As promised, and after beginning down this particular path last episode, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is now well and truly placed to venture off towards pastures new, leaving behind the memories of the original anime series with it.
This deviation from that version of the show (and therefore also a statement of intent to keep in check with the manga) means that we get introduced to a few new characters here, all of which come from the nearby (well, somewhat, if counting a huge desert counts) country of Xing. On the one hand we have young Mei Chan and her cute panda travelling companion Xiao Mei, who runs into Scar (who incidentally is up to his old State Alchemist-slaying tricks again), and on the other we have Ling Yao, who Edward and Alphonse come across as they look to Winry to repair Ed's automail yet again. While these characters may have turned up in different locations, they all seem to share the same goal - To find the secret of eternal youth, which they hope to find via the Philosopher's Stone with help from the legendary Edward Elric.
This new story branch gives the series an opportunity to blend in all of the things it loves to do best - A little comedy, some cutesy moments, and a fair chunk of action with martial arts and alchemy aplenty. The whole thing blends together pretty well in the case of this particular passage without ever being exemplary, although simply the introduction of some new forces who never found their way into the original anime brings forth a little excitement from me personally (having never read the manga). The real key to the success of this series now is how well it makes use of these progressions, and I'm sure I won't be the only one eagerly waiting to see how they get on.