Well, it's been a while since I updated. Been incredibly distracted and haven't really had the patience to sit through a whole episode. But since I've got nothing better to do right now, let's get moving!
This one picks up where "Rain of Sorrows" left off. Ed's automail is broken, so he and Al are taking a trip back to Resembool to see Winry and Pinako. Hughes comes to the train station to see them off, and Ed is annoyed that Major Armstrong is escorting them. Of course, as Hughes says, they need a bodyguard in case Scar attacks them. Not like Ed could defend himself without an arm. Armstrong's had Alphonse put in a crate and placed in a car with some sheep so he won't get lonely. I'm sure Al appreciates the thought, but damn. But it's pretty hilarious. I think this happened in the first anime, too. Speaking of the first anime, Scar had forced some children to get information out of Hughes or something during this scene in that version, if I remember correctly. But more importantly, Ed looks fucking adorable when he's sleeping. I just want to cuddle him
, among other things.
Their train stops in a town◊ that looks a lot like
Apotos Mykonos or something. The major spots Dr. Marcoh, who immediately runs for it when he realizes he's been recognized. Armstrong explains to Ed that Marcoh was a talented alchemist who used to live in Central, and who was researching ways of applying alchemy to the medical field. Thinking he might be a good source of info on biological alchemy, Ed decides to go after him. Armstrong draws up an incredibly good portrait of Marcoh—Drawing portraits is a skill that has been passed down the Armstrong line for generations—and the two ask around about him. The townspeople, however, see the major's drawing and recognize it as "Dr. Mauro". I must say, if his intention was to lay low and hide from the military, he could've picked a better alias than that. I do like that this scene is fully animated this time around, unlike in the first anime.
Apparently Marcoh showed up here after the town's doctors had been drafted for the civil war. The people say he never turns away a single patient, and that he heals injuries with a flash of light. Ed and Armstrong find where he lives, and Ed nearly gets his head blown off; Marcoh's hysterical about being found and taken away by the military, and Armstrong has to throw the crated Alphonse at him to calm him down. Kinda counterintuitive there, Major. But I guess it works; he lets them in and tells them about why he ran away from Central.
The "it" being his philosopher's stone research, which he took with him when he fled. Cue the gasps and reaction shots. He then adds that he actually brought a philosopher's stone with him to this town, and pulls out a vial of glowing red liquid. When he pours it out on the table, it congeals into a gelatinous form, whereupon he lists a few of the philosopher's stone's other names ("the sage's stone", "the heavenly stone", "the great elixer", "the red tincture" and "the fifth element") and explains that it isn't confined to just the form of a stone. In the first anime, this speech was given by Basque Grand, but unfortunately his brains are liquefied at the moment.
This philosopher's stone is incomplete, just like the one Cornello had, and Marcoh doesn't know how much more juice it has before it rebounds. Edward wants to see his research, though, thinking that even if the stone is incomplete, it can be perfected if its creation is looked into further. Marcoh, just tell the boy the truth, please. The doctor is appalled to learn that Ed is a State Alchemist, because after the horrors of Ishval it's unthinkable that a child would willfully join the military. So Edward has to pull his trump card and tell Marcoh about how he and Al lost their bodies committing the taboo of human transmutation—The Japanese word for "taboo" is kinki, by the way, which I find incredibly amusing. I'm so immature.
Marcoh believes that if Ed was skilled enough to successfully bind a soul to an object, he just might be capable of creating a complete philosopher's stone. For this reason, he refuses to show him his research notes. He claims that it's the devil's research, and that the brothers will see hell if they decide to go after it. Ed feels he's already seen hell, but Marcoh still turns him away. The brothers and Armstrong prepare to board the next train, with Ed and Al explaining that they couldn't just take the stone by force since Marcoh uses it for his medical treatments. It's good enough that they at least learned that making a philosopher's stone is possible. When asked if he's going to report Marcoh to the military, Armstrong says that the person they met today was not Marcoh, but Mauro. Just like him to do the right thing like that.
