Guest Author - Lesley Aeschliman
Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa was directed by Seiji Mizushima and was released to Japanese theaters on July 23, 2005. FUNimation Entertainment holds the North American distribution license for the film. It was featured in American cinemas for a short time, and FUNimation has released the film on DVD and Blu-ray.
The film takes place two years after the end of the Fullmetal Alchemist anime series. Edward is in the parallel world (which is Earth) in the year 1923, and he no longer can use his alchemy. He is living in Munich, Germany, during the time period between World War I and World War II. Edward is researching rocketry with Alfons Heiderich, in the hopes of being able to use rocketry to return to his own world.
Edward rescues a gypsy woman named Noah after she has been purchased. It turns out Noah has an ability to read a person's mind by simply touching them. A group called the Thule Society wants to use her to open a passageway to a place called Shamballa to get power and weapons to help Adolf Hitler take over the German government. Edward also helps Fritz Lang find a dragon, which ends up being another form of the Homunculus Envy. The dragon is taken by the Thule Society to help create a portal to Edward's world.
Meanwhile, in Edward's world, an alchemy circle opens up with a group of fighters from Earth to test the gateway. Al is able to help defeat this threat. The Homunculus Wrath takes Al down to the city beneath Central City to the alchemy circle there. The Homunculus Sloth is there, and with Sloth and Wrath, Al is able to open a portal to Earth. What ends up being the repercussions of this action, and can Al and the others save the day?
Overall, I thought there was a very interesting story presented in Conqueror of Shamballa. There was also decent animation, except for a few shots where the 3D animation really didn't meld well with the 2D animation. One of the worst uses of the 3D is early on in the film, when Ed and Alfons are riding in the cart with the gypsies. There are some shots of the surrounding landscape, and it was decided to use 3D animation for the trees. To me, the 3D really called too much attention to itself in these shots, and I thought the 3D wasn't really necessary to use for something like trees.
When FUNimation released Conqueror of Shamballa on DVD, they provided options to play the movie, select audio options, chapter selection, and extras. Under audio options, you choose both your audio and subtitle preferences. For audio, there is English 5.1 Surround, English Stereo, Japanese 5.1 Surround, and Japanese Stereo. You can also choose to have the subtitles on or off.
There are five features included on this release. The first is "The Making of Fullmetal Alchemist The Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa," which is a 40-minute documentary; it has Japanese audio with English subtitles. The documentary includes interviews with the director, you get to see some the drawings and promo items for Fullmetal Alchemist, and there is footage and explanation for the various steps of the production of the film. Overall, I thought this was a rather enjoyable documentary.
Next is "Original Trailers." It includes one US trailer for the film, seven Japanese TV trailers, and the Japanese theatrical trailer. For the Japanese trailers, they also included English subtitles.
"Production Art" is a slideshow that runs for one minute and 14 seconds, and it includes character designs and backdrops. However, the viewer has no control over when the images in the slideshow change; this is frustrating, since each slide is only up for about a couple of seconds before it moves on to the next one.
"Image Gallery" is another slideshow, which runs for one minute and 35 seconds and includes still frames from the film. The disc also includes trailers for the FUNimation Channel, Dragon Ball Z, Moonphase, Trinity Blood, Case Closed, Spiral, Lupin the 3rd, and the Z-Store.
This is a film I would recommend to anyone who enjoyed the original Fullmetal Alchemist anime series and wants to see how the story comes to an end. This release should be in a Fullmetal Alchemist fan's DVD library if they've seen the film and enjoyed it.
I wrote this review after watching a copy of this DVD that I checked out through the King County Library System.