Here we have four 15 minute OVA stories that were originally extras on the Japanese releases. Why they got a stand alone release I don’t know, but hey-ho. That’s neither here not there… Given they take place before the main story, and now we have been introduced to all the characters featured on it, it seemed like a good time to cover it.
Fullmetal Alchemist was a manga created by Hiromu Arakawa, originally released between August 2001 and June 2010. These OVA stories are all based on Bonus Chapters written by Arakawa and released in various data books in Japan.
OVA 1 “The Blind Alchemist” deals with Ed and Al visiting an alchemist who supposedly performed a successful Human Transmutation. OVA 2 “Simple People” sees a more laid back story focusing on the meeting between Winry and Hawkeye and how it effected each in simple ways. OVA 3 “The Tale of Teacher” gives us some backstory on Ed and Al’s teacher Izumi, including her training and how she met her husband. Finally OVA 4 “Yet Another Man’s Battlefield” gives us a long flashback to the friendship between Roy Mustang and Maes Hughes, including their academy days and how they coped with the Ishvalan War.
Note: Full Spoilers From Here On Out!
She’s fine, just resting her eyes, bless her.
The Blind Alchemist is a suitably tragic tale for the series. The titular blind alchemist tried to perform human transmutation on his master’s deceased child but as per usual it didn’t work, and he lost his eyes as a result. His masters didn’t have the heart to tell him he failed, so soon adopted another child and pretended she was the same one for his sake. It has some grim moments, but it’s not too dark, and is sort of a happy ending…? Well, happier than you’d think, anyway.
Ah yes, happier times. Well, for Hughes anyway…
OVAs 2 and 3 are more slanted towards comedy and are fine for what they are, 15 minute little distractions. OVA 4 on the other hand does a good job of showing the friendship between Mustang and Hughes as well as the horrors of war. Them befriending an Ishvalan who they then confront and end up killing during the war is an unpleasant thing, and they both know it. How differently they handle it is a good contrast, and makes for compelling viewing.
Izumi strikes a dramatic pose, despite the comedy that’s the key feature of her OVA story…
This isn’t really aimed at the OVAs themselves, but here in the UK (and the US I believe) these were released in a standalone DVD / Blu-ray for full price, despite the fact you only get roughly an hour of animation. It still kind of irks me, even though I waited until the price dropped. Otherwise it’s hard to criticise what is essentially four bonus features collected together.
Damn it, why did I include this? Now I feel bad all over again… *sniff*…
If you’re watching FMA Brotherhood, do you need to watch these OVAs? No, not at all. Watching OVA 4 might make the whole Hughes’ death and Mustang’s quest for vengeance have a bit more impact, but otherwise it’s skipable. If you do get your hands on them though, there are less pleasant ways to pass an hour.