Who doesn’t like Fullmetal Alchemist? It’s a fantastic manga with not one, but two anime adaptations, both of which are superb. This set of OVAs (Original Video Animation) is from the second series, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. While it’s not necessary to watch this to understand the series as whole, doing so helps to expand the world and build on the characters.
The first OVA (of four), called “The Blind Alchemist,” deals with Ed and Al hearing reports of someone successfully performing human transmutation and them going to check it out. Despite several gags, the overall tone is fairly grave and somber.
The next OVA, “Simple People,” expands Ed’s and Al’s relationship with Winry, showing the many times Ed goes back to visit and get his automail repaired. It’s nicely light-hearted and a good way to bring your spirits back up after the first story.
The third OVA, “The Chronicle of Teacher,” expands on something hinted at earlier in the series, Izumi Curtis’s training as an alchemist on Mount Briggs. Or rather the training she undergoes to be ready to train. Izumi has to survive on an inhospitable mountain for a month before she is allowed to learn alchemy. This short strikes an odd balance between serious and comedic, but somehow it works.
The final OVA, “Yet Another Man’s Battlefield,” shows fan favorite characters Roy Mustang and Maes Hughes at boot camp and tells the story of how they went from being enemies to becoming friends. It has a more serious feel to it than the other three OVAs, but the friendship is truly heartwarming.
Each OVA runs for approximately 15 minutes. In the back of each published volume of the manga there were several four-panel comedy strips. The extra here is sixteen “Four Panel Comic Theater” videos, each about two minutes long. They’re humorous and obviously non-canon, but funny enough to make you want to sit down and watch them all at once. The OVAs are done in the same animation style as Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood and are of the same quality. Which is to say they are beautiful, crisp, clean animations.
Honestly, the whole package is great. The creators maintain the high quality plots and characterization of the main series and manage to integrate humor and drama well. You need to be familiar with the series to watch them, as they’re meant as an expansion, not an introduction. That said, anyone who has seen the series should really enjoy them. As is typical of Fullmetal Alchemist, both the subtitling and the dubbing are of the very best quality. Virtually nothing is lost in translation. Well done.
Like the original series, the OVAs have dark moments and touch on serious themes in serious ways. As such, I don’t recommend that anyone under 14 watch it.
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood – OVA Collection
directed by Yasuhiro Irie
60 minutes, Number of Discs: 2, Single disc/DVD
Company Age Rating: 14+
Related to: Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa