Reviewby Luke Carroll,
Fullmetal Alchemist: Premium Collection
The Fullmetal Alchemist is back!
The Fullmetal Alchemist universe expands with new stories that reunite the original U.S. cast in four eye-opening tales available for the first time outside of Japan.
In the Interactive Experience, you're on the front line against the Homunculus scourge. In the Live Action Featurette, the search for truth continues in modern Japan. The Kids Short offers proof that innocence lost can be found again. Finally, you're invited to the Chibi Wrap Party, but don't arrive late... With Gluttony on the guest list, the finger foods - and fingers - probably won't last long.
Contains the following OVAs:
There's really no doubting that the original Fullmetal Alchemist series was certainly one of the most popular titles in recent years. Despite having a release spanning 13 volumes and a movie—both of which have seen a re-release in recent times— many fans knew that there was still a number of animated shorts that were yet to be seen in the western world. Those fans can rest easy now though as this Premium Collection DVD finally brings together all the missing short films onto a single standalone disc.
The collection kicks off with the Interactive Experience, a compilation of clips that were used during a Fullmetal Alchemist attraction at Universal Studios in Japan. For those who haven't had the pleasure (or displeasure) of being to one of these interactive attractions before, the videos are basically short clips that are played at different segments of the attraction as groups are ushered through differently themed rooms. Although the clips are a bit of fun, the unfortunate truth is that much of the 'experience' is lost without the themed rooms they were intended to be seen in, and as such will likely be viewed once and then soon forgotten about.
The Short Collection starts off with the aptly named Live Action Featurette. Seemingly made to be somewhat of a joke by the production staff, this short has us following a still suit-of-armoured and rather life sized Alphonse on a quest to find the location of his missing brother. Appearing at numerous places in Tokyo, Alphonse eventually winds up at the BONES offices where a small gag plays out before the short comes to an abrupt end. Other than a possible chuckle, it's a very forgettable feature.
The Chibi Wrap Party thankfully fares a bit better. As the title states, the whole cast is given a chibi-like makeover as this rather humourous short sees us at the "Wrap Party" supposedly held for the completion of the movie. With both friends and foes sharing drinks and one liners, it isn't long before things get a little out of hand. Good for quite a few jokes, it's certainly one of the better shorts in the collection.
Rounding out the main feature is the short entitled Kids. Featuring three children—who coincidentally resemble Al, Ed and Winry—this short has us following them around a suburban Japanese town as they try to find the residence of their great great grandfather. With a well laid out story and a surprisingly fitting conclusion that notions an ending after the movie, this short is definitely a must watch for fans.
In a rather interesting move, Funimation has gone to the effort of reuniting the old cast for the dub of this release. Although most of the cast manages to sound similar enough, it is an unfortunate occurrence that during the long break, Aaron Dismuke who voices Alphonse has gone through puberty and now just can't muster the same voice anymore. Having being made roughly during the production of the series, the Japanese dub expectantly is very much to the quality of the original series. The subtitle work is also passable, with only a small number off errors making their way into obvious view.
The extras included are unfortunately rather shallow. Included is a clean closing of the ending video from the Short Collection, and a handful of Madman Trailers. Considering the content, this release certainly could have benefited from something more substantial in the extras department.
I'm not going to lie, this disc is short. With a run-time of only 30 minutes, you'll barely have the chance to relax before its all over. The films do not hold up by themselves well, feeling like they should have been extras on the movie DVD rather than combined as they have been. Even with the lower than normal price tag and a few good shorts, it's still hard to recommend this to anyone but the most dedicated of fans.
© Hiromu Arakawa/SQUARE ENIX, MBS, ANX, BONES, dentsu 2004
Overall (dub) : C
Story : C+
Animation : B+
Art : B+
Music : B
+ Provides some lighthearted fun with the FMA cast. Kids and Chibi Wrap Party are must see for fans.