Mania Grade: A+
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- 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: 24
- Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Fullmetal Alchemist
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Episode #40
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Episode #40 Review
By Chris Beveridge
January 21, 2010
Release Date: January 21, 2010
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
This is the episode that completely rewrites your view of certain characters and causes you to re-examine much of what has come before.
What They Say:
Long ago, the blood of a simple slave was used in an experiment which created a strange, shapeless being. In exchange for the gift of existence, the being gave the slave a name – and cursed him with immortality.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)”
The fortieth episode of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is one that is certainly important and designed in a way that really does some amazing work. The bookend pieces to the show are intriguing enough in themselves without even taking the middle chunk of the show into account. And with an episode like this, where it’s filled with back story, it can be told in a poor way so as to make the important exposition unappealing and difficult to connect with. Yet here they manage to make it exciting and completely engaging with every frame.
The opening piece is a wonderful bit of intrigue as General Armstrong is back at Central and already giving Mustang grief, though in a way that allows the two of them to setup a way to trade information. With what she’s done back at Briggs, she knows she’s going to have a difficult time with the Fuhrer and it’s confirmed even more so when they meet. Keeping to her nature, she takes the bull by the horns and ends up taking Raven’s place by showing Bradley exactly why Raven was such a fool, something that Bradley seems to accept with a bit of vigor and gusto as he brings Armstrong into the fold. This gets followed up by an even more fun moment as Mustang and Hawkeye trade a bit of information themselves while in the mess hall and Mustang is given the truth about what Selim is, something that really does seem to shake and surprise him. It’s not often that he gets that look about him, but when he does it’s a key moment.
Where the bulk of this episode deals though is with the past, as it shifts to a young slave in Xerxes some time ago. The nameless slave, known only as No. 23, was used for his blood which created the “dwarf in the flask” homunculus that now exists in the world. The homunculus, a little ball of evil fuzz, takes well to 23 and gives him the name Van Hohenheim since the slave is important as they share blood now. We see over time how Hohenheim gains some stature and place in the kingdom and with his master as the homunculus imparts knowledge and skill upon him, though it’s all for the homunculus’ benefit in the end which is nowhere near a surprise.
The back story to Xerxes has Hohenheim growing up, dreaming of a family and having a real life as a true man now instead of a slave, but what plays into this as well is that the king of Xerxes wants to live forever. And the homunculus has the knowledge for that inside all of its attitude and the king has no problems following all the instructions. It’s painfully obvious what will happen as we’ve seen it already, but since we’re seeing the construct of it happening in the present as well it’s even more potent. The key moments here is watching the rebirth of both the homunculus itself and of Van Hohenheim as their place in the world, who they are, who they were and now who they’re about to become plays heavily in the current storyline and with the brothers Elric. Understanding who this homunculus is and who Hohenheim really is changes a lot of what we’ve seen before, making past comments and movements all the more important to re-examine.
Though we’ve had some fairly slow episodes recently with a lot of dialogue and stark moments, this one is just as slow but has some of the most engaging moments in recent memory. The truth about Xerxes is significant as is the origins that are played out here, which also cause you to wonder what impact that will have on the brothers Elric with how their lives will play out as well as their connection to where the homunculus comes from. There’s a whole lot to like here in terms of world building but it also plays well with the folks from Central and then a beautiful moment towards the end involving Izumi which could really change the way that character plays out in the future. All around, this episode literally had me on the edge of my seat watching it play out and wanting more and more and more of it.
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.