Sometimes there’s nothing scarier than meeting the person who teaches someone what they know.
What They Say:
While visiting Izumi, their childhood teacher, the Elrics recall the early difficulties of grasping equivalent exchange. They also discover she shares their intimate knowledge of alchemy’s greatest taboo.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With Winry now out of the way and a mildly silly episode done and over with, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is moving right along to the point where more important back story pieces are being brought into play. In the first eleven episodes, we’ve seen a lot of snippets of the brothers’ past before Ed became a State Alchemist and some lengthier pieces such as when he discovered “the truth” about what lies beyond. There’s still a significant amount of back story to tell but this one puts the brothers in a place where we can finally understand a bit more of what happened to them long ago.
Having made their way further south, the brothers find themselves at their old sensei’s home. There’s a bit of trepidation to them seeing her again but it’s important since they’re continuing to track down every lead they have when it comes to those who can create the Philosopher’s Stone. That information has brought them to Izumi is good and bad since Ed has made some terrible choices since they had parted last, namely losing much of his body and all of Al’s. Izumi is one of those fun kind of characters that has a very different twist to her this time around as her illness is more apparent from the start because she does spit-takes with huge gobs of blood flowing from her mouth. But that doesn’t stop her from kicking the boys asses whenever necessary as she shows them that she still has everything she ever has and can run roughshod over them.
Izumi and Ed have some interesting similarities to their lives that are slowly explored and revealed, but what was most interesting about this episode comes in two parts. The first is the brief flashback and talk about the boys father and their general distaste of him to say the least. Finally getting to see him in show, even in a flashback, is quite welcome as we get a new facet to interpret with how the brothers are. The other part is the training that Izumi gave the brothers before she really took them on as apprentices. Having both of them essentially stranded on an island for a month and having to figure out a mystery she poses to them, forcing them to grapple with the philosophical along with the basic survival needs, she gives them a chance to show just how determined they are. And as we’ve learned from their lives since then, these are two very determined boys.
Twelve episodes in and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is developing a good story and a decent sized cast without showing all of them on a regular basis. With no Scar and nobody from Central making a noteworthy appearance here, we get a good story dealing with the boys and their past and how it’s impacting their present. Izumi really is a great character, though a bit more comical this time around I think, and they move through the material smoothly without too much lingering or being overly sentimental. There’s not a ton of action in this episode but the moments we do get between Izumi and the boys is really nicely done, especially as we get a good bit of time with Al as a human and those are simply wonderful scenes. This series continues to work well, though I do find myself still trying to compare to the previous incarnation and getting ahead of myself. I’m enjoying it thoroughly but still wish it was completely new to me.
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.