Thanks to having figured out how to tweak BitTorrent's settings and how to improve our internal bandwidth, the fansubs of Fullmetal Alchemist [*] finally finished downloading Saturday morning—which was when I was heading to get car maintenance done. Since I knew the dealership's waiting room would have a TV on, I brought along the laptop and headphones to block out CNN.
[*] By AKeep-ANBU (episodes 1-31) and Spoon (episodes 32-51). Oh, and I have a DVD+/-RW drive, so if anyone needs these, just say so. (I could even throw in manga scanlantions as a bonus (stockpiled against possible later interest)—will the manga be complete with the forthcoming chapter 51, or did I get the wrong impression somewhere?)
I watched the first three in their entirety at the dealership; back home, I saved time by muting the sound and putting the speed up for most bits (I can read faster than the characters can speak, especially in Japanese). I think the English dubbed voices are fine, but I do like the Japanese Ed; he sounds older and more cynical to my ear. The fansubs are also more terse, a tendency we'd already noticed in comparing the more-literal subtitle track that comes with the dubbed DVDs. At the moment, I don't have a strong preference between the two, except that I have the fansubs. (We've been NetFlix'ing the dubs and appear to be way, way down the list for disc 4.)
Spoilery notes behind the cut on stuff I noticed this time around. I am still only up to episode 12, so spoil me for episodes after that and I will kill you with my brain. (People who put what appear to be series-destroying spoilers in the icons they use in general discussions? They get cut into very small pieces and fed to chimeras. I'd been doing so well at avoiding spoilers, too . . . )
Quotes are, of course, from the fansubs. My spelling of names may waver erratically between fansubs and dubs.
Episode 1, "To Challenge the Sun" (fansub title: "One Who Challenges the Sun"), and Episode 2, "Body of the Sanctioned" (fansub title: "Body of Taboo"): It's 1910 when their attempt to resurrect their mom fails. It's four years later when they're going to Lior City. (So Ed is born winter 1899, Al in 1900; it's 1914 "now.")
Lust knows of the Elric brothers, and they've seen her before too. She and Gluttony (fansub: Blatony, which amuses me) watch the fight. In episode 2, Envy takes Cornello's form, and can do alchemy without lights. The same symbol that's on Lust's chest appears in Cornello's bedroom before the snake and then Lust (or are they the same?) show up. Lust (et al., presumably) wanted to draw seekers of the Philosopher's Stone to the city for . . . something.
Cornello thinks the watch is an amplifier, which is why Ed can do circleless transmutations; the last bit is wrong (and we still haven't found out how Ed can), but it's not clear if he's right about the amplifier, or why that would be the case if so.
And I completely missed the explanation for Al's voiceover of episodes 3-9; at the end of episode 2, he tells Rose that he'll tell her the things they've experienced so she won't follow their path. It looks like she leaves the city at the end after they do.
Episode 3, "Mother" (fansub title: "Mom . . . "): When Winry's parents are killed in the war in Ishabel, Ed is already thinking about bringing back the dead: "I read in a book about this golem called the Homunculus. It's a doll with no heart. But with alchemy, maybe we can . . . " So I guess it's not surprising that he resolves to attempt his mother's resurrection on the very day of her funeral.
(I wonder what happened to Winry's dog, that it needed an automail leg?)
They're 6 and 5 when they do their first transmutations; 10 and 9 when their mom's sickness is revealed. Their parents' names are Hohemheim and Trisha. The door they weren't supposed to open had their dad's lab equipment and papers with equations on human transmutation. One of the people they wrote to was James Herbert at Military Headquarters; one wonders how Roy got that letter.
Their alchemy training obviously contained a lot of physical training, with the flashbacks and the sparring at the end of the episode; the shadow of their teacher (I presume) over the flashbacks was somewhat ominous-looking. (Their teacher also said that a State Alchemist's watch was an amplifier.) Auntie said she'd heard that a State Alchemist was involved in the war where her sons died (is she Winry's grandmother, and was this Ishabel?).
Their failed attempt: from episode 1, it looked like Ed lost his leg and his arm before the thing in the middle met his eyes, so he'd already fixed Al into the armor. Episode 3 shows tendrils sucking their bodies away; did Ed do something to stop them from taking his whole body, or was there another reason? And what happened to the thing in the middle? At first it looked like it was burnt, but then it still seemed to be twitching, or maybe that was a subjective POV thing. (It didn't look like something that would expire on its own, which I think means poor Ed yet again.)
Right after, they spend what must be some time at Winry and Auntie Pinako's recovering and getting Ed fitted with automail. Did they return to the house at all before burning it? Did anyone clean up that room (maybe Auntie)?
The voiceover with the burning house, Al saying that they might disappear or be horribly punished for attempting to restore their bodies, made me eep.
They are 11 and 10 when they burn their house and walk away.
Episode 4, "A Forger's Love" (fansub title: "Transmutation of Love"): Majhal was their father's "best friend" (Dad not looking so good by the company he keeps). I wonder if the kids wrote him any letters? They don't seem to recognize his name, so probably not.
Ah, there's where they saw Lust before, calling Majhal second-rate as he burns one of his dolls.
And why does fixing Al's soul to the armor work so well, when usually that kind of transmutation doesn't?
