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Let's Rewatch Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
A Xavier B

[table of contents]
Episode 1: "Fullmetal Alchemist"
It gets boring having nothing to do but browse the forum all the time, making sex jokes and posting reaction images. So I'm gonna try another liveblog since my Shin-chan one was swallowed up by the subforum wipe. Why you do this, Fast Eddie?

So now I'll be liveblogging my absolute favorite show on the face of the planet; my anti-drug, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. I've already watched it, of course, but I still think a rewatch will be fun. Plus I need some way to bitch and nitpick about the trivial things I didn't like. So, let's get started with the first episode!

We open with the villain of this episode, the Ice Alchemist Freezing Alchemist Isaac McDougal. He's drawing his ice transmutation circles in an alley in Central, and we cut to Fuhrer King Bradley—who is totally not a homunculus—assigning Roy with the task of capturing him and informing him that the Fullmetal Alchemist is also in Central. Cut to the Elric brothers, standing on a roof and looking awesome. I really like those shots. The lighting is great. In fact, this part would make a really good desktop background.

OP time! The OP is "Again" by Yui. Not my favorite in the series, but it's pretty good. We even get some nice foreshadowing here, with a shot of young Hohenheim and the philosopher's stone transmutation circle mural in Xerxes. Hohenheim appears a lot in this OP, actually. After all, his role in the manga is larger. I'm tempted to call him the real main character, to be honest. Anyway, this opening is very well-animated. There's some nice shots of the characters fighting and the homunculi being gross and vomiting each other up and stuff. There's also this really pretty—but strange—part where Ed's limbs are stolen, Al's body is stolen and Winry kind of... loses her balance. It's funny to watch.

After the opening ends, we cut to Isaac running from the Central police. He kills them all one by one by freezing and boiling the water in their bodies. When I first watched this, my first reaction was that his method of murder was a lot like Scar's. The whole "touch of death" shtick, I mean. But it's actually a pretty cool way of applying alchemy to completely destroy your enemies. I like Isaac, even though he's just an anime-exclusive one-shot character.

Ed interrupts Isaac's killing spree, attacking with that trademark spear of his which never, ever wins him any fights. Isaac tries to lecture him about equivalent exchange, to which Ed retorts that the laws of alchemy can't be used to justify killing people. Alphonse ambushes him from behind and we get a short fight, during which Ed's coat ends up ripped to reveal his mechanical arm. Isaac then recognizes him as the Fullmetal Alchemist, and he's surprised to find out that such a title would belong to a runt like Ed.

Ed makes short work of Isaac, capturing him and turning him over to the police. But, of course, he manages to pull one over on them, using a transmutation circle hidden under one of his gloves to trigger a steam explosion and escape. Back in Roy's office, the colonel scolds Ed for underestimating his opponent and for not paying attention to his earlier instructions. We then get some exposition on Isaac; he was a State Alchemist who went rogue after the Ishvalan extermination. Roy adds that they may have to kill him in order to stop him, but Ed refuses to kill anyone. I think that aspect of Ed's character comes off as pretty silly and naive... I mean, who joins the military but swears never to kill? It's kind of in his job description. The colonel reminds him that he just has to capture Isaac and the authorities will handle the rest, then asks Ed if he's found any new information on how to repair his and Al's bodies. Ed gets pissed and chews him out for never giving them any free time to get anything done, and then HUGHES! Roy doesn't seem as happy to see him as most of the fanbase probably was when this episode premiered. He invites the Elric brothers to stay over while they're in Central, and they have dinner with him and his family. I enjoyed the food porn in this scene.

Cut to Central Prison, where Isaac's trying to get Kimblee to join him in staging a coup against the fuhrer. Of course, Kimblee's far too batshit insane to try and benefit Amestris in any way that doesn't involve blowing up innocent people. I really like this series' Kimblee, though, because there's more depth to his character than there was in the first anime. In the first anime, his love of blowing shit up was his only real trait. Here, it's a bit more complicated than that, as we see in later episodes.

