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Full Metal Alchemist the Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa (Limited Edition) PDF Print E-mail
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R2 DVD Reviews
Monday, 18 August 2008 16:00
Full Metal AlchemistTime for some deja vu, as we're back looking at Conqueror of Shamballa again, thanks to its upcoming Limited Edition release. Sneakily, the Full Metal Alchemist TV series didn't quite finish the story of Edward and Alphonse - it was all left nicely poised for this movie to tie up. This movie is that ending - and it's an ending that could have major implications for not just Edward's world, but our own...

It is 1923 in Munich. Two years have passed since Edward Elric's sacrifice ripped him out of his world and into ours, separating him from his younger brother, Alphonse. In that time, Ed's continued research into rocketry has allied him with Alphonse Hiederich, a fellow researcher who oddly resembles Ed's brother. Progress has been slow, however, and Ed has become discouraged. But when he saves a quiet Gypsy girl with the power to read minds, Ed is quickly pulled into a plot by the Thule Society and the burgeoning Nazi Party that could drag both worlds into a terrible war.

Back in his own world, Al has been unlocking new secrets of alchemy and gaining incredible powers, all in the hopes of finding Ed.

Battling the occult, ideological extremists, and monstrous Homunculi lurking in the shadows, can the brothers find a way to reunite without causing chaos and bloodshed? What will happen when the world of alchemy and the world of modern science collide?

J. Random BadguyEnjoying the view

Running repairsAnderson's good deeds

So goes the movies's marketing blurb, and as such things go it's surprisingly accurate, so I'll let it stand. The way the series was left leaves us with a story that's neatly two-sided - it starts off looking at how Ed's getting on in our world, where his alchemy is useless and the only advantage he has when in trouble is the added punch his automail gives him, and switches back to Al from time to time to show how his own efforts to find a way to get his brother back are progressing. Al may be back in his own body, but he's lost his memories of up to that point - having been taken in by Rose, he's been filled in on some of the details of what happened to him and has learnt enough abut Edward to know that he wants his brother back, but past that it's all a blank.

In our world, Ed's found himself in a Germany where discontent is slowly rising, and the fledgling Nazi party is beginning to gain support. The Nazis were on offshoot of the secretive Thule Society, who Ed's father Hohenheim once had an interest in and who have been carrying out their own research into the possibility of alternate worlds - and once they realise that Ed comes from one of those worlds, they take a distinct interest in him. The big problem for Ed is that, while the Thule Society does have the means to send him home, allowing them access to his world will likely unleash a torrent of destruction on it. So what's a man out of place to do?

Part of the fun here is in character spotting - with our world and Ed's being alternate versions of each other, most of the TV series characters also exist on this side, just in different roles and places. Alphonse is the most obvious example, but King Bradley, Lyra, Hughes and others all appear in various roles and it's great fun keeping an eye out for them - some are more obvious than others.

Sacrificial homunculusPlotting

Final farewellsLast gasps?

While the TV series had a lot of running threads that kept intersecting and then going their own way again, the movie is essentially self-contained and very easy to follow. There's a good balance between dialogue and action - the story is well-explained through a number of key scenes, so you always know what's going on, while there's a good spread of action scenes dotted throughout to keep it from becoming too heavy. It can feel a little strange at times that there's so little alchemy actually in use, at least until the last quarter, but that's all explained in the setting - and when Ed finally does get to show off his powers, it's a suitably impressive scene.

By the end of the TV series, I'd been converted from a Full Metal Alchemist sceptic into a full-fledged fan, and I didn't want the series to end. Conqueror of Shamballa has plenty in it to keep fans of the series happy, while tying up the story in a way that makes sense and gives Edward's and Alphonse's adventures a sense of closure - although as ever, there is the possibility left for the story to be picked up again should the creators ever want to. The end result is a release that's definitely worth picking up.

But since you can get the goodness of the movie on it's own for a few quid less than this release, you'll be wanting to know what's included with the Limited Edition to make it worthwhile. The answer comes in the form of a second DVD, which opens with a cast discussion movie with Park Romi (Ed), director Mizushima, Kugimiya Rie (Al) and Okawa Toru (Roy) - this segment last just short of an hour and covers a variety of topics, with some one-on-one discussions and some group seesions. There's also a set of three audio commentary tracks - one with the Japanese director and production staff; one with the Japanese director and voice actors; and finally with the dub ADR director and voice cast. All told, that's a lot of commentary - whether it's worth an extra £9 (retail), though, is up to yourself. Certainly can't fault much about the movie itself, though...

Rating - ****

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