Sunday, January 22, 2012

Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos

I must start by saying that I have never seen Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood beyond the first handful of episodes. I’ve heard from many people just how great the series is, but I’ve only seen the original Fullmetal Alchemist series and the movie that went with it. I enjoyed the original series to a great degree, so going into The Sacred Star of Milos without knowing much about Brotherhood was a little worrisome. But in the end I don’t think anything was really spoiled for me beyond a few select minor details. Cool beans!

Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos takes place somewhere in between episodes of the Brotherhood series. Ed and Al are on an adventure, doing something and going somewhere when they get caught up with an alchemist fugitive who just escaped from prison. It’s no secret that this alchemist, who goes by the name of Ashley, can create alchemy out of thin air with just his hands. What is unique about him is that he can create and utilize different elements such as lightning and water, making him a powerful antagonist. Also, his name is Ashley for crying out loud, and his name got many laughs during the screening.

Although that doesn’t last long, as after he abducts, or rather saves, a character named Julia Crichton, we learn that he is actually her long lost brother. Ed and Al somehow get caught up in Ashley and Julia’s interesting past, and then they learn of what is happening with Julia’s current objectives. It turns out that Julia is part of an underground movement to help save her homeland from dying out, and that Milos is caught geographically between two warring nations. I wasn’t expecting The Sacred Star of Milos to have such a strong political background story, so that was surprising. I forgot how realistic the creators of Fullmetal Alchemist can be, and the political drama that unfolded was well done. War, power, alchemy, death… they all come into play.

But was the film any good? YES, it was excellent. The animation was done well, the story was pretty good, and the action scenes were very entertaining. I forgot how great a Fullmetal Alchemist fight can be. I need to mention that the animation quality at times was astounding, especially during a particular battle or high movement scene. It’s as if the animators were aware that they were dealing with animation, so they went ahead and gave it an extra umph of what looks to be hand drawn quality. It just really stood out. And also, Funimation’s English dub was fairly well done and I have no complaints about it. But I do still think it’s funny that Julia’s brother is named Ashley. No wonder his past is so screwed up.

I went and saw Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos at the Cinema Village movie theater at 22 East 12th Street in New York. With it being the opening night of the show, the movie most certainly sold out. The theater, which only holds 67 seats in the particular room I was in, was packed with anime fans. I know that sounds like a bad idea but it went well for an event catered to fans of Fullmetal Alchemist. The theater was quiet for a good chunk of the time and the side talking wasn’t that distracting. It was more like people were reacting to the film and yelling “Oooh!” and “Oh no!” while something awesome, or sad, was happening on screen. Although there was definitely more talking happening at this screening than at the screening of a normal film, but I would say it was all a part of the experience of viewing an anime film in the theater. And this is coming from someone who usually hates it if people talk during a movie.

Overall I am glad that Funimation and Eleven Arts were able to get Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos in North American theaters. It’s unfortunate the film will only be playing at select theaters in cities around the country, but if you’re interested check out the theater list here. Go see it if you can!

-Jared Cyhowski

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