We watched a somewhat random assortment, based on what discs we'd gotten from the library and what seemed like they would be the most hilarious episodes to two fans of Brotherhood and the manga, based on episode summaries.
And, because we are that kind of people, we took running notes on our reaction. "Copious," Becca contributes.
She's making me post them here.
SO. WARNING. We are both kind of spoiled for this series, but don't have a comprehensive and coherent knowledge of the plot details; we are unabashedly fans of the manga and Brotherhood and biased accordingly, and were mostly lulz-watching this; our notes reflect all of this. Our notes also reflect the fact that we watched a rather scattered collection of episodes without necessarily being sure what happened in between them, and the fact that it was after 2 a.m. when we watched the last one. Also, we kept stealing the keyboard from each other. (Quick ETA: Warning also that there are plenty of spoilers for all versions of FMA scattered throughout this, not just for the first anime.)
FEEL FREE TO SCROLL ON PAST.
Flashback Barry the Chopper -- I -- what? What?? Uh. OKAY THEN. Also, way to damsel and traumatize Winry, geez. (Also, the multi-episode flashback totally confuses me as a narrative choice, but whatever.) [Note from later: at this point, we were basically watching an episode and then reacting briefly afterwards. Later, it becomes more play-by-play.]
Ep 13: Fullmetal vs. Flame
TOTALLY A HAVOC DREAM SEQUENCE. This entire episode is a Havoc dream sequence. When you think of it that way, the way everyone is over-the-top and OOC makes sense!
(We watched that one in the English dub. Some of the voices are pretty good! Bradley, for example. Some of them are... less so. Um. Vic Mignogna, you are ever so much more impressed by yourself than I am. Also, stop trying to sound like you're 15; you fail.
However, I totally believe that in Havoc's inner mind theater - which this episode is - Mustang has a voice that is three registers deeper than his normal one. In Havoc's inner mind theater, Mustang IS the Batman.)
Ep 37: The Flame Alchemist, The Bachelor Lieutenant, and the Mystery of Warehouse 13
We decided from the summary that this one is another of Havoc's dream sequences. (Accordingly, we watched it in English as well.) Mind you, we both adore the extra story it's based on.
Then we were surprised by how adorable it was to see animated in montage! HEE HEE.
Although the whole MISSION: FIND HAVOC A GIRLFRIEND thing is... uh. Possibly Breda's lulzy dream sequence? The Armstrong house is exactly as sparkly and hilarious as it should be, though. And Armstrong's voice actor is perfect. Havoc's inner mind theater: PERFECT AND HILARIOUS. (And supports the previous theory!) He also sounds weirdly like Sokka at moments! Catherine Elle, I love you entirely. Alcohol was actually not needed for this half episode!
(Why is Breda so flaily here? Why is Fuery so flaily? Why is everyone so flaily in this version? Although Hawkeye and Mustang make hilarious deadpan foils for it. However: Mustang as a deadpan foil makes me make puzzled faces somewhat...) Depending on how the Warehouse 13 thing plays out, I may have spoken too soon about the alcohol thing.
This is an entertaining version of Scooby Doo, but... uh... I am confused by the whole revision of Mustang's hand-picked men into the Scoobies? Also, we called the dog-and-bone thing from the instant it appeared. (Also, uh, don't you think Roy Mustang, Hero of Ishval, should be able to tell the difference between a human bone and a chicken bone?? I AM CONFUSED.) Conclusion: entertaining, yet bewilderingly OOC.
Other things we are confused by: these end credits. Bizarrely fanservicy, yet inexplicable! Somehow feels more fanservicey than the entire end credits sequence of Brotherhood where Winry is shirtless! MYSTERIOUS.
[At this point, we paused for rewatching some Utena. Black rose arc, wheee!]
The Elrics have not yet learned any discretion here. However: kinda hilarious brotherly squabbling! (We're back in Japanese now. I like the Elrics' voice actors SO MUCH BETTER here.)
Also entertaining: watching this so out of order means we're totally guessing at plot points often. Hee hee.
Winry and Sheska team-up hijinks I am ALL IN FAVOR OF. Categorically! And I do love Sheska's expanded role in this version; I wish she'd gotten more screen time in the manga and Brotherhood. (However, the amount of eye-twitching they keep having is kind of bizarre. WHY IS EVERYONE SO FLAILY.) And, to give this version its due, while the manpain and macho posturing (and damseling, from the little I've seen?) are totally upped, I do at least approve of Winry getting to wander around being badass with lockpicks and stuff. Also Martel being around more! Although, uh, it is kind of a shame she's just going to get killed off later anyway. (Also also: why does she use atashi? I don't think of Martel as super-feminine! Is this a 90s thing? A nuance I don't know? This elementary Japanese student is confused.)
