Episode 10, "Separate Destinations"
In which Envy murders Hughes for knowing too much. (Mark's post.)
This episode opens with a pre-credits scene, in case anyone else is like me and reflexively attempts to head past the credits and previouslies. It's of Roy remembering Ishbal and Hughes' pledge of support, giving context for his ambition and the depth of their friendship. *points at icon* I assume this is taken from the volume later on that treats the war in much greater depth.
The Fuhrer's visit is a masterpiece of fuckery. He tells them that the conspiracy goes high up and orders them to keep their mouths shut, but promises to bring them in once he's ready to move. In other words, don't try to talk them out of what they already have figured out, but flatter their perception and make them feel like confidants . . . by asking them to do nothing. All in that entirely off-balancing charismatic/WTF manner of his. Just how suspicious does he look, on the first time 'round?
Another map of the country, when Ed and Al are explaining their travel plans, and then one more, as the pieces start falling into place for Mustang: he puts together Lior and Isbhal with uprisings in the North and West, and we see him circle Lior on a map. I wonder how soon anyone got "country-encompassing transmutation circle" out of all these hints?
Not to be all analytic and unemotional here, but really I have nothing to say about Hughes except WAAAH HUGHES. *sobbing*
Anyway. From a dramatic-stakes perspective, this is very effective; I was on the edge of my seat all through the long finale because clearly, no-one is safe. (Of course, as I recall the final death count was actually pretty low, perhaps too much so.)
Manga notes: this episode corresponds to the rest of vol. 4, which is the end of ch. 15, "Fullmetal Heart," and ch. 16, "Separate Paths."
Only one shot of the country's map this time, as Winry spots Rush Valley, no Hughes circling something on a map. Instead he's got a map in one hand and a spiral-bound book in the other.
Envy doesn't resume its own form before shooting Hughes, that we see. And his blood doesn't cover the picture of his family, unlike the anime. Oh well, that obviousness balances the anime's dropping the second half of Mustang's "Yes it is. This is rain." at the grave. Dropping the "This is rain" makes it not only so much less clunky but also makes it more metaphorical—people on Mark's post are pointing out the "useless in the rain" thing, which is a connection I'd never made, but even if you think that's a stretch I still think the anime did that line better.
In the anime, Mustang implies that Armstrong didn't intend to give away as much as he did, in the manga, Mustang implies that he phrased things revealingly as a kindness.
The rest of chapter 16 is the Scar check-in that was in episode 9; I have no opinion about this move. Vol. 4 also has the "Dog of the Military" side story.
Episode 11, "Miracle at Rush Valley"
In which Winry delivers a baby at Rush Valley. (Mark's post.)
This is a nice change of pace after the last but it's not my favorite by a long shot. I don't mind fluffy but I do mind lazy, and the whole "childbirth is scary to guys! Thieves with hearts of gold just need an outsider to tell them the error of their ways!" bits this episode has going are lazy and predictable. (Especially when the thief is brown and the outsider is very pale. Not our only brown character, there was the guy working with Mustang, but still.)
It is nice to see Winry being awesome through reading books and not her ~feminine intuition~ about childbirth, though.
A smidge of connection back to greater events: wanted posters in the train station for Scar, Greed, and Yoki.
Manga notes: this corresponds to vol. 5, ch. 17, "The Boomtown of the Broken Down," ch. 18, "The Value of Sincerity," and ch. 19, "I'll Do It for You Guys!" (almost all of it). The chase of Paninya is much longer, and there's an arm-wrestling bit and an interlude where Ed tries to mend a bridge to get a doctor over. I am totally fine with compressing these chapters down so far, as you may have inferred. Minor notes: weirdly, Ed's watch is gold not silver; and cranky-guy knows Pinako as "The Pantheress of Resembool" and has some kind of bad memories of her, which is hilarious.
Episode 12, 'One Is All, All Is One"
In which Ed and Al visit Izumi and recall their early training. (Mark's post.)
