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Let's Rewatch Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
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Let's Rewatch Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood:

Mister Master
It gets boring having nothing to do but browse this 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!

Episode 1 - "Fullmetal Alchemist"

We open with the villain of this episode, the Freezing Alchemist Ice 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

edited 10th Dec '10 11:37:18 PM by AXavierB

 2 Emperordaein, Wed, 1st Dec '10 12:23:00 PM from Australia Relationship Status: Hugging my pillow
Praise the Sun!
Well, we have another FMA thread here! I may start working on my Manga one again once my Assessment Hell is over.

. 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.

It is shown that he really does not give a S**t about the military, and really does not want to get mixed up in their affairs. This becomes a bit of a dilemma later on.....

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.

I agree. Issac's powers were really, really cool, and it does make me wish that Arakawa had made more unique alchemists, just to explore the uses for their powers. But oh well. That's what I have JoJo's Bizarre Adventure for. (PS: I also Belive that Dio and the other Vampires in Jo Jo also had the Freeze touch)

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.

That's because Issac kinda IS crazy. He's an Ishibal Veteran, so the combined PTSD with the Revelation would have sent him over the edge. Plus Central would have shut down any attempt to win people over. They do have Envy after all.

 3 KSPAM, Wed, 1st Dec '10 5:20:58 PM from running in the 90s Relationship Status: Getting away with murder
Likes interesting stories
Xavier... *brofist*

Rock on, you magnificent bastard!
Team? You mean cannon fodder? — neobowman

Goodfae: a mafia web serial
I'm glasses.
Cool, I'll be watching this.

I guess you're watching the sub then, judging from your comment about the Full Metal Alchemist!!! guy? Why, may I ask? Do you like it better, or is it just that since not all the episodes are dubbed yet, it's better to be consistent? (BTW, I was disappointed that on TV, they cut those bumps out.)

edited 1st Dec '10 6:20:26 PM by Sporkaganza

Always, somewhere, someone is fighting for you. As long as you remember them, you are not alone.
Mister Master
Yeah, I'm watching the sub. Mostly because, like you said, the dub isn't finished yet, and also because I have all the subbed episodes on my hard drive. But overall, while I love the dub, I do prefer the Japanese voice cast.
I'm glasses.
I kind of feel the opposite way. I love the sub, but I like the English voice cast more. Weirdly, the only character I think is voiced better in Japanese is Edward Elric himself. I mean, Vic is great, but you just can't beat Romi Park. Other than that though I like the dub cast better.

I'm desperately hoping they don't screw Olivier Armstrong up, though.
Always, somewhere, someone is fighting for you. As long as you remember them, you are not alone.
Mister Master
I used to hate Romi Park's Ed, but after watching all of Brotherhood in Japanese, I now prefer her over Vic. She captures his rude, bullheaded side. Something Vic doesn't do very well, in my opinion.
 8 KSPAM, Thu, 2nd Dec '10 4:42:06 AM from running in the 90s Relationship Status: Getting away with murder
Likes interesting stories
Eh, I don't know. I think Vic gets bull-headed. rude, maybe not. But bull-headed...
Team? You mean cannon fodder? — neobowman

Goodfae: a mafia web serial
I'm glasses.
That's pretty much how I feel. Again, Vic doesn't suck at all, not even a little, but Romi is way better at making him the loud, brash, immature kid he often is. Also Vic sounds a bit too old.
Always, somewhere, someone is fighting for you. As long as you remember them, you are not alone.
 10 KSPAM, Thu, 2nd Dec '10 6:28:31 PM from running in the 90s Relationship Status: Getting away with murder
Likes interesting stories
Watch the Soul Eater dub. Spirit sounds like an older Ed. It is freaking creepy.
Team? You mean cannon fodder? — neobowman

Goodfae: a mafia web serial
Mister Master
Onward! Having these episodes on my computer sure is convenient. When I did Shin-chan I was watching from FUNimation's site, and I had to put up with ads and crashes.