...And then Sloth the water creature thing. Uh. What? I don't know if there's precedent for this in an episode I didn't watch, or what, but I am confused. (Also, I don't know how Winry can recognize Trisha's face that quickly after that long in that form, but, uh... never mind. I suppose we can chalk it up to the standard Fictional Character Recognition Powers.)
Aaaaand then the fanservicy end credits. We skipped those.
awwww, Elicia! And... apparently Winry can just kidnap a military records clerk without any issue? Doesn't Sheska need to report for duty and stuff? Oh well. (Although it is much clearer why Winry/Sheska has a fandom presence.)
Kimblee has lost his dapperness in favor of... weird hair? And a face mask? And sloppy shirts. Okay then! (Without his bizarre dapperness to go along with the utter crazy, WHAT IS THE POINT OF KIMBLEE.) I think maybe Archer stole it?
...Wait wait wait. Ed actually killed Greed??? I knew he killed homunculi, but I thought that was later, as at least a climactic moral struggle?? WHAT. we are talking about EDWARD ELRIC here. What! (Also: Martel and the snake and the... what??)
...Ishval offered no resistance? If this is meant to be the truth, uh... I like the manga's version way better. As it fits better with how wars actually work, and lets the Ishvalans be human as well as just Tragic Victims. And makes the entire country complicit/involved, instead of just Special Units Commanded To Do Evil. Also, seriously, it's 2/3 of the way through this anime and Ed and Al are just figuring out that Ishval Was Problematic now?
Minor aesthetic pont: Ishvalans with dark hair look so weird to me now.
I mean, theoretically I like getting more backstory on Martel and the gang because they are cool, and that sequence was interestingly creepy. I just wish it did not come at the expense of . . . the rest of the weight of the Ishval backstory.
Mustang: YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH! (Is he going to tell them that Hughes just went on vacation to Florida, or something? Once again, someone needs to remind Mustang that Hughes is not a goldfish.)
Somehow, even though the uniforms are exactly the same, they look bulkier and dorkier here.
...WOW, Ed's cunning disguise. I. Wow. (Becca: "I think it's sweet that he wants to look like his mom!" Gen: "I think he's trying to look like an adorably mussed street urchin. It's a weird look on him.")
...Other things we forgot about: evil Shou Tucker sticking around evilly to be evil forever and ever. Gosh. Also: did not realize that the ENTIRE TOWN called Rose the Holy Mother and, like, quasi-worshipped her. What?? I am so confused by all of this. Aren't they supposed to be infighting over religiousness anyway? And why is Scar there? And why are Gluttony and Lust there? WHY DOES EVERYONE CARE ABOUT LIORE? I guess if it's the only uprising going on right now people would, as opposed to all the border wars and stuff in the manga/Brotherhood, but... still... is it a protagonist vortex or something?
Scar and Scar-Bro's backstory! THIS SHOULD BE INTERESTING.
We're trying to figure out who Kimblee's personality has been swapped with. Somebody unsubtly eeeeeeeeeeeeeevil, to be sure.
I'm pleased to see (per the intro credits) that Al continues to be a Disney princess who talks to birdies in this version, though. Oh, Al. <3
We've decided that Liore is indeed a protagonist vortex. Then we can stop thinking about the fact that it doesn't actually make sense that everyone would head straight there ALL AT ONCE.
How are Philosopher's Stones made in this version? I don't remember. But it's very strange to hear Ed and Al talking about how Scar plans to make a Philosopher's Stone... Also, what, Scar is only learning about Ed's automail in episode 40?? (Also, Ed's logic makes sense, except for the fact that it doesn't, and also he keeps monologuing. And also he's beating Scar, which is just ALL WRONG to me.)
Aaaaaand now the Scar flashback. Which he's telling aloud?? To whom and why??? Because Rose The Holy Mother thinks he should?? THIS IS INDEED HILARIOUSLY WTF.
Oh, apparently after the Secret Evil Commando Raid, the Ishvalans did rise up for an actual conflict after all? Well, I'm glad they get some agency. WHY IS SCARBRO CRAZYFACED AND TATTOOED HOWEVER.
