Anime Movie Review: Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa

Details: Also known as Gekijô-ban hagane no renkinjutsushi: Shanbara wo yuku mono. Released in 2005. About an hour and forty-five minutes long. You can watch it at crunchyroll.com here: http://www.crunchyroll.com/fullmetal-alchemist-the-conqueror-of-shamballa

Before Attack on Titan, the title for most shocking dramatic anime would likely have gone to Fullmetal Alchemist. I’m not talking about Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. If you didn’t know, there were two Fullmetal Alchemist series. The first aired from 2003 to 2004 and the second was Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood which aired in 2009 to 2010 and was meant as a retelling of the original series that was more in line with the manga. The first series is one of my favorite anime’s of all time because of just how devastatingly sad and shocking it was. Unlike Brotherhood which sought to simply glaze over plot elements that already occurred before deviating from the original story, the original series gave its shocking plot points sufficient time to develop for maximum emotional impact.

Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa is the definitive conclusion to that original series. It does its best to wrap up loose ends, provide color to the jarring ending of the original series and ends on the same bittersweet melancholy tone established in the anime. There will be spoilers ahead in relation to the original anime and a synopsis of the premise of the movie.

At the end of the series, we learned that the mystical door opened to another world… our world. To be more exact, our world shortly prior to the beginning of World War II. In exchange for his brother’s life, Edward sacrificed himself and transported himself into our world where there is no alchemy. Conqueror of Shamballa takes place about a year or so after the end of the original series. Edward is trying to get by in pre-World War II Germany and his brother, Alphonse, is looking for a way to bring him home. Through some involvement with the Nazi’s, the two brothers find a way to meet again just in time to determine the fate of both worlds.

The ending of the anime was really jarring for me and felt like a cop-out. It reminded me of the end of Battlestar Galactica which was also disappointing. I just don’t like the endings which end up in the real world. It feels like an unimaginative way to end a show when the writers don’t have any better ideas.

With that said, I still enjoyed the historical aspect of the movie. Edward interacts with many notable people from that time period leading up to World War II. It’s a nice touch.

Otherwise, This movie is only worth watching if you’ve watched and enjoyed the original anime. It provides a nice conclusion to the series and even though I watched the anime years ago, I still felt some emotions knowing that this was the end.

The animation is good. The action is good. The music and voice work is good. It’s a good movie.

In conclusion, you need to watch the original series first (which I recommend everyone do) in order to watch this movie. It’s pretty much a longer episode and a conclusion (though arguably satisfying) to the anime. Brotherhood ends differently so really has no connection to this movie.

Score: 7.5/10

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