Back at Hughes' house, Maes laments to Gracia about Ed having to carry the burden of being a dog of the military at such a young age. The brothers are awake, with Al telling Ed how he can't wait to get his body back so he can try Gracia's quiche. Oh Al, but you'll be too busy tasting Winry's apple pie by then. Isaac's off drawing more transmutation circles. Just one more and he'll be ready to stage his attack on Central and Bradley will fall, an—

"FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST!"

... I'll never quite get used to that eyecatch guy. Good thing the dub changes his voice so he's slightly less annoying. Anyway, Roy and some soldiers are preparing to go subdue Isaac, and the brothers see the aftermath of his latest kill. Ed remarks that Isaac's alchemy works by rapidly heating the water in the body, causing it to expand explosively. I've always loved how this series uses actual chemistry and physics to explain the mechanisms behind alchemy. It adds extra believability and realism and prevents it from just being "magic". Ed and Al head off to find him before he can causes any more damage, and we cut to Isaac drawing the last transmutation circle before Armstrong catches him in the act. There's a brief skirmish between the two before Ed and Alphonse show up to help, but once again Isaac manages to escape with a steam explosion. Night falls, and the Isaac is confronted by Mustang and his men. He makes short work of them, because Roy is impotent when there's water. Riza can attest to that. Isaac makes it back to the alley where he encountered Armstrong, pleased that the transmutation circle wasn't destroyed during their fight. Ed and Al corner him, but he activates all of his circles before they're able to stop him.

Ed remarks that such a large-scale transmutation could only be done with a philosopher's stone. That strikes me as a little weird. I mean, later in the series we see a few much larger transmutations activated without using the stone at all. Maybe Ed just didn't know it was possible? In any case, Isaac uses his alchemy to freeze all the moisture in the air, creating giant, moving walls of ice in order to freeze over the Central Command Center. His alchemy is apparently unstoppable; Armstrong tries to break one of the ice walls, but his alchemy merely redirects it into a building. I wonder how many casualties that caused. It's not like they had time to evacuate the city or anything.

Ed and Al engage Isaac in more hand-to-hand on top of the ice, where Isaac finds out that Al's armor is empty and mocks the brothers for performing human transmutation. Then Ed beats the shit out of him, and it's very satisfying. Unfortunately for Ed, he hadn't anticipated Isaac attacking him with the water in his own body and ends up getting stabbed in the shoulder with his frozen blood. All I can say is he's damn lucky Isaac didn't have AIDS. Isaac escapes again, after insisting to Ed and Al that he's just trying to save Amestris. But really, it's his own fault. Instead of telling people exactly what the military is planning, he just spouts vague bullshit about how corrupt the government is. I mean, he could at least try to win people over. It's laughable how he acts so surprised that everyone thinks he's just crazy.

Anyway, he runs into Fuhrer Bradley—who, I repeat, is not a homunculus—and ends up getting carved up before he can even lay a hand on him. His philosopher's stone turns to dust; I guess he used its energy up going Ice Climbers on Central. Roy and Armstrong destroy his transmutation circles, stopping the ice, and the day is saved... except not. Maybe if they'd let Isaac go about his business, the rest of the plot wouldn't have even happened. Whoops. The brothers catch up to Bradley, who remarks that this whole ordeal's gonna make for an entertaining story to tell his son. His son who is also absolutely, positively, without a doubt not a homunculus. Then we cut back to Roy's office, where we learn that the fuhrer has credited him for stopping Isaac. Ed being treated in the hospital, where Armstrong decides to visit him and provide him with a neat little striptease. The episode ends with Lust and Gluttony in Reole. Lust is on the phone—presumably with Envy or Bradley. It's a shame that Isaac's dead, she remarks, because he was a potential sacrifice, and she says that everything will begin very soon.

This was one of my favorite episodes of this anime because it's pure fanservice. It reintroduces fans to the old cast and provides some excellent art and animation. I also love how neatly it ties into the manga's plot despite being completely original content; there's lots of foreshadowing and even a couple cameos from Father. Props to BONES for making such a great first episode.

5/5
11th Dec '10 2:14:07 AM flag for mods
comments
Love your commentary and how you catch all the little things, even the silly ones. I'll definitely be following this.
Cliche 2nd Feb 11
A FMAB liveblog! Yayness.
MurkyMuse 10th May 12
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