The world gets a bit bigger as visitors from another country arrive and cause a little trouble.
What They Say:
The Elrics scuffle with Ling Yao and his attendants, Lan Fan and Fu, visitors from Xing seeking the Philosopher’s Stone. Ed may not like him, but Ling Yao’s not leaving until he gets what he wants.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood starts to move beyond the previous anime series material and into more of the manga material that wasn’t adapted, we get some interesting things to see. This episode broadens our view of the world as it introduces a few characters from the country of Xing, the obligatory Chinese style country just off to the east of where our main storyline takes place. Through the help of a map, we do get to see just how small this nation that the State Alchemists belong to is and it really does alter your perceptions some as I had always thought of it being a bit more sizeable and influential in the grand scheme. Even with problems with its neighbors that have led to repeated skirmishes and wars.
The show has one primary part, but it’s the second part that’s both cute and really annoying so we’ll focus on that first. Scar is continuing to get himself back on track and had suffered a little bit as we saw in the last episode. To his surprise, the old man he knows suddenly has a houseguest in the form of a cute young girl from Xing who has a pint sized panda on her shoulder. She’s actually quite the skilled alchemist, not needing to make an array for it, and heals him pretty quickly which lessens his temper over her in general. The girl is certainly cute, but she’s a double hit of storyline problems by being both a child and having an animal with her. In her favor, she is in search of Ed since he’s made a name for himself and her vision of him is priceless as a heroic prince of sorts. When reality hits, even with her being a kid, you want to see how it’ll go.
The main focus of this episode has Ed and Al back in Rush Valley where he’s trying to get some new repair work done, much to Winry’s extreme displeasure. While there, the brothers run into Ling Yao, a man from Xing who is very interested in alchemy and the philosopher’s stone. Ed has a dislike for the man right from the start and doesn’t want to get involved with him, but Ling has ulterior motives and uses some of those at his command to try and force a situation that tests the brothers’ abilities. Ling is quite intent on using the pair as a way to find what he’s looking for, which includes tagging along with them to Central. Ling does bring a bigger worldview to the series which is appreciated, but something about the characters from Xing feels a bit off-putting and almost forced. It’s like a few standard stereotypes have been trotted out for use and to figure into something bigger hopefully. Right now they’ve only just been introduced and are fairly weak in terms of characterization, so I hope that they get dealt with better or disappear outright as time goes on.
This episode of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is a transitional piece as we move away from the anime version and keep closer to the manga version. That said, it’s not exactly an exhilarating episode and it doesn’t bring in new characters that I actually like. In fact, cute as the panda may be, I don’t actually like it. The way we learn more about the country itself is appreciated and I really liked the small subplot that has Mustang and his little group dealing with No. 66 as they try to figure out what’s going on and find Hughes’ killer. The episode as a whole feels weak, but there are a lot of little parts that I did like. And with more Winry, it can’t be all bad anyway.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
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.