2012 Anime Movies: Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos and The Secret World of Arrietty
It's a very pleasant rare treat for me to get to see an anime film in theaters in my neck of the woods; it only usually happens when a new Ghibli movie comes out as those are dubbed, produced and distributed in the United States by Disney. So I was delighted to have the opportunity to see two whole anime movies in a relatively short period of time. And I was not disappointed by either of them.
Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos
The main thing I disliked about this film is that many of the characters that were so important in the series, such as Winry, Armstrong, and the various homunculi, have little or no role in this film. The homunculi are entirely nonexistent here, but I suppose that in a film format some characters have to be axed in order for the writers to introduce new ones. And the new characters they replace old ones with in this movie proved to be such fascinating and deeply moving people that the old baddies and comedic side characters were hardly missed.
This movie seemed more similar to Brotherhood than the original series, for instance, in this movie the geography and cultural diversity of the alchemical world is explored more than in the original series. Unlike the previous movie, which takes place in two separate but simultaneously occurring timelines in parallel worlds, this one explores a new city within "the alchemy world", creating much less confusion and unneeded plot complication than the previous FMA movie, Conqueror of Shamballa, which I felt was an improvement.
One amazing thing about this movie is the way that I felt that you don't have to be a Fullmetal Alchemist fan, or even an anime fan, to enjoy this. It was similar to District 9 in that it was a story of imagined oppression that eerily reflected the horrors of similar hatred and bigotry that exist and have existed in our own world. Fullmetal Alchemist has done that well in the past, especially with Shamballa's portrayal of Nazis and their oppression of ethnic groups like the Roma. Although it had a masculine/shounen feel overall, making it perfect for a fan of action movies, I felt like this movie offers a lot to those looking for emotional depth or profound truth. Furthermore, for the fan of occult horror, this movie out blood-magics any previous Fullmetal Alchemist storyline, which is saying a lot. As such, this movie is one I feel would resonate with a broad audience and potentially reach people outside of the current anime fandom.
The Secret World of Arrietty
This movie was absolutely no less than what I've come to expect from Studio Ghibli; adorable and heartwarming family entertainment with absolutely breathtaking visuals. They are like Japan's answer to Disney, but with more reliance on creating strong, memorable and interesting characters with true emotional range and character development than princess rescues and elaborate musical numbers. On one hand, I think this take on the story of The Borrowers is much better than the 1998 live-action version, I felt like I was moved much more by the characters in this one and it had a lot more charm. On the other hand, this isn't that great of a film by Ghibli standards, and I still think nothing they make will ever be as good as Spirited Away. However, it was a cute, funny, heartwarming, and entertaining theater experience and, like Fullmetal Alchemist : The Sacred Star of Milos, might just end up converting a non-anime fan or two. :)
Which one did you like more?
Rotten Tomatoes Reviews
- The Secret World of Arrietty - Rotten Tomatoes
- Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos - Rotten Tomatoes
Both of these movies scored fairly high on Rotten Tomatoes' rating system, not an easy feat!