Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood 58 – A Salute to the Fallen

I always get a kick out of villains doing that one last piece of assholery before biting it. A lot of the time they don’t even need to be a jerk, and it might even impede their survival — but they’re just such dickheads that they cannot help but give in to the urge to be an evil bastard one final time. Just kills me. We all know the villain is (probably) going to bite it eventually, so I like to think of it as the writer allowing the villain to get in one last memorable act before the inevitable.

It’s a bit different for Wrath, because he is actually defending himself from a (likely) shooter, but that’s the feeling I get from the above scene: He knows his time is probably up soon (combination of mortal wound and hanging in a precarious situation), and that it is probably best to keep clinging onto GreedLing, but he can’t help but chuck a “Fuck you!” knife into that Briggs soldier’s shoulder. Realistically, it’s not really going to do much except prolong his life by a few seconds since there are other soldiers ready to gun him down; however, he cannot abide by that, so the “Fuck you!” knife it is.

Brotherhood passed into pure shounen territory a good while back, but Buccaneer’s death scene is decidedly shounen, not that there’s anything wrong with that. But it is basically every major military movie death ever — you know, the gasping breaths, blood dripping from the mouth, the last request to hold the fort and the salutes at the end. Touching, yes, and a fitting tribute for a big ol’ badass like Buccaneer, but it’s funny to see how common that type of death scene is across many cultures. I’ll salute ya anyway, big guy. You deserve it. *salute*

One aspect of the series I like a lot is the unspoken implication that there were deeper feelings between Olivier and Buccaneer than most people might realize, and that never seemed to be acted upon in a physical way. I wouldn’t say it is unspoken love, but more like a deep mutual respect that has grown in its own way to be like romantic love. They both represent that ideal sort of soldier to each other, one who fights without complaint and strives to survive but who is also intelligent enough to think for oneself and not blindly obey orders when something is amiss.

Maybe I’m reading a bit too much into it — Buccaneer could simply be a soldier Olivier respects a good deal and nothing more, and vice versa — but scenes like Buccaneer and Olivier on the rooftop at Briggs, and Olivier’s reaction to Buccaneer’s death hint at something a bit more than that, I think. Contrary to her position as the Ice Queen of Briggs, Olivier has shown a good deal of (reserved) emotion and caring for her troops. She’s tough, but loving. And it seemed like she was especially close with Buccaneer, who, again, represented that ideal kind of soldier. At the very least, her relationship with Buccaneer sort of comes off to me like a poor man’s version of Batou and the Major from Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. (Not nearly enough buried flirting to meet the standards of that relationship, though, haha.)

Finally, we have the classic Bad Guy Situation with the Gold-Toothed Scientist (and newest member of the Wu-Tang Clan) being a dickhead and coercing Mustang into performing human transmutation with the threat of killing Hawkeye. (Damn you, Gold-Tooth!) My memory is failing me right now (what else is new?), so off the top of my head I can’t come up with many examples where the hero chooses the “greater good” (in this case not fulfilling Father’s plan) over the “smaller good” (preserving the life of a close friend). I’d ask all of you to name some examples, but then there would be a ton of spoilers everywhere, and I don’t think my site supports spoiler tags. Even just mentioning the names of series where this happens would probably be too much of a spoiler. A dilemma!

Anyway, I wonder what would happen if Mustang flat-out refused to do human transmutation, and Hawkeye just died? It would be depressing, and as someone who likes Hawkeye a lot, it would probably be infuriating, too, but it also might be interesting. Words are words, and ideals are ideals. But what happens when they’re applied practically under pressure? Can they hold up? Are they important enough to give the effort to hold them up? Takes a completely unwavering belief in something to let another person die like that.

Despite the seriousness of the situation, though, I laugh a bit when these “life or ideal” situations come up because they are so contrived, haha.

7 Responses to “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood 58 – A Salute to the Fallen”

  1. JohnnyG Says:

    “Fuck you!” Knife! Lol!
    Just visiting from the Tourney. I really enjoyed this post, while on a heavily
    covered series your style, humor and lack of recap is episodic done right.

  2. Roy Mustang’s never been a typical hero, and that’s what’s most refreshing about him, I think. He’s like a hybrid of the cool older brother better than Ed at everything type of guy and the antihero who isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. He’s willing to kill and always has been, and he’s not treated like the scum of the earth for it by Arakawa, she just presents that as the way he gets things done. It’s not bad, it’s just a different ideal from Ed and Al.

    That being said, there was pretty much no way he’d just let Hawkeye bleed out like that. Even he can’t bring himself to sacrifice that much built up sexual tension for the greater good. And the fans would raeg, too.

    • I know I’d be RAEGing with everyone else if Hawkeye were to die like that.

      Agreed about the type of hero Mustang is. He’s not a perfect person, and there is some darkness running through him, but at the same time he does some undeniably good, heroic things.

  3. Everytime I see Gold-Tooth I wonder how would it turn out if Roy actually used alchemy from the BEGINNING, but hey, that would be too easy, right!

  4. Ah! Totally agree with the OlivierxBuccaneer thing. Really liked how they did that, wasn’t overstated but, was there nonetheless.

    Made me laugh the first time I saw the pause screen “Gold-Tooth Scientist” :)

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