Blu-ray Review: Fullmetal Alchemist – The Conqueror of Shamballa

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The feature-length conclusion to the original Fullmetal Alchemist TV Series has finally arrived onto Blu-ray within the UK, but what exactly do you get? Find out in our Blu-ray Review of Fullmetal Alchemist The Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa.

Synopsis:

Two years have passed since Edward Elric was dragged from his homeworld through the Gate of Alchemy to the parallel world of Earth in the year 1923, which is fundamentally governed by the laws of modern science instead of alchemy. Stripped of his alchemical powers and his newly restored arm and leg, Edward researches rocketry in Munich, Germany with his friend Alfons Heiderich, a young man who resembles his brother Alphonse, in the hopes of returning to his world. (via Fetch Publicity)

Our view:

The Conqueror of Shamballa takes place two years after the events of the original TV series, whereby Edward Elric is living on Earth, in Germany, as an assistant to rocket engineer Alfons Heiderich. During a short car ride to the Rocket demonstration we are introduced to a gypsy with an incredible ability that allows her to see the truth in people’s hearts. It’s here where the film begins and despite its ‘fullmetal’ heritage it doesn’t feel like a continuation of the TV series, but rather an independent film using majority of the fullmetal cast.

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I won’t divulge too much of the story, as there is plenty going off including a variety of fast-pased action scenes, however the film can be separated in to two stories, with each having its own consequences. On one side we have Edward looking for a way home, whereby he investigates a suspicious cult and the other side we have Alphonse that will do anything, including transmuting his sole, to find his lost brother and memories. Both sides eventually meet up for a climatic ending, which is delivered in outstanding (and destructive) quality, but at the same time still leaves the film open for any ‘continuation’ of the story.

For the most part though the film though takes place within the ‘real’ world, where Science and Technology prevailed over Alchemy and a powerless Edward Elric is living an ordinary life within the worn-torn country of Germany. It’s an interesting setting for the film and it shows the amount of detail put into creating this ‘fictional’ universe, as the team had to collaborate history with fiction to make the story feel authentic. Another thing to point out is that the ‘real world’ is coloured darker than the ‘amestris’ world, making it easier for viewers to notice that they have changed worlds, rather than changing scene. 

Extras:

Since this Blu-ray release has been created using the FUNimation Blu-ray master the disc features a lot of extra content, all of which is also available on the DVD Version of the film. Included on the Blu-ray disc is The Making of Fullmetal Alchemist: Conqueror of Shamballa, an in-depth talk session with the japanese cast, English & Japanese Cast Commentaries, Production Art and original Japanese trailers.

All of the content, except the Production Art, is presented in standard definition (480p) – however the Production Art is displayed in High Definition (1080p).

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The main highlight of these extra features is ‘The Making of Fullmetal Alchemist: Conqueror of Shamballa’ as it’s a 40 minute feature that explains the process of how the film became reality. It takes place within the walls of the studio’s office, which looks more like a vault, where the film’s main director, Mizushima Seiji, explains everything that happened during production. Even if you’re not a fan of the franchise it’s an interesting viewing experience, as it discloses interesting facts, such as the use of different directors for different scenes as well as a look at the scenes that were cut from the film. This extra feature is presented in standard definition in Japanese with English subtitles.

In addition to the above ‘on-screen’ content viewers can access trailers for FUNimation releases by using the ‘Title search’ option, here viewers can watch trailers for Dragon Box 1, Bamboo Blade, Gunslinger Girl and more. It’s unclear if this content will be ‘accessible’ on the retail release, but it was accessible on our review disc, so it is worth mentioning.

Overall:

Fullmetal Alchemist – The Conqueror of Shamballa is the feature-length conclusion to the original Fullmetal Alchemist TV series, a story which deviated from the original manga and offered a different perspective to what happened to the Elric brothers. This film continues that story and while it is considered a sequel to the TV Series, newcomers to the franchise can still enjoy the film (to a certain extent), as throughout the film flashbacks and memories of past events unfold as Edward looks for a way back home while Alphonse looks for his lost brother.

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In terms of this UK Blu-ray release, Manga UK have done an interesting job by using the FUNimation Blu-ray master, the same Blu-ray master that was released in America several years ago. This may seem like a bad thing, but in fact it’s a good idea – as not only does the Blu-ray feature the High Definition version of the film, which was taken from the Japanese HD master rather than an HD upscale, but it also features a ton of extra content. What’s also interesting to point out is that Manga UK have replicated the original American Blu-ray, meaning that FUNimation trailers (such as Dragon Ball Z, Bamboo Blade & Gunslinger Girl) can be accessed by using title search on your PS3, PC or Blu-ray Player.

Hidden extra features aside the film is presented in glorious 1080p High Definition with a 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio, more importantly both English and Japanese audio tracks are presented in 5.1 Dolby TrueHD, thus offering a more cinematic experience to those who have a Surround Sound setup. However if you do not have a surround sound setup then the audio quality, especially the voices, may sound quieter than normal. Considering how old the film is, since it was originally released in 2005, the HD treated vastly improves the quality of the film giving it detail that could rival most HD releases nowadays, with the differences between the two worlds being more noticeable than on the standard definition release. If you a fan of Fullmetal Alchemist then owning the Blu-ray version is an ‘essential’ purchase, as compared to the DVD release your missing out on a vastly improved product.

Score: review-stars-4

Fullmetal Alchemist: The Movie – Conqueror of Shamballa will be available on Blu-ray, and Combo Pack Blu-ray with Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood: Sacred Star of Milos on Monday 1st April 2013.

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About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked at ZOMGPlay, Rice Digital and Funstock and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita, PS4 or Xbox One.

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