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FMA: The Brotherhood Diaries – Episode 38

Mustang hangs up his call with Hawkeye

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 38 – Conflict at Baschool

FMA1 dealt with Yoki’s back-story in an episode relatively early on in the series, and FMA2 is just getting around to leveraging it now. As mentioned very early on in The Brotherhood Diaries, FMA2 made a sly reference to someone FMA1 viewers would know instantly as an out-for-himself despot of a disheveled mining town who added to the Elric’s prestige when tricked out of his position. Unfortunately, FMA2 returns to expand on the Yoki situation (why?) with some 3 minutes of flashback and some inconsequential musings (funny though they were). This, sadly, suits FMA2, as Yoki was never anything of a major player in its world and serves as little more than comic relief betwixt May and Scar. But the difference in relevance in regards to FMA1 is vast.

FMA1 used, rather ingeniously so, a two-plus episode character to bolster the reputation of Ed/Al as well as become an accomplice for social disorder. FMA2? It seems content to entertain a laugh track instead of the morality play Yoki’s character represented. Even the “revenge worse than death” motive of both series is rendered flaccid here by Ed’s brush-off of the account. But, seeing as Yoki hasn’t had a major role in FMA2, this is, after all, only befitting and still possibly only the beginning of his usage.

Later on, FMA2 makes Ed’s reliance on Scar more evident via his ability to translate the research notes his brother left behind, only decipherable in ancient Ishvalan, which will probably transfer to a next-episode plot point of Scar taking Winry hostage. Speaking of my favorite blonde mechanic, she continues to get an increased sense of resolve which put her in a situation where FMA2 is going to do 1 of 2 things: have a guilt-ridden Scar help the Elrics to atone for his killing of the doctors Rockbell, or have Winry so overwhelmed by being able to confront her parents’ killer that she puts herself in danger and gives Scar the opportunity he needs to flee. The former would serve as a good plot point and the latter would continue the leveraging of endangered loved ones against the main characters.

A difference in the handling of action scenes with Scar, while obviously different in execution, intimates a more meaningful contrast: closeness as weakness. Between a fight between chimeras, Zampano and Jerso, and Scar, the former use ranged attacks knowing full well that Scar’s finishing move is only deliverable via direct physical contact. Thus FMA2 delivers on a fundamental theme in the FMA series: intimacy as flaw. Argue it however you want to, FMA1 and 2 have used emotional connections to try their characters’ resolve, and this fight is a rather brilliant way of showing it if we assume physical contact as a metaphor for intimacy. The fight lasts, however, but moments until Ed and Al show up. Still, it is a method to be noted as a strong similarity between series but in a much different manner: physical instead of emotional – hand-to-hand instead of heart to heart (homunculus to memory). And that, rather nicely, sums up the fundamental difference thus far.

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