Otakon 2011 was host to a few American premiers this year, and one of them was the highly anticipated Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos film. FUNimation rolled out the red carpet as best they could, and did their best to try and squeeze every single person who wanted to see this movie into the theatre – they were unable to, BUT, because FUNimation is all class – they organized a second showing of the film on Sunday to make sure that every single person who wanted to see Sacred Star was present. Several members of FUNimation were present, including Social Media Manager Justin Rojas, who is incredibly open to talking with fans and made a real push for the premier to catch on across the net (using trusted friends Facebook, Twitter, and now Google +). The director of the film, Murata Kasuya, was also present for the screening, and was very pleased with the fan response to the film (The Q&A that followed afterward, however, was very hit or miss in my opinion – only about half the questions asked directly pertained to the director and his role in the film).
Overall, the experience was enjoyable and exciting – getting to be one of the first to see a new premier, especially when its the first time an animated property is being shown on North American shores, is an experience you don’t get to have too often.
So, enough about the premier itself – what was the movie about? How was it? Well, let’s get into that…
Milos takes place during the run of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, around Episode 20 of the television show, and around Chapter 11 of the original manga. Ed and Al have a bit of downtime in Central, when they witness an alchemist who is using a rather strange form of alchemy, escaping the city. Mustang sends Ed and Al to the land of Creta (which has previously not been introduced in the world – it lies off to the west of the map of Amesteris) to investigate this new form of alchemy and see if it can help them further their goals of getting their bodies back. Once they arrive in Creta, however, things take a turn for the strange, and Ed and Al find themselves embroiled in a conflict that many who are savvy on history may see parallels to.
From here, Ed and Al meet new characters, and get pulled further and further into a plot that seems to only generate more questions than answers. Through this journey they meet new characters such as Julia (who serves as a psudo-love interest for Alphonse) and with her, Ed and Al seek to find the answers to the conflict and hopefully resolve it before time runs out and disaster strikes.
That is a pretty spoiler-free rundown of the movie – if you haven’t seen much of Brotherhood, then you’re still going to be alright watching this movie, as only a basic understanding and familiarity with the characters and the world is needed to grasp what is going on. Unfortunately, the movie itself seems to suffer somewhat from the success of the series itself. There are so many points where characters are jammed into the film, its hard to tell why any of them are there at all – aside from the new characters and places introduced in the film, Armstrong makes a singular appearance (to loud fan applause) to give Mustang a message before leaving, and Winry shows up in Central to “tag along” with Mustang and Riza Hawkeye as they set out after the Elric Brothers. A show as popular as Fullmetal Alchemist is bound to have demands placed upon it from all sides, and its actually a wonder the director was able to do as well as he did considering how many characters he had to fit into the span of the film.
The plot itself is not fantastic, but not terrible either – a happy mediocre overall, though fans of the show will recognize some unique uses of some rather common tropes of the series (Hint: Pay attention to the architecture). The action sequences are plentiful, and are both beautifully animated and executed, but the action leaves the plot somewhat lacking in depth – which is unfortunate, considering the second half of Brotherhood has some fantastic writing.
Overall, if you’re a fan of the show, you’ll want to pick up Milos at your nearest availability – you will enjoy the story, seeing familiar faces, and the excitement of a new location with new mysteries to uncover. It should go without saying that if you don’t like FMA then you shouldn’t bother purchasing or seeing this film. The Elric Brothers seem as though they never left as they take the step onto the big screen, and the dynamic that the two bring to the film (and the series) is great to watch and one of the largest drawing points for the franchise. The word Brotherhood wasn’t just a marketing decision – its represents one of the strongest themes and character relationships in the series, and the movie is no different – Ed and Al alone are worth the viewing, and the supporting cast just make the experience that much more enjoyable.