiles, Alchemy Text, Image Gallery, and Production Art are noteworthy for fans and aspiring artists.

imageFullmetal Alchemist #5 is one of the best discs in the series, combining outstanding character development and writing with awesome action and some incredible plot twists that you just didn’t see coming. We also get some nice background information on the brothers, which makes the full story that much more interesting. This is a worthy addition to the FMA fan’s DVD collection.

Technical: 9.5
Excellent animation, crisp sound, and a nice package of extras.

Entertainment: 9.8
The talkiness of the previous installment is gone and there’s a lot more action and surprises on this one.

Overall: 9.8

Episodes: 17: House of the Waiting Family, 18: Marcoh’s Notes, 19: The Truth Behind Truths, 20: Soul of the Guardian

Extras: Actor Commentary, Textless Songs, Production Art, Image Gallery, Character Profiles, Trailers

Shannon “Vandemar” Drake is the Community Development Manager for Warcry’s efforts in all things that aren’t games, though he still plays games and pontificates about them endlessly. He also serves as Site Manager for FMA Warcry and frequently contributes to the hubsite. He will talk about anime until you roll your eyes and walk away, which makes him sad. He’s currently updating FMA Warcry, which is where you should go if you like Fullmetal Alchemist or anything else anime.

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