Fullmetal Alchemist: Premium (OVA) DVD Review - www.impulsegamer.com -

Feature 1.5
Video 6.0
Audio 5.0
Special Features 1.0
Total 1.5
Distributor: Madman
Classification: PG
Running Time: 35 Minutes
Reviewer:
Simon Black

8.5


Fullmetal Alchemist: Premium (OVA)

The popular manga Fullmetal Alchemist concerns two brothers, Edward and Alphonse, who inhabit an alternate universe in which alchemy is revered as a potent if clandestine art.  During their attempts to resurrect their mother via means of the forbidden process of Human Transformation, the pair suffer severe damage to their mortal bodies, in addition to failing at their initial aim of bringing their beloved mama back to life.  Edward shortly thereafter joins the ranks of the State Alchemists of Amestris, the organisation largely responsible for annihilating the population of neighbouring state Ishbal.  As the siblings try and locate the Philosopher’s Stone in order to increase their own power and restore their damaged bodies, they are threatened by a surviving Ishbalan native hell-bent on revenge, as well as a group of human clones known as Homunculi.

Sounds brilliant doesn’t it?  Well, it is.  Unfortunately little of the above material is included on the present set.  Instead this curious little half-hour feature takes the form of an interactive debriefing in which the viewer is addressed directly and assumes the role of ‘rookie’ in the Amestris military.  As the training, such as it is, progresses the premise of the Fullmetal Alchemist universe is expounded to an extent, but a moderate amount of prior knowledge is still assumed and on the whole things are bound to remain confusing for those unfamiliar with the manga or its subsequent anime.  The final ten minutes, furthermore, are all but nonsensical to those who aren’t well-versed in the back story, and the sudden ending provides little in the way of resolution or enlightenment. 

Less a feature in its own right than a whirlwind introduction to the world of Fullmetal Alchemist, this release can intimately only appeal to hardcore fans or DVD collectivists intent on purchasing every disc in existence regardless of quality.  The brevity is ridiculous- the feature runs barely 35 minutes and the only extras are a textless closing song and some Madman trailers.  There is also an annoying and superfluous running joke regarding the Colonel meant to be conducting the training- basically he’s out shagging one of the nurses from the base when he should be inducting trainees into the tenets of alchemy, and this is meant to be highly amusing.  Or something.  Truth be told I stopped caring after about five minutes.

Ultimately this frustratingly short and somewhat pointless release is less concerned with transmuting base metals to gold than turning drivel to profit.  It doesn’t advance the narrative of the series in any meaningful way, and although the animation is fine, voicework excellent and the premise may appeal to younger viewers I really think Madman are shooting themselves in the foot here.  I know I wouldn’t throw away $20 or $30 of my hard-earned on such an uncharacteristically truncated and half-baked release, and would urge you, dear reader, not to either.   

Though the premise of Fullmetal Alchemist is promising and imaginative this is by far the weakest release of the series.  It is even of little use in even serving as an introduction to the franchise, given the box set of the first season is so readily available and explains the premise much more clearly than is done so here.  In a word, pointless.  Best used as an expensive coaster, or given as a gift to someone you despise.






 
 



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