Monday, 17 August 2009

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood - Episode 20

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood has been going from strength to strength in recent weeks, and so it is that episode twenty continues along that path while also retaining the dark overall tone of recent revelations.

The last episode left us, of course, with a bit of a cliff-hanger of its own, with Edward Elric coming face to face with his father for the first time in goodness knows how long - I think it's fair to say that this is hardly a joyous reunion, with some harsh words from Hoenheim for his son, although this does seem to belie a deeper sense of worry and compassion towards his family. No matter his inner feelings, there's clearly a sense of something even darker still beneath that already hardly friendly exterior; of course, we already know what that is, while his warning to Pinako suggests that something big is about to happen.

Away from that, albeit also tied in to Ed's conversations with his father, shocking revelations come to light regarding the exact nature of the result of the Elric Brother's human transmutation attempt; revelations which suggest that there is hope yet to return Al to his body, making for a pretty bitter-sweet side to the episode as the horrors of human transmutation in the name of the brothers reviving their dead mother is oddly transposed against the hope for the future as the boys move forward.

It's this kind of very human and emotional depth which really stands out in this episode, allowed to breathe on its own away from the action and the like of previous episodes. Indeed, it's episodes like this that really cement the superiority of the original manga over the story developed for the original anime series, which although fabulous in its own right never managed to plumb these kind of depths of darkness and subtlety. Quite simply, this twentieth instalment of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood was engaging to watch from beginning to end, from its grander themes through to those smart little moments that made you think twice about a characters intentions.

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