...This is a very, uh... hands-on and inefficient version of Kimblee. --What??? What is ScarBro doing?? What is going ooooooon? I AM SO CONFUSED BY EVERYTHING. His tattoos are dead Ishvalan's soooouuuuls? (And they are having a deathbed conversation about their brotherly love triangle?? AWKWARD AS WELL AS WTF. Especially as SCAR WAS TWELVE WHEN THE GIRLFRIEND WAS ALIVE.)
In a way, I'm glad that they obliquely deal with the issue of rape in a town torn apart by riots and suppressed by an oppressive military! In another way: what is going on? And how do these dramatic events make me stare in confusion more than being actually affected by them?
Why is Scar setting up false religious leaders?? Why is Shou Tucker STILL AROUND? Why does Martel keep monologuing instead of just killing people, and why does she have snake-tentacle hands?? Why did Martel say "Al, listen" and nothing else, and why did Al not move away from the sword?
(Gen, handing over laptop: "Do you have any more questions to add?" Becca: "IT'S ALL QUESTIONS.")
[and then we paused again for tea and trying out Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, which neither of us had ever seen any of. Conclusion: OMG SO SHOUJO. *___* At least in episode one. also: this transformation sequence is really awkward.]
Ep 42: His Name Is Unknown
We're watching this one mostly to see Scar's completely different backstory play out in angsty love-triangle reunion with Lust. LET'S SEE HOW THIS GOES.
DRAMATIC SCENE OF DRAMAAAAAAAAA
And then Ed confronts Sloth who is Trisha (I'm still not over this totally different mythology) and... uh... is not at all IC! So that's fun?
So apparently the baby only cries when the plot demands it. UNLESS WRATH ACTUALLY KILLED IT.
...Wow, Shou is freaktastic. In ALL WAYS. I am so confused by this entire plot development, and why Shou has random bits of animals and stuff stuck to him and his face upside down and backwards. I mean, I know some of it, but it still makes no sense to me narratively.
I keep waiting for Gluttony to talk about eating people, and he keeps... not. Babytalking gleefully about people dying, yes! Talking about eating people, no. Very odd. It is weirder because Bradley sounds just like Bradley EXCEPT I KNOW HE ISN'T.
And now Scar and Lust are having a Moment. Possibly Scar's lost another arm? I'm not sure. OH OKAY he just lost another arm! Voluntarily?? To make Al a philosopher's stone, I think? I remain so confused. Although Scar gets points for stoicism, I guess, as he stands around with his arm-stump dripping blood having manpainy conversations about alchemy. And about Al exploding? AS YOU DO. When did he start caring about the Elrics?
And then Scar... leapt in front of Lust... and possibly got killed??? ("Did Scar just . . . die?" "I DON'T KNOW, IT WAS REALLY UNCLEAR") And then he monologues about his feeeeeeeelings and his brother issues! THIS IS NOT THE SCAR I KNOW. People talk about feelings and he grunts and broods on his own time! But apparently here he slumps in a corner to bleed armlessly and talk about his brother issues. OKAY THEN. Aaaand then he dies? I think? --Oh no, he's still going! He is like the determinator bunny! Aaaaaand now he's died, after he's had a chance to fall over in the street and mutter manpain to himself and I think armlessly trigger the transmutation circle with his pectorals or something. Good to know. And then Al the tattooed(?) philosopher's stone transmutes the city and there is a lot of red light and Ed screams at everyone and I have very little idea what's going on!
(I LIKE SCAR'S STORY ARC SO INFINITELY MUCH BETTER IN ARAKAWA'S VERSION I JUST HAVE TO SAY.
...No, actually, I have to scroll back up here in between episodes and be vehement some more. SO MUCH BETTER, YOU GUYS. Here, he passes on the souls of all the dead Ishvalans to Alphonse Elric the Amestrian kid, explicitly so that power will be the Elrics' to do with as they will, and then dies facedown in the street. And I don't think we see any more Ishvalans around ever [at least until the epilogue montage], Lust not counted?? Responsible sensitive handling of genocide: ur doin it rong. WHAT.)
Oh, and then Al is helpfully explaining! It doesn't actually help me much. And he's still got a philosopher's stone inside his metal stomach. But okay then! And Lust is ambiguous at them, and has possibly been Moved By The Power Of Love And Symbolic Tokens. (Someday I would like to see somebody moved by something quotidien rather than a Dramatic Parting Gift. I'm just saying.
...Becca is helpfully reminding me of events in the Inda series. Yet another reason I love Sherwood Smith immensely. NONETHELESS.)
At the end of this episode, Becca: "So... that happened!" INDEED, Becca.
