Must-See TV: Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood Collection Vol 3

After reaching the halfway point in this stellar anime series, I had a hankering to go back and watch the original Fullmetal Alchemist series from 2004 and take a look at the differences. Talk about chalk and cheese. While the original had its own unique plot (with Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood following a much closer line to its manga inspiration), the difference in scale and character development is astounding, with the new iteration a far far superior offering bringing a larger ensemble cast and significantly tighter storyline to the fold.

After a series recap episode from the Elric brothers’ father, Van Hohenheim’s point of view, the collection continues with the revelation of who the homunculi’s mysterious father is and his unbelievably powerful abilities. After making alchemy a moot point at the tap of his foot, the brothers come to understand how dreadfully they’ve underestimated their opponent and make a hasty retreat to regroup. Meanwhile, the contingent from Xing are coming to terms with their prince, Ling’s transformation and new identity and as ever, he remains a wildcard with his own motivations.

Tired of his own ignorance, Edward Elric approaches Lt. Hawkeye and begs her to divulge details of the Ishvalan War of Extermination, undertaken by their military minded state Amestris. This has got to be one of the most brutal and frank depictions of war I’ve ever seen, with no sugarcoating and some horrific acts performed in the name of king and country. The introduction of alchemists to the front line quickly turned the tide with devastating results. The emotional toll paid by Amestris’ soldiers was great, with many including Armstrong, Mustang, Hawkeye and Hughes all having the effects of their actions marked clearly on their faces.

Highlighted through the conflict is the nature of the relationship between Ishvalan monk turned killer Scar and the Crimson Alchemist Kimblee and paints a clear picture why Scar detests all alchemists, and justifiably so. Kimblee remains one of the most interesting and unapologetically evil characters in anime, with a certain method to his madness and a healthy dose of charisma to boot.

The Elric Brothers leave Central for the Northern Fortress of Briggs, hoping to enlist the help of Major Armstrong’s sister, General Olivier, in tracking down Scar and learning the secrets to Xingese Alkahestry from his traveling companion May Chan. Olivier is not exactly the pushover they were expecting and marks another addition to the strong female cast members of the series. A force to be reckoned with, as are all the soldiers under her command, she throws a spanner into the works holding the brothers hostage indefinitely until she determines their trustworthiness.

The blu-ray draws to a close with a dual reveal of the homunculus Sloth and the jaw-dropping unveiling of Pride, a taste of Master Yoki’s back story and a bittersweet moment from The Gate of Truth that strengthens the brothers’ resolve to complete their quest and return to their original bodies. This series just keeps getting better and better each volume with only two nail-biting installments left to go.

For more Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood reviews, you can find Volume 1 here or Volume 2 here.

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Dave Kozicki

Shotgun Samurai
Video game reviewer, presenter and enthusiast. Film and TV-aholic. Pop culture geek. T-shirt and sneaker addict. All around nice guy and one hell of a sexy beast. Writer for Official PlayStation Magazine AU, AusGamers and Hyper Magazine.