Don't you just hate spoilers? I do, too. That's why I always try to include warnings. However, I sometimes ramble a bit too much here or there and maybe a few (or many) key plot points slip without me giving proper notice. So I'd like to include a blanket spoiler warning for the weary internet travelers of the world: Here There Be Spoilers. You've been warned.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa (Gekijōban Hagane no Renkinjutsushi: Shanbara o Yuku Mono)

The 2005 anime film Conqueror of Shamballa is the theatrical conclusion to the original Fullmetal Alchemist anime series. It is directed (expertly so) by Mizushima Seiji and features one helluva story thanks to Aikawa Sho. This film obviously requires all 51 episodes of the original to series to be viewed so you can really enjoy this movie, but it should also be said that watching all of those episodes is worth it just to watch this movie. The series itself is excellent, but this movie is fan-fucking-tastic. At an hour and 44 minutes it is not only a decent running length, but also a movie that doesn't overstay its welcome.

If you have a good memory than you should remember that the series ended with Edward and Alphonse in two different worlds. Edward was left in 1920's Germany while Alphonse was left in 1910's Amestris. The hows and whys are for the main series to deal with, but this movie is concerned with just how the two could possibly reunite.

I liked the fact that Edward was stuck in the "real world." It felt surreal, but it somehow added more depth to the story. Germany was a scary place at this time and would continue to be. The Treaty of Versailles had robbed them of their dignity and it left the gates wide open for a guy like Adolph Hitler to enter. The Germans took their anger out on anyone not German.

I never thought that knowledge of the Treaty of Versailles would be helpful in this way. Good thing I paid attention in school.

Suddenly Edward's previous world doesn't seem so bad. Ed has been studying rockets with a guy that looks a lot like his brother Al since arriving. They even have a similar name. However, the Al in Ed's world doesn't believe the stories about there being another world. Al just wants to launch rockets.

A lot of familiar faces return to the movie. Some of them are in Ed's world and some of them are in Al's. The ones in Ed's world are different, though.

King Bradley made his return to this series in Ed's world as Fritz Lang, of all people. Maes Hughes came back as a Nazi while he was the loveable and doting father in the other world.

The Thule Society was also mentioned quite a bit. I wasn't sure what this was so I googled it. Apparently, it was real. Maybe not the same as portrayed in this movie, but still real enough. The main villain Dietlinde Eckart is based off of Dietrich Eckart. The fact that they have the same last name should be enough to convey that.

The Thule Society were supporters of Hitler that dabbled in the occult and in this movie their goal is to break into Shamballa (a mystical realm thought to be in Asia). However, this Shamballa isn't Shamballa. It is actually Amestris, the world where Alphonse lived and the one where Ed used to live. So there appears to be hope for Ed, but that would mean opening a gate between worlds that would allow Hitler's fun bunch free reign in Ed's former home.

And yes, the Mustached One himself is in the movie. Eckart is the villain in the movie, but she doesn't touch the Mustached One himself. For obvious reasons. Eckart being a work of fiction.

While Ed tries to stop the Nazies from breaking into his old home Alphonse tries to find a way to bring Ed back. Little does Alphonse know that the Nazis want to come over to play, too.

The pseudo-historical context of this movie made it feel immediate. Realistic, even. That is, if you can overlook the bigass dragon with sharp and pointy teeth, the multiple worlds, and the alchemy stuff.

The alternating plotlines between Ed's world and Alphonse's world were handled quite well, too. The changes in perspective did not take away from the action or suspense. They definitely put a lot of effort into this movie.

I'd definitely suggest watching the 2003 anime series first, though. Otherwise you would be sooo lost.

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