Ep 48: Hohenheim of Light.
In which Hohenheim shows up, and everything is totally different than the manga, and there is stuff with Dante! WE LOOK FORWARD TO WTFING.
Rose continues to be saintly, sad, and carry around a tiny baby wrapped in swaddling clothes. It is handy that it seems to never need to move around, nurse, or make any of the demands real babies to except to cry when it's plot-relevant...
And now we have Christianity the Ancient Religion, which apparently is how the worldbuilding works here in this version. (And the baby cries on cue! CHRISTIANITY MAKES THE BABY SAVIOUR CRY, apparently.)
And then Lust is pinned by swords! STILL CONFUSED. I guess she defied somebody? I don't know. Why is Rose meeting the homunculi? Does this have to do with Dante-I-mean-Lyra, whom I know is evil in some confusing fashion??
And we get new intro credits! Possibly the most manpainy lyrics yet, hee hee hee. --HAHAHA WHISKEY!MUSTANG IN THE INTRO. Thank you, first anime!!
King Bradley is a homunculus!!! On ep 48. The pacing is different here, isn't it. ("Are you saying that King Bradley and the homunculi are somehow... connected...?")
...I do however CONTINUE TO LOVE ARMSTRONG. Targeted diversion of sparkling and muscle-flexing bizarreness! <3333
And then Al is bizarrely flaily, and Mustang talks about Ishval philosopher's stones in a way completely different from the way I'm used to it being! And then Al -- uh -- Al just exploded in philosopher's stone light and fell in the river and then exploded out of it in sparkles and now can swim and he's VERY EXCITED and what the hell just happened. I understand half of it but... what? ("What happened to Al's tactical intelligence? Where did it go?" "I don't knoooow!")
And then Hohenheim is randomly poetic at Maria Ross and flirting with her creepily and ... I... WHAT??? (Becca, after Ed punches Hohenheim in the face: "He's not Woehenheim if he's not streaming tears in that situation!") And why is Maria Ross's personality totally different?? whaaaaaat. (Although I also see where all the Ross/Brosh shipping comes from, I guess.)
Hohenheim is also very different-looking. I'm confused by his lack of a really rectangular face! He looks weirdly hippieish here, despite having much the same character design and fashion sense. (He's also nowhere near as hilariously awkward. We both miss it. :( )
"Brother, I'm sleeping with Dad." AWKWARD TRANSLATION, GUYS. AWKWARD TRANSLATION. (Becca: "WHAT!?!?! THIS ISN'T UTENA.") Thereafter, all Al-Hohenheim conversations: newly awkward for us all.
For the record: I do not read Roy/Ed vibes in here. However, they are much, much more peers than in the other version. So there's at least that. (But it's also very odd to me. Mustang is not supposed to actually regard Ed as a peer in some of the ways he seems to be here! On account of how Ed is 15 and Mustang is pushing 30! This is a relevant age gap no matter how precocious at alchemy the kid is.)
--they just found out that Hughes is dead. IN EPISODE 48. Uh, well, okay then!! At least Pinako shows up to be a voice of relative sanity. And then they all talk about how Mustang is not a jerk after all (in episode 48) and how he is an adult (...yes...) and Ed is pissy. Okay!
Lust: still impersonating a butterfly on a card. 'kay.
And now we have Dante!Lyra and evil!Hohenheim! I think. Or just battling? OR SOMETHING. Rose seems to have disappeared along with her currently-plot-irrelevant baby. And then Hohenheim has ghostly Als battling blob-critters? You know, as happens. Is Hohenheim evil here, or past evil but repented, or what?
And then Ed angstily digs up his mommy for grave-robbing to kill a homunculus. Because that is the Elric way. >.<
Because we wanted to watch the final episode and had about hit our limit of FMA:A for the night. FINAL EPISODE, GUYS. TIME FOR FACEPATCHES AND NAZI GERMANY.
Al is shocked, Ed is impaled, and Rose is... in a ballgown?? THANKS, DANTE. I would probably be less confused if we'd watched episodes 49 and 50, but as it is, I am so bewildered.
So odd that Gluttony is still around. But at least he's trying to eat people! (Presumably Lust ended her days pinned to a wall?) And the Bradleys are in a car with Hawkeye, and Archer... is a Terminator??? OKAY THEN. (And baby Bradley seems to just be a normal little boy, which is a nice mind-twist.) Mustang gets impaled in more or less the same place, having set Bradley on fire a bunch, and I'm not totally sure why he's providing manpainy moral justifications instead of burning him more, but maybe his gloves got destroyed or something.
