Quarantine Post #9: Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood

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I had a friend who used to live near me who started an anime night. Her husband was very adamant about watching awesome anime… (He doesn’t really like the battle Shonen that I enjoy watching.) But as you guys know I am traipsing through old anime having been away for a long time. My friends made some awesome recommendations and FMA:B ended up being something they wanted to watch with me. (They had already seen it… It was more for their entertainment than anything else.) I had to make an adjustment because I don’t normally watch dubbed but my friends are solely dub watchers. The dub cast was awesome and only added to my awesome experience.

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On a side note, I went to a nearby bookstore wearing my new anime t-shirt with Roy Mustang (The Flame Alchemist) on it. And I remember to this day, the store clerk asked me if I watched the original FMA or the revamping of brotherhood… Now when it comes to anime I trust two people (one of which is my friend’s husband who recommended it.) But I was 300% sure of my decision when I figured out that this story was closer to the manga… than the original story. For some reason, the guy was irritated that I pointed out I would prefer to watch something that more closely resembles the original story… he seemed like he wanted to argue the point… LOL… good times with anime nerds. Anyways let’s break into what the story is about…

Edward and Alphonse Elric live with their mother Trisha in the village of Resembool in the country of Amestris. Their father, Hohenheim, left his family while the boys were young. Trisha noticed the boys had an aptitude for Alchemy. When their mother dies, they live with their best friend Winry Rockbell, and her grandmother Pinako. The boys traveled the world to advance their alchemic training under Izumi Curtis. When they return home, the two decide to try to bring their mother back to life with alchemy. However, human transmutation is a taboo, as it is impossible to do so properly. Edward explains why human transmutation is looked upon negatively.

Alchemy; the science of understanding the structure of matter, breaking it down, then reconstructing it as something else. It can even make gold from lead. But alchemy is a science, so it must follow the natural laws: To create, something of equal value must be lost. This is the principle of Equivalent Exchange. But on that night, I learned the value of some things can’t be measured on a simple scale. My brother and I knew the laws of science, of Equivalent Exchange, that gain required sacrifice, that something had to be taken from us. But we thought there was nothing more we could lose, we were wrong…” – Edward Elric

Humankind cannot gain anything without first giving something in return. To obtain, something of equal value must be lost. That is alchemy’s first law of Equivalent Exchange. In those days, we really believed that to be the world’s one, and only truth.” – Alphonse Elric

The laws of equivalent exchange leave Ed without his left leg and Alphonse is completely obliterated. (It is a horrendous scene to watch and to this day I have not rewatched it… You can tell right away that the boys realized they fucked up big time but the damage is done. There has been a lot of scenes that I have rewatched millions of times but not that one.) In a last-ditch attempt to keep his brother alive, Ed sacrifices his right arm to bring Al’s soul back and houses it in a nearby suit of armor. (It cost him an arm and a leg… I know. I’m sorry.) Later, Ed manages life with automail prosthetics. Automail limbs are generally made with a full steel skeletal frame layered with steel armor-plating to protect the various wires and intricate machinery inside. They are normally linked directly to the nervous system and powered by taking electrical pulses from the nerves to power and regulate the various electric motors and pneumatic actuators inside. Automail became advanced enough to double as prosthetic body parts for amputees desiring something more versatile than normal prosthetic limbs.

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The brothers decided to burn down their childhood home and head to the state capital to become a state-sanctioned alchemist. After passing the exam, Ed is dubbed the “Fullmetal Alchemist” by the State Military (mostly because of the aforementioned automail… The running gag becomes the assumption that Alphonse is the Full Metal Alchemist because of the suit of armor. Hilarious.), and the brothers begin their quest to regain their full bodies back through the fabled Philosopher’s Stone under the direction of Colonel Roy Mustang. (Colonel Mustang is my favorite character. You will notice that he appears on this countdown many times. You have been warned. Don’t be surprised.) Along the way, they discover a deep government conspiracy to hide the true nature of the Philosopher’s Stone that involves the homunculi, the alchemists of the neighboring nation of Xing, the scarred man from the war-torn nation of Ishval, and their own father’s past. (And OMG when I tell you their father has the past of all pasts.)

