The way the last episode of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood ended promised action and excitement aplenty this time around, and boy did this nineneenth episode not disappoint.
With Riza Hawkeye left facing off against Gluttony at the climax to that instalment, we rejoin exactly where we left off with the Lieutenant in a tight spot. Luckily for her she isn't alone, and eventually it's Colonel Mustang who saves the day in typically heroic fashion. Meanwhile, Alphonse has learned about Mustang and company's plan, and thus races off to see what he can do to help.
What follows is a fantastic blend of set-piece action and passion, with Mustang and his subordinates facing off against Lust. As well as allowing us to learn the secret behind the Homunculus (predictable though it is, perhaps), it also gives us some fanastic (and wonderfully realised) fighting from all-comers, easily surpassing pretty much anything we've seen from the Fullmetal Alchemist stable thus far if you ask me. The episode even finds time to leave us with another surprise as it reaches its climax, one that will be the absolute focus of the next instalment...
Really, in all honesty I can't praise this nineteenth episode of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood enough, it seemed to get everything right - The animation quality was about the best this show has offered in my mind, the story and pacing were both top-notch, the characterisation excellent, and the sprinklings of humour worked far, far better than some of the heavy-handed comedy we've seen in previous episodes. In short, this should be the template for everything that is good about this franchise in anime form, and it not only delivered upon but actually exceeded my expectations of it overall. Even by this franchise's high standards, this was an utter joy to watch.