"Fullmetal Alchemist Vol. 2" Transmutes Another Winner
Despite its shortcomings (Episode 4, I’m looking at you), Fullmetal Alchemist Vol. 1 has more going for it than the best volumes of some of the best anime series out there. Volume 2 makes me sit back and wonder if this is the greatest anime series of all times. The first four episodes served as a wonderful introduction to our heroes, Ed and Al Elric, and the world of Fullmetal Alchemist. With the stage set and the players in place, I popped in disc two.
Episode 5 introduces us to Maes Hughes, military intelligence officer and obsessively loyal husband. The Elric brothers encounter him on the train to Central City. A man named Bald hijacks the train and it’s up to Hughes, Ed, and Al to save the passengers and bring Bald to justice. This is a hilarious episode showcasing Ed’s resourcefulness and alchemic talent. Hughes is easily my favorite character in the entire series, and there are some particularly funny bits with him and Mustang discussing Hughes’ pregnant wife. The only shortcoming of this classic is the character of Bald, who suffers from the “incidental villain of the week” syndrome. He’s just not interesting or cool at all.
Episode 6 continues the lighthearted feel of the previous episode. Now that Ed has reached Central City, he must study for his State Certification Alchemy exam. He is placed in the care of Shou Tucker, the Sewing-Life Alchemist, along with his daughter Nina. Tucker is famous for creating a chimera (a combination of two different creatures) that was capable of speaking the human language.
Episode 7 is one of the best episodes yet. Tucker has to make his yearly report on his findings or else his lifestyle will be taken away. That being the case, he will go to any measure to ensure that he retains it. In a truly horrifying scene, we see that Tucker has transmuted his own daughter and their dog into a hideous chimera. His insanity is played out well (he brushes his terrible deed off in the name of science) as is Ed’s rage at the atrocity. Chuck Huber and Vic Mignogna deserve special recognition for their vocal performances during the final scene.
Episode 8 deals with the serial killer stalking the women of Central City. Still reeling from the horrible fate that befell Nina, Ed sets to work on discovering the whereabouts of the Philosopher’s Stone. A visit from Winry takes a turn for the worse as the killer kidnaps her. This episode features the introduction of Barry the Chopper, a truly sick individual. If anything, FMA is great at portraying insane, disturbed people doing what they do best. All in all, another amazing episode.
In addition to the four classic episodes, the DVD’s packaging must be noted as well. It features a great profile shot of Al on the front, and the sucker is reversible too, if you don’t want writing on your DVD cover. The extras are standard fare, but the cool booklet that comes with the disc more than makes up for them. Long story short, if you don’t own Fullmetal Alchemist, you suck! Seriously though, it’s one of the best out there, and is certainly the best to come out in recent years. Highest possible recommendation.