Fullmetal Alchemist, The Movie

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Oct 3, 2006

Filed under: Anime 33 comments

I see I misunderstood the purpose behind Fullmetal Alchemist – Conqueror of Shamballa. I watched it assuming the movie was intended to finish the story begun in the series. It does accomplish this, but it turns out that the primary purpose of the movie is to deliver highly concentrated doses of fanservice.

Fullmetal Alchemist: Gypsies

Not that sort of fan service. I’m talking about in the more general sense of giving fans what they want. The plot isn’t so much a story as it is adhesive used to bind the various situations and images together. They started with a wishlist from the fans, and built their tale around it.

Fullmetal Alchemist: Armstrong
BEHOLD! Armstrong is still hilarious. I’ve never been able to figure out how he gets his shirt (not to mention his jacket and tie) off in one clean motion like that.

The result is fun, but the story makes not the slightest bit of sense. There is a gate between parallel worlds: The world in which the main series took place, and our world. In our world the date is sometime in the 1920’s, between the two world wars. The seeds of World War II are being sown around them, and the protagonists get caught up in it.

The gate between these two worlds becomes the carpet under which all of the unanswered questions are swept. What happened to Al’s memories? How did Ed get his metal arm back? How can Ed speak German? How did envy become a dragon? What made the normal human soldiers in suits of armor into these invincible superthings covered in black goo? Ummmm… Must be the gate!

Fullmetal Alchemist: Edward Elrich

Fullmetal Alchemist: Roy Mustang and Alphonse

The alternate world also gives the chance for main characters who died in the original series to make a cameo appearance. Their “other” selves appear quite often as common folks who bump into Ed for no other reason than the fact that it would please the fans.

Fullmetal Alchemist: Alternate Scar

There is no reason in the world for people to watch this movie if they have not seen the show. The plot is gibberish, the villian is cut from the same cloth as Gauron, and the technology makes no sense. However, for fans of the show this is a must-see. The good guys kick Nazi butt, all the loose ends are resolved, and we get to see the mega-happy ending.


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33 thoughts on “Fullmetal Alchemist, The Movie

  1. some kid says:


  2. kayle says:

    some Kid: The Japanese limited edition has english subtitles, so you don’t even have to wait until it gets licensed to see it legally, just have to be prepared to fork over a substantial amount of cash. I see that CDJapan has it for $72.81 plus whatever they charge for shipping…

  3. Shamus says:

    The English dub is out in the states. My friend picked it up for ~$20 USD.

  4. kayle says:

    D*mn, time passes so quickly…

  5. Skeeve the Impossible says:

    1st: Al’s memories were locked away in the gate. That’s why they were returning to him in our world. He must have picked them up on the trip over.
    2nd: If you are refering to the arm Ed has in our world it, it is not automail. Ed mentions that his dad put him in contact with someone who made that arm for him. It is a wierd arm though, it has that goofy rip cord thing to boost its power…. or whatever
    3rd: yaaaaa I don’t know how he was speaking to everyone but who cares.
    this is a minor gripe in my book
    4th: Envys’ ability to change apperance is sort of a form of alchemy.
    He/She/It turned into a dragon in the gate, and when he arrived in our world was unable to turn back.
    5th: I wouldn’t say the soilders were “super soilders” but anyway
    that black goo you refered to was all the creepy gate babys attached to them. you know the ones that attacked envy on his trip. Go back and take another look at them and you’ll see your “goo” is some what humanoid looking

  6. Skeeve the Impossible says:

    Oh yeah, the movie is one big nazi ass kickin fest

  7. Skeeve the Impossible says:

    I was disapointed that we didn’t see Winrys counter part

  8. Shamus says:

    “Al's memories were locked away in the gate.”

    Were you arguing my point or the counterpoint? Because explaining lost memories with a magical door is exactly the sort of thing I was talking about.

    What is it about the gate that makes it able to store (and restore / erase) memories? This is like I said: Anything that makes no sense is just a property of the mysterious gate.

    The black goo – yeah, I know it “came from” the gate but we are never told what it IS or what it DOES. This is becasue it only exists to make the bad guys look more bad. The villians get covered in it, even though they are inside of flying machines (which did not exist in that time period) and get all gooped up, yet the hero does not.

    Why? Because… of… the… gate thing. You see, it has the equivalent exchange and the… link between… OH LOOK! MUSTANG IS SETTING STUFF ON FIRE! SWEET!

