Posted on 17 February 2012 with categories: Anime Reviews, Full Metal Alchemist - Brotherhood

Out of the entire FMA franchise, the worst part for me was the movie to the first season. It just mad eno sense, was badly animated, especially for movie standards, mad a mockery of the characters and the plot, and overall wasn’t the least bit enjoyable. Thankfully, The Sacred Star of Milos is nothing like that, and is actually a pretty good movie.

Let me first debunk some overall fears that arose with the announcement of this movie: do you remember how in the promo art, Winri looked really inaccurate to her designs in the other series? Well, that is because that wasn’t Winry at all. She’s a character original to this movie, and pretty much the main character. I know a few people who were turned off by the art style of it (yeah), but let me tell you that that is no reason to skip this movie. One thing that you do need to take into account that this IS made by different people as the anime staff, so the animation IS different from the style of the TV-series. The character designs in this movie are a bit more rough and simple. This movie also doesn’t really bother to keep its faces consistent. As a tradeoff however, ti did get a lot of very good inbetween animation. It’s been said before, but this movie has some very good action, and especially the choreography of the different action scenes is very good and creative.

So, what about the story? As it turns out, this takes place around the second half of the Brotherhood TV-series. It’s an original story that doesn’t have anything to do with the main storyline of the series, but it does flesh out the world the world it’s set in. As for the plot: it has some good and bad parts. The good parts was that it packed a good amount of twists that were well built up throughout its airtime. It created a new city in the FMA universe, and actually successfully populated it and created an epic storyline around it. Although… near the end it does get a little too epic.

What I mean by that is the following: you can really see that the creators put some good thought into some of the twists that are pulled. Near the end of the movie however, they just run out of time and momentum to keep that up, resulting in a rushed ending and a final villain with very flimsy motives who continues to spout random moral crap at the main characters. The themes and morals also are a part where this movie leaves things to be desired. Like the TV-series, it’s full of morals, and it doesn’t just copy them, but also adds in its own themes. At the end of the movie though, it didn’t really do anything with them, and most of the final quarter was just completely inconsistent with the morals it tried to build up, and not in a way that makes things come together.

So yeah, it’s a very nice movie, which unfortunately suffers of the common flaw of trying to do too much and trying to be too epic. Still, I’d recommend it. It’s a solid movie with likable characters, and I’d say that out of the Primetime Timeslot movies to come out in the recent years, it is so far the most solid and enjoyable.

Storytelling: 8/10 – Solid storyline for a movie that is just about a random story, albeit a bit too short to give everything the time it needs to build up.
Characters: 8/10 – A solid cast, both the old and new characters. The main villain is flimsy, though.
Production-Values: 9/10 – Great action choreography.
Setting: 8/10 – Doesn’t build much on the themes of the TV-series, but does flesh out the world it plays in.

Suggestions:
Cowboy Bebop – Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door
Heartcatch Precure Movie
Metropolis

Posted on 20 September 2010 with categories: Full Metal Alchemist - Brotherhood



The OVAs so far have been simple side-stories, but this fourth one sure was different. It really added something to Roy’s character by showing the times at which he just enlisted at the military academy, along with some more footage from the Ishbal war.

The asshole sergeants may have been a bit too stereotypical and one sided, they did what they were supposed to do in addressing the discrimination against Isbalians. The sad part was the revelation in which Roy actually met the Ishbalian that he once considered as a friend. And then to think that the first season of Full Metal Alchemist showed him angsting about having to kill some random doctor. It’s like, two completely different characters.

Just one thing: couldn’t you have just made Heiss Cliff miss his shot at Roy Mustang? I mean, it’s a bit strange for this series to use such an overused cliche here that is usually only used by cheesy action titles, by having Mustang’s State Alchemist watch be in exactly the right position to block the bullet.
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on 4 July 2010 with categories: Anime Reviews, Full Metal Alchemist - Brotherhood




Because the first season of Full Metal Alchemist went with its own story, it turned out to be one of the most famous anime of the decade, and the manga was finally about to finish, it maybe wasn’t much of a surprise that Bones ended up animating the story of the manga. And they really made sure to give it a top notch treatment here!

Especially in the past few years, the trend has grown in which series should consider themselves lucky if they can get 26 episodes, or even enough time to animate the entire story on which they’re based. Full Metal Alchemist is different, however: with 64 episodes, it received just the right length in order to tell the full story of the Full Metal Alchemist manga, and boy is it an awesome one!