So I have made a list of my top moments from Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood. *SPOILERS* In no particular order…

  1. Ed and Al attempt a human transmutation – Now as I have mentioned before I haven’t watched this scene again… it has left that kind of profound mark on me. Two kids should not have to learn that hard of a lesson. The scene is punctuated with the idea that the brothers were lonely and just wanted to have their mother back again. I think what scarred me the most was Ed’s realization that Alphonse is gone and having to draw a transmutation circle with his own blood. (HIS OWN BLOOD PEOPLE.) Ed is desperate not to lose the only other person close to him. “Give him back, he’s my brother! Take my leg! Take my arm! Take my heart! Anything! You can have it! Just give him back! He’s my little brother! He’s all I have left!” (I just gave myself chills. This happens at the beginning of the series. It hits hard and heavy right out the gate. That really should have been my first clue.)
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  2. Maes Hughes’ Death – I have to say that I knew this was coming without having heard of the story before. There was going to have to be a martyr. It didn’t make the killing any less sad. Maes Hughes was a jovial, caring, and loving man. He loved his daughter (NOT LIKE SHOU TUCKER… more on that later.) and his wife very much. As far as the military is concerned, he keeps Roy Mustang from going off the deep end and acts as a father figure to the Elric Brothers. (He tied too many people together and made them put their best foot forward… These are usually the character that get it.) The issue was that he was too intelligent. He was killed because he had figured what was going on and would have warned Mustang and the others. Father couldn’t have that. He is attacked by Lust and murdered by Envy (WHO IS DISGUISED AS HUGHES’S WIFE!!!!!!!!!!! Listen when I tell you later that I cared not what happened to Envy later in the countdown… remember this tidbit.) Hughes’s death is what sets things in motion from this arc on out.
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  3. Winry realizes that Scar killed her parents – Poor Winry. She lives with her grandmother because her parents were murdered. It is a gut punch to watch her listening to Ed’s conversation with Scar. She overhears that it is Scar who killed her parents (after they helped him by the way.) She is overcome with anger and sadness and wants to avenge their deaths. (Why wouldn’t she? Wouldn’t you? I feel it was a natural reaction.) She picks up a nearby gun and points it at Scar. It is Ed that steps between them shielding her with his body. He manages to work the gun away from her by telling her that she wasn’t meant to take life. She was meant to save it just like she had saved him in the past. (This show knows how to put you through the wringer. Where is the Kleenex?)
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  4. Hawkeye thinks Mustang is dead – This one hurt me… (I have already stated that he is my favorite character.) I felt for Hawkeye and it was harder to watch because Hawkeye up until that point was kick-ass, holding her own in a male-dominated arena. In all actuality, you would hope that you have a run-in with any of the men before Hawkeye. Watching her finally hit her breaking point and the controlled façade disappear was too much to bear. (I only rewatch this scene because I know how awesome Mustang is when he finally does reappear but I will get into that on the next entry.) It was heartbreaking watching her going a gamut of emotions and breaking down into tears while spraying the supposed killer with hundreds of bullets to no avail. Thank Goodness Alphonse is there to intervene because I am sure Hawkeye would have let herself be killed. (You can see in this scene she has really given up her will to live.)
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  5. Mustang vs Lust – Now this moment ties into the above moment. (PS. I have watched this scene a million times.) Mustang and Havoc enter the 3rd laboratory when they are met by the homunculus, Lust. Lust gets the better of them by slashing a pipe above his head and dumping water on Mustang. (Poor Mustang. He learns the hard way that shooting her won’t work.) They ignite the gas around her and they think they have done their job but she regenerates and attacks Havoc. Mustang who manages to remove her philosopher’s stone gets stabbed through the abdomen and shreds his ignition gloves. She leaves both men for dead. (Hence where she is gloating to Hawkeye above that Mustang is dead. I believed her for a bit… what a witch.) She doesn’t count on Mustang making another appearance and burning her to a crisp. She notices that he now has a lighter and has carved a transmutation circle into his hand. (I mean she ruined his gloves so… I screamed so loud in my mind because MUSTANG IS BRILLIANT. I love a brilliant man.) Lust’s comments that he should have bled to death already. To which Mustang responds: “I seared the wound closed, I came close to passing out from the pain.” (Let me go ahead and tell you… I would have just died. I have a super low threshold for pain.) Lust had no clue who she was dealing with. Mustang rises to occasion saying that he wants to prove her original claim of not being able to be killed wrong. And he does so in the baddest of ways possible.
