It’s not very often that I get the chance to see an anime movie in theatres. Aside from one Pokemon movie when I was 10, the chance really didn’t arise until Funimation started putting the Evangelion movies in theatres. Obviously I jumped at the chance to see them. Unfortunately the theatre in my area clearly didn’t know how to use whatever they had to use to for the projection and the image was faded and dark. But still, seeing them in theatres was a nice experience and I was hoping I’d get to do it again. When Funimation first announced the theatrical dates for Sacred Star of Milos I was disappointed because the “nationwide” Canadian screening only covered half the nation. But then they added more and I got to see it and the projection wasn’t shitty, so might as well review it I guess.
When a prisoner with only a few months left on his sentence breaks out, the Elric brothers set out to track him down. Their search leads them to Table City, a city on the border of Amestris and Creta. When the pair saves a young alchemist named Julia from the escaped prisoner they get caught up in a rebellion to restore the nation of Milos to its former glory.
Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos follows in the footsteps of movies like Cowboy Bebop: Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door and Trigun: Badlands Rumble. All three are movies for series that had endings that would be hard to follow with a sequel, so they end up being random filler that takes place sometime during the series itself. This means the movie has no bearing, and really no connection at all, to the actual story from the series.
The movie really goes out of its way to hammer this point home by practically taking place in another country and having next to none of the major characters from the series returning. Winry is there, but all she does is worry about Ed, then fixes his arm. Mustang is there, but he just reads documents most of the time and kills a couple chimera’s offscreen. Hawkeye is there, but all she does is shoot a gun out of a guys hand towards the end of the movie. Aside from Ed and Al, no characters from the series really participate in the story.
Instead the story is centred around all new characters. Of the new characters, only Julia and her brother are really given any amount of backstory, with everyone else just kind of doing their thing, usually until they die. Julia, the main character of the story, is the daughter of two alchemy researchers who were killed when she was young. She lives with the other Milosians in a valley underneath Table City, helping with the rebellion to retake the land that used to be theirs. There’s not much to say about the villains, though truthfully the movie doesn’t even have a villain until the climax when one reveals itself, and then another one reveals itself with about 20 minutes left in the movie. Neither one has a real goal. The second one is angry and wants to destroy everything, and the first is just kind of a prick I guess.
The actual story is pretty straightforward stuff. There are two groups, the Milosians and the corrupt Amestris military in Table City, who want to get the power of a Philospher’s Stone (which is known by another name in Milosian mythology but it escapes me at the moment) for their own reasons. The Milosians want it so they can reestablish the nation of Milos, and the Amestris military wants it for no established reason. It’s a Philosopher’s Stone, so why wouldn’t they want it I guess? Ed and Al, knowing how a Philosopher’s Stone is made, are intent on stopping anyone from trying to make one. Stuff happens, plots are twisted, and ultimately the crisis is averted and nothing substantial has changed in the world of Fullmetal Alchemist. It’s a 90 minute filler episode, essentially.
The movie does pull off some noteworthy things though. First of all, there’s not a single short joke in the entire movie, which is great because those are tired and played out. There are also no points where someone mistakes Al for being the Fullmetal Alchemist due to his armour. The movie actually handles all of its comedy better than Brotherhood could ever hope to. Most of the humour comes from visual gags that are never explicitly called out and are just there for you to enjoy. As opposed to Brotherhood, which takes its gags, waves them in front of the camera and shouts, “SEE THIS? IT’S WACKY!” The movie does slightly falter at the very beginning, where it has the eye-roll inducing title drop scene. You know the one, it’s in every Fullmetal Alchemist animated thing. Ed’s shirt and/or pants get torn by bad guy, bad guy sees Ed’s automail arm/leg and says, “Automail limbs… you’re… the Fullmetal Alchemist!”
A big change between this movie and the previous two series is a dramatic change in artstyle. People were complaining about this when the first trailer appeared, because people are stupid. The change in style comes from the new director Kazuya Murata, who has previously directed episodes of Code Geass and Eureka Seven, among other things. I honestly prefer his style over the previous series. It does have some goofy looking attempts at walking and running, but during fight scenes the loose style allows for more stylish looking action. The only times it really suffers are when characters are far away, where they tend to lose most of their detail. I’ve seen it described as cheap and ugly, but I think it looks better than either of the series and lends itself much better to the kind of action you get in Fullmetal Alchemist. But it’s different, and people hate change, so I see where the complaints come from.
Funimation obviously brought back the old cast for returning characters, so I’ll not dwell on those. Suffice to say, they all have a great amount of experience with the characters and handle them as well as they ever have. New additions to the cast are Alexis Tipton as Julia Chrichton and Matthew Mercer as Ashley Chrichton, both of whom give good performances, though neither role is particularly challenging. Julia has her share of emotional scenes, and Alexis Tipton handles them great, but this isn’t the kind of role that’s really going to draw out a great performance. Mathew Mercer doesn’t really get a chance to shine as Ashley until the climax of the film since the character is fairly calm and composed most of the time, but again he gives as good a performance as is necessary for a fairly shallow character. Patrick Seitz also shows up as the villain near the end and shouts about being angry and wanting to destroy the world for 20 minutes, and he does as good a job as anyone could really.
If what you love about Fullmetal Alchemist was the emotional captivating story, you’re probably going to be disappointed with Sacred Star of Milos. It has none of the engaging story and is basically just a 90 minute filler episode. But if all you want to see is your favourite Fullmetal Alchemist characters (assuming your favourite characters are Ed and Al and no one else) going on another adventure, it’s a fine movie. It may not be emotionally engaging in any way, but it is a nice last hurrah for the franchise.
It’s better than Conqueror of Shamballa at least.