...And then Selim has great timing! "I WANTED TO THANK YOU FOR ADOPTING ME." As... you do...? and then Bradley kills him! Which is a nice way to make his character less complicated! And then... uh. OKAY. I mean, this is pretty badass for Mustang, but I remain bewildered by the metaphysics and how... real people logic... does not work this way.
(Becca: "Rose, why are you doing nothing throughout all of this?" Either it's because she's a girl or beccause she's trapped by a Ballgown Of Plot, I dunno.)
And Al is a weirdly tattooed PHILOSOPHER'S STONE and is going to bring Ed back with a lot of dramatic holographic transmutation arrays which are... uh... very pretty!
Roy still doesn't have a facepatch! We are complaining about thi-- OH HI TERMINATOR ARCHER. I guess this is when this happens! Whoops, no, Hawkeye may have just killed terminator Archer. (She's also doing the anime shoujo run, which... what? Anyway.) And then she cries over Mustang in a puddle of his own blood, but they didn't actually show him getting shot, so I am kind of confused by their choice of dramatic cuts around.
...The Gate... took Ed... to London. RIGHT. OKAY.
And Truth's creepy hands are made of tiny nibbling babies. Still confused. And Envy is shapechanging his bravado-y way along, which... is totally IC in a way, but... in a deeper way none of this makes any sense! So that's kind of par for the course for this anime, so far as I can see. (NOTE FROM THE END: We were figuring Envy would show up again as a snake? Or something? BUT APPARENTLY NO. AMBIGUOUS SNAKES ALL ROUND.)
And now Ed is awake! With all limbs! And Al vanished! OOPS. Ed will stand around and shout uselessly ,while Rose pats her plot-relevant crying baby! I am thinking of this baby as being like the randomly appearing arrows and suchlike in Utena. Instead of BLINK BLINK BLINK, we have the baby squalling or occasionally laughing.
And then crazed Gluttony eats Dante? Or gets killed by Dante! I'M NOT SURE WHICH. IT'S REALLY UNCLEAR. And then Ed is in a gigantic transmutation array (possibly in his soul? Or possibly just in flash-forward), and his muscles are weirdly awkward-looking and kind of bulgy, and then he ~dramatically transmutes~, and we cut to a voiceover about the epilogue and how things are playing out! Everybody is back at work! Sheska has many books! Ishval has Ishvalans around, I guess! They have no food nor non-ruined houses, but so it goes. Mustang has a facepatch, and some actual dialogue with Hawkeye, which is kind of sweet and rather shippy! Al has his body back, and is a ten-year-old with no memories since the failed transmutation. (I'm very confused by who's giving this voiceover. Rose? Winry? I don't know these voice actors well enough!) Al totally doesn't look ten, by the way. And Wrath is around... with automail... and crankiness? OKAY. And Al wants to study alchemy and learn everything and see brother again someday!! LET'S EMBARK ON THE WHOLE TRAGIC CYCLE AGAIN, GUYS. IT'LL BE FUN. LOOK HE HAS A TINY DETERMINED SHONEN FACE. This is all very... narratively unsatisfying, honestly.
And then there is Mysterious Candlelit Chanting by guys all in black, and Hohenheim is mentoring these guys in another creepy doomed project, which I guess he's going along wi-- ohhhh I guess they're in pre-Nazi Germany now! WELL WON'T THAT BE NICE.
Slow pan up to the sky! Date and place given! Ed metal-armed (is his metal arm useless here?), angsty, and reading science, so he can go into space to get closer to his world! Because that'll work! I can't decide if this is supposed to be heartwarming or what, but I am finding it very unsatisfying and bemusing, even having known about it well beforehand. This is not what paying the price means, guys. This is not what I call coherent, as such. But we've come full circle to angsty determination on a train and ill-fated shonen decisions! Yay...?
"Equivalent Trade is not a principle of the world, it's a promise I made with my brother. To meet him again!" And then they fist-bump symbolically into the sky across dimensions. It's extra symbolic because Ed doesn't even have a functioning automail arm to fistbump with. (Unless it only functions for dramatic fistbumps, and not for looking through folders on science??)
OKAY. GOOD TO KNOW.
I know I imprinted totally on Brotherhood and the manga, but... I still gotta say, this is how you do a dramatic payoff ending that does not, in fact, pay off satisfactorily at all. :-/ Oh well.
AT LEAST WE CAN SAY WE TRIED.