Otakon2011: "Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos" Shines Brightly
When Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos was first announced I was a bit wary. It’s no surprise that the creators of the show would want to leverage their popular franchise to support a side-story, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it should be done. There have been far too many series and movies cheapened by unnecessary sequels/side-stories that were produced for the sake of money.
But after watching the movie, I feel guilty for ever entertaining those doubts. The Sacred Star of Milos continues Fullmetal Alchemist‘s penchant for defying pre-conceived notions, and partakes of all of the qualities the series does so well, mixing suspense, drama, action and a bit of comedy to produce solid entertainment.
The story focuses on Table City, an area right on the border of Amestris. Separating it from the neighboring country Creta is a large circular valley, making the city really look as though it is a table between the two countries. Both countries use that valley as a dump and as a battlefield. Inhabiting the valley are the Milos, people who once lived in the Table City but were pushed out as Amestris and Creta raced to figure out how to create a Philosopher’s Stone. In exchange for their research on alchemy, Julia Crichton’s family was granted passage into Creta to live a better life. When her parents are murdered by wolf chimeras, her brother Ashleigh Crichton hides his sister and goes on the run, hiding the secrets his parents have uncovered about alchemy. Nearly five years later he breaks out of jail to rescue an imprisoned Julia. The Elric brothers quickly find themselves encountering Ashleigh, whose alchemy is unlike anything they have seen before. As they arrive in the Table City they realize just how horrible life is for the Milos in the valley and why they are fighting to take back their city. When the Philosopher’s Stone is brought into the equation the limits of the Milos are tested and the true purpose of Table City is revealed.
It’s a big relief to report that The Sacred Star of Milos fits seamlessly into the world of Fullmetal Alchemist. Its events take place right after episode 20, and the plot makes sense given what the brothers are trying to achieve. It is almost like one of the earlier episodes in the original Fullmetal Alchemist series, where the brothers encounter various alchemists that tend to be bad, and have to save the day. Instead of feeling out of place and thus unnecessary, it enriches Fullmetal Alchemist and adds to Ed and Al’s reasons for disliking the Philosopher’s Stone so much.
As I mentioned before, Fullmetal Alchemist is best at mixing drama, suspense, action and comedy. The drama within this movie can be felt right from the start, when Julia’s parents are murdered right in front of her eyes. This dreary tone is further illustrated with the introduction of the Milos people, who are caught between two powerful countries and subsequently treated like garbage. All they want is their land back and yet they don’t have any true means of getting it. The Sacred Star of Milos really plays with the idea of desires and what an individual will do to achieve them. The plot starts out with Ed and Al chasing an escaped convict. It evolves into so much more, with several lives being at stake, clever plot twists and an action-packed adrenaline rush during the final act.
While the material is rather heavy, the movie does not lose the charm that both versions of Fullmetal Alchemistare known for. There is still a bit of light-hearted play mixed throughout the beginning, but it fittingly fades to the background as the plot intensifies. Without Father or any homunculi in the action, The Sacred Star of Milos certainly has a lot going against it. Fortunately the plot quickly introduces a new mysterious form of alchemy that becomes a big problem for the Elrics. Good, fast-paced action is a necessity in any good shounen, and The Sacred Star of Milos lives up to this expectation and then some. The choreography and various uses of alchemy all make for great entertainment, giving the movie a strong impact. The movie is also not afraid of being a bit gruesome at times, with a certain character ripping off his own skin at one point.
Ed and Al here are also the same Ed and Al the viewers have come to love. They aren’t state dogs without any feelings; they actually care for the Milos people and want to help them. Julia is a great addition to the cast, and it is a shame that she was actually not a part of the series. Though she is still young, she is tough and believes in her people, and is willing to do almost anything for them. She isn’t a bad marksman and even has been taught a small bit of alchemy. Ashleigh works for the movie in a number of ways. Not only does he introduce a new form of alchemy, he also carries an aura of mystery around him. The unraveling of his character and his motives is what strings the entire movie together. He is smooth, cunning and difficult to read, making him a very interesting character to follow. My only small complaint is the inclusion of Roy Mustang, who is wasted as nothing other than as a kind of fan service.
I was also not a huge fan of the animation, which is much different from Brotherhood and the original series. For a big movie, it just doesn’t look high-quality. This may have been due to the speed of several of the scenes but as a whole it leaves something to be desired. It isn’t horrible by any means, but it is a step in the wrong direction for this series. The music, however, is right on cue, with the opening theme “Chasing Hearts” by Miwa giving the movie a very fitting introduction.
Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos may have been made simply because Fullmetal Alchemist is so popular, but it has a lot of great qualities on its own. As far as I am concerned, they can make other movies so long as they have a solid story that fits into the world they has already been crafted. The Sacred Star of Milos is definitely a journey Ed and Al Elric would go on. It is a journey that any fan of the series should check out, and even new fans can have fun with it. Brotherhood definitely set a high bar for the series, a bar that I am happy to say The Sacred Star of Milos meets.