Full Metal Alchemist Premium OVA Collection
Anime DVD Review
The FMA steamroller continues to pummel everything in its path, providing more action-packed entertainment per square inch than most other anime combined. This time around the Premium OVA Collection is a short and cheap DVD that will surely be a valuable little collector's piece to diehard Full Metal fans who've been awaiting for an official Region 1 release of these nearly legendary Japanese shorts.
This release is split into four anthology-type segments: "The Interactive Experience" is actually from a ride (similar to the Terminator ride where video is shown as part of the roller coaster ride) — as you move along, more of the story is revealed, done to emulate the feeling of a military briefing. "The Live Action Featurette" really is live, with armor-clad Al on a search for Ed, visiting the Bones animation studio for answers on the meaning of his existence. "Chibi Wrap Party" is exactly what the title sounds like, all the characters are super-deformed. It's cute, of course! "Kids - Short" is a quick mystery... We watch three children who look so similar to the Elric brothers and Winry Rockbell. But who are they? The artwork in this sequence more closely resembles that of the original FMA series with beautiful skies and rich textures.
For hardcore fans of FMA, this is a required collectable.
Reviewed by Brian Cirulnick, May 2010
Fullmetal Alchemist - The Conqueror of Shamballa
Anime DVD Review
Although this reviewer came into the anime TV series a little late (and subsequently had to backtrack through previous episodes to catch up), Fullmetal Alchemist was a hoot. With a compelling and fascinating story as well as a fully-realized universe that intelligently incorporated alchemy into the reality the characters inhabit, FMA was the highlight of Saturday Night's Adult Swim lineup on Cartoon Network, and easily ranks as one of the best anime series of all time. Every episode left me hanging by the edge of my seat, and the plot's twists and turns kept me guessing as to what would happen next.
The cross-over universe to WWI-era Germany seemed a strange twist to throw in so close to the end of the series; and we weren't sure where they were trying to go with that (it often seems that many writers come up with a complex plot and only realize too late that they have no way to get the characters out of their predicament), but, with the release of this theatrical feature, all the questions will finally have answers. Winner of "Animation of the Year" at the 5th annual Tokyo International Anime Fair, Bones Inc. has produced a helluva flick!
No backstory is provided in this movie (make sure you're fully versed in all the episodes before you attempt to understand what's going on here), as it stands as an extended episode number 52 (with higher production values) and attempts to wrap up the existing story while also providing it's own plot, new characters, villains, and of course, a set-up for a sequel.
For the FMA fan, this film is a must-see and, of course, will inspire debate and discussion among the fanbase for years to come.
Reviewed by Brian Cirulnick, November 2006
Fullmetal Alchemist 2
Anime Game Review
The first attempt at a Full Metal Alchemist was as plain old action game. This "sequel" is more like actually playing the anime series, with an intricate plot, tons of fun transmutations, an awesome cel-shaded look that mimics the look of the show perfectly, use of actual cast-member voices, and a game that captures the FMA "spirit" and is faithful to the series in every way.
Characters from the series such as Winry, Hughes, Rose, and Scar make appearances, however, as is expected, it is the Brothers Elric who are central to the game and it's plot. You play elder brother Ed, but Al is always by your side ready to help with a rudimentary artificial intelligence to the character that allows him to help you when you need it.
Custom-made animated sequences feature heavily in the game, playing during major story sequences. But the real meat of the game is RPG adventure as well as action/battle sequences. Scattered around the various levels you'll see items outlined with a flashing circle. These items can be transmuted into specific tools, and an icon above the item shows what tool it'll turn into. The type of tool varies by room, but there's everything from bow-guns, to machine gun turrets, to gauntlets, even giant tanks you can use to both shoot and roll over enemies, and much more.
With a variety of weapons at your disposal, there's plenty you can do in combat. And some of the tools you acquire are amusing to use and are one of the highlights of the game (it's clear that the programmers had a bizarre sense of humor while creating the game). The variety of articles you can transmute is very true to the overall spirit of the show, and it mixes up the action nicely.
Learning to use the weapons correctly, as well as mastering the use of brother Al when you need to is critical to advancement towards the end of the story. Overall the game is a fun adventure that fans of the show will find appealing as well as deepening the existing universe of FMA.