Marcoh catches up with them before they leave, and having had a change of heart, he gives Ed the a piece of paper that says where the philosopher's stone information is hidden. He tells Edward to pursue the stone if he's sure he won't regret it, saying that he might be able to find the truth hidden within the truth. I have to wonder why he's so cryptic. I certainly would've just said "The philosopher's stone is people!" but I guess that's old folks for you. The note says that the data on the stone's creation can be found in the National Central Library's first branch. Marcoh heads back home, where he's greeted by a talking pair of breasts. The specifics of this encounter between the doctor and Lust are omitted from this episode, but are mentioned later on in the series; Lust is here to extort Marcoh, making him choose between cooperating with the homunculi as a potential human sacrifice or having her sweater puppies crush the village and everyone in it.
Cut to Ed, Al and Armstrong arriving at the Rockbell residence in Resembool. Ed introduces Pinako to Armstrong and the two engage in some short joke banter, which is interrupted by Winry clocking Ed in the skull with a wrench. Such a healthy relationship these two have, she even laughs when he says she could've killed him. Of course, Winry's pissed to learn that both her very best automail and Alphonse's armor are broken, scolding the brothers for their recklessness. Pinako examines Ed's automail, saying that she'll just need to make some adjustments to the leg, but that it'll take three days to rebuild the arm from scratch.
The major helps out by chopping wood for Pinako... with his fists. Shirtless, of course. He asks where Edward's been all day, and Pinako answers that he's gone to visit Trisha's grave. She tells Armstrong about how the Elrics' father was an old drinking buddy of hers, and how he left when they were young. She adds that Winry's parents were surgeons during the Ishvalan civil war and were killed in the line of duty. When he asks where Edward and Alphonse's home is, she explains that they burned it down when they left as a symbol of their resolve. We get some shots of Ed and Den standing over the wreckage of the old house, and this scene◊ is incredibly◊ pretty◊. I haven't filled my installment quota of nergasming over the art and animation, and Brotherhood really is one of the best-looking anime around if you ask me. BONES, have my babies.
Night falls, and Ed returns home, only to be ambushed and dry-humped by Armstrong. I love this scene because Armstrong is always such a gigantic ham. Every time he gets emotional like this is incredibly funny. It never really gets old. Not to me, at least. We get a few fun little scenes with Ed bugging Winry each night, impatient for her to finish his automail. These scenes weren't in the manga, so it was nice that they added it here. After three days, his limbs are ready to be reattached.
[insert obligatory sexual comment about Ed wearing nothing but boxers and how amazingly well this works for me]
I can't help but feel Winry might actually have a fetish for automail. I mean she blushes as she talks about the smell of the oil and the beautifully-crafted form of the prosthetics. She explains that they raised the ratio of chromium in the automail so it'd be less prone to rusting, but that this means it's not as durable as before. Ed, of course, completely ignores her and immediately runs out to fix Al and do some sparring.
Everyone here already knows what an absolute pervert I am, but Ed looks positively molestable when he's sleeping in this scene. Al complains that he's fallen asleep with his belly exposed again and pulls his shirt back down—What a cockblock—to which Pinako comments that it's like he's Ed's guardian. Winry says how it's hard to believe they call Ed a human weapon, considering he's so short and he's the same age as her. Al thanks her and Pinako for treating them like family, saying that Ed feels the same way too even though he's too stubborn to say it.
The next morning, the brothers and Armstrong get ready to go back to Central. They say their goodbyes to Pinako; Winry's still in bed, exhausted from pulling too many all-nighters, and Ed tells Pinako not to bother waking her up because she'd probably just nag him about automail maintenance. Pinako asks the brothers to stop by again soon for a meal, and Winry wakes up in time to say goodbye from her balcony. You can tell Ed likes her here, with the way he smiles and turns his back to her. Ed and Winry aren't my favorite pairing, but I do like how things between them manage not to interfere with the rest of the story.
And that's that for "Road of Hope". A nice breather episode after the previous action-packed ones. Great art as usual—Though next episode is kind of lacking in that department, unfortunately—and, in retrospect, the pacing isn't all that bad. This anime is a compressed adaptation, and does have its share of pacing issues, but they aren't nearly as jarring when watching now as they were when the show first came out, since the 2003 anime and the way it handled the events of the story were still fresh in most people's minds.