Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood – 20

CreepyHohenheim

Hohenheim is really cold in this episode. It is kind of creepy, haha.

It’s also kind of weird, because I’m not sure if it signals a new characterization for Hohenheim, or if BONES is just holding off on showing the goofier, more Cloudcuckoolander aspect of Hohenheim (I am guessing it is the latter). The whole way Hohenheim interacts with Ed makes him come off as much more aloof and distant than he is in the manga, where he is more socially retarded and completely incapable of relating to Ed as a father, although he tries his best to make his love for Ed apparent. (This episode does have some of that, however, with the scene where Hohenheim reaches toward a sleeping Ed, ready to pat him on the head, and pulls away at the last second because the action feels so foreign to him.) I really liked that aspect of Hohenheim’s introduction — that he is built up as this big, frightening weirdo (and is possibly Father, because they look quite similar), but in reality he is just a goofball.

I do like that Hohenheim at least helps Ed move forward in his own crazy way. It’s clear he knows Ed is listening by the door, and he knows from his quick analysis of Ed that Ed is still having trouble moving forward from both his mother’s death and the failed transmutation. So, he drops the not-so-subtle hint that the thing Ed and Al transmuted was not their mother, which of course Ed absolutely has to confirm for himself. I think Hohenheim believes just that knowledge will satisfy Ed, but Ed moves forward even more from that with his newfound certainty that he will definitely be able to reunite Al’s soul with his body.

Hopefully Hohenheim’s subsequent appearances will better establish his humanity. The guy is not such a great father, but he is actually a decent guy and one of the cooler characters in a story littered with awesome characters.

EdDigging

Everything else in this episode is spot-on, however. The digging scene is just soaked in the desperation Ed feels as he digs up his mother’s grave. He absolutely has to know whether the body he and Al transmuted was their mother’s — not just because they may have destroyed their bodies transmuting something completely foreign, but also because it may throw into question the transmuting of Al’s soul onto the armor. In typical Edward Elric fashion, he briefly despairs about how the corpse is not his mother’s but then uses that knowledge as a way to gain hope and continue moving forward. Ed is not a guy who takes knowledge for granted. He will use whatever he can to keep on his path.

The talk with Izumi on the phone really got to me when I first read it. At that point, you know what that child is to Izumi, and how the failed transmutation of her baby ripped her apart, both physically and emotionally. The absolute fear in her eyes as she has to consider for the first time that the baby she transmuted was probably not her child just really chilled me. And then, later, she is able to move forward herself because of that knowledge, since she did not bring her child back into the world, only to have the baby die once again. That would be utter torment for a mother, wouldn’t it? You want to protect your child, have him or her grow up in the best way possible, but to have that child die twice (once indirectly, and once directly)? I cannot imagine the demons Izumi had to confront every day.

Al’s dilemma really got to me, too. The idea of constant consciousness really scares me for some reason. Never taking a break, never getting a rest, the crushing loneliness at night when everyone else is in deep, peaceful rest. It would be maddening. Al is a strong, strong person for being able to withstand that without cracking up. (This is also why Ling’s comment about Al’s immortal body is pretty heartless, haha. I also like the parallels between his comments on it and Greed’s comments.) And, he, like Izumi, constantly lived with the guilt that he brought back the person he loved, only to see her die. But once he knows for sure that the dead cannot be brought back, which means he and Ed did not kill their mother, he, too, can move forward. That is a binding theme of FMA as a whole and this episode in particular: Confronting one’s past mistakes, making peace with them and becoming stronger because of it.

AlAndEd

Not as exciting an episode as last week’s, but this part of the story has a strong emotional impact, so I don’t think it’s a problem. This is really where I started sympathizing with Al a LOT — not that he isn’t sympathetic before this, but he’s really taking a stand here and emerging as his own person. Go, Al, go! Next week should have plenty of action, and I wonder if the Xing side story skipped in the last episode will be touched upon, since it is pretty important to the plot.

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