Episode 5, "The Man with the Mechanical Arm" (fansub title: "Dash! Auto-Mail"): Picks up from the end of episode 4, as they're on their way to Central to see Roy Mustang.
People: General Hakuro (who will hold Mustang responsible for the hostage-taking if he finds out that they intercepted the statement from Bard's group that was supposed to go out that day). Warrant Officer Farman, who has gray hair on the top of his head and dark on the sides. Major Hughes.
I don't quite follow Bard's story: did he pay for the surgery on his own? How could he? If not, why would the military toss him after paying for the automail? And, look, he's not that powerful.
Episode 6, "The Alchemy Exam" (fansub title: "State Alchemist Qualification Exam"): Does Roy know or suspect what happened with Tucker's wife? He turns away when asked whether Tucker has a wife and doesn't answer the question. (Later, in episode 7, there seems to be some extra meaning in Havoc passing on the message that Mustang is looking forward to Tucker's assessment.)
Ed's birthday is in the winter.
Ed is not so good with tact, talking about the shame of being a State Alchemist in front of Roy.
Ed is 12, Al is 11 when Ed passes.
Episode 7, "Night of the Chimera's Cry" (fansub title: "The Night the Chimera Cries"): Havoc is the Lt. who drives Ed & defends Mustang. I haven't yet seen why they follow Mustang, but I imagine we'll get there.
Ed writes to Winry to tell her about the test and seems twitchy about it; Al asks if she's his girlfriend and Ed vehemently denies it. Ed is definitely younger than most kids his age when it comes to dealing with girls, between this and his utter cluelessness at what Psiren's offering in episode 10.
Brigadier General Gran is the Iron Blood Alchemist (transmutes glove? into metal and punches Ed; came up with the idea of using alchemy for military purposes) with the impressive vertical moustache.
So where did they go to live after leaving Tucker's?
Another circle-less transmutation, to overturn the truck carrying away poor Nina+Alexander, which goes without comment.
Episode 8, "The Philosopher's Stone" (fansub title: same minus the "The"): My old notes didn't quite convey that not only does the Fuhrer encourage Al to seek the Stone, but he does so in a way that will get Ed back into the State Alchemists; I wonder whether he had a primary aim there?
Roy compares State Alchemists' being the military's human weapons, to Tucker's actions, in their effects on human life.
After that, his conversation with Ed in the alley (and later interactions in the episode). I think I see a pattern of pushing baby Elrics out of the nest and then stepping back (way back?) to see if they fly or splat. (I don't think that was a real threat at the end of the episode, because if he'd intended to threaten them with exposure, he would've done it sooner; also, exposing them at this point without implicating himself would be tricky. But, sneaky bastard, so who knows.)
Barry the serial killer also tells Ed that he'd seen a State Alchemist kill on the battlefield. We've only seen two military State Alchemists so far, Gran, the Iron Blood Alchemist, and Mustang, the Flame Alchemist. I don't think a Brigadier General is likely to be in front-line combat, and I don't know what else he can do; but Flame Alchemy would be very suited to killing. Combine with Roy's comments above, and I eep (again!) for what he might've done and how he might feel about it now.
Episode 9, "Be Thou for the People" (fansub title: "Silver Watch of the Dog of the Military"): Ed's first mission; doing circle-less transmutations routinely, now.
Lt. Yoki: corrupt guy. Ryla: alchemist who works for him.
General Hakuro sends Mustang & Hawkeye to East City, which Mustang takes as a demotion, even though he's being made Colonel. Fallout from the train?
This is the episode that jumps "three years later" to the brothers on their way to Lior; I'll be curious to see if anything of significance happened during those three years.
Episode 10, "The Phantom Thief" (fansub title: "Thief Psiren"): They're on their way to report to Mustang about Lior, and Ed is dreading Mustang's sarcasm. Hee!
Episodes 11 and 12, "The Other Brothers Elric" (fansub title: "Gravel Earth"): chasing down a lead from Psiren, still detouring from going to see Mustang (who knows they were in Aquaroya, at least, because the cop called him to check Ed's credentials).
City: Xenotime (really?); the alchemist supervising fake Elrics: Magwar. Fake Elrics: Russell and Fletcher Tringham, son of Nash. Marcoh: alchemist doctor who might've used a Philosopher's Stone to temporarily heal.
The Red Stone also removes the need for a circle. There might be such a thing as an incomplete Philosopher's Stone.
Lust was encouraging Magwar's research, but it's not clear if her ends were the same as his.
So many decaying cities and towns.
* * *
I'm making a list of people who know or knew about the brothers' attempt at human transmutation, because it seems like a good thing to keep track of.
- Lust, Gluttony, presumably Envy;
- did the people of Lior understand about the empty armor? I don't think so, but there's a slight possibility that "most of Lior" should be on this list;
- Winry and Auntie Pinako;
- Roy Mustang (any of his subordinates? probably none of his superiors, since he doesn't seem overly forthcoming with information up the chain of command).
- Shou Tucker.
Observe, how good I am: I stopped at episode 12 and didn't watch any new-to-me episodes while home by myself on the holiday, because Chad said he might be interested in watching the fansubs and I couldn't afford to spend my whole day watching it, as almost certainly would have happened.