Fullmetal Alchemist movie: AWESOME!

Earlier last week, I received an email from Funimation, advertising the impending theatrical (yes, THEATRICAL) release of Fullmetal Alchemist The Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa in theaters for one weekend only. Having never seen anime on the big screen (other than screenings at cons), I jumped at the chance!

I managed to order the tickets by phone ahead of time because I was afraid with only one L.A.-area theater listed and given FMA’s popularity, that I wouldn’t get in. I also talked to Loren at the office and she and her boyfriend Butch wanted to go too. We made an evening of it, kicking off with a nice dinner at On The Border. The movie was shown at The Bridge cinema at the Howard Hughes center in West L.A., where I’d never been before. It was kind of weird too: for some reason, it reminded me of a small-scale Odaiba in Tokyo. The theater was packed, but we didn’t have to wait in long lines or anything. All we had to do was put up with the herd of spoiled rich white kid cosplayers acting completely out of character. Oh well…

The movie was AWESOME! I’d been buying and watching FMA for a while, but it had sort of dropped off my radar. I was madly trying to re-watch and catch up, but didn’t quite make it—I was afraid of spoilers and other things I wouldn’t understand in the film. There was some of that, but nothing too bad. It was very impressive seeing it up on the big screen.

I don’t think I want to launch into a full-scale review here, but suffice to say that it had an extremely interesting story linking Al & Ed’s alternate world through a transmutation circle-created portal to 1920’s Germany in our world. The historical context and connections were quite good and I was surprised at the depth it brought to the story. Careful attention was paid to the scenery, background and props: right down to the Renault FT tanks, Gotha bombers and Ed’s P-08 Luger pistol. They’d really done their homework on historical personalities and events too, with people like Fritz Lang, Hermann Hess and even Adolf Hitler making appearances; events were linked in plausible ways to the alchemic goings on provided by Ed now trapped on the wrong side of the portal. Each of the characters from the original series had new “doppelgänger” roles in Germany, and some of them were quite fun. It also really played up the bond of brotherhood between Al and Ed and—for lack of a better word— was truly touching. Being a big emotional sap as it is, I had to control the tears a couple of times, especially at the grand finale. There’s a wonderful surprise ending, however…

I keep hoping they’re going to expand release of it, because I’d absolutely go see it again. If not, then I’ve already got the DVD on pre-order (with release slated for September 12th). If you get the chance to see it in the theater, though, take it!

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