Reviews

DVD of the Month - October 2006

Fullmetal Alchemist The Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa

PHOTO

Your patience for sitting through the 51 episodes of Fullmetal Alchemist just to be left hanging as to whether or not the Elric brothers would ever be reunited is about to be rewarded. It comes in the form of Conqueror of Shamballa, a full-length movie finale that ties up the loose ends from the TV series and brings the story to a rousing, action-packed and heartrending close.

I’ll say it right now—I was taken aback when Ed went through the gate to the Germany of 1923 at the end of the show, but after watching the movie it all kind of makes sense. The movie picks up the story two years after the TV episodes end. The brothers Elric are now in separate dimensions; Alphonse is flesh and blood and thriving in Amestris, the world of alchemy, while Ed is in the Germany of 1923, living a prosthetic-limbed, Automail-less but semi-normal existence with Al look-alike Alfons Heiderich. It’s kind of depressing to see Ed reduced to such an impaired state and resigned to this new life while he reminisces of the adventures he and Al once had.

But there’s no time for him to feel morose. Power-hungry military types are back at it again, knocking at his door. This time it’s not homunculi he has to worry about, though. It’s the Thule Society, enterprising Nazis who’re looking to harness the power of alchemy in the real world in order to invade Ed’s alchemic homeland, which they call Shamballa. By channeling the power of Hohenheim and a serpentine Envy, the Thule headmistress Dietlinde Eckhart opens a door between worlds and starts an ill-planned invasion of Lior and Central. That begins a world-warping good time as the Elrics reconnect and team up with old allies to fight off this new menace.

Themes introduced in the show carry over to the movie—discrimination, scientific advancement vs. political greed, brotherhood, family and most importantly...the futility of war. Then there’s the mix of humor, drama and action. When Ed first does his signature alchemic hand-slap “out of habit” (alchemy doesn’t work in the real world), you can’t help but laugh. Drama runs high in the film, especially during any of the homecoming scenes between Ed, Al, Winry, Armstrong, and several others. A shiver is guaranteed to run down your spine in those moments and during the emotionally powerful ending. As with the TV series, the English dub is utterly spectacular, with everyone returning for an encore performance. My favorite has to be Mustang’s return. It had me rolling.

All too often, a great anime series will finish without a clear ending, leaving you hanging. But thankfully Fullmetal Alchemist and Shamballa are different. The series has obviously been such a labor of love for all involved that the ending has been clearly and expertly crafted. As sorry as I am to see it end, I’m sure I’m not the only person who’s been moved by this series. This is truly one of the greatest anime shows ever, and what a perfect way to finish it.

—Chris Johnston

Wait, haven’t I seen you before?

The Germany of 1923 is suspiciously filled with doppelgangers of people from Amestris, the world of alchemy we saw during the majority of the TV series. You’ll see faces like Rose, Lyra, Bradley, Hughes, Gracia and others during the film—it’s sometimes just as surprising to the viewer as it is for Ed to come across these characters in an entirely different setting. Wait till you see who shows up at the very end...

COVER

  • Available: Now
  • Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
  • Running time: 104 min.
  • Rating: TV-PG
© Hiromu Arakawa • HAGAREN THE MOVIE. Licensed by FUNimation® Productions, Ltd. All Rights Reserved.