Genre: action, comedy, alchemy, making gold out of household objects, and did I mention alchemy?
OP/ED, music: There's one haunting track used as background for depressing/dramatic moments that stands out . The op/ed's didn't attract too much attention. Shamballa’s OP sounds like Tomokazu Seki’s singing which was nice if it was… Shamballa’s music is still pretty standard for the FMA series, nothing notable.
Plot: Elric Bros. go on a mission to get their bodies back after failing human transmutation, and lots of emotionally scarring things change their ideology. Rushes at the end with their plot resolution, and accounts for how alchemy works with a mild plot-hole. Series works on developing the world and laws for the first set, then moving on to focus on the issue of “is this right” while dealing with the philosopher’s stone’s creation. From there, it degenerates into a pace of revenge, alliance, resurrection of character thought dead, revenge again, then formation of new characters to replace the ones they killed. Not surprisingly, they manage to sneak Nazis in there along with someone who looks like Gordon Freeman. At least this series didn’t suffer from Trinity Blood’s apparent “let’s make up some new plot to replace the lack thereof created from the lackluster mini-plot we just ended” problem.
If the main series’ start of the Nazi integration into the plot wasn’t apparent, the movie Conquerors of Shamballa slaps Nazis in your face. First of all, the movie is not standalone. Watching this without the main series will leave some elements lost to you and will be more confusing than the first quarter is already. The settings alternate between the world of alchemy and our dimension of science without a clear idea which is which for some time. The plot in a sentence: Nazis want to enter Shamballa to build up the Nazi forces as they try to take over
Characters: The series really likes to kill characters and revive them. Luckily, in the movie Conqueror of Shamballa, the dead get a new life again using the shaky logic of the alternate world. Problem with this series is that the Homunculus are fighting to obtain the power to be human so they can die. Why wish to be capable of dying when you can already die? Other issues with characters include the dad’s feelings of love: if he really loved Trisha, wouldn’t he have been honest than hide the fact that he’s been plagued by a plot element created in the time span of the last ten eps? Character motives for Shamballa are murky at times and invoke the almighty “explain my motives at the last minute” deal. It was nice to see some dead characters alive again in the movie, if at all to spook Edward. Wrath’s character seems to have turned around completely without any idea why… blame “plot convenience”.
Highlights: Holy crap, for an anime dealing with junk science, it actually tries to sound smart using actual science in their attack descriptions. I doubt most viewers know what an adiabatic compression is. Ep 37 is the single random filler ep dealing with the State Alchemists, and worth the watch. Shamballa has Hitler’s appearance, but left me more curious if they would have made him speak in German or Japanese.
Notes: This series was fun to watch. Although there was a lot of death, character attachment was strong. The ending doesn’t seem to have much merit or a fully thought plan going about, and the movie helps resolve the problems created by that. However, don’t expect the movie to give a definite conclusion. The movie at best left me aching for some Nazi vs. Alchemist action and Hitler doing something other than starting the Nazi movement. And don’t mind how a biplane wing can stay aloft after being cut off from the main body (you’ll understand when you watch the movie)
Deals with "equivalent trade", and what a human life is equivalent to, best explained by "don't transmute people if you're going to do alchemy". Oh, and don't make gold from lead or create interdimensional portals to help the Nazi movement.