The story here is completely different from the first season, but I ended up liking it a lot better with the different focus. It’s still focused on a ton of action-scenes, but the story around it is deep, well fleshed out and mature, especially for a series with many shounen elements. The world that the series is set in is well fleshed out, multi-layered and quite detailed.

Another huge focus of this series is the time it spent on characters preparing. With the epic nature of this series, a lot of time is actually spent on the lead characters, finding allies to help them. The cast of this series is huge, but everyone in this series has his or her own part to play in the large scheme of things. The length also allows the creators to really look at all of them and their motivations, backgrounds and purposes, in order to make all of them unique, with excellent results.

What you get is an epic action series with plenty of depth to come by, carefully paced and wrapped up in the end with a finale that’s full of adrenaline. However, you should note that the first fifteen episodes or so follow pretty much the same story as the first Full Metal Alchemist TV-series, and it’s clear that at that point, the creators try to get through these parts as fast as possible in order to get to the new material, compared to the very slowly paced first season.

It of course depends on how keen you’re into seeing the same things again, but there are some notable differences between the two. Brotherhood cuts some of the useless fluff of the first season away, like the moments that were just there to show contrived situations for the lead character to save the day, though it also cuts away a lot of the minor character-building scenes. Don’t worry though, because after 16 episodes, the series continues with a completely different story that in my eyes completely surpasses the original Full Metal Alchemist.

It’s a definite recommendation if you’re looking for something epic. Despite being 64 episodes, Bones keep a surprisingly good animation quality throughout the series, especially the action-scenes themselves look gorgeous for such a long series. The soundtrack also fully captures the grant atmosphere of the story, and will make sure for a show that will keep you entertained.

We here have a series that really made excellent use of its opportunity to finally show an epic story that goes beyond even 52 episodes, while always keeping on track and not losing itself somewhere in the middle. The creators had a really excellent manga to base themselves on, and even though they did not keep to the manga for 100%, the way they brought it to animation still deserves to be applauded.

Storytelling: 9/10 – Well paced and varied in the long run, exciting and engaging in the short run.
Characters: 9/10 – A ton of different characters, most of them get their chance to show off themselves and get some depth. Plenty of character-development as well.
Production-Values: 9/10 – Great animation from Bones, plus an excellent soundtrack.
Setting: 10/10 – Excellent in its depth and multiple layers, focusing both on the big picture as the individual details. Successfully brings many different stories together.

Suggestions:
Bounen no Xamdou
– Vision of Escaflowne
Nadia – The Secret of Blue Water

Posted on with categories: Full Metal Alchemist - Brotherhood



And so, this series is finally over. What a ride it’s been!

As an epilogue, this episode managed to wrap everything up pretty neatly. The future of some characters are very neatly detailed, while for the others it’s left to our imagination. It’s great to see that both Ed and Al have gone their own ways, where Ed chose to take it easy in order to be able to raise his family, while Al took more ambitious plans. Roy meanwhile grew a moustache and got a step closer to beconing the next fuhrer, while getting his sight back with the help of a philosopher’s stone provided by Marcoh.

I admit, at the beginning of this series I tended to complain a lot about Winry, but looking back, this mostly was due to the way that the first season treated her, than her role here. She was a fine love interest in this series, and the creators didn’t try to shoehorn her into the main plot at the last minute. Instead, they used Al and Mai (and Izumi and her husband too, I guess) for the bit of romantic tension, which strangely seemed to fit a whole lot more.

Anyway, I was quite surprised at the reactions I got last eek, when I said that I’d pretty much label this series in my top 5 of 2010, so let me elaborate a bit further on that. At this point, I still can’t decide what my favourite show of the past half year has been, and I’m very much doubting between the Armed Librarians, Yojou-han Shinwa Taikei and this series. Assuming that two more series of that same caliber appear in the upcoming half year (which is reasonable, I suppose), that’s how I came to make that statement about this series being top 5 worthy.

Full Metal Alchemist was indeed freaking epic, but the thing is: the Armed Librarians were also really epic in their own way. Yojou-han on the other hand may not have been epic, but it was a masterpiece nonetheless. These three all had their own points at which they stood out as memorable. Full Metal Alchemist did this with its length, detailed setting, cast of characters, and the way its action scenes had been written. In comparison though, if for example Bounen no Xamdou would have been 39 or 52 episodes long, I would not have rated it inferior to this series.

