Everyone within the anime community has heard of Fullmetal Alchemist before. It’s one of the most popular anime franchises of all time. (Brotherhood is at position 4 at the time of writing on MyAnimeList.) Its manga is also considered to be one of the best, with a ranking of 9.12 on MAL (at the time of publishing). It’s no wonder that people should also look forward to watching the movies.
I was no different. The first Fullmetal Alchemist anime adapation was one of my first anime. I loved every second of it, completely obsessed over both Edward Elric and Roy Mustang. It was the one shounen anime I had fallen in love with. From that moment on, Fullmetal has always had a special place in my heart… even if it did take me a good few years after that to actually watch Brotherhood. But even then, when I finally did watch Brotherhood, I obsessed. I binged the show so hard, I was sad when it was over. Again.
But luckily for me, there was even more Fullmetal content to love. The franchise also has two movies – The Conqueror of Shamballa and The Sacred Star of Milos. These movies were still produced by Bones. They still feature everyone’s favourite voice actors. But my luck was to run out there. Why? Well, these movies aren’t exactly the greatest.
Let’s start with The Conqueror of Shamballa. This movie should be watched as a sequel to the original 2003 TV anime. After sacrificing his body and soul, Edward Elric finds himself lost in Germany. Munich, to be precise. Struggling to adapt to a foreign environment, Ed also struggles to get back home using his alchemy. Not only is he in a foreign land, but one in the wake of war as well. Edward continues to research other methods of escaping the prison alongside his new colleagues. These colleagues, however, bear striking resemblances to many of the people he left behind. Meanwhile, his brother, Alphonse, continues to investigate Edward’s disappearence. As he does so, he delves into the world of alchemy with hopes of them finally reuniting.
Don’t get me wrong, it was quite nice to see the entire cast of the show back again for more action. And I do like the idea of having two separate worlds involved. Yet, that’s where my praise ends for the story itself.
The main problem with this movie was that the plot didn’t exactly make much sense. It included quite a few plot holes and inconsistencies. For example, the film took several characters and messed with them a little bit. The best example of this would be the character of Roy Mustang – everyone’s favourite fiery Colonel. They did a 180 rotation of his entire character. The Roy Mustang I know wouldn’t take a demotion, I’m sure.
The film’s purpose was to wrap up the 2003 series and give it an actual ending. Instead, we get more characters. We get new settings. Any questions that we still had from the 2003 series were still left unanswered. I would have been more upset about this had Brotherhood never been made, but (thankfully) that’s not the case. Instead, I see the first movie as a disappointing mess. One that should have stayed as a potential fanfiction idea rather than a fully-fledged movie.
Where the first movie failed, the second movie improved. Sacred Star of Milos was definitely a better movie. But it isn’t without its own flaws.
Within the second movie, the Elric brothers are lead by a fugitive alchemist to a distant village. This village is inhabited by the Milos. The Milos are a group of proud people struggling against bureaucratic exploitation. The brothers find themselves in the midst of a rebellion. At the center of this rebellion is Julia. She is another young alchemist who Alphonse befriends. Julia won’t stop fighting until the Milos people have their former glory restored… even if that means relying on the Philosopher’s Stone.
Sacred Star is not a prequel or a sequel, but more of an interquel. Its story takes place at the same time as Brotherhood‘s. In theory, this could be seen as a nice piece of additional story. Especially so if we consider how much fans love not only Fullmetal, but Brotherhood itself. I was expecting a different, unique storyline. Instead, Sacred Star gave a rather uninspiring one that seems no different to any Fullmetal filler episodes.
That being said, I will say that there are some positives to the movie. We get a lot of world-building. We learn about the Milos people. The governments, the politics… We do learn a lot about the world that we’ve been so involved in for so long by this point. I quite like the characters that we meet for the first time in Sacred Star. Julia and Melvin – the fugitive alchemist – do make for some interesting chracters. They have some good personalities. They have interesting backstories given to them. However, considering they feature in an interquel movie where plot restrictions apply, I can’t help but feel their actual existences in the franchise are somewhat wasted. Perhaps their presences would have been great, however, in the actual series.
Although Sacred Star had a rather uninspiring storyline, at least it was one that made sense. It was OK, to say the least, and that’s exactly what I’d say about the art and sounds used within both movies as well. The art and sounds used within both movies are hardly different to those used with the series. The animation didn’t seem any more developed than the series’ animation. Each character’s original voice actor returned for the movies. The likes of Miyuu Sawai (Pokémon), Shun Oguri (Captain Herlock, Rainbow), Maaya Sakamoto (Code Geass, God Eater) and Toshiyuki Morikawa (Final Fantasy VII, Junjou Romantica) entered the casts for the movie-exclusive characters.
There is no doubt that Fullmetal Alchemist is still a popular series, even after almost 20 years after its first publication. Yet, I do think that hype often creates unnecessary additions to a franchise. In Fullmetal‘s case, these two movies are two very good examples of that. Thankfully, Brotherhood came to a rather solid conclusion on the animated series, so I doubt that Bones will consider making anymore of it in the future. If they do decide to expand the Fullmetal franchise even further, I hope they learn from their mistakes with these cinematic attempts.
Where can I watch this?
You can watch the Fullmetal Alchemist movies at the following sites!
Conqueror of Shamballa
Crunchyroll (GB, US, CA, AU)
Sacred Star of Milos
Netflix (GB, AU)