Anime Film Review: Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa

Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa was directed by Seiji Mizushima and was released to Japanese theaters on July 23, 2005. It was featured in American cinemas for a short time, and FUNimation Entertainment, who holds the North American license for the film, has released it on DVD and Blu-ray Disc.

Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa
Directed by: Seiji Mizushima
Written by: Shō Aikawa
Starring: Romi Park, Rie Kugimiya, Megumi Toyoguchi, Tōru Ōkawa, Kenji Utsumi, Michiko Neya, Keiji Fujiwara, Kotono Mitsuishi, Masashi Ebara, Unshō Ishizuka, Hidekatsu Shibata, Miyoko Asō, Masane Tsukayama, Shun Oguri, Miyuu Sawai, Kazuko Katō
Run Time: 105 minutes
Rated: PG-13

The film takes place two years after the end of the Fullmetal Alchemist anime series. Edward is in the parallel world (which is Earth) in the year 1923, and he no longer can use his alchemy. He is living in Munich, Germany, during the time period between World War I and World War II. Edward is researching rocketry with Alfons Heiderich, in the hopes of being able to use rocketry to return to his own world.

Edward rescues a gypsy woman named Noah after she has been purchased. It turns out Noah has an ability to read a person’s mind by simply touching them. A group called the Thule Society wants to use her to open a passageway to a place called Shamballa to get power and weapons to help Adolf Hitler take over the German government. Edward also helps Fritz Lang find a dragon, which ends up being another form of the Homunculus Envy. The dragon is taken by the Thule Society to help create a portal to Edward’s world.

Meanwhile, in Edward’s world, an alchemy circle opens up with a group of fighters from Earth to test the gateway; Al is able to help defeat this threat. The Homunculus Wrath takes Al down to the city beneath Central City to the alchemy circle there. The Homunculus Gluttony is there, and with Gluttony and Wrath, Al is able to open a portal to Earth. What ends up being the repercussions of this action, and can Al and the others save the day?

Overall, I thought there was a very interesting story presented in Conqueror of Shamballa. There was also decent animation, except for a few shots where the 3D animation really didn’t meld well with the 2D animation. One of the worst uses of the CG is early on in the film, when Ed and Alfons are riding in the cart with the gypsies. There are some shots of the surrounding landscape, and it was decided to use 3D animation for the trees. To me, the 3D really called too much attention to itself in these shots, and I thought the 3D wasn’t really necessary to use for something like trees.

When FUNimation released Conqueror of Shamballa on DVD and Blu-ray, they provided both the English dub and the original Japanese audio with English subtitles. When it comes to the Blu-ray pressing, the main feature is 1080p High Definition 16X9, while the extras are 480i Standard Definition. For audio, the box says the main feature has Dolby TrueHD in English 5.1 and Japanese 5.1, while the extras are Dolby Digital: English 2.0. However, I do have to question the audio listing for the extras, since some of the features include Japanese audio.

There are five features included on the DVD release, while the Blu-ray pressing has six. The first is “The Making of Fullmetal Alchemist The Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa,” which is a 40-minute documentary; it has Japanese audio with English subtitles. The documentary includes interviews with the director, you get to see some the drawings and promo items for Fullmetal Alchemist, and there is footage and explanation for the various steps of the production of the film. Overall, I thought this was a rather enjoyable documentary.

Next is “Original Trailers,” which includes one US trailer for the film, seven Japanese TV trailers, and the Japanese theatrical trailer. For the Japanese trailers, they also included English subtitles.

“Production Art” is a slideshow that runs for one minute and 14 seconds, and it includes character designs and backdrops. However, the viewer has no control over when the images in the slideshow change; this is frustrating, since each slide is only up for about a couple of seconds before it moves on to the next one.

“Image Gallery” is another slideshow, which runs for one minute and 35 seconds and includes still frames from the film. There are also trailers for properties that FUNimation Entertainment was promoting at the time this film was released.

The Blu-ray exclusive extra is a “talk session” with Seiji Mizushima (the director), Romi Park (the Japanese voice actress for Ed), Rie Kugimiya (the Japanese voice actress for Al), and Toru Ohkawa (the Japanese voice actor for Mustang). This feature is in Japanese with English subtitles. Over the course of 54 minutes, they talk together as a group, with the discussion being led by Romi Park. Intercut with this are talk sessions with two of the participants together. The full group discussions focus on the film itself, while the smaller group interviews focus more on the various individuals’ lives and interests. Personally, I thought this was a nice little feature.

This is a film I would recommend to anyone who enjoyed the original Fullmetal Alchemist anime series and wants to see how the story comes to an end. This release should be in a Fullmetal Alchemist fan’s DVD library if they’ve seen the film and enjoyed it. If you have the capability to watch Blu-ray, then I would recommend getting the Blu-ray pressing in order to have all of the bonus features that were released in North America.

I wrote this review after watching a copy of Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa that my husband and I purchased on Blu-ray.

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