Tag Archives: Full Metal Alchemist

FMA: The Sacred Star of Milos Premiere @ Otakon 2011

After only three weeks since its premiere in Japan, Funimation and Aniplex made an international premiere of Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos a reality Saturday night for Otakon attendees. It was a very special treat especially for the fans. This was clearly evident as the audience roared each time a returning character first appeared on screen or at the conclusion of fight scenes. To paraphrase the second season, the siblinghood of the audience was palpable.

Having had the fortune to interview the director hours before the premiere, I was extra excited. Murata-san had stressed in the interview that the magic to his success lies in entertaining the audience and he did not disappoint. The pace never felt off and changed tempo in accordance with the plot. Of particular note are the action segments. Under Murata-san’s direction, the intensity has one’s heartbeat approaching the speed of light due to its realism. I recall the part during the train fight where a man was caught in a net so fast that it took me a moment to recognize what happened which certainly places the audience into said man’s shoes.

The plot, while engaging, felt trite in its theme even though Murata-san mentioned that it takes place sometime after episode twenty of the second season. This could be a side effect of high expectations due to the originality that made the anime so popular in the first place. It rehashes the principal of never attempting the taboo from the series. The premise also shares similarities with the Gundam universe which I shall not spoil. I also felt the introduction and development of new characters were spent at the expense of neglecting returning ones. Is it still a FMA film if Colonel Mustang… no worries, no spoilers! Comic relief delivers each time and there’s enough romance in the air for those seeking it. In short, the film delivers on entertainment.

A limited theatrical release for the US is scheduled for 2012.

Madoka’s Magical Realism

If anything in the universe lends itself to broad, shamanic principles, it is surely entropy. Broken glass, spilled milk, and toppled stacks of books are all examples of that universal principle we are familiar with. At times, it almost seems intelligent, malicious, seeking to thwart our intentions and pervert our efforts to bring order to our lives.

The fundamental laws of thermodynamics, which govern entropy, have been stated as:

1. You can’t get ahead.
2. You can’t break even.
3. You cannot refuse to play.

Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica examines these laws not from a literal standpoint, but from a philosophical standpoint. It is not the first anime to do so – Full Metal Alchemist centered almost entirely on the point of “Equivalent Exchange,” a principle that comes pretty close to the first law of thermodynamics: to receive something, you must give up something of equal value.

The primary difference between Madoka and its intellectual predecessor is the degree of adherence to Law Two: in Alchemist, you can get some pretty good trades as well as some pretty bad ones. In Madoka, it’s all downhill, with magical girls ultimately sliding down a slippery slope of magic dependency into outright insanity.

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

– W. B. Yeats, “The Second Coming”

 

In this context, what exactly is Kyuubey? He is the vengeance of entropy, the denial of hope, the cold and cruel insistence that you cannot get something for nothing, and that the house always takes a cut. With Kyuubey you can never truly get what you wish for just by asking for it, for the act of obtaining your wish in such a fashion changes the situation.  Furthermore, what you get never quite equals what you give up: it always falls short, usually in some terrible way.

Uncle Kyuubey wants you!
Uncle Kyuubey wants you!

It has been variously said that Kyuubey’s explanations of magical energy and entropy border on the laughable, and perhaps that’s right. But ultimately Kyuubey and what he represents should be considered in terms of a philosophical argument, not an accurate, one-to-one correspondence with reality and proper physics. If we ignore this level of consideration to focus on the literal, then Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica is only the story of a mailed fist punching a defenseless face in the nose, ad nauseam, over the course of a dozen episodes. Including it, we see a marvelous juxtaposition: the futility perceived in adulthood when compared with the unbounded expectations of childhood, is philosophically similar to the ultimate thermodynamic futility of all chemical and physical processes, life included.  Water runs downhill, and does not flow back up.  People become corrupt, and do not regain their innocence.  Everyone dies, in the end.

But there are miracles.

Ultimately Madoka, for all of its bleak and nihilistic scenes, cannot help but be a magical girl show.  Even at its worst, it is still in many respects cheerier than the reality the human race lives in. Thermodynamics really does state that we and the world are on a one-way trip to oblivion, and anything we do only hastens the process.  While the stories of the girls in the show are sad, examples abound of people whose daily lives are more depressing than those in the show.

The truly depressing thing about Madoka isn’t that its fictional characters are subject to horror, death and worse.  It’s that every bad thing in Madoka is actually a censored version of what really happens on our planet.

AD Top 10 List #1: Top TV Anime of the 2000s

It’s 2010. A new year. A new decade. Amazing how time flies, doesn’t it? In celebration of this historical event we, your anime-loving couch potatoes here at Anime Diet, have painstakingly compiled a list of what we feel are the cream of the crop, the very best anime of the past ten years.
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