Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Episode #04 (of 51) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Thursday, April 30, 2009
Release Date: Thursday, April 30, 2009

The perversity of transmutation rears its ugly head in one of the more disturbing episodes of the series.

What They Say
The Elrics meet Shou Tucker, a leading researcher in the field of chimeras. He has much to teach Ed and Al about alchemy - and the horrible cruelty that sometimes accompanies it

The Review!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood chugs along in going through the basic setup episodes of what this world is like, it doesn’t shy away from showing the darker side of things. A pair of plots permeate this episode now that the brothers have returned to the capital city and have reported in to Colonel Mustang with their findings. The two had quite the experience Liore where they dealt with the fake Philosopher’s Stone, but they also got a clue as to the real kind of power that may be behind the real thing. A fake can get close and what they saw during that episode does give them some hope that they can get their bodies back. And Colonel Mustang is entirely ready to help them on their quest, since it often fits in with his own needs as well.

Since they’ve done him such a good job in Liore, he’s making sure he’s not indebted to Edward so he sets them up to meet another State Alchemist who is considered the authority on living transmutation, the most taboo of transmutations. Shou Tucker has been given the name of the Sewing Life Alchemist because of what he’s accomplished before in creating something that could actually talk. Unfortunately, all it was said was that it wanted to die and it starved itself to death. But that one success, if you could call it that, gave him the stature to be who he is now. Unfortunately, he’s not doing well with his yearly assessments and he’s likely to fail with the next one that’s coming up and become stripped of his State status. With his young girl Nina living with him after his wife left, he’s desperate to do what he needs to in order to make sure they have a future. Unfortunately, he chooses something that is quite despicable, something that even years after seeing it in the previous series, it still sticks with me.

On the flip side, the other storyline that filters throughout this episode deals with an assassin, more of a powerful thug at this point, who is making his way throughout the city and causing some small but serious problems. The unknown man in glasses with an X scar across his face has taken out one of the big State Alchemists right from the start with a strong amount of power. He’s spouting off a few things about blasphemy against God and the path that some are taking, which gives him a very ominous feeling as he backs up his words with power and action. Brutally killing those who he seeks out, he comes across as having a definite mission and intent on accomplishing his goals without anything getting in his way. This character is a mystery at this point, but the small amount that he appears here really does well to give him a sense of importance and someone that will stop at nothing. It’s just an added bonus that he has a strong cool look to him, especially in contrast to most of the others who are generally done up in their military garb.

In Summary:
This episode of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is quieter and more introspective than the first three episodes but it balances it with some brief bursts of calculated violence and a severe amount of creepy. Tucker’s role as the Sewing Life Alchemist is one that by its very nature isn’t all that bright and lovely to think about, but he goes in such a dark direction, his mind so warped by what he sees as his end goal, that the results turn the stomach. And have turned my stomach since I first saw it. This incarnation doesn’t shy away from anything either and if anything is even more striking with the kind of pacing and visual design used for the series now. This is a very good episode overall, one that sets up a lot of things, but it’s also one that shows the kind of darkness that does populate this world and this story. There are light moments to be had – thankfully – but it’s the darker moments that will really stay with you.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles

Review Equipment

Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.



Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: NA
Video Rating: NA
Packaging Rating: NA
Menus Rating: NA
Extras Rating: NA
Age Rating: 13 and Up
Region: All Region DVD
Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
Running time: 25
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Fullmetal Alchemist