Full Metal Alchemist: The Conqueror of Shambala

I just watched the Full Metal Alchemist movie. I can say it was a big disappointment. Its weakness lies in the ending and some inconsistencies along the way. I’m not a huge FMA fan and I don’t really know Japanese that well so I might have a bias opinion, but I wrote a summary and thoughts on this anyway…Please be advised that it is a spoiler, albeit, a pretty incomprehensible one.

Summary:

The movie picks up where the series left off. Ed is now living in Germany and his father has once again disappeared. The movie opens with Ed telling alternate universe Al about his adventures with alchemist universe Al. Apparently, at one point in between episodes of the series, Ed and Al busted some guy who developed an atomic bomb. The opening was a bit misleading, but it’s a nice transition from series to movie. So, alternate universe Al and Ed are on a trip to a carnival, where they will present their rocket. Yeah…Ed builds rockets now. I think this was presented in the last scene of the series, but I don’t remember well.

At the carnival, Ed meets a Gypsy named Noah, who I think is supposed to be Rose’s alternate reality counterpart. For some reason, the military wants her. Maybe it’s for her mind reading powers, but it still wouldn’t make much sense. More on that later. Ed saves her and winds up letting her stay in his house. They walk around the streets and eat porridge(?). Pretty pointless and it’s illogical. Then, Ed sees a familiar face. It’s the Fuhrer from the alchemist universe.

Ed follows the guy’s car and knocks out the driver. He approaches the guy, but he turns out to be a Jew instead of a Homoculus. Interesting correlation. Yeah…He goes by the alias Mabuse. He’s supposedly looking for a dragon in this castle and he enlists the help of Ed to find it. Ed finds the dragon, but it turns out to be Envy from the alchemist universe. Not a counterpart, but Envy herself. The military swoops in and captures Envy. Ed sees someone that his father knows. It’s Professor Haushofer. After the professor ignores Ed, Ed and Mabuse are knocked out in the regular guy-stumbles-onto-conspiracy fashion.

When Ed wakes up, he tries to investigate Professor Haushofer. This leads Ed into the conspiracy. The Thule society, which is linked to the Nazi party, captured Envy in order to use her to transmute the gate to link the alternate universe to the alchemist universe. They plan to invade the alchemist universe in order to learn alchemy to use in the Nazi uprising.

When the director tries to enlist the help of Ed, Ed refuses and runs away. It’s now clear that the director wanted Noah to gain alchemy knowledge from Ed in order to complete the transmutation circle to complete the link between the worlds. Eventually, Noah is convinced to help in gaining this knowledge. So yeah, she betrays Ed. Mabuse learns about the Thule’s plan through his Nazi wife.

Anyway, stuff happens and Ed winds up barging in just when they open the gate to start the invasion of Shambala (the term used by the alternate universe to designate the alchemy universe). In effect, he returns to his world. Yay! Ed is back. Unfortunately, a bunch of soldiers, mutated by the gate, also enter the alchemy world.

There’s a battle scene…There’s a reunion…Ed then takes the invasion ship back to the alternate universe in order to destroy that side of the gate. This is to destroy the link between the worlds in order to stop the Thule’s plan. So he returns to the alternate universe. Al went to the alternate universe as a stowaway and they destroy the gate. After, we get a little epilogue seeing how some characters continued their lives. That’s about it.

Thoughts:

First of all, I didn’t get why Ed would want to parade Noah around the streets when he knows people are looking for her. Maybe it’s the comradery between the residents of his neighborhood, but we find out later that his friend, the alternate universe Hughes is a Nazi. Not very trustworthy… Ed could’ve been a bit more cautious. Ultimately, this reveals Ed’s relationship with Noah to Thule, allowing Thule to find a way to use Ed’s knowledge without using Ed. Although, their plan to use his knowledge had a hole in it. He does alchemy by transferring power to the circle, but Noah couldn’t figure out how to do it.

Another issue is the presence of alchemy in the alternate universe. I thought alchemy did not exist in that universe (Ed could not use alchemy). How are they able to transmute the gate? Heck, thinking about that gives me a headache.

I was particularly disappointed with the insignificance of some of the characters. Glutton and Wrath were revived, but they died in about five minutes as material for a transmutation. Hohenheim also returned, but he died a minute later. In total, I think he had about three minutes of screen time. Scar and Ivy were also revived in the alternate universe, but they had about one frame of screentime.

The gate was especially complicated. I think they confused themselves when making this movie. At first, the gate seemed to be a one way pipe. In fact, they opened the pipe to send an initial invasion force from the alternate universe to the alchemy universe. When Al opened the gate from the alchemy universe, the gate was duplex in nature. I don’t quite understand how the gate made this transition. When the invasion forces traversed the gate, they were all mutated or destroyed. This seems to be a result of the whole equivalent exchange thing. However, Ed and Al both pass through the gate unharmed. Are they immune to the price of crossing the gate? The director gains the power of alchemy from the gates. Why was she the only one who gained power? Other invasion vehicles also passed the gate. I don’t see anyone else gaining alchemist powers.

The historical side of the movie is pretty cool. I liked how they incorporated the presence of Jews in film making. Historically, there were many Jews in Hollywood at the time of World War II. However, the Nazi uprising failed and it was hinted that Hitler was killed. I’m not sure if the Nazi’s actually had a failed uprising prior to their rise to power, but I’m pretty sure that Hitler survived to take control of Germany.

I think the main reason the movie failed to appeal to me was because of the ending. Ed and Al both return to the alternate world. This is after alternate world Alphonse and Hohenheim sacrificed their lives to return Ed to his own world. A big waste there. Wrath also sacrificed himself to bring Ed home. The fact that Ed spent less than half an hour in his home world is especially dissatisfying. Some might argue that all the sacrifices made was to reunite the brothers, but I do not see why they couldn’t stay reunited in their home world.

The reason behind Ed’s return to the alternate world was that he needed to destroy the side of the gate in the alternate world. Why couldn’t he just seal up the side of the gate in the alchemist world? It’s not like there’s anyone left in the alternate universe that can use alchemy. Heck, they weren’t supposed to be able to use alchemy to begin with. The destruction of the gate was also left ambiguous. Al and Ed couldn’t possibly use alchemy to destroy it, since it woudln’t work in the alternate world. Did they just shoot some explosives at it or what? If that was the case, then couldn’t anyone have destroyed the gate?

Another reason Ed returned to the alternate world was probably because he was still bound to the alternate world. In the end, he says something to the effect of “I will no longer ignore this world.” Great. But wait a second…Isn’t he ignoring his home world? Wouldn’t Ed’s knowledge in rocketry and other science (think uranium bomb) be potentially more dangerous in the alternate universe?

So yeah…Ed and Al just gives a big “screw you” to everyone who cares about him in his world. I don’t think this selfish action really reflected their character designs properly. It was a horrible way to tie up the movie. The more I write about this, the more angry I get for wasting an hour and 45 minutes on this. And there’s not even a possibility of a sequel for atonement since the closing of the gate permanently disconnected the two worlds.

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