Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood 4-6

4 An Alchemist’s Anguish

Ed and Al search for more clues to the Philosopher’s Stone by studying with Shou Tucker (Makoto Nagai), a life alchemist who made a chimera that was able to understand human speech. The episode them moves to a surprisingly sweet episode as Ed and All bond with Shou’s daughter Nina (Sumire Morohoshi) and her dog, Alexander. It’s a nice break from the darkness of the boys’ lives, a reminder that they are still children at heart.

This would be a sweet episode expect that Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood wants to continually drive a stake through the audience’s heart. The final act is gut-wrenchingly cruel when Shou goes to desparate lengths to keep his title as a state alchemist. Meanwhile, a mysterious new figure who is going around murdering alchemist, claiming that alchemists have profaned god’s natural order. The ending leaves Ed aware of how little power he has in the world even as one of the world’s most talented alchemists.

5 Rain of Sorrows

The mysterious alchemist killer from the previous episode becomes known as Scar (Kenta Miyake). He attacks Ed and Al, leading to a short, vicious battle. In the battle, Ed shows little resolve to live, actually asking Scar to kill him at one point as long as he will leave Al alive. Central forces arrive before Scar kills Ed, but he does swiftly escape. The battle leaves Ed’s metal arm destroyed and Al’s armor half obliterated.

Not a lot happens this episode, but it’s the mood more than anything that makes the episode memorable. The continual rain, Ed’s dower mood, and the sense of desperation as Ed actually runs from a fight for once. The sense of defeat from the last episode lingers over the episode. It fails to move the story forward, but it’s superb as a character episode that fleshes out the Ed and Al relationship.

6 Road of Hope

Ed and Al head home with Armstrong (Kenji Utsumi) as an escort/guard. Along the way, they encounter doctor Marcoh (Masayuki Omoro) who used to research the philosopher’s stone before he went into hiding. He initially refuses to give them any information but eventually reveals a hint for where they can find more information about the stone. The main revelation they get is that the philosopher’s stone is something that you make. With this knowledge, they return home to Pinako (Miyoko Asô) and Winry (Megumi Takamoto), childhood friend and the mechanic who built Ed’s leg and arm. The trip gives them a chance to heal physically and emotionally.

Perhaps even more than the last episode, this is a downtime episode, but it once again does a good job of reflecting both the youthfulness of the boys while also showing that they’ve lost the innocence of youth. Perhaps the best moment is when Pinako explains the boys burned their home before leaving, a gesture that they had nothing left but each other going forward. The downside to this episode is the continually atrocious comedy which is always worse when Armstrong is added into the mix. He’s unbearable for most of the episode.

© 2015 James Blake Ewing