Another relatively angst-free episode, which is also notably free of the main plot. [Edit: I wrote this before Mark put his post up, obviously, considering the timing. It just shows how FMA has warped me, that Mark thinks this is a super-sad episode, and objectively of course he's right, but it's such a low-key sadness in comparison . . . !]
I can't remember if we've seen Izumi before as their teacher, but we know at this point that their teacher is a woman—they say "she" on the train in episode 10—so this skips the fakeout the manga uses, and possibly the first anime, about her giant husband (Sig) being the one they're so scared of.
The Curtises are so great. I love chibi Ed being bonked in the head by the hearts they were giving off, and "just a housewife passing through!", and the bit where she sharpens a knife, throws it without warning, and he snags it out of the air by the blade. *pauses to watch bear OVA*
Interestingly, this version of the island trades one form of callousness for another: instead of a scary masked dude randomly beating them up (but also keeping an eye on them), Izumi just leaves them there alone for a month. The masked dude was kind of over the top, and leaving him out does shorten things, but it seems more risky to leave them alone—yes, there was lots of food, but what if one of them suffered a serious injury? The thing about Izumi on the mountain is that she could leave the mountain; the Elrics had no way to get off the island.
All of them broke my heart when Ed and Al tried to put such a brave, no-biggie face on their losses, Izumi gathered them in and told them it was okay to hurt, and they asked for her forgiveness. (I can't remember if they do the kicking-out bit in this anime or if it's just saved for next episode.)
This episode flags again Hohenheim, their missing father, when Izumi mentions that she'd met him in Central: he'd been knowledgable about the Stone and seemed happy about a lifelong dream coming true.
And finally, this is where the divergence between the first anime and this one/the manga is irrevocable: there's no odd kid who turns out to be a Homunculus on the island, so the identities of the Homunculi turn out very different.
[Edit: I'd forgotten that the Fifth Lab stuff is a lot different in the first anime, with Greed showing up imprisoned there and with Tucker still alive. I seem to recall Tucker ends up playing a role in the ending, so perhaps that key divergence point is actually back a ways.]
Other manga notes: the island flashback is vol. 7, ch. 22, "The Masked Man" (except without the title character, of course). The next two chapters, ch. 23, "Knocking on Heaven's Door," and ch. 24, "Fullmetal Alchemist," were done back in episode 2, "The First Day" (the attempt to resurrect their mom, Ed before the Truth, and becoming a state alchemist). There's just a smidge of ch. 25, "Master and Apprentice," in this episode, a shortened version of the conversation when Izumi tells them about her attempt and then hugs them.
Randomly: the title page for ch. 25 has Ed's cloak draped over a suitcase, which reminded me that he's not wearing it in the chapter or in Rush Valley, which sent me on a Quest!
It seems the last time we saw it was when he met Sheska for the first time (ch. 10, "The Philosopher's Stone" / episode 8, "The FIfth Laboratory"). He doesn't have it on when they're deciphering the notes, or when they sneak out to the Fifth Laboratory, or on the train when they leave Central. I think the first time chronologically we seem him wearing a cloak (though I can't tell if it has the symbol on the back) is in the manga, when he comes to Mustang to tell him that he wants to become a state alchemist (ch. 24, "Fullmetal Alchemist", p. 124 in vol. 6). It doesn't appear in episode 2, but it is in the house-burning scene in the opening credits, which is chronologically right after.
Anyway, now that I have tracked all that down I don't have any energy left to spare on What It All Means, so I'll just put a pin in it for now and wait to see if it ever comes back.
Note: in case you didn't see it earlier, lettered is watching Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood for the first time, too, right now! (Episode 1, Episode 2). I will be updating my older posts with links to her posts along with Mark's. I also have a post with spoilers-for-everything in response to her posts, for her to read when she's done which may amuse some of you, especially if you have the same reaction as I did to one comment she made; here's that spoilers-for-everything post, which I will update as and when I have further comments about stuff in her posts.
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