  9. EmeraldTiara says:

    FOR GOD’S SAKE! I thought you said you watched the end of the series!!! When Envy goes through the Gate in 51, he turns into a dragon using his ‘mad shapeshifting skillz.’ He is stuck in the form of a dragon forever after, because alchemy does not exist in this world, rendering his abilities useless. Al’s memories are also used as the price for getting Al back to his body, while allowing Ed to be alive. Ed’s metal arm is also no longer automail, as it doesn’t exist in this world either. It is simply normal, sane, everyday prosthetics. He can speak German because, as is widely known, the movie takes place two years after 51. Umm, I think he would speak German by then, no? You might be wondering now how he spoke it in 51, then. Well, as is not so clearly stated, the part where Sciezka is writing to Winry and where Ed is in Munich with Hohenheim takes place several months after the incident in the underground city. If you don’t accept that, I think we can infer that Ed and Hohenheim spoke whatever language is used in Amestris, presumably English, while conversing with each other. And while on that subject, in 50 they were in London, so no problems there.
    I remain suspiciously silent about the black goo, because, like you, I am clueless. But next time, don’t assume that because the Gate is all powerful, the creators used it as an easy way out. Especially not when most of your answers can be found if you just looked!
    Call me a senseless 13 year old, but Fullmetal Alchemist (I applaud you, btw- you didnt count Full and Metal as different words, like so many others) is my favorite show, and I don’t like it when people soundly abuse it without knowing what they’re talking about.

  10. Mercedes says:

    The movie was actually partially related to the movie “Metropolis” directed by none other than Fritz Lang, the man represented by Fuhrer Bradley’s other-self in the movie (hence the reason for his appearance). It’s not JUST about fan service, it’s also about war and pre-war and the philosophy and ethics surrounding why and how people go to war. Sure, there WAS fanservice, but there was also a continuation of a theme that FMA has always delivered on: the ethics and morals of society. ^.^

    I highly recommend getting the special edition version of this movie, if you like it. Not only do the Extra’s disk provide a lot of interesting information, there is a good-sized book incliuded where they discuss the reasons behind all of the deeper aspects of the film. It’s very interesting.

  11. chaz says:

    great movie but it leaves off i hope they dont make a second

  12. some girl says:

    will this movie ever air on tv(animax)
    i really wanna watch it but dont know how… is there any website which will show the movie? how do i get hold of the cd?

  13. some girl says:

    oh and btw… i think the plot is more or less cool… though 4rm wat i read i get that the series is better

  14. Sammeh says:

    Wat colours r Scar and Lust’s eyes?? they LOOK red, but i am unsure if they are brown ^^

  15. ondina says:

    is that the only FMA movie?
    cuz I’m bout to download one, but I’ve been told that there are two of thema, and that one of em is actually an ending to the plot. and see I haven’t seen the whole show, it’s like 450 episodes… so I can’t afford that.
    but hey thanks for giving your opinion and letting me know.
    (my english suxs btw, so sorry about that, I’ve been skipping lessons for like a month or so ^^’ )

  16. James says:

    I always figured that everyone was speaking German in both worlds the whole time, and that it was only translated for the viewers benefit.

    Mainly because that explains how Ed can speak German, but still.

  17. Eric the vengeful says:

    ummm I liked the series, and agree with you on the movie. Total fan service, but alas i liked seeing archer again. The prosthetics that Ed uses are pretty simple looking compared to the automail. The only gripe i have with the movie that you didn’t adress is how is the thule society using alchemy in are world, and Ed not being able to. That right there doesn’t make any sense to me no matter what.

    Yours in friendship,
    Eric The Vengeful

  18. My interpretation of Envy turing into a dragon is this:
    a)he didnt have a soul, he was fake and going so walking though the gate he had nothing to exchange. No soul no nothing. So he changed into pure energy cause he had had to turn into somthing in our world. And the dragon is that representation.
    b)He had reached his 4 stage in consciousness which is the Shambhala Dragon. I wonder if most fans of this series are even aware of the true meaning of the buddist Shambhala. The idea that with our current energy and power, we can either create wars or create peace through morality and a higher consciousness…

  19. azumi says:

    trop cool fullmetal alchemist dommage que mustang est perdu son oeil!snif

  20. karla says:

    *soy mexicana
    *no se ingles
    **pero sus imaganes son!!!!

  21. Hakkenshi says:

    James hit the nail on the head: in both worlds, the main language spoken is actually German.

    All the handwritten documents about King Bradley refer to him as the Fuhrer, so that’s not such a stretch. Other names support this too, like Hohenheim.

    As for the memories, well, while there IS a “scientific” explanation for the energy exchange required for alchemy, it remains a MYSTICAL operation. What with the crazy babies that chew on Envy at the end of the series, I wouldn’t sweat the small stuff like black goo and lost memories returning…

    However, the end of the series (in the subs, at least) clearly states that Ed offers up their shared experiences as sacrifice to “revive” Al. He’s basically playing it by ear, inventing a new alchemical formula, so it’s not surprising that the results are unpredictable – and that Al is in fact revived without those memories.

