As I said in comments previously, right now we're still reasonably close to the first anime, so anyone wanting to jump in and watch along with Mark still can.
Reminder: spoilers for everything are fair game here.
Episode 5, "Rain of Sorrows"
In which Scar attacks Ed and Al. (Mark's post; lettered's post.)
Ed hits bottom, I think, in this episode? Just two episodes ago he was telling Rose to get up and walk, and now he's willing to give up his life so that Al can live. I can't remember anything else that compares.
I literally laughed out loud when Al yelled at Ed, and then said (paraphrased), Oh, great, and now my other arm fell off because my brother's an idiot! I love Al so much.
This episode has Hawkeye being a badass by saving Mustang when he forgets that he's useless in the rain. Not to take away from her awesomeness, because Hawkeye! but would Mustang really forget that?
We get a tiny bit of history about the Ishvarlan [manga spelling, which I think is a variant I've never seen elsewhere] civil war, also a glimpse of what's happening in Lior, and then yay! Something lighter ahead: they're going home!
Manga notes: this corresponds to volume 2, chapter 6, "The Right Hand of Destruction," and chapter 7, "After the Rain."
Envy is explicitly said to be in charge of a city, a reference I don't remember being made in the anime (I also don't remember which city).
In the anime, Scar seems to randomly happen on the Elrics; at any rate, he doesn't overhear the poor redshirt identify them. Al is also shown to be more active in the fight in the manga. And the military ragging on Ed for being useless without his arm is cut for time.
Episode 6, "Road of Hope"
In which Ed and Al meet Dr. Marcoh and get their automail/armor repaired. (Mark's post; lettered's post.)
This definitely lighter than the last episodes—especially since it keeps what happens to Marcoh after Lust comes in for a later time.
From a character sense as opposed to a dramatic pacing sense, I'm not sure Marcoh shouldn't just tell them why the Philosopher's Stone is evil and therefore why he's not giving them his research. Why take the risk that they won't be repelled?
Yay, character growth, declining to take the incomplete Stone from Marcoh. This is something that Ed of Lior would maybe have struggled with.
Winry, kickass mechanic! Pinako, kickass everything! Family, awww!
This has my favorite visual joke anywhere in the series, the overhead shot of Al, Ed, and the dog lying down on the grass, Ed wiggling in frustration, and the dog mimicking him. Does anyone know whether that's been gif'ed? (I saw it as an icon back in the day, but I was hoping for something bigger.)
This episode also has a tiny post-credit scene, of Winry discovering the missing screw.
Manga notes: corresponds to vol. 2, ch. 8, "The Road of Hope," and vol. 3, ch. 9, "A Home with a Family Waiting."
The anime consolidates Armstrong being extravagantly emotional about Ed's backstory, and as I said leaves Marcoh on a cliffhanger.
Hughes brings Ed a message from Mustang when he sees them off: "I won't allow you to die in my jurisdiction because it'd be a pain to clean up the mess." Ed's repsonse: "Understood. I'd never die before you, Colonel, you @#*$ idiot." Hee!
The in memoriam doodle at the end of volume two has Tucker going down to hell.
Finally, the opening of volume three has a one-page bit with Granny and a guy with a prosthetic leg, who cheerfully declines an automail leg because though it's really impressive the surgery and recovery are very hard. I like that a lot—not all people with disabilities want the same things! Assistive devices have their pluses and minuses! FMA is certainly not perfect when it comes to ablism—I'm not sure how Ed's story ends up feeling, but Roy's temporary blindness was a disappointment to me—but this struck me as good.
Episode 7, "Hidden Truths"
In which Ed and Al decipher Marcoh's notes to learn the true nature of the Philosopher's Stone and begin to investigate the depths of the government's involvement in creating it. (Mark's post; lettered's post.)
This moves along briskly: the notes are gone, the notes are recovered, the notes are encrypted, the notes are decrypted, the Stone is Soylent Green, wait there's more! Off to the Fifth Laboratory, and . . . attack cliffhanger! Again, because this is so close to the first anime and the manga, it's hard to be as absorbed by it for me, but I can tell intellectually that it is good stuff.
(Meanwhile, in East City, Scar is still on the loose and being hunted by the military and the Homunculi.)
We also get introduced to three new characters, Ross, Brosh, and Sheska, all of whom are great. (Cast of thousands, this show, I love it.) I especially love Sheska for being awesome in a thoroughly non-kickass way: diversity of female characters, yay! Also I love Al slumped forward in despair with the spike of his helmet through a book.
Manga notes: corresponds to vol. 3, ch. 10, "The Philosopher's Stone", and part of ch. 11, "The Two Guardians."
The manga sound effect for Armstrong hugging Ed goodbye at Central's train station is translated "glomp."
The manga also has: a tiny Hakuro appearance and a discussion of his rivalry with Mustang, who is young for his rank (we skipped the train job so we haven't met him yet in the anime), and what codes Ed and Mustang use for their alchemy (travel journal and women's names, respectively).
Here we start breaking away from chapter divisions, I'll be curious to see how long that holds up.
Episode 8, "The Fifth Laboratory"
In which the Fifth Laboratory is a bust and Al acquires an existential crisis. (Mark's post; lettered's post.)
Barry, like Marcoh, is a bit character who ends up being more important than he seems. The anime is also building up Kimbley slowly with little scenes here and next episode.
I have never liked the Al angst plot, it just makes no sense whatsoever that Al would worry about it for a moment: what possible earthly motive could Ed have?! But at least it gets us the great scene where Ed automatically affirms the personhood of the armor-brothers.
(Ed's callback to and inversion of the Scar situation is also great, when he refuses to die and takes what he learned from Scar to do so.)
Funny bits: when Ross and Brosh worry that Armstrong will take his shirt off again to yell at them for losing the Elrics; Barry when Al doesn't recognize his infamy.
Manga notes: corresponds to the remainder of vol. 3, ch. 11, "The Two Guardians," vol. 3, ch. 12, "The Definition of Human," and vol. 4, ch. 13, "Fullmetal Body" (in part). Vol. 3 also has the Flame vs. Fullmetal extra, and I can't remember whether that appears in this anime at all.
Oh, hey, the joke about Armstrong taking off his shirt is original to the anime.
And now the manga spells it Ishbalan! Easier to type and say but poor planning.
Episode 9, "Created Feelings"
In which Winry comes to Central and Al loses his angst. (Mark's post; lettered's post.)
I'm not sure if this is a Japanese-culture thing or an Amestrian-culture thing, but I view being slapped to teach me a lesson a whole lot differently than the characters here. I remember this also being a point of cognitive dissonance when we meet Izumi. (Hey, there was a Curtises cameo in the train station!)
I was unhappy that Hughes was all "men don't talk about their emotions!" and then the episode explicitly refutes that, yay. *points at icon*
Anyway, hooray, Al angst plot over. And if I remember correctly, all the heart-warming Hughes family stuff is amping up the angst we'll feel next time (which Mark seems not to have guessed so far, it'll be interesting to see his reactions to the next episode as it progresses).
We also get a Scar status update: alive, being cared for by Ishbalan exiles, and the first look at that tattoo on his right arm.
Manga notes: this episodes corresponds to the end of ch. 13, "Fullmetal Body," ch. 14, "An Only Child's Feelings," and the start of ch. 15, "Fullmetal Heart" (all in vol. 4). There's no Scar update in these pages. Otherwise the only thing I noted is that Winry's memory of Ed worrying that Al would blame him is signalled by reversing the colors of the dialogue, with a black background and light text.
Mark's schedule is going erratic from now on. I'll keep watching and reading but won't post ahead of him.
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