Fullmetal Alchemist DVD #3: Equivalent Exchange
Lieutenant Hawkeye looks steely and confident while Colonel Mustang shows off his come hither stare on the cover of Fullmetal Alchemist DVD #3: Equivalent Exchange. More of the same is usually used as an insult, but in the case of this release, it’s a compliment. The previous two volumes combined a nice suite of extras with one of the best new series in years and the third DVD continues this tradition with the same top-notch presentation, the same nice extras, and, of course, the same outstanding story.
Episode nine, Be Thou for the People/The Silver Watch of the Dog of the Military, picks up right where the previous one left off. With Ed’s certification as a state alchemist, he is eligible for assignment, and the time comes quickly. Sent to investigate the Youswell coal mines, he discovers a corrupt military officer and his maid, an alchemist who doesn’t follow the “Be thou for the people” credo as closely as he does.
The Phantom Thief is tenth in the series and it sends Ed and Al on a side trip to Aquaroy, where a mysterious thief named Psiren has been running rampant, using alchemy and playing cards to mastermind thefts and cunning escapes. The brothers get dragged into the investigation and Al soon learns that thieves are not entirely trustworthy, no matter how pretty they are.
Episodes Eleven and Twelve make up the beginning of the Other Brothers Elric story arc. Edward and Alphonse travel to Xenotime and find that imposter Elric brothers are already there, doing some kind of research into the Philosopher’s Stone. But quite a few people in town have a nasty cough and it turns out the imposter Elrics’ research may not be as noble as it seems.
The animation and sound is outstanding as usual and the character profiles and image galleries are well worth the cost of admission. The FMA DVDs have, so far, proven to be one of the best technical treatments of a series ever. The series is really starting to blossom in these four episodes, as we the audience find out more about the Philosopher’s Stone and watch (not a short joke!) Ed start to grow up some.
However, episodes 11 and 12 just didn’t grab me the way some of the other episodes did. The imposter Elrics just didn’t seem as interesting as a storyline as, say, Ed’s struggle with his duties as a military man and a person in episode nine, or Al’s trying to understand that, yes, even pretty girls can be deceptive and may even use that against him. Perhaps it’s because the last two episodes on the disc are a shifting of gears, moving from the introductions of the first nine episodes into ongoing story arcs and the greater mystery of the Philosopher’s Stone. Something about them just feels transitional, a way to bridge the previous episodes and start off some characters and plotlines without really resolving any major or minor puzzles. It’s still a worthwhile watch, but the imposters have a lot of strong characters to compete with as it is and kind of get lost in the shuffle. By this point, though, you know whether you like the series or not, and if you do, then you’re going to want to buy this as soon as possible.
Animation and sound are outstanding and there’s a nice collection of extras.
Episodes 9 and 10 are really interesting ways to develop the Brothers and Winry as characters, but 11 and 12 just aren’t as captivating.
Episodes: 9-Be Thou for the People. 10-The Phantom Thief. 11-The Other Brothers Elric part one. 12-The Other Brothers Elric part two.
Extras: Textless Songs, Production Art, Image Gallery, Character Profiles, Trailers.