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Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood Vol.4 [DVD]
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Alchemy the mystic science of transmutation. Gifted alchemists can break down and reconstruct matter using the Law of Equivalent Exchange, creating miraculous things. But one taboo can never be broken - human transmutation. The Elric brothers Edward and Alphonse broke the taboo in an attempt to resurrect their late mother and as a result, lost everything. Al's soul was transferred to a suit of living armor and Ed lost two limbs, confining him to mechanical auto-mail. To recover what they've lost they embarked on a journey to find the fabled Philosopher's Stone. The closer they get to the hidden truth of the Philosopher's Stone, the deeper they fall under shadowy schemes and the perils of unnatural creatures. The military nation of Amestris, the grudges and hatreds of a persecuted people, and the countless tragedies caused by alchemy all form a dark vortex that will draw people and countries into its void. The Elric brothers forge ahead in their quest to transmute despair into hope ...
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It has some of the best episodes and as you should expect from Funimation (the people who dubbed it in english) is very well dubbed and acted. There arn't many special feature on the discs but none of them do, But they do have the Japanese dub and english subtitles for people who like to listen to the original.
Brotherhood is far superior to the original series.
All of the characters find themselves preparing for the final battle, a fight that they know is unlikely to succeed. The buildup to it is played quite well and by the time the fighting commences it feels like a well-planned and (loosely) coordinated assault as opposed to a more typical set piece battle. There is quite a large space of time covered here and Ed's character design is aged by several months. Given that leap in time it seems unexpected that the rest of the series takes place on a single day. The last five episodes are all part of the final battle. The action scenes are well done and feel unique. None of the fights drag on long enough to wear out their welcome and each one builds up the threat. Al particularly is in serious trouble here while Ed's direction is highly unexpected.
If you're not, here goes. Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood Volume 4 is a roller coaster ride, full of thrills and chills. It is, of course, for those who have been on the ride from volume 1 through 3, because the cast is much too large and engaging to try to explain what's going on. For those who have, though, it's terrific.
It also has an extra special event for fans of the 2003 version of Fullmetal-- Aaron Dismuke's performance as the teenage version of Van Hohenheim. Dismuke, as the 2003 fans know, played the role of Alphonse back then, when he was twelve. Now rather older, he gets a brief moment as a different relation of Edward.
As far as the story goes, our heroes have been in Briggs, but have their hands full with Kimblee. Al has gone with Winry, May, Dr Marcoh, and the two chimeras that had been sent to bring Scar in, as well as that Ishvallan bundle of destruction himself. Ed is trying to deal with the Crimson Alchemist as best he can... although Ed's determination to not take a human life almost ends up getting him killed when Kimblee brings down a mine on Ed. After pulling off an amazing feat of alchemy, and gaining the cooperation of two more chimera, Ed vanishes for a time.
One of the chimera travelling with Dr Marcoh's group calls the military to inform them where Marcoh is, and Envy goes to fetch the Crystal Alchemist. But Marcoh proves that he isn't quite as wishy washy as many viewers might have thought to this point, and Envy is reduced to something vaguely like a crayfish. May is encouraged to take Envy back to Xing, with the idea of saving her clan by having something "immortal" to show the Emperor.
Not long after this, Al leads the group to Lior, and discovers his long-absent father. Fans of female near-nudity will be pleased that Winry has a slightly provocative bath while in Lior. Meanwhile, Ed reappears with a bang of activity, and he heads back to Central, hoping to meet Al there. What he finds, however, is Ling. (Really. Ling. No fooling).
There's a lot more, mixing comedy with action and a few emotional tugs too. We also get to see the start of the Promised Day that everybody's talking about, and nearly everybody ends up in Central facing a new apparently immortal army of mannequins... with Colonel Mustang making a dramatic entrance right at the end of episode 52, the last episode in this set.
There are two commentaries, as there have been on the previous volumes. The first is on episode 40, featuring Mike McFarland, ADR director and voice of Jean Havoc, Aaron Dismuke, voice of the young Van Hohenheim, and John Swayze, voice of the adult Van Hohenheim. Dismuke refers to some of his impressions of the character of Alphonse from his 2003 rendition, but as he apparently has little knowledge of the manga or current anime version, he lets Swayze and McFarland make most of the remarks regarding the other series. (The guy didn't even know that the Homunculi in the 2009 anime are derived from Father, rather than being the results of attempted Human Transmutation by alchemists).
The second commentary is between the two ADR directors of the Funimation version of Brotherhood: Mike McFarland and Caitlin Glass, Caitlin also being the voice of Winry Rockbell, on episode 46. As that episode also features a scene where Winry and Ed unexpectedly encounter each other in Resembool, not too many days before the Promised Day, it's pretty fun. That one is as much about Ms Glass as it is about the series, but it's fun to listen to, especially with the admission that when she recorded the commentary, she had already recorded the end of the series, but Vic Mignogna, the voice of Edward, had not yet recorded his final scenes. (He does have a lot more dialogue and scenes, of course).
There are so many characters and so much happens that it's hard to keep tabs on it all. Even those who seemed to have allied themselves to one side may be willing to switch sides, while some allies betray the closest of comrades. There are only twelve more episodes to go, and as most of them occur within "one day", the roller coaster ride of this volume will seem mild in comparison to what's next. CAN'T WAIT!!!
This is another truly great instalment of `Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood' containing a further thirteen episodes of this extremely entertaining series. The story just keeps getting better and better with some great fight scenes, some nice twists to the plot and some truly funny moments here and there as well. The animation remains very good and as the series starts to get more series the amount of super-deformed moments that I dislike decreases and the action increases. The English dub also remains very good.
`Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood' easily surpasses the previous anime adaptation of the series and if the quality of the series remains this good then things are definitely looking good for the fifth and final set of episodes. This volume and the series as a whole certainly deserve a full five stars.
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