Episode 2 - "The First Day"

This is the first episode that opens with a brief summary of the nature of alchemy. It sorta replaces Al's speech on equivalent exchange at the beginning of the episodes in the first series. To obtain, something of equal value must be lost and all that.

I was surprised at how much material this episode sped through. It pretty much abridges the majority of the Elrics' backstory. It's not a huge problem, though; it covers all the important parts well enough, and it's easy to fill in the rest by reading a few parts of the manga if you really feel like it. It's evident that BONES was trying to speed through the first half of the story anyway, considering a lot of it was covered in the first anime. It'd have been nice if they got every single part of the manga into the show, but realistically speaking, that would have both made the series drag on for over a hundred episodes and potentially cost Brotherhood a few fans who already saw this stuff in the first anime.

The episode kicks off with Ed and Al on a train headed for Reole—Yes, Reole is the official spelling instead of Liore, so I'll be using that—discussing the stories they heard about the priest who claims to channel the power of the sun god. Ed believes his "miracles" are just alchemy, and chalks his apparent power to bypass equivalent exchange up to using a philosopher's stone. From here, we flash back to young, crippled Ed reading an alchemy book. The text describes a stone that obliterated the ancient civilization of Xerxes in a single night, and which was sealed away by the Eastern Sage. This part confused me because the Eclipse subs say "a sage from the west", which seemed contradictory considering where the story's headed. I didn't feel like checking the dub to see if this was an error, so I just went and translated what I could make out from Ed's dialogue. Huh. I'll have to edit the subtitles for this episode later.[/pedant]

The philosopher's stone is an amplifier that apparently allows an alchemist to ignore the law of conservation of mass equivalent exchange. Ed believes that it could be used to restore their bodies, but is frustrated that all his books contain information about everything except for how to obtain the stone. Sometimes I wonder why he even believed it ever existed in the first place, considering its nature is kept secret and Ed never really struck me as the type to believe legends and folktales. But something else I noticed after reading the manga and watching this show is that the stone is a lot less enigmatic; multiple philosopher's stones exist and the method for creating one is strictly established. This really contrasts with how the stone was in the first series. If I remember correctly, only two true philosopher's stones were around in that continuity, and one of those wasn't even complete yet. The other philosopher's stone-like objects were mere imitations. Getting off topic, but I just thought that was interesting.

Ten years prior to the events in the story, Trisha discovers her sons practicing alchemy. She scolds them for doodling on the floor, but once she learns that they've actually developed a knack for alchemy she immediately shifts into "Mommy's so proud of you!" mode. I can just picture her bragging to all her friends. "Well, my sons can bend the laws of physics with magic circles! What's your boy do again? A ranch hand? How cute." Young Ed and Al are much more adorable in this series, I might add.

I do wonder why Ed would even be interested in alchemy, since his dad who he absolutely despises was an alchemist. Why follow in the footsteps of the father you hate? Then again, alchemy is pretty neat and I guess they needed some way to entertain themselves while living in a rural village with no internet. If I had to live in Resembool under those conditions, I'd probably die without Daddy's books on creating unchristlike abominations too. But Trisha's praise made them want to become even better at the science. I love their relationship with their mom. You can really tell it was a happy family, even though Trisha gets less screentime in this series.

And how. Damn, she's dead all ready and we're not even four minutes in yet. Like orphaned puppies, Ed and Al sit at her grave. Al mentions their dad and Ed flips his shit, saying that Hohenheim never cared about them and didn't even bother coming back for Trisha's funeral. Ed then suggests resurrecting their mother with human transmutation. Of course, Alphonse doesn't think that sounds like a good idea, but his inability to stand up to his brother ends up opening the door—No pun intended—to their punishment for committing the taboo. Al really should learn to put his foot down instead of letting Edward push him around. Good thing he eventually matures in this series. I also have to say that the lighting in the scene at the cemetery is beautiful. I just really love the art style of this show. The color choice in scenes like this is awesome and Brotherhood really does mood lighting better than the first series if you ask me.

