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Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood rewatch, Episodes 39-41
Oh, hey, Mark's on a break this week, so I can catch up! Wow, I don't know how he does it.

Reminder: spoilers for everything.

Episode 39, "Daydream"

In which people split up and head out. (Mark's post.)

I am 100% uninspired to talk about this episode, and I have no idea why. So, barebones it is.

New opening and closing! (Can't believe the closing spoils the new transmutation circle.)

Lots of talking. Winry and Scar; Miles and Scar; Al and the chimeras.

I will agree that Miles and Scar as an opposition is unfortunate, because "work within the system" and "irrational serial killer" are not actually principled opposing views on achieving social justice, and so Miles ends up looking like the only way. However, apparently there is a view that holds the 2003 anime better regarding race, which, hello, Scar, as the only in-world POC, literally lays down his body and his life for Al's personal quest, are you shitting me?!

Yoki gets an opportunity to be competent.

I appreciate the dedication to Winry's agency even if I don't have more to say about it.

We leave Scar, Winry, Marcoh, Mei, Yoki, Zampano, and Jerso in a safe place for the moment; Ed and Miles facing return to a Briggs without Armstrong; Al in a snowstorm trying find them and warn the first group.

Manga notes:

Corresponds to the rest of vol. 18, the remaining parts of ch. 72, "A Chain of Negativity, a Pebble of Goodness," and ch. 73, "A Daydream."

The anime moves Scar's remembering his teacher's comments about forgiveness to a quieter moment, not right when Winry says it but later in the tunnels.

Buccaneer says he'll dig them out with his arm if they've been sealed in.

Other than that, just the moving of the Scar fakeout as mentioned last time.

Episode 40, "Homunculus (The Dwarf in the Flask)"

In which Xerxes falls. (Mark's post.)

This is quick updates on the military side of things, and then the Xerxes-Hohenheim-Father backstory.

I dislike the animation of Bradley's visible eye as a red dot during part of his conversation with Armstrong. (Just because the manga did it doesn't mean it's a good idea.) However, I love Armstrong to pieces: such an awesomely gutsy move, just flat-out admitting that she killed Raven, but lying about why. And her dismissive attitude toward Mustang is hilarious. (And of course the Briggs soldiers will do just fine without her, because leadership involves preparing people to function without you.)

Mustang and Hawkeye's awkward high school cafeteria moment / code session is, of course, also wonderful (I mock because I love). The manga does this a little better, despite dragging us through the whole boring conversation, by showing Mustang go pop-eyed before the very last letter, unlike the anime which has him the worst Hangman player ever.

And then the backstory of of the title.

Spoiler comments on Mark's post indicate that we never get a definitive answer on the origin of the dwarf in the flask, but it's implied to be part of the Truth, which is certainly one of the things I was wondering while watching. I guess there's not much else it could be, with all that alchemical knowledge.

A more interesting line of thought is the dwarf's interaction with Hohenheim, because the gratitude and fellow-feeling based on the (involuntary) blood donation seems somewhat hard to reconcile with Father's current intent to use Hohenheim as a human sacrifice. (Though the dwarf's understanding of humanity is a little shaky, I would think it would get the fact that blood in small enough quantities is a renewable resource for humans, and so Hohenheim's sacrifice isn't that great.) I'm writing this on the train and the connection's too slow to go through Mark's comments again, but I saw some really interesting discussion of how Father when he first met the Elrics was kind of weirdly interested in them, and at that time he still had Greed within him, and Greed is the Homunculus most interested in other beings. It's all a matter of inference how much pulling literally pulling emotions out of himself affects his behavior, but I think it's a pretty neat theory.

The other thing that I really want to know about now, though I have much less of a sense of how it would work, is Trisha. Now that we know just how fucked up Hohenheim must be emotionally, growing up as a nameless slave and then living for hundreds of years, unasked for, while able to hear the voices of the many many people who died to make that happen . . . And given his flashback interaction with Trisha, it seems likely that she was his first romantic relationship, at least post-Stone. So what did she see in him, and how did they develop a relationship? It's fascinating.

(Pinako called him a drinking buddy, didn't she? So he can't have been a gloomy offputting spacetoaster all the time.)

We only see Ed in the post-credits, which may be the longest the show's ever been without its title character? The only other possibility that comes to mind is the Ishval episode, and that had Ed at the beginning too. He's there to highlight the irony for us, that the Philosopher's Stone he and Al have been desperately searching for is their dad, and also to underline just how powerful and horrible Hohenheim's Stone is.

Manga notes:

Corresponds to vol. 19, ch. 74, "The Dwarf in the Flask," and ch. 75, "The Last Days of Cselkcess."

Very close. Includes a little scene from Briggs where the soldiers are doing as Armstrong ordered and placing the blame for Raven's death solely on her. Also shows Hohenheim teaching other slaves reading, writing, and math, which makes it so much worse (someone in Mark's comments has noticed that the anime consistently removes other people from Hohenheim's company, with the odd exception of his master, who is shown instructing him in a way that doesn't happen in the manga). Though it does mean he's less isolated as an adult and thus has more social skills to draw on when he meets Trisha, I guess.

Episode 41, "The Abyss"

In which Kimblee seriously injuries Ed. (Mark's post.)

We have confirmation that Hohenheim taught alkahestry to Xing, while Mei, Marcoh, and Scar are talking about the notes. And Al manages to deliver his warning mostly by luck, so Scar plans to take them to a village where Ishvalans are living. Except . . .

Kimblee knows that the Briggs soldiers intend to kill him, so he uses snow to disguise his escape and leaves the other two chimeras (whose names I didn't hear, and I don't see in the manga) to delay Ed. He pulls the "look, Ma, two Stones" trick on Ed, who pays the price for his mercy by burning up his life to fuel the healing. (The conversation with the chimera about this is oddly knowledgeable about alchemy on their part, but perhaps it's just expositional necessity.) They're impressed by his saving of their lives and deeply unimpressed by Kimblee's disregard for their safety, so they haul him off to find him a doctor when he collapses. With, duh duh dun, the crystal-like Stone that Ed knocked away from Kimblee.

And then we immediately cut to Al collapsing, too. Is this related? Ed and Al's bodies are linked, we established that with the nutrition thing. That's not the explanation Al gives, but maybe he doesn't know it. Hmm.

Anyway. I liked that Miles respected the difficulty of Ed's choice not to kill, and that Ed faced up to the costs of his choice as well, and that it wasn't, to me, presented in a "this view is definitively right or wrong" way.

(And Fake Al is hilarious.)

Manga notes:

Corresponds to vol. 19, ch. 76, "Shape of a Person, Shape of a Stone," and part of ch. 77, "The Tables Are Turned; A New Transmutation Circle."

Again, very close. Only things of note: (1) when Ed resolves to live after he's been impaled, he doesn't just think of Winry, but Ed and Hawkeye too, so much less a shipper moment; (2) the conversation with the chimeras about alchemical healing makes more sense, because they say they heard that Kimblee only lived after Scar inflicted a similar wound because he had a Stone.

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