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"Fullmetal Alchemist" Season 2 Part 1: Equivalent to Quality

by on February 11, 2008

Fullmetal Alchemist was one of those shows which debuted while I was in college, as I was usually without a cable TV during that time. As a result, I only got to see random episodes every once in a while, and that’s certainly not any way to get into the story. Thanks to these thin half season sets from FUNimation, though, I was finally able to fully get into the story and its memorable characters. And because they’re released in half season form, I can marathon a bunch at once instead of waiting until the next day (or even next week) to see more on TV. That’s quite useful for a serialized story like this.

But enough of my personal experiences; let’s get to the DVD set itself. Fullmetal Alchemist plugs along with Season 2, Part 1, which contains episodes 29-40. As expected, more characters come into play. Perhaps the biggest player at the start is Wrath, who was introduced at the very end of episode 28. As his Seven Deadly Sins name suggests, he’s part of the Homunculi, the antagonists in the show who, like protagonists Ed and Al Elric, are after the Philosopher’s Stone. However, in his introductory moments he doesn’t seem all that harmful; the amnesic boy mainly gets frightened easily and cries a lot, being consoled by Ed and Al’s teacher, Izumi, who has a mysterious bond to this boy (and whose reason for that is revealed later). But after some coaxing by the Dark Side (TM), Wrath remembers his true identity and rejoins the Homunculi. Well, so much for adding another hero to this story.

Another major character in this set is ex-soldier Marta, an associate of the Homunculus Greed. She wants revenge on the military for turning her into a Chimera (a half human, half animal). In Marta’s case, she’s part snake. It would seem that because she hangs out with Greed, she’s an enemy, but after hiding out inside Al for a while to escape danger, the two form a bond, and later on she even helps him out by revealing one of the major Homunculi to him.

Speaking of Homunculi, my favorite of the seven, the appropriately husky-voiced Lust, gets her own episode. It’s a story of love and … deception? Yes, as expected, Lust uses a man named Lujon to get closer to obtaining the Philosopher’s Stone. However, the love-struck man stirs up tinges of feelings in Lust during the process, compromising what is supposed to be an emotionless, by-the-book mission. It’s a good episode that gives the villainess a bit of humanity, even if she eventually resorts to evil in the end.

Set 3 also gives a little more of another fave character of mine, Sheska, a cute, glasses-clad bookworm who uses her talent for reading to find facts in all sorts of documents for the military. She and Winry, the master mechanic, team up to look into who may have caused the death of the major character I didn’t dare reveal in my volume 2 review. They’re great together, and their scenes break up a bit of the seriousness present through here. I especially like when they meet at a restaurant and can’t remember each others’ names. Luckily, they’re also a duo in the Fullmetal Alchemist movie, so if you like them as a team, check out that great flick if you haven’t yet.

One thing has become clearer to me as I’ve watched the most recent two sets, and I have to commend Fullmetal Alchemist for it: The show doesn’t pull punches with the deaths of characters. You’ll get attached to someone or, at the very least think they’ll live, and BAM! The show kills them off (though not cheaply, thankfully). This is a show that doesn’t sugar coat reality; people die, even good people like a certain someone from volume 2, and especially when they least expect it. Is it fair? No, but to pull out an overused catch phrase that parents smugly use on their kids when they complain, Life isn’t fair. Ed and Al are getting a lesson in the preciousness of life firsthand by experiencing the deaths of people close to them.

I continue to rank the dub for Fullmetal Alchemist as one of the better English dubs I’ve heard. Everyone’s perfect for their character, and the performances contain the necessary emphasis for each line, whether it be goofy or teary. Special features are roughly the same as Season 1, Part 2, except this time around there are no commentaries. That was rather disappointing. Oh well, at least the thin casing still rules.

Not much new needs to be said since my first two reviews, except that Fullmetal Alchemist still comes with my seal of approval. It’s not quite as strong overall as Season 1 Part 2, but it debuts many new and interesting characters, and there’s still a good mix of comedy, emotion, and action. Can’t wait for the final set.

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