And of course Ed and Al spend their school time reading alchemy books in class. They're prodigies, but their education in non-alchemical areas must be severely lacking. Dropping out of school to join the army can't help that, either. Back at their house—Oh my crud, awesome lighting—the brothers discuss the inherent awesomeness of scientific advancements, new discoveries and thinking outside the box. Ed likens it to the invention of stew; it contains milk, which he hates, and yet it manages to taste so good. I didn't even know stew had milk in it.

After several years of research and practice, the brothers figured they'd perfected their human transmutation formula. Now for the confirmation, as they collect the various ingredients for the average adult human body and draw the construction circle. Plus, more awesome cinematography. There's a birds-eye shot of their house with this very eerie red lighting, and evil-looking crows for added ominousness. It may be kind of cheesy, but it really gives you a feel for just how wrong this thing is that they're about to do. Another thing that I feel really adds to the atmosphere is how there's no music playing as they prepare for the resurrection. The quietness is unsettling.

When I first watched this it kind of surprised me how Ed called their blood "the information of the soul". In the first anime he seemed pretty cynical there—Or at least he did in the dub; I haven't seen much of the first anime in Japanese—referring to the concept of the soul as superstitious glorification of what's really "just the spark that starts life". It came off as just showing how bitter and jaded he was. But here it seems like he's right on the money, because this series implies that the soul and genetic information are indeed correlated. However, they were still pretty mistaken in thinking that a just few drops of their blood would be enough to pay for an entire soul.

The failed transmutation is beautifully animated. I've mentioned incredible lighting several times in this post, but wow. This scene in the first anime looked pretty good, but here it's just amazing. BONES really knows how to utilize CG effects and shading. The way the shadow hands deconstruct Alphonse's body and Ed's limbs piece by piece is aweso—And now I'm just gawking at how pretty everything is.

The rebound pulls Edward before the Gate, where he is introduced to Truth. Or perhaps the world. Or perhaps the universe. Or perhaps God. Or perhaps all. Or perhaps one. The doors open, revealing the eyeball of the Gate, and the shadow hands emerge to drag Ed inside. There's what I think is a subtle nod to the first anime here, with the sound of childlike giggling coming from within the Gate. In the first anime, this was because the Gate was inhabited by the "Gate children"; shadowy, baby-shaped creatures which owned the hands that pull people through the doors. I like how Brotherhood references the first anime with little details like this and a few others. Correct me, though, if this is also present in the original manga, because I don't feel like checking.

The information of the Gate is forced into Ed's head. I decided to slow the scene down a bit to see the images that flashed by him. Most were just maps, scenery and shots from earlier scenes in the episode, but there were also pictures of dinosaurs in there, amusingly. Anyway, Ed sees an apparition of Trisha, but before he can reach her, he is deconstructed and finds himself back in front of the doors with Truth. He says that his original theory for human transmutation wasn't wrong, but just missing something, and asks for Truth to show him the rest. Unfortunately, he's already seen all he can for the passage fee he's paid. And by "passage fee", I mean his leg.

Cut back to the brothers' house. Ed's bleeding out on the floor, shrieking in pain and calling for help. He cries out for his mother, and then sees the result of the transmutation; a misshapen black... thing that looks kind of like a contorted ReDead. This is the homunculus Sloth in her earliest stage, before being fed red stones Scratch that, this is just a poorly-constructed human body, which croaks right after being transmuted. Though I guess you could sorta call it a homunculus since it's technically still an artificial human... whatever. This scene is really well done, and I think it's a lot more emotional than the corresponding scene in the first anime. The music probably helps, as does the cinematography and Romi Park's performance. The scene ends with Ed pulling Alphonse's soul from the Gate and binding it to one of the suits of armor in the room, at the cost of his right arm.

We flash forward to Roy and Hughes in Central, with Roy informing Hughes that the higher-ups are transferring him back to Eastern Headquarters. Hughes teases Roy, saying he'd better have gotten promoted to Brigadier General by the time he comes back to visit. He gives Roy the final report on Isaac; apparently the Freezing Alchemist used alkahestry from Xing. Neither of them have ever even heard of such a thing. Gee, wonder why. Hughes asks why Roy would let a kid like Ed become a State Alchemist, pointing out that he'll probably have to see hell one day. Roy says both the Elric brothers have already seen hell, and plenty of it.

