Clocking in at just under two hours and directed by Kazuya Murata, who also worked on anime series Steel Angel Kurumi and Code Geass, Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos follows the continuing adventures of Elric brothers Ed and Al, who have made their way to the big screen. The film originally debuted last July in Japan, and distributor Eleven Arts was kind enough to bring it to American theaters, giving longtime fans a real treat in seeing their favorite characters like never before. Those unfamiliar with the franchise will most likely feel a little out of place here, but the movie tries to be a nice stand alone tale that’s entertaining for both fans and newcomers alike. With a great story and even greater animation and detail, it’s a new classic that all fans should look into.
But for a little back story, Fullmetal Alchemist follows the story of two brothers named Ed and Al Elric, who have had their bodies altered due to a alchemy incident gone wrong when they were kids. They work for the fictional state of Amestris and use the magic-like power of alchemy to fight evil and those who would misuse its power, all while trying to the legendary Philosopher’s Stone that might have the power to restore their bodies. One night, an alchemy wielding prisoner breaks out of the city’s jail and flees to a nearby town called Table City. The brothers set out to bring him to justice, but soon find themselves in the middle of a rebellion led by the people of Milos, who have been exiled from their once proud homeland to a trash ridden valley. As they fight their way through the valley, they meet Julia, another young alchemist who hopes to use the power of the scared star which turns out to be a Philosopher’s Stone to save Milos and its people from the civil war that’s plaguing them.
The infamous studio BONES, who have worked on anime hits as Cowboy Bebop and Darker Than Black, have done a remarkable job with the animation here. One scene that’s bound to stick out is the exciting train battle that takes places not long after the film starts, where Ed and Al battle a werewolf-like monster on top of a moving train while also contending with the escaped fugitive and a group of women flying around in body suits with giant bat wings that are trying to break into the train for their own purposes. To have all of this fluid, detailed animated action happening all at once is truly a sight to behold. Needless to say, the film is filled with plenty of action and doesn’t shy away from a few violent scenes and deaths sprinkled throughout either.
I really enjoyed hearing the Japanese cast return from the recent Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood series to reprise their roles here, all of whom do an excellent job with top-notch voice acting that accommodates the equally amazing animation. There’s also a dubbed version planned for those who don’t care for subtitles, and while I can’t comment on that production, given the series’ history with high-quality dubs, I don’t think fans should be concerned.
Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos, just like the Brotherhood series, is easily some of the best anime I’ve seen in quite some time. Just when people begin to lose hope in this genre, shows and films like this come along to restore that wavering faith with great animation, acting, and a genuinely good story. If you’re lucky enough to be able to see this one at the theater, you’ll want to head there and check this out as soon as possible. If not, it should be making it’s way to Blu-ray and DVD soon, which you’ll definitely will want to add to your collection.