Anime DVD Review: Fullmetal Alchemist The Complete First Season

Fullmetal Alchemist The Complete First Season is a four-disc set that contains the first 25 episodes of the series. The first disc contains seven episodes, the second disc contains six episodes, the third disc contains six episodes and a commentary on episode 19, and the fourth disc contains six episodes, a commentary on episode 25, and the extras. On the discs, you can watch the episodes with either the English dub or the original Japanese audio with English subtitles. It should be noted that there were some noticeable subtitle errors, with the most glaring one being a misspelled word in the subtitles that appear for one of the closings.

Fullmetal Alchemist The Complete First Season
English Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
Format: DVD
Release Date: September 28, 2010

This set is where the story of Fullmetal Alchemist begins. Edward Elric is the “Fullmetal Alchemist,” and is also the youngest State Alchemist in history. He and his younger brother, Alphonse Elric, are alchemists who tried to bring their mother back to life through alchemy; in the process, Edward lost his left leg and right arm, and Alphonse lost his entire body. Edward sacrificed his right arm to affix the soul of Alphonse to a suit of armor. After Edward becomes a State Alchemist, he and Alphonse go on a journey to search for the Philosopher’s Stone, a legendary artifact that would allow the brothers to recover their bodies.

The main antagonist of the series is the Homunculi, which are artificially created humans. The seven members of the Homunculi are named after the seven deadly sins: Lust, Gluttony, Envy, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, and Pride.

The first story sees the brothers arrive in Liore, where a religious leader named Father Cornello can create miracles; however, the brothers quickly discover he is using alchemy but ignoring the law of equivalent exchange. They also meet a girl named Rose, who says that Father Cornello will be bringing her boyfriend back to life. Ed and Al work to expose Father Cornello for the fraud that he is.

The next seven episodes are a flashback that show Edward and Alphonse learning alchemy, trying to bring their mother back to life after she dies, and how Edward ends up becoming the youngest State Alchemist in history.

After this, Edward and Alphonse encounter a cat burglar as well as imposters pretending to be them as they travel back to report to Roy Mustang about their investigation into the philosopher’s stone. The cat burglar story and the imposter story are not part of the original manga source material, and appear to have been added to extend out the story in order to allow Hiromu Arakawa to progress a little further in the manga. Personally, these two stories are not among my favorites from the first Fullmetal Alchemist series.

After reporting to Mustang, information about a man named Marcoh, who had done research into the Philosopher’s Stone, surfaces. Edwards ends up getting in a duel with Mustang in order to acquire this information. My favorite part of this story is the duel, which was actually part of an “additional story” that appeared in one of the manga volumes but wasn’t part of the main story. The way this duel is done is rather comical, and it’s one of the best parts of that episode, that I don’t mind the fact that it wasn’t part of the main manga story.

Edward and Alphonse find Marcoh and begin getting some information on the Philosopher’s Stone. Before they can get very far, Marcoh’s home is raided and his information and stone and confiscated. Due to various circumstances, Marcoh is able to escape; unfortunately, his freedom ends up being short-lived. At this point, the viewer also begins learning about the Ishbal massacre; one of the characters in the series is an Ishbalan alchemist who is killing off State Alchemists, so this helps to provide some information on this particular character.

After going back to their hometown to recuperate, the Elric brothers return to Central in order to do some research on Marcoh’s notes and to locate a particular book. Over the course of this story, several new characters are introduced to the series, and the Elric brothers end up getting into a predicament at the fifth laboratory.

In the final episode in this set, the Elric brothers take their childhood friend and automail mechanic, Winry, with them as they go to follow Scar and find clues on the Philosopher’s Stone. This episode ends with the death of a character, and it’s rather emotional right at the end of that episode. After seeing that in the final episode of this set, I was asking myself, “Why did it have to end here? I want to know what happens next!”

When it comes to the actual DVD box set, there are five bonus features included on the fouth disc in the set. The first extra is labeled as “Japanese Commercials”; however, it turns out that this feature only contains one commercial, which lasts for a whole 17 seconds. When I discovered that was the extent of the “Japanese Commercials,” I felt that the label on this feature was misleading and almost a form of “false advertising.”

The next feature is the music video for “Ready, Steady, Go,” by L’Arc-en-Ciel, which is the second opening theme song for Fullmetal Alchemist. The music video primarily features the actual band, with some shots featuring an animated version of the band; however, nothing in the video ties in to Fullmetal Alchemist. The third special feature is a commercial for Tofu Records, the label that released “Ready, Steady, Go.” The commercial runs for 17 seconds, and it is an ad for L’Arc-en-Ciel’s album that features the song.

The next feature is the textless openings and closings; both of the openings and both of the closings that appear on this set are included. While the credit text may not be included, you still get the subtitles if you’re watching the set with the Japanese audio. The final extra is trailers for properties that FUNimation Entertainment was promoting at the time this DVD box set was released.

When this DVD set was put together, FUNimation included the booklets from the first six individual discs that were released; however, since only four episodes were released on each of the individual discs, there are only episode write-ups for the first 24 episodes. Each booklet contains a write-up from someone associated with the Japanese production, character information and images, information from the series, artwork, and episode write-ups. The booklets are very well-done and contain a lot of information.

The quality of the series, as well as the booklets included in the set, more than make up for the very minor flaws of this release. If you’re a fan of Fullmetal Alchemist, then this box set should be a part of your DVD collection.

I wrote this review after watching a copy of Fullmetal Alchemist The Complete First Season that my husband gave to me as a gift.

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