And don’t get me wrong, this isn’t one of those series like Gurren Lagann, Kanon or Haruhi in which I, while enjoying the series, do not agree that their popularity is deserved. Brotherhood realyl deserves all the popularity it’s getting, but granted, I have seen quite a number of series that made more of an impact on me.

I don’t think that this has to do with being shounen or seinen or what. I mean, with series like Les Miserables being labelled as kids’ series, and series as Koihime Musou labelled as seinen… do we really have to hold it against them when a series has shounen elements? Besides, if this really is a shounen series, it really was one of the damn best of its genre.

The fantasy action genre, along with science fiction, is very much my favourite genre out there, so my standards are really high for it. What this series didn’t have, which I did experience with other series of its genre, was this addictive style of storytelling that keeps you at the edge of your seat. The kind that keeps juggling all kinds of emotion at once. Full Metal Alchemist instead was like a bulldozer, especially near the end. Is that bad? Of course not! it’s still a freaking awesome series.
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on 27 June 2010 with categories: Full Metal Alchemist - Brotherhood



Aha, so the creators really reserved the 64th episode for the aftermath of the series. This really was meant to be the climax of Full Metal Alchemist. Interestingly,t he creators chose not to end it with a bang, but rather tone down the action in order to focus on the main characters. Father really was already defeated at the end of the previous episode. This episode was really meant to wrap everything up: show the end of Father, and resolve the plot thread of Ed and Al getting their body back.

As expected, the characters found some sort of loophole in order to get Al’s body back. This time, the loophole was the door. We learn that every character has a door of alchemy, and apparently Ed knew that he could trade that in, instead of offering another of his limbs to get back to Al.

As for the budget, well, the creators were lucky that a lot of this episode was about a bunch of simple shapes (Greed, Flask (as I’ll call him for now, as “The inhabitant of the Flask” is a bit too long), God), so they could really plan the best of their budget to the previous action-packed view. The final confrontation between Flask was a worthy climax for the series, even though he already had been defeated.

One thing I did not understand was Hohenheim, though. Why did he end up dying? Was it because Father sucked all of the philosopher’s stones out of him or something?

Overall though, this has been an awesome series. It’s not among my favourites, but it still was a wonderful ride. I really hope that Bones is going to adapt more manga in the same way in the future.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 20 June 2010 with categories: Full Metal Alchemist - Brotherhood



So this is it: the big battle against the final villain. The key is of course to get the plot to come together at the same time, rather than just showing a bunch of yelling and flashy beams for episodes after each other. This episode passed with flying colours. It yet again had my attention from beginning to end.

Interestingly enough, this has a ton of parallels to the ending of the first Full Metal Alchemist. I’m going to discuss those now, so those who have yet to see it: SPOILER ALERT.

In the first season, Al TOO sacrificed himself for Ed, also with a bit of help from a small plot-hole. In this episode: how did Al know exactly how to go to the gate all of a sudden? In the first season meanwhile, the concepts of the Philosopher’s stone was a lot more vague than in brotherhood. It was much more mythical and mysterious, rather than the strictly defined powers it gives you in the Brotherhood series. As a result, the circumstances here are much more detailed than the ending of the first season, in which Ed dies then Al offers his life to save Ed who then offers his life again for Al. Here, Al acts out of desperation, as a way to prevent Ed from getting killed by offering him his arm back now that Ed no longer has a reason to not have his arm (I guess that that means that it immediately returns the arm to the original owner).

You can also see this contrast between the two series in the portrayal of “God”: in the first series it was all powerful, it was always there to punish those who messed around with human transmutation but nobody actually knew who he was or where he came from. In Brotherhood however, he’s a gigantic eyeball in an eclipse who designed a totally logical world in which people get to travel to a gate dimension when they attempt to transmute humans. Ed’s arm is more like a sacrifice to get to somewhere (the truth), rather than just a punishment.

Aside from that, a lot of this episode was just about everyone, who could fight from long range, whether main characters, side characters or even nameless soldiers, hacking away at Father to try and break that guy’s barrier. I loved how this episode gradually played out and broke this barrier of his to the point where he eventually snapped.

