Wow, been almost seven months since we found out this would be coming out in the USA.
It’s been a few years since the last time we checked in on Ed and Al, let’s see if the Fullmetal Alchemist still shines (I really should stop with the puns and bad jokes in reviews…)
The packaging for the Fullmetal Alchemist: Premium OVA Collection (think I’ll shorten that if I need to say the title again) is very basic and clean, much like the single DVDs for Fullmetal Alchemist were. It comes in a clear DVD case with the Japanese coverart. The coverart isn’t reversible, but has a fun little image you can look at that I’ll leave as a surprise for anyone who buys it. The back of the case has a few images of the chibi versions of some of the characters, and is rather clear on the contents of the package.
The menu for this disk is basic and clean and does it’s job very well. It’s easy to get around the menu, and everything is very clear and readable.
Now, as for reviewing the OVAs themselves… anyone expecting a continuation of the story won’t get it (well… minus one of them). These are less OVAs as we generally think of them (straight to video, ‘fancy’ episodes) than they are a few little shorts that wouldn’t be out of place as extras on another DVD. That being said, they are all amusing, and for FMA fans, worth the very low cost of the disk.
The first OVA is the ‘Interactive Experience’. This is an (approximately) 17 minute video that was shown at Universal Studios Japan as part of a themed attraction. Watching it, it reminds me very much of Terminator 2 3-D at Universal Studios Hollywood. I can imagine the first seven minutes having you walk from room to room watching the videos in their minute long or so length, then moving onto another room, with it all ending being brought into a big theater to watch the action as an emergency breaks out. You get a bit of new footage at the beginning, then ‘moving from room to room’ you see clips from the show with new narration explaining about the universe of FMA. After that, you get what is basically a 10 minute new adventure that is light on story, heavy on action, with some dashes of comedy that is amusing to watch.
After the ‘Interactive Experience’ you have a collection of shorts. The first short is a very odd one called ‘Live Action Featurette’. It’s largely just footage of a statue of Al standing in different places in Japan. He arrives at Bones’ studio seemingly to try to learn the secret of FMA and… well I won’t ruin the twist ending. It’s about three minutes and there doesn’t seem to be any noticeable point beyond having some random fun with an Al statue. The ending for this one is amusing enough that no doubt it’ll be watched again in the future (likely with friends who like FMA but don’t know the twist.)
The second short, Chibi Wrap Party, is definitely my favorite. While short at five and a half minutes, I had alot of fun watching it. Basically it goes with that fun entertainment concept of ‘the characters played themselves in the movie’ and shows us the after party animated with all the characters as chibis. This one has lots of character and story gags that FMA fans will enjoy quite a bit. Nearly every character from the television series and the movie get at least a gag or two.
The final short is ‘Kids’. I’m not gonna comment on what this one is about to much since this is the one that if you wanted to see more of FMAs story, this is the one you want to watch. It has some kids walking around near the Japanese release date of the FMA movie. As for the rest… well you’ll just have to watch and find out yourself.
The video on the disk isn’t great, but never looks bad either. The ‘Interactive Experience’ video looks fine, especially the new video content, which is anamorphic widescreen. The shorts are all letterboxed with black bars. The live action content looks like it was filmed with a relatively nice consumer video recorder. There honestly isn’t much to say about the video beyond restating that it isn’t good, nor bad.
The audio for the disk is about what you’d expect from a Funimation DVD. Japanese track is stereo, English is 5.1. All four videos have both tracks with both casts being the cast you’d know from the show and film (if any of the English actors are different, I certainly didn’t notice offhand.)
The dub is on the level of what you’d expect considering how well done the TV and movie were done. The only note I have about the dub, is it’s interesting to comment on Al (Aaron Dismuke). Obviously he has aged and his voice has changed. In the ‘Interactive Experience’ Al sounds exactly how I remember him, with no noticeable difference. In the live action footage, Al sounds wildly different, it sounds like this was done sort of on purpose, giving it more of a ‘on the street’ feel (it feels a bit less polished, almost giving it the feel that he was doing the voice into camera mic). In the Chibi OVA, they make no attempt to tweak his voice digitally to age him down, and instead throw in a couple extra lines near the beginning to explain any voice changed (I laughed pretty hard at the line.) The dub script is tweaked from the Japanese quite a bit at times (mostly in Chibi Wrap Party) often adding in little jokes that actually match the tone quite well (Al adding in the term ‘equivalent exchange’ into a joke for example.) I quite enjoyed the dub of the OVAs and the rewriting when done isn’t really noticeable unless you have the Japanese sub track running at the same time.
The disk only has two extras on it. One is a Japanese TV commercial for the Fullmetal Alchemist movie. A bit out of date now, but it’s something. You also get a clean version of the closing credits (dancing suits of armor, with a small video window of some people at Universal Studios… maybe some of the cast?) Not many extras, but as this is basically a disk of short video extras, not much was expected.
The Fullmetal Alchemist: Premium OVA Collection (there’s that full title again) is relatively short on content, but is generally a fun disk, and as it can be found relatively cheap, I’d recommend it to Fullmetal Alchemist fans. The one thing I think could have helped this disk quite a bit, was a few screens of text giving some context to some of the content. I figured out the ‘Interactive Experience’ on my own, and ‘Chibi Wrap Party’ and ‘Kids’ are largely self explanatory, but a few notes on the Experience and live action footage would have been appreciated. If you aren’t an FMA fan, this disk is definitely not meant for you, but for fans, this may not be a must have, but you really should get it as it’s just amazingly amusing and funny.
Show: A (A few short videos, some more amusing than others, but all well done and fun. Chibi Wrap Party is especially funny and will no doubt be watched by fans many times.)
Packaging: B (A standard DVD case that shows off the product well. About what you would expect for a single disk release)
Video Quality: B- (Decent video that has some issues at times. Video issues are likely source issues, and not a flaw of the disk itself)
Audio Quality: B+ (Good audio, but nothing amazing.)
English Dub: A- (The dub is quite good, with a few changed lines to add a joke or two.)
Extras: D+ (A commercial and a clean ending, but it’s not like anything was really expected.)
Overall (not an average): A- (A great release of a few shorts done at a discount price).
Gallery under ad. All caps are lossless PNGs taken in VLC, feel free to request more. (Caps are sized 640×480 and 853×480 so as to display properly on computer monitors, as encoded the disks are 720×480, but having the caps be 640×480 and 853×480 emulates how they are meant to appear).
Fullmetal Alchemist – © HIROMU ARAKAWA/SQUARE ENIX, MBS, ANX, BONES, dentsu 2004. Licensed by FUNimation® Productions, Ltd. All Rights Reserved.