I haven't bought this complete DVD collection yet, but I am going to. I already have it all separately, but want the whole thing, just because!
Summary: FMAB is the story of two brothers; Alphonse and Edward Elric. The boys lose their mother to illness, and they try to use alchemy to bring her back. This goes horribly wrong because they neglected the basic rule of alchemy, the principal of equal exchange. To gain something from alchemy you must give something of equal value. The brothers' disastrous experiment costs Edward his left leg and Alphonse his entire body. Ed manages to affix Al's soul to a suit of armour, at the cost of his right arm and the two maimed boys are left alone to study alchemy in the hope of restoring themselves to normality.
A little while later a colonel in the military, another alchemist named Roy Mustang, invites the brothers to become State Alchemists, an offer only Edward accepts, giving them access to the enormous resources of the military that brothers hope will help them to recover their lost body parts. The brothers set off in search of the Philosopher's Stone as a means to restore their bodies. Throughout their journey, they meet allies and enemies and discover the true nature of the Philosopher's Stone, and an awful secret plan that they must fight to prevent.
Review: FMAB contains that wonderful thing, a totally original, self-consistent universe different from ours, but familiar enough not to be off-putting. The characters are all distinct, fully-formed and convincing; you will love most, hate a few and not care much one way or the other about others. The story is brilliant. It begins in a relatively small way with the brothers travails, and expands into something magnificent I will not go into.
It's mood is finely judged. There's some light comedy, some tragedy, a lot of action and something to think about, and all the while the character development is gripping. The relationships between the characters are complex and changing, and the brothers grow up during the series, adding more levels. There are those wonderful moments when you see one of the enemy attacking the wrong person and you think "That was a mistake", because the relationships are clearly enough defined that you know retribution is on its way. A lovely example is Roy Mustang, the Flame Alchemist, explaining to a homunculus that has just attacked his 'dearest subordinate' how he uses one hand for macro effects like burning an entire room and the other for pinpoint attacks, like evaporating the fluid in the hapless homunculus' eyeballs. It is the minute attention to detail, all detail, that makes this special.
The graphics are excellent. I really like them for both technical quality and art. I have recently seen 'better', but that was because the goalposts moved, and techniques improved. FMAB still has 10/10 graphics.
I recommend watching in Japanese with subtitles. It's just better. The American voice actors did a good job, but it's just more characterful with Japanese voices. The voice acting is truly excellent; it's taken very seriously in Japan, and they do it very well.
As I said in the title, I think that this is probably the greatest animated entertainment ever made. If you only ever watch one anime make it this one. If you watch anime anyway and haven't seen FMAB, do so. It would be a complete waste of your life if you were hit by a meteorite before you saw it. When was the last time you saw a cartoon 25 hours long and couldn't stop watching, despite the fact that life would be somehow empty after it was over?
Do yourself a favour, buy this. It's not a lot of money for the epic adventure you are about to experience. It may well be the best money you ever spent.