Reviewed by Brian Cirulnick, September 2006
Fullmetal Alchemist -
The Curse (Vol. 1)
Anime DVD Review
What was it that compelled us to absorb this anime series so intently? Was it the clever use of believable physical laws for alchemy? Was it the unique world they inhabit, where alchemists are used by the military as living weapons? Was it the quest for the Philosopher's stone and the terrible secrets they discovered in the journey? Or, was it the unique relationship between the brothers and the real love they demonstrate for each other?
We're not sure, but combined, trust us, makes for one of the best anime series we've seen in a long, long time. A fantastic blend of action, drama and comedy, FullMetal starts strong and never lets go, with each episode ending as a cliff-hanger, you'll never stop watching!!!
Below: Trailer for the Fullmetal Alchemist: Premium OVA Collection.
We don't really need to tell you the story. We don't need to cover the characters. You know 'em, you love 'em, and it's really just that simple. Except it's not.
Only in the manga are we allowed to gush over Arakawa's magnificently detailed and striking artwork. And of course, the manga goes places the anime never did (because the TV series ended, the manga is still published, and the TV series didn't have the same plotlines), so if you want a whole new experience within a world we are sure you're already familiar with, all we can say is "go for it".
The fresh ideas that made the anime series a worldwide phenomenon are abundant in the manga, and, perhaps that's what we like best about it -- when a writer comes along and makes something truly original, we sit up and take notice.
Just be careful though -- anything this good may require a high-cost exchange, and we don't need you losing an arm and a leg (so to speak)...
Reviewed by Brian Cirulnick, March 2010
The Art of Fullmetal Alchemist
Anime Art Book Review
This beautiful coffee table book contains all the FullMetal Alchemist color artwork by manga artist Hiromu Arakawa from 2001 to 2003. Born in Hokkaido (northern Japan), Hiromu Arakawa first attracted national attention in 1999 with her award-winning manga Stray Dog. Her series Fullmetal Alchemist debuted in 2001 in Square Enix's monthly manga anthology Shonen Gangan.
Translated faithfully from the Japanese edition, The Art of Fullmetal Alchemist contains over 90 pages of gorgeous painted illustrations, including all the title pages as printed in color in the Japanese magazine Shonen Gangan; Japanese tankobon (graphic novel) and promotional artwork, with source listings; portraits of the main characters; and character designs from the PS2 game Fullmetal Alchemist and the Broken Angel. Includes a special two-page message from Hiromu Arakawa.
Running 95 pages, this fantastic publication includes 7 pages of color intro; 76 pages of color illustrations; 6 pages of character sketches in color; 4 pages of notes on images; 2 pages of afterward and sketch by artist Hiromu Arakawa. Easily 95% of the book is illustration, the text merely supports what you are looking at. As an art/illustration book, this is a value that cannot be beat.
This book measures 11.7 x 8.2 inches and is sure to be a fantastic item for all FullMetal Alchemist fans.
Reviewed by Brian Cirulnick, June 2006
Fullmetal Alchemist Trading Card Game
Anime Video Game Review
Battle and trade cards via WiFi with your friends. A completely accurate translation of the popular anime series' card game, the Fullmetal Alchemist Trading Card Game brings the collectible strategy game to the Nintendo DS with nearly 500 cards, a variety of play modes, and extensive Touch Screen support.
Featuring 12 of the most popular characters from the anime series, the Fullmetal Alchemist Trading Card Game allows you to battle against either AI-controlled opponents or up to three friends via the Nintendo DS Local Wireless and Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection.
Earn new cards in Character mode, learn to play in Tutorial mode, or even build your ideal deck in Fantasy mode. With every card from the original trading card set and the complete Blood and Water expansion, the Nintendo DS version of the Fullmetal Alchemist Trading Card Game has everything that both trading card fans and Fullmetal Alchemist aficionados could want.
Reviewed by Brian Cirulnick, December 2007
Fullmetal Alchemist Anime Cosplay Pocket Watch
Anime Toy Review
Now you too can be a licensed state alchemist by getting your hands on this ultra-cool pocket watch! Inscribed with Ed's symbol, the FMA military symbol as well as "don't forget 3. Oct. 10" (on the inside cover), this particular prop is featured prominently in the series and is a cool-bit of business regardless.
And of course, it's a full-working timepiece as well, so it won't look out of place with any outfit, with handsome roman numerals and a sweep-hand counting seconds. Very, very cool and useful as well. Now you won't be late for class!