OVA, "Tales of the Master"
Synopsis: Izumi Harnet, an eighteen year old girl, seeks out an apprenticeship from the renowned alchemist Silver Steiner. She is given a knife and told to live in the wilderness on Mt. Briggs. Struggling to survive in the cold mountain area, Izumi steals rations soldiers stationed in the North, chases wolves away from their kill, and even kills a bare unarmed. In her constant fight to survive, she formulates a philosophy: "One is all, all is one." A month later, Izumi has survived, but the man she thought was Silver Steiner is, in fact, Gold Steiner, a martial arts master. Angered, Izumi beats him up.
Bonus: Izumi, on her way to see Steiner, runs into a man and drops her bear. Upon first meeting, she falls in love with him. This man is Sig Curtis, who she later marries.
After discovering they were making little animated versions of Hiromu Arkawa "extra" FMA stories, I immediately became excited that there might be an animated version of this one, my favorite of the bunch. The first two were okay, but not anything special, and all the while I was awaiting the time when this one was animated. Why? Well, first, I'm a fan of the character of Izumi Curtis. Second, I was always interested in how she survived in the Briggs mountains for a month, and wondered if it was all an exaggeration.
This little OVA that could is full of all you can ask for in an Izumi story. She's loud, determined, and kicks ass. And yet, she still has this charm to her. She acts a bit like a female version of Edward in this, actually. Like teacher, like student, or visa versa. I like how she just sort of freaks out at times to get herself hyped up enough to survive.
My favorite parts were her taking on the bear, barehanded, and bringing it before Steiner, dropping it in front of him to everyone else's amazement. Then, of course, when it turns out she approached the wrong Steiner, and the one she approached was a martial arts master who is a lot more buff than he looks (but still no match for an enraged Izumi).
The little bit at the end about Izumi meeting Sig was priceless, too, especially when you get the looks on Ed and Al's face when they heard this story as kids. I think Izumi and Sig are my favorite pairing in FMA.
The production values are very good. Perhaps not as high as some of the parts of the TV series, which is weird, since you figure a little OVA like this would have the highest producton values ever, but this one was still better done than the first two.
You should definitely see this at some point. It's not necessary, but it sure is fun.
Overall Score: 4 out of 5