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  6. Mustang vs Envy – Here is something that was in the cards since Hughes’ death. Envy was going to have to face Mustang after killing his friend. I liked to call this a fight… but in all honesty… It is an execution. (I mean the episode is called: Flame of Vengeance.) Envy’s downfall was to laugh and joke about how he killed Hughes. When Envy laughs about taking the appearance of Gracia and carrying out the killing, Mustang has had enough. “I think I’ll begin… BY BURNING OUT YOUR TONGUE.” Mustang has some of the best lines here. I live for it. “What’s it like having the fluids inside of your eyes boil? I’d imagine it might sting a little.” Envy even attempts to attack Hawkeye. (As if that was going abate Mustang’s fury. It was like they didn’t do any research as to who he was.) The anger and madness are palpable in this episode…and as I stated earlier I cared less and less whether Envy was going to survive. (Envy ends up killing himself in the end.) The thing is though Mustang heads down a slippery slope with this one. Envy even attempts to take on the appearance of Maes Hughes and you can watch as Mustang begins to slip away from sanity for a bit. The need to kill Envy becomes all-consuming and the altercation shifts from killing Envy to saving Mustang from himself. If he had killed Envy, he would have been a lost cause forever. Score another for Ed who stepped in the middle of this. And for Hawkeye who was going to shoot him in the back per their agreement. It is such a great episode.
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  7. Mustang loses his eyesight – Now here is a metaphor if ever I have seen one. (These episode titles are epic. Lost Light.) I feel so bad for Mustang here. In the previous episode, the evil doctor takes Hawkeye hostage and tries to force Mustang into opening The Gate. The doctor has one of the zombie soldiers mortally wound Hawkeye. He tells Mustang to hurry and perform the transmutation or Hawkeye will die. Hawkeye tells Mustang that she won’t die even as her blood pools around her on the floor.  Mustang seems to think over giving in to save Hawkeye but she lets him know in no uncertain terms that is not an option. (Well uncertain for Mustang and Hawkeye.) Mustang knows all too well that Human Transmutation doesn’t work from the Elric brothers so he flat out refuses. When the scuffle breaks out Mustang faces Wrath who pins him down to the ground by stabbing both of Mustang’s hands with two nearby swords and he is forced through The Gate. Wrath questions what Mustang will lose as a toll (because you can’t get something for nothing.) After seeing Truth, Mustang arrives at where the other sacrifices are, followed by Pride. He comments that it is so dark. Ed realizes that the toll was Mustang’s eyesight. (I am as pissed off as Ed because it was not a punishment like what happened to Ed and his brother. He was forced into it which Ed and I find unbearable.) The metaphor being Mustang is a man with a vision for how the country should be run… now left without eyesight.
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  8. Mustang goes to war blind – When the battle begins,  Alex Armstrong has transmuted a lift platform to carry himself, Olivier, Roy, Riza, Sig, and the chimeras to the surface. Greed informs them that the Homunculus leader is on a rampage above and tells all injured parties to stay behind while the fighters go on ahead to back up the Elric brothers. Mustang refuses to stay behind even with Hawkeye’s protest.  Roy declares that they must move now, explaining to Greed that he can still use his powers to attack the Philosopher’s Stone inside Father but that he requires Lt. Hawkeye’s aid to do so. Mustang talks her into being his eyes for battle. He needs to be there to help the Elric brothers.
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    What I found funny was Mustang’s adjustment to circle free transmutation. As he claps his hands together to compensate for the damage done to his gloves, Roy remarks that he hasn’t yet gotten the hang of circle-free transmutation, but as he rapidly transmutes a wall to defend against Father’s counterattack, he claims to see its usefulness. I bet you do sir. Anyways… can you claim your favorite character went to war blind? No, you can’t. The shit was EPIC. EPIC.
  9. Olivier Armstrong – One word… BADASS! One thing I have to give Kudos to is the fact that this show has badass women… Winry, Izumi, Hawkeye… and let’s not forget Olivier. When her character is first introduced, she is shown to be a tough and just general and everyone serving her has put her on a pedestal. She gets a type of loyalty and respect from her subordinates that I was surprised to see. She speaks matter of factly… and doesn’t sugar coat at all. It is her and her men who bring down another Homunculus. (Let’s not forget the dramatic difference between her and her brother.) When a Homunculus named Sloth accidentally infiltrates the fortress, Olivier uses this opportunity to test the Elrics’ loyalty. Mounting a Briggs Tank, General Armstrong leads the defense against the intruding Homunculus, eventually freezing him solid with the harsh weather of the region to her advantage. She was not to be messed with and no one in their right mind would cross her.
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  10. Wrath vs the Tanks (Bradley entered the fight) – I am just going to mention that the episode is called The Return of the Führer. And he returns with a VENGEANCE. King Bradley/Wrath survives an attempt to take him out and once he returns he prepares his frontal assault. Stating there is no point in using a back entrance to enter his own castle. Deflecting the Briggs Tank gunfire with his sword, Wrath charges for the tank and slices through them all with incredible ease, all while continuously charging forward. I mean the man only had a sword and a grenade. This proved to me that it was going to take a whole lot to take this man out. The action had me on the edge of my seat. (My friends fave scene.)
