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FMA: The Brotherhood Diaries – Episode 20


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 20 – Father Before the Grave

Starting off, Ed encounters his father, Hohenheim, by himself in Resembool; there is no accompaniment of undercover soldiers for comedic relief, there is no little brother for a forgive/forsake debate, and there is no Sheska for those of us who love bookworms. There is, however a drastic difference between the FMA series.

Just who it was that was brought back to life via an alchemist’s ultimate taboo is something FMA2 deals strictly on a physical plane (for now). Whereas FMA1 leveraged the physical manifestation to incur emotional turmoil, FMA2 uses it to point out folly and inspire hope. FMA2 has Ed overhear Hohenheim asking Pinako (Grandma Rockbell) about details she remembered about the creature Ed & Al brought to life in order to find out if they managed to bring back Hohenheim’s former wife. FMA1 blatantly used the homunculus’ exact resemblance to those of the dead that the alchemists wanted to resurrect to make the conflict whether or not the creature born out of the great taboo had their specific soul or not. This served FMA1 well psychologically in scenes of Sloth’s appearance and fight with Ed/Al as well as in the Lust/Scar dynamic.

Akin to one of the darker scenes of FMA1, where Ed was clawing away at his mother’s grave with his bare hands screaming “I’m sorry,” a scene in this episode of FMA2 has Pinako help Ed in a search to dig up the remains of his creation. Not only does this episode have Ed tormenting himself sick (literally), it spares no expense in Romantic setting (burnt down remains of his childhood home on a dark and rainy day) or Gothic intrigue (digging to find bones or any physical trace in the dirt of a monster he’s half-hoping to be his mother). AND they get Izumi in on the paranoia as well. Was what you sacrificed so much for really what you wanted?

This episode goes for the jugular in terms of regret but offers more than enough salve to make Ed almost every black-sheep alchemist’s savior. This is where the emotional depth finally managed to exceed FMA1, but came crashing down because characters didn’t get angry (like real humans would)…they said thank you. However, a truly nice bit of FMA2 extra that greatly lends to FMA2 Al’s character development spawns directly from such a thank you. Al reveals his slow but steady decline into insanity from all the nights he has not been able to sleep (nor ever will) and spends alone ever since that fateful night when, as it turns out, Ed accidentally transmuted Al (temporarily) into the monster and then into the metal shell he now calls home.

Speaking of empty metal shells, FMA2 has a better solution for resolving the authenticity of Ed’s soul. Instead of Al merely accepting his self via seeing how upset and worried Ed is over his action to bond Al to the armor, Ed cooks up a scenario where privileged information he could not have known was shared between Al and Winry. Since Ed did not know the full story and Al/Winry concurred, that proves Al has memories unshared with his brother and is therefore the true essence of Al. Scientific and convenient (really, shouldn’t the story have been alluded to before), but nicely done FMA2! Summing it up, FMA2 is definitely getting darker but still comes up short on the emotional punch of its predecessor.

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