Finishing FMAB: Episodes 54 and 55

A few weeks ago, I asked the Beneath the Tangles community to choose an anime for me to watch this summer out of a group that I’ve been meaning to watch or which I had begun, but hadn’t finished. There were a few popular choices, but I’ve honed in on the one that I most wanted to complete and which was also chosen by readers. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is perhaps the most celebrated modern anime, and after these many years, I’m almost through with it! Here are my thoughts on episodes 54 and 55, as I near completion.

What Went Down

  • Hawkeye realizes that Envy has disguised himself as Mustang, who himself arrives and begins to obliterate the homonculous. Under fire, Evy reverts back to his true form. Before Mustang can destroy Envy in his hatred, the others stop him and help Mustang realize he has to be a better, kinder leader; Ed also confronts Envy with the reality that the homunculous is ultimately envious of humans. Humiliated and in despair, Envy pulls out his own philosopher’s stone, killing himself.
  • The Armstrongs are losing their battle against Sloth and the mannequin soldiers, when Izumi and Sig arrive. The housewife’s immense power, and the combined brute of Alex and Sig, lead to the group’s victory, which includes Sloth’s death. Elsewhere, the Briggs soldiers are interrupted in their celebration as King Bradley returns to headquarters.
  • Hoenheim faces off against Father. The two powerful foes trade blows back and forth, with Hoenheim seeming to gain the upperhand, but Father shows his strength—suddenly appearing behind Hoenheim, he plunges his fist inside him.

Observations

  • The manliness and sparkle of the two muscleheads was beautiful. Definitely one of my favorite parts of the entire show!
  • Izumi is so awesome. If she hadn’t lost her internal organs, Izumi would perhaps be so strong that the bad guys would all have been put at bay by now.
  • Mustang, btw, is ridiculously strong, too. I keep forgetting that. Ed is tenacious and talented, but he doesn’t have the strength of Mustang.
  • The brutality of the Briggs men is intense compared to the mercy of Mustang’s forces. There’s a real civil war atmosphere here, and it speaks to the authenticity of the piece, since General Armstrong’s words about her forces don’t ring hallow, as I think they would in a lesser series.
  • The dialogue about humanity in Envy’s final scenes were really thought-provoking…good stuff there. I love how you have a group of people—Scar, Roy, Riza, and to a lesser extent, Edward—who’d done some terrible things, but were now committed to doing right, even though, as Mustang demonstrates in this episode, it’s not easy.
  • I’ll probably mention this in my final notes about the show, but as someone told me, this is about as perfect an anime as there is. Everything is connected—the series is laid out so well. I compared it with A Song of Ice and Fire last time for a different reason, and here’s another.

Questions

  • Although I don’t remember much about Hoenheim/Father’s original relationship, there’s definitely a mentor/disciple relationship here…does that mean that, as Star Wars, we’re gonna get a student kills master scene?
  • Why did Envy want to kill Mei? He tricks her, and then he has to kill her, too?

I’ll update everyone from time to time as I move toward completion of the show. Please feel free to comment below but please, no spoilers!!

 

7 thoughts on “Finishing FMAB: Episodes 54 and 55

  1. It diverges after the first thirteen episodes or so, which act as the part of the series that covers ground covered in the original FMA. Now, I have to state this in advance— the original show devotes more time to that early content, and does it a lot better. But once the show hits the parts of the manga the original FMA never covered, it starts just….whooping @$$. <__<;;;;; Once the Season 4 opening sets in, you feel this incredible high, as all of the show's complex plot threads begin to converge and form something awful and spectacular and intense.

    What's actually happening, and the reason behind the show's precise plotting, is that FMAB is covering the manga shot for shot, as carefully as possible. And FMA's creator is a hell of a writer, with a very clear story to tell.

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    1. I don’t think that the first anime covers the early parts “better” per say, but rather that the two adaptations handle the first few arcs of the series according to how it’d best suit the adaptation. FMA 2003 is a much more moody, slower paced series that revels in its atmosphere and spending long periods of time contemplating an idea, whereas FMAB is a much more tight knit adventure that uses each arc as a stepping stone to build up the whole. Just look at the Nina arc: in FMAB, we spend three episodes watching Edward preparing for the alchemist exam, living with the Tucker family, having fun with the Tucker family, taking the exam, etc. FMA 2003’s emphasis on the details and showing SoL moments fits that series perfectly. FMAB on the other hand, uses that same material to instead build up the story as a whole, by introducing human Chimeras, dropping a breadcrumb for one of the homunculus, and to reinforce Ed’s character trait of being very bold and daring. Two different executions for two different series.

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    2. “Convergence.” That’s the word of the day…I’ve rarely seen stories converge as well as they do in FMA, but that’s Arakawa for you. She’s absolutely amazing.

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  2. …..eeeehh, it could be a YMMV thing on that, but it’s also an issue of time. Think about how long Hughes was just *there* in the original FMA versus FMAB. We got a couple of fantastic scenes with him in FMAB, but in FMA the audience had enough time to genuinely like him as a person. To just expect his existence. And so when he dies, it hits like someone punched *you* in the chest, versus this sense that mainly the characters (and not you) are distressed about it. Granted his death (and why it happened) tie into the larger plot, and some characters in FMAB are far more fleshed out in that series than in FMA. But because FMA nailed getting us to care about some of the characters so powerfully the first time, it can’t help but come off in the second go round as “Okay you know what’s supposed to happen here, let’s just kinda get through this so we can get right into the plot- This is gonna come up later, don’t worry.”

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  3. But that criticism’s mainly leveled at the show’s early episodes. What the show develops into is quite fantastic and thematically coherent and remarkable. 🙂

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