Flashback again. Roy and Riza arrive at the scene of the transmutation and the colonel demands that the brothers explain what happened. When he sees their condition, he offers for Ed to join the military, explaining that he'll have access to information that might allow him and Al to fix their bodies. Hawkeye-chuui Chewy talks to Winry, who asks why she became a soldier. Riza simply replies that it's because she has someone she has to protect. But now that I've seen the Fullmetal Alchemist: 4-Koma Theater extras, I'll always call bullshit on this claim; Riza joined the military and sticks by Roy because she wants to see him die like trash one day.

Ed decides to take Roy up on his offer, and has Winry and Pinako fit him with automail prostheses. We flash forward to after the surgery, with Ed and Al having one of their sparring sessions before Ed decides to try alchemy for the first time since the night of the rebound. He transmutes his automail arm into a blade—There's some QUALITY in this shot, with his arm being flesh from the elbow up, but thankfully this was fixed for the DVD and Blu-ray—and Al is amazed to see that Ed can perform alchemy without a circle like Izumi. Edward is surprised that Al can't do it too, asking if he didn't see "it", but Al has no recollection of Truth or the Gate. The scene is interrupted by Winry clocking Ed with a wrench for transmuting her automail, and she tells him that she's going to support him until he finds a way to fix his and Al's bodies. Ed's all "... Huh?" and Al gets this hilarious ":3"-face.

Ed goes to Central for his State Alchemist exam, and Wrath the Furious King Bradley has decided to drop by and observe. Ed displays his ability to do alchemy without a transmutation circle, becoming a confirmed sacrifice in the process, and attacks Bradley, saying that this is a good way for a powerful figure to be assassinated. But of course Bradley chops that little spear of Ed's to pieces and walks away laughing, and Ed didn't even see him draw his sword. Bradley is awesome. Cut to Eastern Headquarters, where Roy gives Ed his silver watch, and his certificate which has his State Alchemist codename, "Fullmetal Alchemist". Ed likes his new title so much, he gets a raepface.

The episode ends with Alphonse waking Ed up from a nap as their train approaches Reole, and Ed just can't wait to crush some religious hopes and throw an entire village into chaos get that philosopher's stone.

Oh, I forgot to mention it in my post for the first episode, but I really love the crayon drawing ED. It's cute.

3.5/5

edited 10th Dec '10 11:38:04 PM by AXavierB

 12 KSPAM, Sat, 4th Dec '10 4:05:07 PM from running in the 90s Relationship Status: Getting away with murder
Likes interesting stories
and Ed just can't wait to crush some religious hopes and throw an entire village into chaos get that philosopher's stone.

Oh, you.
Team? You mean cannon fodder? — neobowman

Goodfae: a mafia web serial
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.

Because this wouldn't be FMA without some reason to sing Soldier A.:p

Oh Al, but you'll be too busy tasting Winry's apple pie by then.

That's What She Said!

Young Ed and Al are much more adorable in this series, I might add.

Indeed, so cuuuuute~waii

There's what I think is a subtle nod to the first anime here, with the sound of childlike giggling coming from within the Gate.

Remake Cameo alert (yes, even though almost all the cast is retained in the dub)! Originally, Truth apparently took on the voice of whoever went though the Gate at the time. In the dub it's voiced by Luci Christian, who was Wrath in the first anime.

Gee, wonder why.

Heh.^_^

Riza simply replies that it's because she has someone she has to protect. But now that I've seen the Fullmetal Alchemist: 4-Koma Theater extras, I'll always call bullshit on this claim; Riza joined the military and sticks by Roy because she wants to see him die like trash one day

LOL. Oh those animated 4komas. Hiiiii-larious.

Bradley is awesome.

