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FMA: The Brotherhood Diaries – Episode 47

Al, possessed by Pride in Episode 47

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 47 – Emissary of Darkness

The most obvious similarity and difference this episode showcases is the use of Al as a host for a homunculus. In FMA1, it is the mist-like Sloth who invades Al’s armor while wearing his mother’s face to control him emotionally and physically in order to defend herself against Edward’s attack. FMA2 has Al permeated by the shadow-lurking Pride, who attempts to use the suited brother to lure Ed into the forest for capture.

One could draw parallels between the forms of said infesting homunculi and the nature of both series. FMA1’s Sloth is water-based and motherly, reflecting the FMA1’s focus on family and emotion, whereas FMA2’s Pride reflects the predatory nature of night itself, bringing about a sense of danger which makes this series so much fun. Neither instance is one-sided. FMA1 leverages the conflict of family bonds to forge Ed’s resilience to emotional trickery as well as take responsibility for their original sin, and FMA2 uses brotherly bonds to create an air of desperate concern for Al’s future well-being by Ed within a homunculus-devised stratagem.

Treatment of Hohenheim of Light also evokes some major differentiation. FMA1, as previously stated, never gave him much in the way of a back-story. This was appropriate. His relative absence from the series forced concentration on the brothers’ issues, most of which (if not all) stemmed from Hohenheim or his desertion. He shows up in the brothers’ lives and then disappears again, keeping in line with what we know of his character and then ends up being nullified as any sort of threat by the homunculi in a showdown that reaped nothing for the brothers (he was trying to get the evil being to leave his sons alone) but filled viewers in one some details.

FMA2 not only gives Hohenheim a more complete back-story, but also ironically makes his character more believably human. Why ironically? Because FMA2 Hohenheim is a Philosopher’s Stone, and this sets up a moral quandary for Ed (though one that is quickly dismissed as even a remote possibility … at least for now). Possibly breaching its own formerly stymied emotional tract, this advantageous possibility — forcing Ed/Al to use their father as an ingredient in an attack on Father (dwarf in a flask) — speaks volumes as to where the themes come from which are at the center of this series: allegiance, duty, sacrifice … BROTHERHOOD. It would not be off-track in the slightest then to say that FMA1 is most definitely maternally driven, while FMA2 shows its paternal allegiance. Respectively, FMA1 and FMA2 aggrandize emotions we could generalize as stereotypically female and male, but if Hohenheim is to be used by Ed and Al, FMA2 will have managed to leverage both gender-generalized emotional impacts.

And last but not least, seeing as this episode contains not one, but two mentions of reasons not to attempt to regain an original body — possibility of depleting Hohenheim as a source and the chimeras’ fondness for the advantages of their laboratory-contrived forms — FMA2 might be heading for an end where Ed and Al do not get their original bodies back as per FMA1, but learn to live as they are … accepting their sins so to speak. This is only far-fetched when the threat of Al’s slipping consciousness is taken into account, but it would be a great end to the series.

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