Ani-Gamers staff writer Ink contributes a weekly column in which he examines the differences between the original Fullmetal Alchemist and its re-telling, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. To read previous entries, click here.
Watch Episode 11 - Miracle at Rush Valley
Rush Valley is introduced in a quick flash of stills, one of which alludes to FMA1’s arm wrestling contest. Sly! But what is Rush Valley without its main character anchor, Paninya? By the way, she is introduced in FMA2 as a pickpocket/thief (you know...cause she has dark skin) instead of someone trying to do her automail mechanic/daddy proud. Social implications aside, I can’t complain. The chase that results from Paninya stealing Ed’s watch is an impressive showcase for both Ed’s ferocious use of alchemy as well as Al’s talents as tempered by patience and detail.
Paninya’s story has changed a bit as well. She still lives at a small automail shop with Dominic and was injured in a train accident, but now her parents were killed, paralleling her situation to the Elric’s orphanage. And while FMA1’s portrayal of Paninya’s backstory was infinitely more Romantic in its sorrow, FMA2 chooses to lighten that former burden by developing a humorously scornful Dominic.
The theme of good will is more prominent in FMA2’s Rush Valley, most prominently seen when Winry lectures Paninya about having a sense of karma for the legs she’s been made vs. the nature of her chosen occupation. Also, Winry speaks a line that echoes Ed’s to Rose in FMA1…legs…getting up…using them. It makes sense, is well-used, and perfectly fits the situation.
In a rather excellent transfer of scenes, the State Alchemist’s watch opening is done here, at Paninya and Winry’s hand rather than in Resembool. Afterwards, Winry’s renewed determination to become the best mechanic possible for Ed becomes apparent though a lovely bit of show-don’t-tell, strictly involving a statement of intent and the look on her face. Well done!
Another issue of transfer happens when Ed and Al have to face the delivery of a baby, which harkens back to an omitted story arc from FMA1 (different characters) where Ed learns a positive aspect/use of Alchemy by using it to boil water to aid in the delivery of a baby (you know, for emotional/character development), but in FMA2 they simply boil the water and are out of the room for everything, leaving the focus on Winry’s (albeit stereotypically female) talents. The overly-dramatic delivery scene is worth a couple of chuckles, though, and Ed’s sense of helplessness, coupled with his query to God, are worth noting.
During the confrontation about the pilfered and opened pocket watch, a most confusing flashback shows Winry, Ed (with State Alchmist watch in hand), Al, and Grandma Rockbell watching the Elric Brother’s house burn. It’s confusing because it is hard to place. Al is in armor, and Ed is wearing his red jacket from Izumi-sensei, meaning they’ve already gone through training and then returned? FMA1 had the burning as an all-or-nothing tactic the brothers implemented to further them along with their training before working with their teacher. FMA2’s placement seems odd considering how afraid Ed and Al were that their teacher would find out that they performed human alchemy on their current trip and how astute she is in FMA1.
A nice final touch gives viewers a glimpse of Wanted posters, which link together Scar, Greed (absolutely missing from the series until this point), and Yoki. Overall, this episode was much less about Ed coming to appreciate his mechanic than his mechanic becoming more committed to Ed. This definitely strengthens bonds but does little to grow character (well, Ed’s anyway). For those wondering, the plot in FMA2, at episode 11, is now at episode 26 of FMA2, but with almost nothing to show concerning Scar or the Ishbal Rebellion.