I think that the one character with the surprising amount of airtime that I totally did not expect was Mai Chang. I mean, she has been a vital side-character for the past episode ever since they started fighting Father, even more important than Roy Mustang. I think that part of the reason why the creators made her decide to go back with Envy was a way to develop her for later, on top of getting her involved back with the plot and story. You can certainly see that she’s very alert right now, much more than she was at the beginning of the series. Still, I would have liked to see at least a bit more of her backstory in the earlier episodes.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 13 June 2010 with categories: Full Metal Alchemist - Brotherhood




It’s just as I hoped: the finale of Full Metal Alchemist managed to surpass itself. I really consider this and the previous episode to belong to the true highlights of this series. This is really what I’ve been hoping, the way in which the creators managed to use all of the build-up of the entire series and just deliver an incredibly action-packed finale.

It’s also great to see that the animation is back to its old quality again. The action-scenes looked incredibly diverse and gorgeous, and it really showed that Bones was saving up its budget for those final few episodes during the past season. I especially loved the scene in which Father blasts his first energy beam to Hohenheim.

My biggest fear of this episode was of course the following: with how powerful Father has become, how the heck did the creators plan to bump him from his throne? It would be pretty lame to just have a bunch of kids ruin a plan that involves hundreds of years of preparing. I wasn’t disappointed here, though: it was Hohenheim who turned out to have the final trick up his sleeve, as he too spent centuries, attempting to do something against Father’s plans, and therefore formed an excellent core to foil his plans. Add that to Scar’s brother, who turned out to be surprisingly close to the truth here with his research, and I’m more than satisfied.

This episode was over the top in its action, but that’s especially what I’ve been expecting of it from the start. It was all about having formerly invincible characters getting defeated, but it’s all done in style: Wrath’s ending was epic. He went down against a worthy opponent, and even then he was only at a fraction of his strength because of a mistake he made a few episodes back, causing him to get wounded. Pride in the meantime went down like Envy: it’s because he’s flawed by design in the way that he just allowed himself to be completely destroyed, just for the sake of Father’s Pride.

And at the same time this episode also had those small details in between the action. I loved the scene in which Izumi saw her husband again, or when Roy Mustang saw Hawkeye again. They were short but powerful, and exactly what’s necessary to prevent this show from just going way too much over the top. This episode really had an excellent balance between that exposition and those action-scenes.

The final episodes also now look a lot more interesting, because Father now is no longer a god-moded threat that can’t be defeated. The problem with all-powerful characters is that they can also be made too powerful. When that happens, creators need to pull really weird deus ex machinas or plot-devices in order to keep these guys from just blowing everyone away. Here however, it was handled very well.
Rating: **** (Fantastic)

Posted on 6 June 2010 with categories: Full Metal Alchemist - Brotherhood




This is it: the episode to which the entire series has been building up to. Because the previous episodes weren’t exactly to this series’ highlights, I feared a bit for a lackluster ending, but those fears were ungrounded: this episode was absolutely fantastic and more than a worthy climax after such an amount of build-up. What an episode!

After a bit of fights that were meant to close off the last bits of character building (Scar, revealing that he shed his prejudices, and went along with his brother’s plans, gaining the strength he needed to surprise and win from Bradley; Ed’s revenge on Pride for what he did to Al (he didn’t outright say it, but to me it seems like he went after Pride for exactly that reason; if not he would have been the one to step up and save Mai Chang)), this episode was all about opening that gate. At this point it’s clear that Bones did not save some Xamdou-level animation for its finale, but with the resources they had they portrayed the euphoria of Father, who finally was able to reach his goals after putting an ungodly amount of work to reach “The Truth”, was really well portrayed. Father has really been an excellent villain so far: from start to finish, he remained in control.

The part in which the entire country was killed off was also very well done: haunting, especially seeing everyone just disappearing like that. The creators really made sure to show nearly everyone Ed and Al met disappearing. Aside from Yoki, perhaps. I’m not sure why he suddenly comes to my mind here, but he was surprisingly missing in those scenes.

Of course, they’re still not there: there are a bunch of nasty potential cliches between the end of this episode and the ending. Most notably, Father’s demise: he’s so powerful now. He’s huge, he’s incredibly close to the truth, and everything points to him achieving his plans. There are so many ways that can screw this plot up in the next three episodes. Let’s hope that the creators realized that as well and instead will deliver an awesome ending, rather than a cheesy shounen one.
Rating: **** (Fantastic)

Posted on 30 May 2010 with categories: Full Metal Alchemist - Brotherhood



We’re really nearing the climax for this series now, you can really see that the focus is getting more and more back to the lead characters and especially the lead villains. The next episode should be all about Father, trying to do whatever he needs to do in order to execute that plan of his. After that there are going to be three more episodes to wrap everything up. Should be enough.

