The show may be over in Japan, but last December Fullmetal fever swept Tokyo during a festival that attracted a stadium-sized crowd.
Edward and Alphonse are still hot, but the hottest character at the Fullmetal Alchemist Festival was none other than Roy Mustang, whose dashing looks (not his fire-summoning abilities) made the ladies swoon. Every time Roy appeared on the giant screens of Yoyogi Arena, wild screams erupted from the female attendees. But there was more to the packed event than running clips from the hit series. Live performances of the popular opening and ending songs interspersed with appearances by the stellar voice cast also sent fans into a hyperactive frenzy.
On the music front, the guitar-wielding Nana Kitade kicked off with the super-catchy "Kesenai Tsumi," and Sowelu's beautiful voice induced goosebumps during her smooth R&B number "I Will." Before rocking out with "UNDO," COOL JOKE's frontman wooed the crowd. "Hey, Yoyogi babies!" he boomed. "Please give us your soul!" A more cultured vibe emerged with the appearance of Russian vocalists Anastasia and Veronika Golvina, who performed a moving operatic piece from the show's soundtrack. Sweet vocal harmonies of a more poppy variety continued later as YeLLOW Generation took to the stage with their "Tobira no Mukou e."
Not to be upstaged, Fullmetal Alchemist's voice cast captivated with loads of charm and jovial banter. In a particularly hilarious segment, the main cast competed in a short script-reading contest that they had to clear within 30 seconds (the dialogue would normally be used in a DVD extra, albeit delivered at a much more sedate pace). Romi Park (Ed), Rie Kugimiya (Alphonse) and Megumi Toyoguchi (Winry) went up against Toru Ookawa (Roy Mustang), Keiji Fujiwara (Maes Hughes) and Mayumi Yamaguchi (Envy). When Ookawa's team lost, his punishment was to perform his character's song, "Tsuki no Uragawa," for the crowd. During the enthusiastically received number, Park and Yamaguchi flanked the actor, adopting campy rock and air-guitar poses.
In other, more dramatic proceedings, the voice actors narrated highlight footage of the respective characters, but the high points were during key scenes where the lip-synched with the on-screen action. A telephone conversation between Mustang and Hughes (complete with phone-line compression audio effect) provided an eye-opening glimpse of the actors at work. Even more impressive were scenes involving a prerecorded character, requiring precision timing from the actors. One scene took place in a car, and dialogue between Ed and Mustang had to incorporate prerecorded lines from the driver. It was flawlessly delivered and utterly mesmerizing.
A teaser trailer for the much-anticipated Fullmetal movie, Fullmetal Alchemist: The Conqueror of Shambala (coming to theaters in Japan this summer), was also screened. Taped comments by BONES president Masahiko Minami, director Seiji Mizushima and actress Romi Park dropped a few hints of what to expect. The theme is pure love and miscommunication of feelings, and the "Shambala" of the title refers to "paradise." The theme song will be performed by L'Arc~en~Ciel--the brand-new track is currently in the works. After that announcement, the band stormed the arena as surprise guests, and they brought the house down with a scorching rendition of "READY STEADY GO!" Front man hyde prowled the stage to the delight of the front row, and the rest of the band was on fire--the booming bass and drums were so powerful that you could feel the rumble traveling up your legs to settle in the base of your belly. After the closing ceremony, Park announced that a Fullmetal Alchemist attraction was slated for Universal Studios Japan. At the behest of her colleagues, the event finished with her singing "Ashita e no Basho," which Park admitted to practicing backstage in case she lost the script-reading competition. Good thing that number didn't go to waste!
Not only did the Fullmetal Alchemist Festival take place in Tokyo; it also traveled to Osaka, with two shows a day in both instances. How do the voice actors feel upon its completion? Here's what they had to say during a meeting with the press after the final Tokyo event:
Romi Park: I'm so impressed that all of the staff and cast worked on this live event together; I felt a different sense of unity from doing TV animation. Come to the theater and see the movie!
Rie Kugimiya: At first I thought the stage was too big; I didn't know what to do! But now I feel a sense of achievement.
Megumi Toyoguchi: For this event, our [the voice actors'] ideas were included, as well as the stage director's. The feelings of the cast members were expressed at the event, so I'm satisfied. The audience was so warm; thank you for coming!
Toru Ookawa: I was taken aback when I heard that we would be doing a live event in front of 10,000 people. But after finishing, I'm glad that I was able to be a part of it. It was so fun! I would like to thank all of the people who love Fullmetal Alchemist!
Keiji Fujiwara: I was so tense, especially being the MC. We don't usually have to stand in front of an audience. Because of this event, we were able to see the fans' reactions directly and I really felt the popularity of this show. I heard from the director that I will be appearing in the movie, so please come and see it!
Mayumi Yamaguchi: I was so tense at first about acting on such a big stage, but after today's second event, I felt really good. I'm on a kind of natural high now. Thank you very much!
((Surounding the article are pictures of COOL JOKE, Sowelu, YeLLOW Generation, Nana Kitade, and three pictures from the Festival))
I only really have one comment: OMGWTF HUGHES IN THE MOVIE?!?!?! *spaz*