Warcry is proud to debut its new coverage of anime DVDs with this review of the Fullmetal Alchemist Starter Set from Funimation. If you’re already interested in FMA, you’ll find Warcry’s FMA site informative and useful. This review is from our own Hawkeye

Fullmetal Alchemist is a tantalizing tale about the Elric brothers, Edward and Alphonse. The two brothers’ story starts when they attempt to bring their mother back to life with a science called Alchemy and fail. This failure carries a hefty price. Edward loses his arm and leg and Alphonse loses his entire body, though Al’s soul is bound to a suit of armor. With resolve and determination, the two brothers start a journey for the Philosopher’s Stone, which is fabled to have great powers that can restore their bodies.

imageThis series was first released in Japan in the year 2003, but is new to American audiences. FMA currently airs on Cartoon Network during the Adult Swim programming block on Saturday evenings. There is also a related video game released in the US and Japan called Fullmetal Alchemist and the Broken Angel, and a manga (Japanese comic) version of the series that will be released on a later date in the US.

Funimation offers the perfect way to jump right into this great series with the Fullmetal Alchemist Starter Set. It includes a collector’s tin, the first DVD, and the Fullmetal Alchemist soundtrack CD. While the first DVD and the soundtrack can be purchased separately, the Starter Set is the only thing that includes the collector’s tin and the Starter Set is also cheaper then buying everything individually.

The collector’s tin can hold the first 5 discs and has a unique flip top that keeps your favorite anime from falling out. It also features stylish artwork depicting Edward Elric and other popular images from the series. The packaging is really unique and clever and is bound to delight any Fullmetal fan.

The DVD, called “The Curse,” contains the first four episodes and offers them in an English dubbed version as well as the un-cut Japanese version with English subtitles, which should please even the hard-core anime fans. Episodes 1-4 not only cover the basics of who, what, when and where, but they do it with unyielding style and a perfect balance of drama and comedy.

In episode 1, “To Challenge the Sun,” Edward and Alphonse discover a priest that is rumored to revive the dead. In episode 2, “Body of the Sanctioned,” the two brothers continue in their quest to reveal the truth about the priest. Episode 3, “Mother,” covers Edward and Alphonse’s past and the story of their childhood. In episode 4, “A Forger’s Love,” the brothers stumble upon a quaint little town with a terrible secret.

imageFullmetal Alchemist’s characters are all very original in concept and design and have a tremendous depth to them that really grabs the viewer’s attention. Character interactions are superb, keeping viewers entertained with witty dialogue and playful banter. FMA takes drama and comedy and blends them together to keep the story from becoming too dark or gloomy, without compromising a brilliant storyline.

The animation itself is breath-taking and above most average anime standards. Battle scenes have visual fluidity and even slower scenes are perfectly paced to not bore or turn away even the most impatient of viewers. This series has a focus to detail on not only the plot but also the artwork, which allows it to stand above and beyond a lot of other anime. Even those who don’t usually find themselves into anime could get into this series.

Included with the Starter’s Set, the Fullmetal soundtrack is perfect for background music. With 33 tracks, this CD will keep you amused for hours. It features the popular beginning and ending theme to the show, as well as music heard throughout the series. However, the soundtrack is mostly instrumental, so if you’re looking for some J-pop to rock out to, you’ll have to find it somewhere else.

The strong enticing plot with likeable characters makes this anime hard to pass up. The soundtrack and tin is a must-have for any collector. Overall, this Starter set is a pleasant surprise in clever packaging for old and new fans of Fullmetal Alchemist.

Ratings:

Technical/Extras: 9

The DVD has everything an anime fan could want including: English dialogue, the original un-cut episodes in Japanese with English subtitles, text less songs, production art, Japanese commercials, an image gallery, character profiles, and trailers. The soundtrack has over 33 tracks with mostly instrumental music and includes the TV Version of the opening and closing themes. It all comes in a collector’s tin with a flip top. The only thing this Starter Set is lacking is a t-shirt, necklace or some other trinket to show off to your friends.

Entertainment: 10

The show offers complex, yet easy to relate to characters, an intriguing storyline that will keep you guessing, and perfect balance of drama and comedy. This is defiantly an anime for those who are seeking cool fight scenes, a clever and in-depth plot, and hilarious character interactions.

Overall: 9.5

Features: Collector’s Tin with flip top, TV Animation Full metal Alchemist Original Sound Track 1 (33 tracks), Full metal Alchemist #1 The Curse (episodes 1-4)

Episodes: To Challenge the Sun, Body of the Sanctioned, Mother, A Forger’s Love

DVD Extras: Textless Songs, Production Art, Japanese commercials, Image Gallery, Character Profiles, Trailers

Buy FMA DVD #1: The Curse from AnimeNation.
Please note this is not the super-cool Starter Set, this is just the very-cool first DVD.

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