After starting out with something almost completely unexpected to keep fans of the original anime series and manga happy, episode two of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood knuckles down and properly starts the show's "reboot" process.
Of course, this means taking us back to the very start of the story, something which Brotherhood does in a far more comprehensive fashion (to my memory at least) than the original anime series. Not only do we get to see a little of the Elric brothers learning their trade, we get an even more no holds barred account of the fateful night that they attempt human transmutation. This is undoubtedly a hugely important moment for the series right from the off, as it sets both the moral tone and the emotional crutch that haunts Ed and Al throughout, and to be honest I thought it was carried off very well here.
After spending so much time on those events, we seem to get far less time assigned to watching Ed's rehabilitation as he's kitted out with automail and trained up to use it, with the series again keeping its eye trained on the emotional over the visual by concentrating on the visit of State Alchemists Roy Mustang and Riza Hawkeye as they attempt (and obviously ultimately succeed) to convince the Edward to take the State Alchemist examination and become a "dog of the military", dangling the carrot of the research he'd be able to perform once he has taken up such a position.
All of this is set up as flashbacks as the brothers travel to Lior on their first real mission, which arguably disjoints things quite considerably, skipping over the State Alchemist examination to a pretty large degree in the process. The pacing of this episode certainly takes a little getting used to an I'm not entirely sure what to make of it, but what the instalment offered it did very well and in the manner that you'd hope from a new Fullmetal Alchemist series. In a similar vein I'm also in two minds about the animation quality, which feels more bold and pronounced than I remember the original series being - Something which again offers both positives and negatives depending on which way you look at it.
I suppose at the end of the day Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is always going to be a risky business - How do you reboot such an incredibly popular and successful anime and make it better without pissing off the fans? As of right now I'm not entirely sure that the series producers have the answer - Perhaps they're trying too hard to please everybody, but it would be unfair to judge until we see at least a few more episodes of the show so I'll hold fire on any real criticisms for now.