Otakon 2011 Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos US Premiere and Q&A
by Crystalyn Hodgkins, Jul 31st 2011
Representatives from Funimation and Aniplex USA were on hand to introduce the film. Justin Rojas riled up the massive crowd, who were clearly excited to watch the premiere of the newest addition to the Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos.
Review Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos takes place during episode 20 of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood and during chapter 11 in Hiromu Arakawa's original manga. The film is set in a new country, Creta, which hasn't been introduced before in the series. Ed and Al are witnesses to a violent alchemist creating havoc using an unusual form of alchemy. The two are sent to Creta to investigate, and to see if they can find clues in their quest to restore their bodies.
As Ed and Al investigate, they meet Julia, a leader of the Black Bats resistance force. The Black Bats are a part of a group of descendants from the ancient Milos race, who were once the inhabitants of the beautiful Table City. The ancient Milos race were forced out of Table City to live in slums in a deep valley separating Creta and Armestris, and are viewed by the people of Creta as lesser beings.
If you haven't seen Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, you will have no problem watching this film. Any knowledge of the character or plot differences between the two series isn't needed to watch it.
Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos falls in line with other subpar film adaptations of shonen action series. The first full 20 minutes consists of nothing but a long string of fight sequences. During that time, so many characters, factions, and groups are introduced in rapid succession, and plot flies by so quickly that it is incredibly difficult understand what's going on.
In the Q&A below, director Kazuya Murata noted that he had difficulty fitting in everything he wanted, including action sequences and plot points, into the film. This shows. The last half of the film presents one plot twist after another, and they come at the audience at such lightning speed that the script becomes almost hilarious— characters are fighting each other and yelling out plot explanations and their own life philosophies at the same time.
However, the characters of Ed and Al feel right at home in the film. It is great to see them in their Brotherhood incarnations on the big screen, as well as other returning characters such as Roy Mustang, Riza Hawkeye, Winry, and Alex Louis Armstrong. In addition, the series' endearing humor was incorporated well into the film. And as expected of this type of film, each of the many fighting sequences were brilliantly animated.
But even the enjoyment from these aspects of the film is bogged down in the convoluted, messy plot. It's just trying to do too much, leaving the viewer bewildered and a bit bored. However, if you're willing to overlook the story's jumbled mess, and you just want to enjoy seeing your favorite Fullmetal Alchemist characters kick lots of ass, the film may provide you with an enjoyable experience. For the rest, it's probably best just stick to whichever of the Fullmetal Alchemist television series you enjoy.
Director Kazuya Murata spoke to the audience after the film, saying that he was so happy to see all of the reactions of the audience, and thanked them for watching the film.
Were there any memorable moments you had making this movie, especially with the cast?
I enjoyed seeing how the interactions between the actresses for Ed and Al just raised the level of the emotional exchange between the two. I thought they brought it to a whole new level, and it was exciting for me to see it myself as they were doing it.
Where did you come up with the idea for the plot?
The original story was created by Yūichi Shimpo, who wrote the screenplay. After that we built an exciting world around it, and built situations inside it throughout the film.
Roy Mustang did not have as big of a role in this film. Was that an editorial choice? Why didn't he have a bigger part?
The Japanese fans were angry about the same thing.
Did you experience any pressure for creating a film on a popular franchise?
I did not feel any pressure. If anything, it gave me more motivation to create something new and exciting.
Was the manga creator, Hiromu Arakawa, involved in the script in any way for this film?
Hiromu Arakawa has always had the stance that she would leave the animation creation to the staff. Since the beginning, she has said "I look forward to what you come up with."
What kind of research did you have to do to make this movie?
Since Amestris is based on England, I looked at other European countries like Spain for the architecture of Table City, and everything else came from my head.
How did you come up with the names for the people in the film?
All of the names were thought up by the script writer Yūichi Shimpo.
What were some of the challenges you faced as a director for this movie
I have to say, for such a series like this, creating a movie with all the ideas I had for it— all the action scenes, story plots I wanted to add in - into a limited amount of time and resources for the animators to create, trying to find a balance for it all, trying to squeeze as much as I can in and complete it on time, I guess that was the most difficult thing about creating this movie.
Now that you have a movie in the middle of Brotherhood, do you have any plans to create a film after the story of Brotherhood?
The whole idea to do this movie came from the producers. As long as their passion for the show continues, I'm pretty sure there will be another movie.
Was it difficult to create a story that didn't mess up the plot-line of the show, since the show was already over?
Since the film happened in a country that the characters had never gone to and didn't go back to for the rest of the series, it was difficult to conclude it in a way that didn't affect the rest of the existing story. But, having it in such a locale let us concentrate on the story without worrying about the affects on the rest of the series. Also, I had to be careful with how much Al fell for Julia because it could seriously affect what happens in the future.
Why did you put the story where you did in the timeline?
At this time, Ed has come to the realization that he was certain Al's body existed somewhere, and he was ready to jump on the next train to wherever he could go to make that happen. So, in that time period, it was the best time for them to travel to another location if they could find a clue to the recovery of their bodies.
What, if any, was your favorite part of the film?
My favorite scene of this movie? All of it.
Do you plan to involve the other countries around Central? Especially considering how the manga ended with the main characters?
Please ask the original manga artist.
How did you choose to design the character of Julia?
The original rough design concept was done by Hiromu Arakawa, and the animation director refined it into the character you saw today.
Many directors put themselves into the characters they're depicting. Are there any characters you put yourself into in this film?
For this movie, obviously, I put the most of myself into depicting Ed, Al and Julia. But one of the characters I was quite fond of was Gon, the automail mechanic.
Where did you get the inspirations for the many action scenes in the film?
When you start working with characters, they start taking a life of their own. After the first action sequence, they sort of wanted a bunch more, so I had to do it.
Final statement to American fans:
This was my first trip to America, and for me to premiere my movie here, and to see how much you were moved and how much you were excited, it gave me energy and moved me to the point to want to keep creating movies that you all can enjoy. I want to thank you very much.
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