QFT.

edited 7th Dec '10 7:39:43 AM by PikaHikariKT

Mister Master
Having Luci Christian voice Truth was a pretty interesting touch, considering it, like Wrath, has attached Ed's limbs to itself.
 15 KSPAM, Tue, 7th Dec '10 2:39:26 PM from running in the 90s Relationship Status: Getting away with murder
Likes interesting stories
I like Truth's dub voice, although I wish they'd kept the part where he spells out "alchemist" instead of just replacing it with "young alchemist".
Team? You mean cannon fodder? — neobowman

Goodfae: a mafia web serial
Mister Master
Truth doesn't mimic Ed's voice in the Japanese version of this episode either. Error?

edited 7th Dec '10 5:29:28 PM by AXavierB

 17 KSPAM, Fri, 10th Dec '10 6:04:48 AM from running in the 90s Relationship Status: Getting away with murder
Likes interesting stories
ERROR ERROR ERROR ERROR ERROR
Team? You mean cannon fodder? — neobowman

Goodfae: a mafia web serial
Mister Master
Episode three! Let's go!

Episode 3 - "City of Heresy"

First I wanna say that when I first started watching Brotherhood, I was rather put off by both this episode and the previous one because of the humor and the pacing. In the first anime, the Reole arc spanned two episodes, if I remember correctly, and was much darker—I shudder at the memory of that half-dead talking bird. However, then I read the original manga and realized that this episode is closer to the source material in both length and spirit. The Reole arc wasn't originally a dark, disturbing story, but rather a relatively lighthearted adventure for the Elric brothers to open up the story with. That said, I still love how the first anime handled this arc. Hell, I still love the first anime in general. But I also love the way it was done here, too. Speaking of differences, Reole isn't in a desert in this continuity and appears to be surrounded by lush fields of greenery. I'm not sure if I mentioned that in my previous entry or not, so yeah.

When it comes to actual events, this episode even did a bunch of things differently from the original manga. But in my opinion, "City of Heresy" arguably surpasses the manga's presentation of this arc. In particular I think the confrontation with Cornello was done much better here than in the manga, but we'll get to that in a sec.

The episode opens up with Ed and Al listening to Father Cornello's broadcast in Reole. That old guy asks Ed and Al if they're street performers, causing Ed to spit out his drink and this looks so familiar, doesn't it? Al accidentally breaks the radio, then fixes it with alchemy, causing the people to think the two are miracle performers like Cornello. The brothers introduce themselves and we get another "Oh, that runt's the Fullmetal Alchemist?" gag, and Ed explodes as expected.

Off topic for a sec, but one thing I like about this episode is how often we're treated to animated manga panels. That happens a bit less as the show goes on, which is a bit of a shame but not too much of a problem unless you're a purist.

Anyway, the townspeople explain to the Elrics that their priest Cornello came to Reole a few years ago and brought them the religion cult of Leto the sun god. They go on to say that Cornello has the power to raise the dead. Ed thinks it must be the philosopher's stone, so he and Al go to watch Cornello display his power outside the church. They confirm that he's using alchemy without equivalent exchange and decide to pay his church a visit.

Here they meet Rose, praying in front of the altar, unlike in the manga and the first anime where they first meet her right after Al fixes the radio. I like her character design here, by the way. The pale skin had a lot of people accusing the animators of racism since she was so tan in the first anime, but this is closer to how she looked in the manga and I personally think she looks prettier this way, to be honest. Anyway, she asks if they're interested in joining the religion of Leto, to which Ed smugly replies that he's an atheist. Rose tells him that believing in God gives one hope and allows them to lead a fulfilling life, adding that maybe Leto could even make Ed grow taller. After Ed cools down from that comment, he asks if Rose also believes Cornello can resurrect the dead, and sure enough, she does. Ed lists the ingredients of the human body, saying that despite knowing what humans are made of, alchemists have never successfully created human life. He then asks her how she thinks prayer is going to do something modern science can't. Ed is being pretty cruel in this scene. He's obviously getting some kind of sadistic joy out of crushing the poor girl's dreams. Asshole. Luckily, Rose gets off a lot easier in this continuity than she did in the first anime. I mean damn. Poor, unfortunate first anime Rose. She needs a hug and years of therapy after what she went through.

