Must-See TV: Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood Collection Vol 4

Things are certainly heating up as we hit the home stretch for this brilliantly layered anime series. The stage is set, both sides know their enemy and their master plans in broad strokes, yet the writers still manage to constantly throw viewers for a loop masterfully threading together characters and plot-lines over the coarse of the last 40 or so episodes. This fourth volume is all about the nature of relationships, where characters are not simply black or white, but more so residing in those grimy gray areas, flawed yet ultimately redeemable.

Anomaly Van Hohenhiem’s back story is finally brought to light, as is his part in the creation and evolution of the first homunculus now known as Father and the mysterious overnight disappearance of the kingdom of Xerxes. Meanwhile, heroes and villains begin to converge on one another with Van Hohenhiem and Izumi Curtis’ paths crossing with some surprising results and Kimblee and his cohorts go head to head with Edward Elric, with the diminutive alchemist coming off worse for wear after the exchange.

The subplots begin to weave into place with Scar’s contingent laying a trap and surprisingly taking the juggernaut Envy out of commission and the military hierarchy reveals their plans for an immortal army powered by Philosopher’s Stones, with disastrous results. The Armstrong siblings battle over who will take over as head of the family with their ancestral mansion copping the brunt of this explosive exchange as Olivier proves that she can easily overpower Alex with or without alchemy in the mix.

The focus of the later sections of the blu-ray are on the development of Ling and homunculus Greed’s relationship, with Greed unknowingly dispatching one of his former comrades. The emotional backlash is immediate as Greed severs all ties with his homunculi brethren and seeks out King Bradley for some long forgotten, now remembered payback. The symbiotic relationship between Greed and Ling is fascinating with neither trying to dominate, rather working together towards common goals and growing together as a unit.

Equally as fascinating is the fearless bond between Kimblee and the monstrous homunculus Pride, as both take Alphose Elric to task and use his soulless armour as a weapon against his brother Edward. Kimblee and Pride remain (for the most part) the most consistent characters sticking to their warped belief systems in the shadows of the final epic confrontation between good and evil.

Shocks abound for the homunculi with Gluttony, Envy and Sloth’s storyline taking twists and turns offset by spectacular heroic turns by Alex Armstrong and Roy Mustang as the blu-ray comes to an end. With the final chapter about to hit our shores anticipation is about to reach fever-pitch. What do the last dozen episodes hold for our heroes? Stay tuned to find out!

To get the skinny on the previous volumes, check out Volume 1 here, Volume 2 here and Volume 3 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.