Skip to main content

FMA: The Brotherhood Diaries – Episode 30

Mustang and Hawkeye at the grave of the latter's father.

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 30 – The Ishvalan War of Extermination

It’s finally here! Nevermind those cursory flashbacks and throwaway one-liners that promised insight into Ishval, because we’re finally privy to a full episode dealing with nothing but Ishval!

For emotional impact, it’s linguistics that matter here. FMA2 refers to this matter as “The Ishvalan War of Extinction,” whereas FMA1 bounced back and forth between the “Ishvalan uprising,” the “war in Ishval,” and the “Ishval Massacre.” The noted difference is one of passivity. “War of Extinction” is a pointed and active phrase that puts emphasis on the act of killing, whereas even the heaviest of FMA1’s names for what happened in Ishval, massacre, emphasizes dying (and unjustly at that). Staying true to both series’ personalities, this difference is fundamental to making viewers feel the appropriate degree and brand of sympathy. Implications of “extermination” let us know this is a bloody and violent ordeal with little room for the emotional upheaval that was FMA1’s mainstay.

Still, one can’t help but be taken aback at the seriousness brought about by Fuhrer’s Order #3066 (aka, The Ishvalan War of Extinction). There are no characters to develop or warm up to during the minute or so battle scene montage, just war. Graphic displays of violence and destruction, some of which we’re seen before and many more we have not, continue to affect long after off screen by some rather brilliantly linked scenarios. FMA1 never had such an episode. The closest it came was a couple of flashbacks from the points of view of Ishvalans and chimeras, but nothing that ever seriously depicted all-out war. FMA1 examined war by exploring the personal afflictions it caused rather than the war itself, shown in particular by the episode devoted to two young Ishvalans’ recollections about their mother during the war. Much more direct, FMA2 is giving us the soldier’s perspective. What else would we expect?

Other differences revisiting the war brings about for FMA2 that FMA1 missed out on include seeing Hughes again; some mental insight into the explosion factory that is Kimblee, The Crimson Alchemist; some back-story on Riza Hawkeye, her alchemist father, and Mustang; as well as (and oddly enough) some earnest psychological distress/emotional trauma stemming from the weight of killing. The latter further parallels Ed and Mustang, especially taking into account Ed’s heart-to-heart with Riza Hawkeye earlier on. The difference? Ed’s yet to cross the line, and that’s what is setting up Ed as a superior foil to Mustang compared to FMA1. Characters are more intricately balanced in both the events that have comprised their lives thus far and how those events have affected the lifestyles they currently lead.

blog comments powered by Disqus