Another thing here that I didn't notice until it was pointed out is that Ed's comment about how the ingredients of the average adult human body could be bought with a child's pocket money comes off as an indirect confession. After all, that's exactly what he and Al did. i guess you could say he's being a prick to Rose because she believes that dead people can be brought back to life, and he himself is living proof that they can't. He tells her the story of a hero who flew on wings of wax, which melted when he got too close to the sun. Basically telling her that playing God has repercussions, and this is also a nice bit of foreshadowing in addition to being a reference to the brothers' own past. I'm also intrigued that a Greek legend seems to exist in the world of Fullmetal Alchemist. Is this implying that even in the manga/Brotherhood continuity, their world shares some kind of common history with ours? It's never really explored but a lot of things from real-world history are referenced a lot in this series so I wouldn't be surprised.

Ed then asks Rose to take him to Cornello. This scene is particularly amusing in the dub, where Ed asks in the most sarcastic tone he can muster if Cornello could even save an arrogant scientist like himself, and Rose takes him seriously. Really, the girl doesn't understand sarcasm at all. The snark fell on deaf ears. It's hilarious.

Meanwhile, Cray tells Cornello that the brothers are there to see him. A State Alchemist paying a visit doesn't bode well for the church's plans, so Cornello orders Cray to assassinate them. And the Let's Mindfuck Rose Show commences! Cray pulls a gun on them and tells her that the Elric brothers are evil and have come to ensnare the father. Of course Ed and Al make short work of him and the other two cronies, and Cornello arrives on the scene. He apologizes that the others were so rude. This part was pretty amusing in the dub, with Cornello saying that the disciples were misguided and Ed responding "OK, let's say I believe you weren't the one guiding them." So snarky. I love it. Vic's delivery there was pretty good.

Ed cuts to the chase and accuses Cornello of deceiving his followers by passing alchemy off as miracles from God. Cornello tries to win Ed over by showing him that he isn't bound by equivalent exchange; after all, if it was alchemy, he wouldn't be able to bypass that fundamental rule. But Ed goes on to suggest that perhaps if Cornello somehow managed to get the philosopher's stone, which has the power to amplify alchemy, then that would explain his "miracles". Ed's eyes are on the red gem on the priest's ring. Pretty perceptive.

But this wouldn't be any fun without further mindfucking the hell out of Rose. After all, she isn't going to be raped by soldiers and nearly have her body stolen by a 400-year-old decaying bitch, so we can't just let her off that easy! Cornello orders her to pick up the gun that Cray dropped and shoot the Fullmetal Alchemist. How low. She's suffered enough, you asshole. But he reminds her that if she has faith in him and follows his orders, he would bring her dead boyfriend back to life. Wow. This man is heartless. By the way, her boyfriend's name was Cain in the first anime. Does he have a name in the manga? I don't think it's mentioned here.

Rose points the gun at Al, because we have to do this joke again—Slight off-model shot here, with Al's armor only having three openings on that plate under the chin but not a huge deal, just had to point it out because I'm a bitch—and Ed rants that he is the Fullmetal Alchemist because I guess he wants to get shot. She apologizes and says she has to do what Cornello says so she can have her boyfriend back. Ed tells her to go ahead and shoot him if she really has the guts, but she's too afraid to aim properly and ends up shooting Al's head off instead. Rose thinks she's just killed him and she drops the gun and screams, and then Cornello tells her to pick it back up and shoot Ed now. I guess he doesn't even care that her already fragile mind is breaking. Alphonse gets back up and reveals that he's hollow inside, terrifying Rose even further. Cornello tells Rose that this is proof that the brothers are evil, and releases a chimera to attack them.

