The truth about Hughes is revealed and puts the brothers at a crossroads.
What They Say:
After learning of Hughes’s fate, Ed and Al are ravaged by sadness and guilt. Envy still hides in plain sight among the State Alchemists, and another Homunculus is on the verge of infiltrating their ranks as well.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Episode sixteen of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is a slightly unusual one in the grand scheme of anime but one that is a bit more common within the series itself. The relaxed and almost introspective episodes have happened a few times so far, to good effect, and this one comes at the right stage where it provides a chance for the core characters to show more of who they are. It’s an episode without any real action, but it brings in a bit of really good intrigue and shows the scope and scale of what’s going on in a continually clearer way which makes it all the more engaging.
After all the recent events, especially those dealing with the visitors from Xing, Ed, Al and Winry make their way back to Central. Ed and Al are doing some information gathering and figuring out the next angle for their investigation while Winry wants to visit the Hughes family and deal with a few other items. It’s a generally upbeat start to everything, but with the events that have played out recently you know it’s not going to go well. When the trio splits up, Ed and Al find themselves in the military compound itself and shocked to find Mustang there. Mustang continues to be an intriguing character to watch because he is a hard and tough man who has seen a lot, but there’s still a great deal of caring humanity in there. He does try to soften things for the boys, but with so many people involved it doesn’t take long for the truth about Hughes to come out.
When Armstrong and Mustang first talk about this, as Armstrong mentions meeting the brothers and not telling them, they both are aware of how Ed and Al will take such news. The way they will blame themselves is obvious knowing them as they do, Armstrong particularly, but Mustang gets it as well and does what he can to try and offset that, even to the surprise of Hawkeye. When they do find out, it’s a powerful moment with Ed since his emotions are on his face unlike Al and both of them aren’t sure about whether they should continue on with their stated goals since neither wants someone else to die for their mistakes. There’s a good lengthy sequence at the Hughes household with Gracia and Ellicia with Winry there as the brothers talk about how they think they’re connected with it. While it is predictable in how it will play out, almost going through the motions, they are well choreographed motions that do speak of the emotions of the characters. Characters that do act in character with this, which in turn pays some good tribute to who Hughes was.
With little action, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood does have the problem of making sure it’s continually engaging for its viewers. It can’t – and shouldn’t – be all action all the time. An episode like this is welcome after a lot of action, especially as it continues to build the overall foundation and structure of the series with its scope. The little moments here as we see the homunculi running around, especially after the Fuhrer material recently, speaks quite a lot about how involved their plan is and the way they are manipulating everything. And I do love episodes that take place in Central as the architecture is a character unto itself that I want to see more of. Everything here is helping to build towards the bigger moments to give us a stronger connection to the character and the situation. It may not be thrilling, but it is mightily engaging.
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.