Blu-ray Review: Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood – Part 4

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The fourth instalment of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood has arrived, but does it do anything differently from previous volumes or is it the same HD Treatment we’ve come to expect? Find out in our Blu-ray Review of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood – Part 4.

Synopsis:

Edward and Alphonse Elric’s reckless disregard for alchemy’s fundamental laws ripped half of Ed’s limbs from his body and left Al’s soul clinging to a cold suit of armor. To restore what was lost, the brothers scour a war-torn land for the Philosopher’s Stone, a fabled relic which grants the ability to perform alchemy in impossible ways.

The Elrics are not alone in their search; the corrupt State Military is eager to harness the artifact’s power. So too are the strange Homunculi and their shadowy creator. The mythical Stone lures exotic alchemists from distant kingdoms, scarring some deeply enough to inspire murder. As the Elrics find their course altered by these enemies and allies, their purpose remains unchanged – and their bond unbreakable.

Our View:

We begin the fourth instalment of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood by yet again taking a break from the ever-changing story, as we see Farther (and Van Hohenheim) reminiscing over events that happened in the past. While these memories deviate from the main story it tells the origins (backstory) of both Farther and Hohenheim as well as showcases the destruction of Xerxes, the country that mysteriously vanished overnight. Plenty of secrets are unravelled to the viewer and it also highlights that the homunculi’s plan of recreating the world started several decades before Edward and Alphonse were even born.

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Destructive memories of the past aside the story recommences where the previous volume left off, with Kimblee and his men under the watchful eye of Major Miles and Edward Elric in the North. As soon as the snow storm clears Miles and his team attempt to assassinate Kimblee, however it does not go to plan and Edward is left to take control of the battle, during which is severely injured. Meanwhile out in the open Alphonse has managed to track down Scar’s group and attempts to help them unravel the mystery behind the research notes that scar’s brother left beind, however before this happens Alphonse realises that the effectiveness of his blood seal is starting to wear off, leaving him and the group extremely concerned for his wellbeing.

Back in central things aren’t that great either as not only has Major General Armstrong uncovered more dark secrets of the military, but the homunculi Greed is out for answers (and revenge) on Wrath as after a brief encounter with a previous friend he remembers that Wrath killed his ‘possessions’ back in Dublith. Meanwhile General Mustang, along with his subordinates that are scattered across the country, form a plan to save their country from the oncoming onslaught of the Homunculi.

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Depsite the Elric brothers being separated for most of the inclusive episodes the story still progresses forward at an action-packed rate, with Hohenheim and Alphonse conveniently meeting in Liore and Edward starting a new partnership with Greed/Ling. However despite these new partnerships the Homunculi are waiting and when Alphonse is suddenly captured by the enemy and brought in front of Edward an almighty fight breaks out between the two sides. With no clear winner in sight, and with the events of the promised day coming ever nearer, it seems that the Homunculi have the upper hand but all is not lost as an unexpected back-up arrives, turning the tide of the battle yet again.

Extras:

Just like with the previous volume, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood – Part 4 features two commentaries, on Episode 40 and Episode 46, as well as the text less videos for the opening and closing songs.

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Both the Commentaries are available on Disc 1, with Mike McFarland (ADR Director) John Swasey (Van Hohenheim) and Aaron Dismuke (young Van Hohenheim) on Episode 40, while on Episode 46 we have Commentary from Mike McFarland (ADR Director) and Katlyn Glass (Winry). As per the norm with FUNimation commentaries the cast talk about how they provided the voices for the characters as well as any differences from original Fullmetal Alchemist TV Series.

The commentary for Episode 40 has to be the highlight of both commentaries as it features Aron Dismuke. Aron is not only the voice of Van Hohenheim in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, but he was originally the voice for Alphonse back in the original Fullmetal Alchemist TV Series and so we get to see his views on the differences between the shows and acting.

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Finally on the second disc we have the text less opening and closing videos, with the Opening song featuring Period, by CHEMISTRY, while the ending song is Shunkan Sentimental by Scandal.

Tech Specs:

Media: BD 50 x1, BD 25 x1
Running Time: 3:40:23 (Disc 1), 1:37:56 (Disc 2) (13 Episodes)
Video: MPEG-4 AVC
Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1 / 48 Khz (English), Dolby TrueHD 2.0 / 48Khz (Japanese)
Resolution: 1920 x 1080 (1080p)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Widescreen
Frame Rate: 23.976 fps

Overall:

The story of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood continues in Part 4 and while the episodes featured take place over several months, rather than several days like in previous volumes, there is still plenty of action and comedy to keep viewers entertained. Despite the opening half of this volume feeling slow its the remainder that provides a fast action-paced series with a mixture of intense fights, twisting plot changes and comical outbursts that result in a perfect blend of entertainment that will leaves viewers wanting more.

The picture and audio quality remain consistent with previous volumes, so viewers are yet again treated to full 1080p visuals and 5.1 English Surround Sound or 2.0 Japanese Stereo. The 5.1 Surround Sound on offer is more noticeable than in previous volumes, especially during fights, as during the Greed Vs Wrath fight you can actually hear the swords flying across the room. It’s also worth noting that in order to change the audio track you have to use the pop-menu button rather than the audio button, furthermore due to licensing issues the English Subtitles cannot be turned off during the Japanese vocal track.

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As per the norm the Extra features are kept to a bare minimum with no trailers for other anime releases in sight, however the inclusion of English cast commentaries means that their is something for fans to listen to even when they have finished watching the main episodes.

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood – Part 4 provides the same sharp visual and entertainment flair as seen in previous volumes, it also continues the developing story at a slightly sluggish, but intense rate, with it leaving viewers with wanting more.  If you have enjoyed the series so far then getting Part 4 is a given, as it not only features a memorable soundtrack (Chemisty and Scandal) but it also provides some intense fight scenes between the Alchemists and the Homunculi.

Score: review-stars-4

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood – Part 4 will be available on Blu-ray from the 27th May 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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