    I think there’s a lot of overprocessing going on, to be honest. I’m not saying that as a criticism, but it may be best to take it in stride.

  22. Kismet says:

    Fullmetal Alchemist is one of my favorite anime experiences of all time but the way that it ended was a big letdown. The moment that the writer(s) linked Ed’s world to ours, something in the show died for me and the plot went in directions that made me wish to Christ they’d kept the real world and Nazi-era Germany out of it. I usually forget the movie out of hand because even though I love so much of FMA, I have no use for the film and won’t be buying it. When I get my hands on the series, I’ll watch it to pieces, but I will always wonder what might have been.

  23. Trekker says:

    Looking back, I’d have to agree – the movie was pretty much fanservice. As far as I see it, the whole thing was just a ploy to reunite Ed and Al for the fans. Not the greatest, but still a fun and enjoyable movie.

    Two words: Anime Hitler. I don’t know why, but for some reason the very concept makes me want to laugh. A lot. Weird.

  24. Cballeron says:


    I enjoyed the images of the film as well and you don’t need to know English for that! Now, for her benefit:

    Karla, de veras estan super cheveres la primeras fotos de esta pelicula. A ver si se logra conseguir en el cine algun dia, no te suena bien? Le diste una exelente opinion visual! Y si te gusta el correo deyahoo, mandame uno!

  25. cyber says:

    Germany and its alternate ego are the main locations for the movie. The england part was confusing, ed just went to where his body was (happened to be England for the Zeppelins), so for that, location didn’t matter; And, there were many in Germany at that time that spoke English;
    Dragon was the true form, the dragon eating its tail is the symbolic representation we’re to understand ed’s dad meant when he formed it – as shambalah is also represented as the infinite;
    Shambalah is sometimes reffered to as not being a place as much as a state of mind – it is the inner peace – think about the title; conqueror of shambalah – defeating the myth of a possibility of eternal peace, such as ed and al getting mom back and living happily ever after;
    Shambalah is thought to be a place where highly enlightened people exist, thus they believed that the alchemists represented those people because of their skills;
    Legend has it that an army will emerge from shambalah when the world is in ruin and war to save it – so that fan pleasing isn’t fan pleasing, you see the counterparts in this world to also understand that Edward and al came from shambalah, as per the legend, and their army would be those who are the counterparts in this world;

    Also understand the series – Alchemy destroyed the two boys’ lives. It tore them up. To leave their world allowed them to live without that painful memory (such as burning their home as children);
    To better understand the series – study the true story of alchemy and the search for the philosopher’s stone, it parallels the series. to understand the movie, read Isaac Asminov’s, The God’s Themselves, it’s based on a multiverse (like the gate is here – where the 7 sins and alchemy go hand in hand), where science evolves in one world, magic in another, and finding a 3rd world where power is given freely creates a balance when science and magic mix; (and funny enough, the inclusion of plutonium and the plot from the science world to create a supernova/explosion with it – which is obviously the entire basis for the end of the FMA series);
    Read about Tai Chi and the 3 treasures, and you’ll understand the exchange of memories. To pass one of the 3 levels of transmutation in Tai Chi, you cleanse the mind. This explains how Ed could take on the memories of both he and his brother, allowing Ed to pass back through the gate, as 1 of those requirements of exchange was met. A 2nd part of that is mastering the body (or for this series, Ed giving up his arm and leg again), and for al, the 2nd requirement was met, and finally, the two elements are united (through exchange, such as ed having to cross to the other side), and you get a clear path for the return of alfonse. confusing – you’d have to look it up.

    What the black goo is? Remember – gate wasn’t all black goo – it also contained light. The gate is also known as the gate of truth – and exists within everyone of us. It is different for each person that passes through. The truth of the soul at the time of transmutation with the gate – is the ultimate truth. Here’s my take on it: The black goo babies (yes – I wanted that expanded upon too), represent the darkness of the soul within – for those who are evil, that darkness is their strength, for those who seek to bring back a loved one – that darkness is their selfishness and understanding that they must pay (to bring back one who is dead is considered, in myth – to be cruel – helps if you study egyptian mythology and the book of the dead to understand the price you must pay for that selfishness); the light, as with the kid who wanted his ‘mommy,’ is because he wasn’t inherintly evil and sought nothing selfish – he was happy to die to be reunited with the one he loved, so that was his truth. The biggest, and most important part of the gate then followed the episodes perfectly – for ed to see that the truth of equivalence he believed to be real, was. You HAD to give up something to get something – but also – that NOTHING is ever lost. Also, remember the question: how would you know which world was real? And, where did edward end up in the end? So – which world WAS real? That’s part of the mythology of the gate of truths. Also, remember that a homunculus had to be present for the gate to appear as they are a catalyst. And, if you research alchemy and humunculi, you’ll better understand why the 7 sins deal – because human transmutation was a sin.

