Judge Jon Mercer would gladly give up his arm and leg for all anime to have an ending this superb.
Our review of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Part One, published July 1st, 2010, is also available.
They will risk what remains to restore what was lost.
After 52 episodes filled with action, adventure, conspiracy, loss, and betrayal, the Elric Brothers' quest for the philosopher stone comes to an explosive head with Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Part Five. In these final twelve episodes, Edward, Alphonse, and every surviving ally they've made over the course of the entire series make a final stand against the twisted machinations of the insidious "Father" and his equally nefarious Homunculi lapdogs. With a corrupt military dictatorship to contend with, a full-blown coup d'etat exploding all around them, not to mention the grand unveiling of Father's master plan, can Ed and Al overcome the odds and finally undo the unforgivable alchemical taboo committed years earlier?
I have to admit, despite having been an anime watcher since childhood (Robotech, represent yo!), I can name very few series that have what I could consider a satisfying final act. Passable, there are plenty, but ultimately satisfying, the count doesn't reach very high. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood does not suffer from this malady. Having both the luxury of its source material being finished (unlike the first series), along with the breathing room of a spacious 64 episode run, Brotherhood avoids the pitfalls of having to vomit out a troughful of last minute exposition, and manages to tie off all loose ends with a breathtaking run.
As a whole, the entire series hasn't disappointed, but this last handful of episodes really shine. We're talking a thick 20 oz. prime rib cut of action, served hot, followed by an ending that forgoes the open-ended approach of its predecessor with an episode after the final battle that is not only touching, but gives all of the involved characters a proper send-off. I really don't want to spoil anything, but Ed's collective hero moments will make you want to stand up and cheer. As an aside, to my fellow anime fans, isn't it amazing how much more you can appreciate a truly heinous villain when they actually receive a measure of comeuppance at the end?
There's not a single scrap of filler to be found in this volume, every episode is lean, mean, and packed tight with the sort of thrills that fans of the series are accustomed to. Characters don't overcrowd the scene, unless they have something to add to the story, and monologuing (always a sizable slice of a villains screen-time during the penultimate proceedings) is kept in check until the action ramps up again. While I was among the many supporters of the original series, I find myself unable to return after sitting through its superior successor. It's relieving to finally give one of the more endearing anime franchises I've enjoyed over the years the fond goodbye it deserves.
Being part of an animated series, especially one produced for television, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Part Five is afflicted by the same see-saw spikes in animation quality that most of its brethren suffer from. It's not nearly as bad as other anime I've had the pleasure of reviewing, but the difference between the visuals of a well executed battle scene, and a stuffier dialogue scene is marked. For the most part though, this serves has been a visual buffet, and Part Five looks just as good as each of the previous four releases. This Blu-ray features a stunning 1.78:1/1080p picture that makes the already colourful series positively sparkle, and in the numerous moments when the animation quality is at its peak, this disc is a knockout.
As for the TrueHD audio, the voice work is the sort of quality the industry should aim for. Vic Mignogna and Maxey Whitehead are pitch perfect as the Elric Brothers (with Whitehead especially, having to follow up on a great job in the first series on Alphonse by Aaron Dismuke). For fans of all preferences, the original Japanese 2.0 stereo voice track is included, though it admittedly lacks the punch of the English 5.1 dub.
While the episodes themselves are a big treat, there are a handful of extras. Of course there's the prerequisite Funimation trailers and clean opening and closings (I must note the opening for the episodes in Part Five is a pleaser, and for once I found myself actually enjoying having the textless option on the disc), along with a commentary on the final episode by the English ADR director joined by Mignogna and Whitehead, and an outtake reel with the English voice cast that is unrated thanks to a special guest appearance by our good friend profanity.
Not only does Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Part Five cap off a decade long journey and deliver an enthralling end for the adventures of the Brothers Elric, it does so with such gusto that only the most jaded of viewers would react with anything but delight. Despite being aimed squarely at the Dragon Ball / Naruto age range, this is a series that stands above and is good enough to elevate the entire genre. The action is surprisingly brutal and sidesteps a lot of the fluffier tricks anime uses to pad out its runtime. This is a pitch-perfect, pulse-pounding finale to an already explosive product. If you are an anime viewer, the entire run of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood belongs on your shelf.
Go to the store and trade-in whatever you need to buy this collection. Hell, buy all five of them. Money for entertainment, equivalent exchange in action.
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