Ed transmutes that spear again, wowing Cornello with his ability to perform alchemy without a circle. Of course the chimera breaks Ed's spear before he can do much damage with it, clawing his leg in the process, but he's uninjured and manages to break off its claws. It then tries gnawing on his arm, but he's still unfazed and delivers an uppercut with his foot. Ed's pretty flexible. I wonder what sorts of uses that could be put to. He then rips off his coat and half of his shirt to show Cornello his automail. I liked this scene a lot better in the first anime because Ed was incredibly buff and it was awesome fanservice. Then again, I believe he's younger during the Reole arc in this continuity so I guess it makes sense for him to be a bit scrawnier.

Cornello comes to the same realization Isaac did in the first episode; that the brothers' current condition is the result of trying human transmutation. He tells Rose that they tried to revive the dead and were punished for their hubris, causing Rose to remember what Ed told her earlier. Ed and Al demand that Cornello hand over the stone, but he transmutes his cane into a machine gun and shoots at them, saying he'll send them to God himself. Ed makes a barrier to block the bullets and tells Cornello that God hates him and would probably just send him back. Badass. Alphonse grabs Rose and runs, with Cornello shooting at them. Ed transmutes an escape, even though there was already a perfectly good door right there, and they make off with Rose. Cornello's followers try to stop them, but unfortunately they're all pussies of the highest caliber and the three make a clean getaway.

Alphonse prepares the trap for Cornello, telling Rose that the priest shot at them with no regard for her safety. He then explains their past to her, telling her that the transmutation failed and the thing they created didn't even look human. He adds that human beings can't be brought back to life because it goes against alchemy's fundamental laws. Rose is still convinced that Cornello could bring her boyfriend back to life, pointing out that just because Ed and Al failed doesn't mean the father will. Cornello catches up to Ed, who tricks him into revealing his whole plan on the air with the broadcast system he and Al set up. Naturally Cornello is pissed that his secret has been exposed to the public and tries attacking Ed again, only for his philosopher's stone to undergo rebound and transform him into a giant monster. Whoa. This wasn't in the manga. I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing but I do think it's pretty unnecessary. But even with Cornello in this form, Ed beats his ass pretty easily, headbutts him and tells him to fork over the philosopher's stone. Which breaks and turns to dust. Apparently it was a fake. Or at least an incomplete version, since "red stones" don't exist in this continuity. Ed is infuriated at having wasted his time after he was so sure he'd finally be able to fix his and Al's bodies, and Cornello escapes, pansy that he is. Cornello went down much easier here than he did in the first anime, by the way.

Ed and Al are outside the church getting ready to leave Reole and goddammit this scene is so freaking pretty. Rose pulls the gun on them and tells them to give her the philosopher's stone, believing that they're just pretending it was a fake so they can keep it for themselves and bring their mother back. That touches a nerve, and Ed snaps and says once again that the dead can never come back to life. Rose collapses on the ground, crying and asking what she's supposed to do now that she knows her boyfriend can't be brought back. Poor Rose. I really relate to her because I used to be incredibly religious like her, so I think I can understand how she feels. Ed tells her she has to keep moving forward; she's got a good pair of legs and she's got to get up and use them. Such a powerful scene. A lot better than the corresponding scenes in the manga and first anime, if you ask me.

The townspeople have formed an angry mob and are after Cornello, who's taken refuge in the church where he's greeted by Lust and Gluttony. Lust tells the father that he was only supposed to wreak some havoc, but instead created a huge mess. Gluttony asks to eat him, but Lust tells him he'll get a stomachache if he eats something like that. Cornello foolishly pulls a gun on Lust, who promptly stabs him through the skull and tells him he's become unneeded. Lust muses that Father won't be pleased with how things turned out and ponders their next move, while Gluttony goes ahead and eats Cornello anyway. Seriously, fatass, what did she just say?

And that's that. One of my favorite episodes. Love the art, animation and cinematography as usual. The next episode has Shou Tucker and Nina. Sadness. By the way I've decided to rate the episodes at the end of my entries, because why not? This one gets a 4/5 and I've gone back and added scores to the previous ones.

edited 11th Dec '10 1:40:25 AM by AXavierB

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