    You might also want to read Joseph Campbell’s, the Hero with a 1000 Faces. The in-depth discussion into rights of passage, gate passage, enlightenment and so on is also helpful in understanding that the passage through the gate for the 2 boys is enlightenment, closing their past for their future.

    And yeah – ending sucked (I haven’t gotten to see the whole thing yet cause it’s not totally functional anywhere online, subbed or dubbed – dubbed preferred, and i’m not in a position to order it- ergh!). It sucked for this reason – the 2 boys are continuing to work on the rocket. While I mentioned them as the kings of shambalah, here to destroy the evil army (where their research will further the atom bomb), they are still seeking a return to their own world – the same reason ed was interested in the rocket research in the 1st place. And, just like their journey for the philosopher’s stone where they learned the truth of the deaths of thousands for it, they’ll learn that their research leads to the deaths of millions (atom bomb), and it will be the same story all over again. A subtle, yet crude way to keep equivalent exchange on both sides of the gate.

    Prolly doesn’t help much, but thought I’d throw it out there for you anyway :)

  26. Victoria says:

    cyber makes an interesting point. I latched onto Joseph Campbell for my Junior research paper, but I’ve been compairing him with various animes and books ever since.

    In his TV series, ‘The Power of Myth,’ he says, “The moral objective is of saving a people or saving a person or saving an idea. He is sacrificing himself for something. Now you from another postition might say that something was something that should never have been realized. That’s a judgement from another side, but it doesn’t destroy the heroism of what was done.”

    FMA does this over and over again, on both ends of the stick. People did great evil in the name of good, and who we thought were villians could be heroic at times. Essentially, ‘Good done in the name of Tosh is still the work of Aslan.’

    Definitely look into Joseph Campbell.

  27. Katrani Merack says:

    Um… I liked the movie. I only had two complaints: Mustang’s character got completely messed up, and Ed wound up away from Winry. Yes, I’m an EdxWin fangirl.

    Anyways. The point of Mustang: at the end of the anime, we see him risk everything so he can get ot the top. He kills the leader of his nation to atone for his own sins and make it so that they’re not repeated. How the heck does sentencing himself to an arctic outpost ge tot that at all?

    For all the other plot points… I dunno. i just know it all made sense to me, and I liked it, and it was great to see Ed and Al together as humans fighting stuff. Hah.

  28. DK says:

    There is nothing WHAT SO EVER FUNNY ABOUT HITLER!!! HE invaded DK and Killed Many people i Denmark. That is were I come from, AND IT ISN’T FUNNY AT ALL!!!!!

  29. some dude says:

    in response to whoever put “there must be a homunculus present to summon the gate”(not quoted word-for-word), you’re forgetting the beginning of the movie. i watched it and remember a certain villain in Ed’s story to Alfons who attempted to transmute dead civilians, who was summoned to the gate and “swallowed” completely, and there was no homunculus present. just thought i should say.

    i kinda liked the movie, but i didn’t like the fact that they included our world in there. the point of the show(at first, anyways) was to show the wonders and horrors of alchemy. they took that away from Ed and Al in the end.

    as for the whole envy discussion above, i haven’t the faintest idea whether his(yes, “his”; he’s introduced as hohenheim’s son in the show and at a point in the movie, if i heard right) true form is the dragon or the blonde kid. the dragon form would tie up some loose ends, though…

    hope my opinions have helped somebody! didn’t mean to sound rude before, by the way hehehe. enjoy the movie for those who haven’t seen it!

  30. Pinkhair says:

    I kept thinking about the Michael Moorcock novel, “The Dreamthief’s Daughter.” The story of fantasy world Elric traveling to Nazi Germany with a dragon and fighting Nazis.

    Anyway, I really disliked the movie. It seemed like an attempt to brutally remove any traces of subtlety from the remains of the series.

  31. Kaliam says:

    Yes, that is the alternative Scar, but did anyone notice who the other person in the drivers seat was? Lust! It was Lust! The chick with the long knife-like fingers that was one of the siblings of Envy, Wrath, etc. I can’t believe you didn’t mention that! ARGH!!!

  32. Dasick says:

    BEHOLD! Armstrong is still hilarious. I've never been able to figure out how he gets his shirt (not to mention his jacket and tie) off in one clean motion like that.

    He does it using the Armstrong Stripping technique that has been passed down for generations. Obviously.

    I can’t believe that for the 6 years this has been up, I’m the first one to make solve this mystery

  33. Me says:

    Lust finally gets to be human like she wanted to be. ☺

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