Review: Fullmetal Alchemist – The Sacred Star of Milos
by Justin Jasso (@jjasso007)
It’s becoming more and more common for a film or television series to have off-shoots of itself or stand-alone projects. Shrek had Puss in Boots, X-Men had the Wolverine spin-off, Friends had Joey, and the list goes on. It’s even more common when it comes to animation, and in this case, anime. Fullmetal Alchemist has been a popular series since its initial release, and was given the manga-to-anime treatment in 2003 with Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood as well as a movie, Fullmetal Alchemist: The Conqueror of Shambala (2005).
Now… wait for it… a second film has been released, titled Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos. This is a stand-alone film, meaning it doesn’t take place within the regular series, so you can watch it at your leisure. If you’re familiar with the series, you may want to give it a watch. If you have never been given the pleasure of meeting Edward and Alphonse Elric, you can pass on this one.
The story begins with a young girl and her older brother, Julia and Ashley, respectively. Ashley is studying his parents’ alchemy books, trying to learn it and the whereabouts of the philosopher’s stone. One night, there’s a break-in at the house and Julia witnesses her brother’s death before passing out. Years later, a man escapes from prison and the Elric brothers are in the area. They try to help capture him, but this escapee just happens to be an alchemist himself with the power to control both lightning and ice via transmutation circles on both palms. Despite their efforts, the man escapes.
With help from Roy Mustang and Riza Hawkeye, the Elric brothers learn the man has something to do with a Julia Crichton, who had been formerly arrested for entering Table City. The Elrics think the man is going after this woman, and decide to find her to catch this alchemist and determine what his motives are. Unfortunately, there are other factions at work here as well as chimeras on the loose, and as can be expected, everything is not quite as it appears.
The film is full of twists and turns, some of which were obscenely obvious, others I did not see coming, but if I were to say anymore, we’d be venturing into spoiler territory. The plot becomes a little complex and convoluted at times due to the moral and ethical dilemmas these characters face. Is it ever worth using a philosopher’s stone? Are there just reason’s to seek to rule the world? How far would you go for family? What does the word “home” truly mean? These questions make for a pretty intense movie. That being said, I feel that certain plot aspects could have been pulled off a bit better than they were. When it comes to Studio Bones (Wolf’s Rain, RahXephon, Escaflowne), we have higher expectations, especially when it comes to production value.
With a series such as Fullmetal Alchemist, you expect the leads to be the main focal point of the story, and this isn’t the case. Ed and Al give way to Sophia and her story, but we’re left feeling a little unsatisfied. If you happen to be a fan of the series and don’t mind spending another two hours with the amazing Elric brothers, it is now available to purchase for your viewing pleasure. Again, it’s not the most impressive anime film you’re going to see, but with the relentlessly fast pace of the film, you definitely won’t be bored.