Thumbs up for especially Al in this episode: he actually refused to go back to his body, because he knew that it would be impossible to be useful with that kind of a posture. That was actually very well built up: ever since he got stuffed in that box and Pride got hold of him, he’s had a lot of trouble being useful, having to play the part of damsel in distress a few times, along with just being too far away to help out in the early battles of Central City.

This episode made a ton of promises for interesting fights: it’s not just the question of “Will Al be able to redeem himself?”, but also, “how will Roy kick ass now that his eyes are gone?”, and “what will Mai Chang’s role be if the creators went through the trouble of putting her amongst the most central characters of the story at the most crucial time?”, to a fight between Scar and Mustang that will continue into the next episode. And then there’s Ed: as the lead character but nowhere near the best fighter, what is his role going to be?

The animation was quite inconsistent in this episode: some parts were animated quite smoothly, and you can really see that the animators really like animating the fights that involve Bradley with great detail, but there also were a few speedlines, unrefined faces and still frames. The big question for that is obviously going to be whether or not the creators saved enough budget for those final episodes, especially since they’ve been teasing us over and over with that ED.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 23 May 2010 with categories: Full Metal Alchemist - Brotherhood



This episode was very straightforward and much of what you’d expect, but the scenario was as exciting as ever. Right now, you can see that the creators are building up to the climax of the series (yeah, there are only five more episodes left here). It’s the small touches that impressed me the most in this episode, though.

The random soldier who actually managed to shoot King Bradley, from Father’s true form that doesn’t in the slightest bit try to be aesthetically pleasing. It was a very intense episode, with deaths (we get to see the two deaths of the previous episode confirmed), death threats, Al who suddenly stopped waking up and the old man’s monologues as he tried to get Roy to perform a human transmutation were also very atmospheric.

There’s one thing I didn’t quite get though: why Roy of all people? I mean, couldn’t father just get himself a human sacrifice to attempt the transmutation? I mean, with the effort he put into creating the Bradley clones, he also could easily have educated one of them to use alchemy to the point of being able to transmutate a human being.

In any case, we’re about to get to the ending, and that does bring me to one particular gripe about Bones that I had at the time that this series started: its seeming inability to create good finales. Back then, I was getting very tired of how Bones series always tended to be full of potential, but rushed through all of their endings, leaving a bad aftertaste in the end and this happened to nearly all of their series. In the meantime however, this spell has been broken by Tokyo Magnitude, which closed off its story perfectly, so I’m very interested in whether the creators can pull things off, and most importantly: pace the remaining manga chapters properly across five episodes. I’m not asking for a panel-to-panel similarity; there have been enough shows which had to cope with a rushed ending due to lack of time (Armed Librarians, anyone). All I want is these final episodes to capture the essence of the series and what the manga author had in mind about the conclusion that she spent years building up to.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

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  • Emma
    (Saturday, Sep 20. 2014 09:22 AM)
    Theres probably a terribad/amusing B-movie in that title alone =P
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Sep 20. 2014 09:21 AM)
    Zombie cops! =O
  • k-off
    (Saturday, Sep 20. 2014 09:19 AM)
    @Emma Quite entertaining, the cops in GTA didn’t fight the zombies together and instead fought individually. So they quickly became zombies and turned on each other, lmao.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Sep 20. 2014 09:15 AM)
    With zombies in mind, wyatt be sure to look into a flick called La Horde.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Sep 20. 2014 09:11 AM)
    @Reaper: On the subject of cops never being there when you need them, a cop stood by and did nothing when my brother got harassed, a cop confused my friend for a criminal in the area and I happened to be running somewhere when a cop coincidentally was after someone who robbed a store and was mistaken for the thief.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Sep 20. 2014 09:08 AM)
    No shooters is the wrong word to use here, as GTA is a sandbox game lol
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Sep 20. 2014 09:07 AM)
    Speaking of zombies, new apocalypse no toride chapter =D
    And playing shooters to mess around in rather than properly is often much more fun.
  • TheUltimateReaper
    (Saturday, Sep 20. 2014 07:22 AM)
    @ninjarealist Cops are always there when you don’t want them and never there when you need um
  • TheUltimateReaper
    (Saturday, Sep 20. 2014 07:21 AM)
    Ah Aidan, never wrong, always euphoric. Tipping intensifies.
  • ninjarealist
    (Saturday, Sep 20. 2014 07:09 AM)
    Moral of the story: the cops won’t protect you.

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