Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood – 39

After a week’s break, FMA: Brotherhood is back with a new OP and ED! I like both songs, but I’m not sure how the upbeat nature of the ED will mesh with whatever places BONES decides to end each episode. Might run into the same problem as Clannad ~After Story~ where “Torch” was a solid song on its own but sounded sort of inappropriate starting up right after some heavy, emotional endings. Ah well. We’ll see what happens.

Most of this episode goes into explaining the hastily put together plan for escape from Kimblee’s crew and has some good emotional moments, especially with Scar and Winry. I like Winry, so I am glad she continues to be stronger and more assertive in her role here, refusing to stand aside and let the people with the crazy powers take care of all the business. The way she treats Scar is right in line with her character, too — most people, I think, would have a difficult time forgiving Scar if they were in Winry’s shoes, but she has been raised a certain way all her life, and she is not going to abandon it just to get a taste of revenge. If she couldn’t shoot Scar way back when, there’s certainly no way she will let him die now. Not when he can contribute something of worth to the world, anyway.

The series again addresses racism in a light way with Miles stating his wish to erode racist sentiments against Ishbalans from within the Amestris army, even if he can only chip away little bits at a time for lord knows how many years. It’s not a huge, complex storyline, or anything, but FMA is still more progressive on this front than a lot of anime (which is rather sad, really, haha), so it at least gets some points there. Miles is pretty lucky to have been assigned to a strong commander who doesn’t really care about his background as long as he gets results (although Olivier did admit to believing Miles would be a valuable tool because he would be able to view things from multiple perspectives).

Random tangent: As a man of mixed race myself (although many Mexicans are inherently of mixed race because of the country’s history), I’ve always been interested not only in the stories of minorities but also in how people of mixed race are portrayed in media. It’s a subject that has such a wealth of potential for stories because of the range of conflicts and the myriad ways in which the people themselves deal with the reality (embracing one, both or multiple cultures) and how “outsiders” view them. Take Tiger Woods, for instance: If you go by the antiquated system for divying up race (which always makes me laugh but whatever), he is as much Thai and Chinese as he is black, and in the beginning of his career, Tiger pushed his Asian ancestry as much as his black ancestry, but as his career has progressed, he has been seen mainly as a black athlete. Now, I’m not knowledgeable enough to go into the reasons for this, but it’s that kind of thing that really interests me — why the media would funnel a person’s background so narrowly, whether the man himself condones this (I’m pretty sure he tries to avoid presenting himself solely as a “black athlete”) and how this affects the perception of him by the average person (how many casual viewers would even know Tiger Woods is part-Asian? How many would care, for that matter?).

I might write a post about this one day with more research and clearer channeling of my thoughts, but being of mixed race has always seemed rather inconsequential to me in anime — the mixing of backgrounds is more geared toward creating a character with “exotic” appeal than something that would have a profound impact on the character’s upbringing and view of life. As I mentioned before, there are some series that tackle the issue of racism (RahXephon) having the most thoughtful, mature approach that I have seen), but it’s mostly of a fantastic sort (Mulians and humans in RahXephon, humans and Coordinators in Gundam SEED, etc.). I feel like there has to be something that actually dares to address real issues that I haven’t seen. Wouldn’t it be interesting to get the perspective of a Korean-Japanese person who balances both cultures? A Chinese-Japanese person? Maybe even a Russian-Japanese person?

Then again, in today’s climate, I’d almost be afraid to see the results, haha. Ah well. A man can dream, right?

lol That tangent went on slightly longer than I expected. Keeping my mouth shut when I’m going on a topic of interest is something I have difficulty doing sometimes. :p This post is already long enough, so I’ll leave speculation on other events (i.e. Al collapsing) to other people and part with the hope that, if the episode preview shows what I think it shows, then a good amount of questions may be answered for viewers next week. It all depends on how far BONES wants to go with things, though, so don’t get your hopes up too much.

One last amusing thing: Takehito Koyasu pulled double duty in this episode, voicing Scar’s brother once again and also voicing a random soldier for one line. That just made me laugh a lot. “Oh, Takehito, while you’re here, could you also say this one line — it won’t take but a few seconds!”

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6 Responses to “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood – 39”

  1. fathomlessblue Says:

    i like the nod to rahxephon, its one of my favorite series along with evangelion (weird as i usually hate mecha) and always thought its negative comparisons to the latter where rather harsh and ignorant. theres alot going on in that series to deserve its own merits.

    im also totally with you regarding what a fascinating character miles is. i find its not even that hes a mixed-race character that represents the theme of cultural unity on the show, they could have easily brought in any character with such a role that wouldnt have half as effective as illustrating the point as he does. what makes miles so special for me is that hes the most realistic character on the show representing a serious, realistic cause. you could actually see miles and his ideals existing in the real world, which personally gives him a deeper resonance than many other character no matter how cool or epic they are.

  2. My problem with stories with racism as the main theme is they always play up the side of the minority, making them out to be saints compared to the others. I realise this might sound like a worryingly racist statement but I’d kinda like to see some dickheads on the minority a bit more often. I think Kino’s Journey pulled off something like that pretty well once

    • I don’t think that is a racist statement at all. Racism is a much more complex concept than people like to admit — often people (including minorities) prefer to boil it down to “minorities vs. whites”. There are certainly numerous (to put it lightly) examples of racial hatred from whites directed toward minorities, but it’s not as if minorities have never carried out racially motivated attacks on whites or other minorities.

      I am lucky enough to have never experienced racism myself, but I have witnessed racism firsthand. Where I went to school, the vast majority of kids were of Hispanic descent (Mexican, El Salvadorian, Puerto Rican, etc.) or Asian descent (Vietnamese, Filipino, Chinese, Korean — very few Japanese, actually). I knew maybe three or four black kids growing up and even fewer white kids. But the white kids I knew were often victimized. They were never violently attacked to cause major damage, thankfully, but they were bullied often. I don’t think any of those attacks were motivated by racial hatred so much as ignorance. But they left a big impact on me, and made me realize as I grew up that racism is not a black and white issue (pun not intended) by any stretch of the imagination.

      Casting the minority as the “saint” and whites as “evil” (or perhaps just misguided in other cases) is a complex issue, too. A story that shows a minority persevering despite enormous hardships and a prejudiced, unfair system is more palatable to people than a “realistic” take on racism, because it is uplifting and positive. I don’t mean to look down upon stories like that, because I think they are needed for minorities to look at someone like them in the world and see that a lack of success for them may not be preordained. However, I think stories that cast a harsh eye upon the complexities of racism are just as important to make certain people never forget that, ultimately, we’re all people who share the world, and we all have faults. Racism isn’t a one-way road.

    • Wouldn’t you consider Scar to be a dickhead? Maybe dickhead by circumstance, but most definitely a dickhead.

  3. Guess you noticed the Takehito Koyasu thing too. I swear that guy has to have the most easily recognizable voice in anime. Can always pick him out so easily, he has absolutely no range at all, but hell he’s awesome and plays awesome characters.

    If FMA weren’t written years ago, I would have seriously considered Miles to be an Obama parody of sorts… Not sure if the Japanese would have known of Obama back when Miles first appears in the FMA manga though.

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