  11. Nina Tucker as a chimera – WHO DOES THIS????? We meet Nina and her dog early on in the show. Her father, Shou Tucker, is introduced when the Fullmetal Alchemist was in need of a bio-alchemist whose research notes might hold a clue to restoring his and Alphonse’s bodies. Tucker had gained a bit of notoriety and earned his State Alchemist’s License two years prior to the series by producing a chimera capable of human speech. (This should have been my first clue.) Shou Tucker is named the Sewing Life Alchemist (ANOTHER RED FLAG I MISSED.) Ed and Alphonse have forged a relationship with Nina and her dog. But Shou mentions ever since the speaking chimera that earned him his license, he has yet to present an alchemical breakthrough worthy of his yearly State Alchemist assessment and fears that a failure this year will cost him his certification and research privileges. (Another red flag people… SO MUCH FORESHADOWING THAT I MISSED.) Tucker revealed later that he merged Nina and her dog. Edward quickly perceives that Tucker has bypassed the impediments of artificially creating a being capable of comprehending and vocalizing speech by instead alchemically merging a live human with an animal – in this case, Nina and Alexander and in the previous case, his wife. It couldn’t be undone… I ask again… WHO DOES THIS??????????? (I remember to this day when my friend turned to me and said… “DO YOU SEE??!! DO YOU SEE WHAT HE DID???”) It was another traumatizing event in the show. I still refuse to acknowledge it happened. (Another scene that I haven’t rewatched.)
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  12. The Other Side of the Gate – Now through the course of the show, I waited with bated breath for Alphonse to get his body back. He had a list of foods he wanted to eat and he just deserved the best. So when we see his body at The Gate of Truth, I almost lost my mind. (You think I am joking… I am not.) I mean Ed’s face when he realizes who that is… it is so me.
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    I was so pissed off when the Hands of Truth pull him back and away from Al’s body. But in the end, it showed that they were on the right path… that getting his body back could actually happen. I did feel vindicated when Ed managed to punch open the portal and let his brother know that he is coming back for him. Steely Determination people.
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  13. Alphonse vs Kimblee and Pride – Now I have not forgiven Kimblee for using Winry to threaten Ed. He and his bodyguards march her into Fort Briggs under the pretense of being her escorts. When really she is being escorted to show that Ed and Alphonse to do what they’re told or she will be killed. (Rat Bastard.) Kimblee leads Edward into a private room and informs him that Führer Bradley has issued three orders for the Fullmetal Alchemist: to locate Scar in the North Area; to locate Dr. Marcoh, who is believed to be traveling with Scar; and finally, to carve a Crest of Blood into Fort Briggs. So trust me I couldn’t wait for Al to kick ass. Watching Al fight showed that he is just as adept and intelligent as his brother. He creates a dust cloud and uses the smokescreen to attack Kimblee from behind. Although he creates a stone wall to block Kimblee’s counterattack, Pride slices it up with his shadows (because Pride is a loser.) He gets the upper hand by transmuting the metallic foot he discarded earlier into a sword and block Pride’s attack before transmuting it further to penetrate his defense to attack him. Kimblee gets away and he sucks. But it was a hell of a battle watch and props to Al.
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  14. Selim Bradley is a homunculus – This one threw me for a loop. I wasn’t ready. AT ALL. Firstly, I falsely believed that Wrath/Bradley was the first homunculus. (I feel like it was a red-herring.) He is revealed to be Pride, the first Homunculus that Father created. He embodies the cruelest, most prejudicial, yet most basic aspect of evil. (Pride is the worst…) He is the pinnacle of the Homunculi’s homunculus-centric beliefs and contempt of humans. He is the second-in-command of the Homunculi (you thought it was Bradley too right?), and can also possess the greatest overall physical strength among them. Hawkeye runs into Pride/Selim and Mrs. Bradley who reveals that Selim was adopted. Hawkeye remembers that, according to Mustang’s account, King Bradley is a Homunculus and should not have any blood relations. Selim soon appears and reveals the truth. He is, indeed, a Homunculus. Pride’s shadowy tendrils snake up Riza’s body as he displays their ability to exert pressure on people as if they were real hands as well as their sharpness as he cuts a small gash in her cheek. I was worried for Riza… (I really just wanted her to be happy… with Roy… but that is a post for another time.) Riza makes it out unharmed but with the warning that he will be watching her from the shadows. (Creepy as fuck y’all.)
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  15. The Cutest Proposal Ever – At the end, with the war done.. there is still so much they need to work out. Winry sees Edward off at the train station and scolds him to take better care of his automail leg while he’s gone. Before Ed boards the train, he turns and asks Winry to marry him in the only way that he can. He likens it to equivalent exchange…. in which he gives her half of his life and takes half of hers in return. (It was so cute and funny at the same time… come on Ed.) Winry is annoyed at his alchemy filled proposal counterproposes that she is willing to give him much more than half. He laughs at her, gives her a hug, and hops on the train. IT IS SO CUTE. THEY GETTING MARRIED. I really wanted them to have some sort of closure which Roy and Riza never get.  Great way to end a stressful series.
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I enjoyed this show so much. It is in my top 10. If you haven’t seen it. Watch it. If you have, let me know your favorite moments. That is all for now.

2 thoughts on “Quarantine Post #9: Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood

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