Distributor: FUNimation Entertainment
Genre(s): adventure, fantasy
Age Rating: TV 14
Runtime: 110 minutes
Release Date: 04/24/2012
The Fullmetal Alchemist franchise has been hugely popular both in its home country of Japan and abroad for over ten years. The original manga was written and illustrated by Hiromu Arakawa, which spawned two television series and a large variety of other media, was finished in 2010. At the conclusion of the second TV series, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, the announcement of a second feature film was made. The Sacred Star of Milos premiered in Japan on July 2, 2011.
However, the first law of Equivalent Exchange says that "to obtain, something of equal value must be lost." Their attempt failed, and the consequence resulted in Alphonse losing his entire body and Edward an arm and leg. The rest of the series follows the brothers as they take whatever measures necessary to learn how to get their bodies back.
Supposedly as a "conclusion" for the franchise, the producers of the anime in Japan decided to create a second full-length animated film.
The Sacred Star of Milos is a completely original, stand-alone story.
While the first film, The Conqueror of Shamballa, was a definite conclusion for the first anime series, this second film does not fit into any specific timeline. It opens with a family of four fleeing a battle zone for a new place to live, where the parents could practice their unique form of alchemy. Flash forward a few years. The little sister, Julia, wakes up from the aforementioned memory in a dream. Her older brother, Ashley, is studying their parents' books about alchemy. When a strange noise alerts their attention, Ashley goes to investigate and despite his assurances, Julia follows him. The two children find their parents bloodied and dead, and a strange creature looming over them. As Ashley is attacked, Julia passes out.
The rest of the story gets a little confusing from there, until well past the halfway mark of the film. When an inmate with strange alchemic powers escapes from prison under unusual circumstances, the Elric brothers connect him to a girl who was arrested in Tower City on the border of Amestris and Creta. The investigation finds the brothers almost instantly in the middle of a heated scuffle between the Amestris and Cretan governments, and a band of freedom fighters representing the displaced people of the land of Milos. This part of Sacred Star of Milos is quite confusing, because you have a wolf chimera (a sort of werewolf type creature created with alchemy), Milos spies, the escaped prisoner, Milos freedom fighters dressed like Batman, and a host of other people with guns all fighting on an out-of-control train headed straight for Tower City Station. I'll just say that eventually the Elric brothers got off the train, met the always-seedy Amestris military border patrol, and got into another scuffle when they found the girl--Julia.
As I stated before, it's all a bit complicated. The escaped prisoner reveals himself as Julia's brother, and he agrees to help them. But the Elric brothers discover that the Sacred Stars are Philosopher Stones, and warns them of what the ingredients are: human lives. Despite the horror of this reality, Julia and the others decide to push forward, and the Elrics leave to investigate the city. Everything comes to a head when Julia's brother, Ashley, springs a surprise on everybody, and the city becomes a giant transmutation circle to create a Philosopher Stone he hoped to use to gain.... phenomenal cosmic power? Likely world domination. It's never really clear.
This film is packed with very intense action pretty frequently. The whole climax was a veritable explosion of surprises, blood, actual explosions, lava, and just a heck of a lot of action. Fullmetal Alchemist has always been action-heavy and not afraid to show some blood, but I was taken aback by the disturbing sight of people being stabbed through the gut and opened up like a pitcher to pour every ounce of their blood into a hole while others watched. Despite this, I still managed to question the reality that the total blood from two people would fill pipes spiraling the size of the city underground and pour thousands of gallons into a reservoir.
As for the voice work, for the returning cast, all of the original voice actors from the TV series (Brotherhood) were used for both the English and Japanese dubs. As for the English cast, it is one of my favorites from English dubbed anime overall and their performance did not disappoint. For the new characters, I felt they were matched and directed very well.
The DVD release of The Sacred Star of Milos comes with two discs. The first disc has the film and some commentaries. Honestly, I expect commentaries to actually comment on the scenes currently taking place in the film. Not to hear a nearly two hour interview with the voice actors about almost everything but the film. Why not just film the interview itself, or just use clips from everything? If you're wild about every aspect of the voice actors' careers, you'll be interested to watch the commentary. If you're looking for their thoughts about the film, working on the film, and so forth, then you'll be disappointed.
Sit down with your favorite caffeinated beverage before viewing.
While it is strongly implied that this is the last animation for the franchise, the conclusion of The Sacred Star of Milos leaves everything open for another adventure to be produced if the decision were ever made to continue. I felt it was a very strong and fitting addition, if confusing at first, to the story of the Elric brothers. Fans should not hesitate at all to check it out!