FMA: The Brotherhood Diaries – Episode 43

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Episode 43

Ani-Gamers staff writer Ink contributes a weekly column in which he examines the differences between the original Fullmetal Alchemist and its re-telling, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. To read previous entries, click here.

Watch Episode 43 – Bite of the Ant

Most evident as the main contrast between FMA series in this episode is the fate of the homunculus, Envy. Since there is no parallel universe in which for him to get trapped and captured, there is no need for FMA2’s Ed to accidentally transport Envy there while trying to bring back Al from The Gate (a la FMA1). Instead, Marcoh and company – Scar, Al, Zampano, May — have devised a plot to bring the shape-shifting homunculus down.

There are several important and defining issues here. I’ll start with FMA1, which was designed with a lot of loose ends — one of which was that Envy was only the second to last homunculus (leaving Greed) left in the war of humans vs. creatures. FMA1 needed envy alive to serve as a metaphorical parallel between Armestris and Shamballa (the real last episode). Just as in FMA2, it is not Ed who disposes of Envy, though it is by alchemy that he is undone. FMA1 uses Envy to create a physical portal between Armestris and Shamballa, whereas FMA2 has Marcoh use Scar’s alchemic short-cut of stopping halfway through the breakdown/reconstruct process. The result of both is different as well. Envy is swallowed up as material for FMA1’s portal as a result of selfless, emotionally crushing sacrifices involving alchemy, while FMA2 reduces him to a green, worm-like parasite to be kept for interrogation via the actions of humans and chimeras working together through action, alchemy, and alkahestry.

Before FMA1’s Envy pries open The Gate to track down and kill Hohenheim, Envy makes a remark that reveals the level of detest harbored by the homunculi for humans by claiming their extinction to be at hand. This is almost parallel to FMA2, with the exception of FMA2 valuing humanity at least as servants. The leveraging of FMA2’s class issues is brought to the forefront again with Envy lashing out at the frustratingly effective attempts of Marcoh and company’s ambush. In FMA1, there was no such politics; Envy was seemingly happy just to have Hohenheim skewered between his dragon jaws, bleeding for eternity. Demonstrating a consistent rift, one series serves a sociological end, the other an emotional one.

Scar would be the second biggest difference betwixt series here, namely his growth concerning the dissolve of his revenge fantasy. In FMA1, Scar died completing the city-wide transmutation circle used to create a Philosopher’s Stone after succumbing to wounds gained from performing a gut-instinct reaction to protect Lust, the embodiment of his brother’s former lover and Scar’s own crush. Completely true to the differences between series, this is an emotional growth; he protects something non-human at the expense of himself, but still ends up completing his revenge. FMA2, however, doesn’t (yet) require such martyrdom. Its Scar has learned from his Ishvalan brother, Milo, as well as those with whom he is currently travelling, to attempt to change the minds of the Armestrian people instead of enact straight revenge. Such learning was not absent from FMA1, though, which used the same type of growth (if only a bit more subtly) but ironically applied it to parallel feelings of brotherhood between Ed and Al and Scar and his brother.


FMAFAN said...

Are you ever gonna say that Brotherhood is emotional, Ink xD

Ah, I think the biggest difference between the two FMA's stories is that the first FMA's overarching plots were made up of emotion and FMA2's overarching plot isn't necessarily emotional but draws emotion from it.

Personally I think the latter is a better form of story-telling. :P

But I'm surprised you didn't mention the scene of Wrath's little admission that he chose his wife. I always found that very interesting...

Ink said...

Re: Fuhrer Bradley - I'm more/less limited to a page of review and have to choose what to expound upon...conservatively. While a nice touch, I didn't think Bradley's statement about choosing of a wife was all that critical (though I'll wager she'll be used as his valued weak spot later on) in relation to the contrasts between series, seeing as FMA1 Bradley also chose his wife. The difference of course is that she is now the SOLE human in that "family" and therefore a greater weakness to Bradley than was her FMA1 counterpart.

"FMA2's overarching plot isn't necessarily emotional but draws emotion from it" is a nice way of putting it, and I agree whole-heartedly. Like you infer earlier, FMA1 has an emotional, personal core, whereas FMA2 seems to me to be more sociopolitical while evoking a (in my opinion) limited/appropriate emotional response - which is not to say ineffective. I like to look at it this way: FMA1 was a microscopic dissection of guilt and growth resulting from consequences of a personal trauma with a militaristically oppressive background, and FMA2 is a bold statement on social issues - race and corruption - which inspires emotion.

Both have their values, but as to which one has the better story telling? It's close so far, and I wouldn't want to judge until I've run through both series, in their entirety, one more time or at least before I see how FMA2 goes about ending.

As always, thanks for wonderful comments!

FMAFAN said...

Hm, I didn't know Bradley also said that in the first FMA. I don't remember the details of that series so well anymore.

But for me, which FMA was better (between 1st anime and manga, disregarding Brotherhood) in it's story-telling and it's emotional impact was pretty much up in the air for me for the longest time. They were about neck and neck, and it finally broke when I read chapter 102 of the manga. No doubt, FMA manga wins. And that should be getting animated in due time. ^^

Though I do worry that because Brotherhood doesn't, and reasonably can't, carry over what the manga has then that impact will be significantly lessened.

But at any rate, I like it when a story inspires emotion in me, rather than throws it in my face and tries really hard to make me feel it.

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