kate_nepveu: Ed and (armored) Al standing together in snow (Fullmetal Alchemist)
[personal profile] kate_nepveu
So yeah, trying to interleave FMA & FMA:B was not a good call. With the possible exception of FMA 9 (still coming on my schedule), just skipping the first episode of FMA:B would have done fine.

Spoilers for all versions of Fullmetal Alchemist.

FMA 3, "Mother"

The framing story is looking through a library post-Cornello, then they see a book that prompts memories, so it's not actually Al's stories to Rose after all.

(I paused the screen on the closeup of the alchemy book, because I saw it was English, and it's some kind of review of a roleplaying book about alchemy (screenshots, transcription).)

Baby Al (no armor echo) does the equivalent-exchange intro voiceover.

Making a doll for Winry, which scares her, as their first use of alchemy.

Time-passing montage includes injured soldiers passing by.

Ed being a tiny ball of rage about his absent dad even then. Winry's parents are killed in the war in Ishval; her automail-engineer grandmother (Pinako) raises her.

Their mother dies, all saintly-suffering-patiently-waiting like. (This is possibly the worst FMA's angel-in-the-house tendencies get.)

Skips over their training and teacher as still images in silhouette, which I would be vastly interested to know what first-time watchers made of.

And the failed transmutation, with convenient Mustang lurking nearby. Arrrgh their screams, arrrrgh the creepy little hands.

(When is Al narrating this? "And that's the last thing I remember." Again: no armor echo. Is this internal monologue? I'm overthinking this, I know.)

Ed's giant (and fairly reasonable) guilt complex, having pushed Al into it, for which he suffered the most. (Though the end conversation shows that they each feel guilt. Also Al: "You're no good without me. You just turn into a jerk.")

Mustang's brief appearance definitely does not do him any favors: show up, tell badly traumatized kid to come join the military, leave.

FMA and disability is a complicated question that runs through the series, but I do appreciate that the process of getting prosthetics is painful, not a magical fix.

So extra, burning down your house to show you're really ~~devoted~~ to your quest.

And now, let's compare:

FMA:B 2, "The First Day"

30-second voiceover, by no-one we've met yet, explaining alchemy and taboo against human transmutation before opening song. (Apparently this is Father, as I recall? Which also makes no sense. Give us Al back.)

They're on a train on the way to Lior, because Brotherhood switched that order.

The alchemy book that transitions into the flashback here at (1) isn't legible and (2) talks about the Philosopher's Stone (which destroyed the city of Xerxes in one night), not general alchemy. Also Ed is reading it post-human-transmutation, in a wheelchair.

Then title card, then flashback to little kids learning alchemy and showing off to their mom. No long learning montage, no showing her death: just, Ed's voiceover saying a sickness swept the country (no long hidden illness either), and the kids at her grave ("Trisha Elric, 1878-1904", so that answers my question about FMA:B establishing the year). Winry's parents are still alive.

The brothers seem to be living on their own for a lot longer here, as we see them coming back from school, which seems to strain plausibility a bit more.

Also their teacher gets shown full-body, not in silhouette.

The transmutation starts much sooner in the episode. We get Ed in a different location, all white before a giant black door, talking to The Truth, then dragged through the door by little black hands. Behind the door is All the Alchemical Knowledge, but his lower leg is taken as the toll for the partial knowledge he retains.

Back at their house, Ed freaks out and begs, and sees the result of their transmutation, which does look more like what we saw in FMA 1 than I recalled, but collapses more finally, as befits its different fate. We see Ed trace the blood seal on Al's arm and offer to give anything to get Al back.

And then mid-episode title cards, and then Mustang & Hughes in Central, where Mustang gets the final report on the made-up plot device in episode 1, and "Xingese alchemy" is mentioned, which neither of them have ever heard of.

Hughes asks why Mustang decided to make Ed a State Alchemist, given the whole being-in-the-military-is-hell thing. Mustang remembers coming into the Elrics' house, finding the circle and blood, and storming into Winry's house demanding to know what they did. But he was chasing a rumor of a brilliant alchemist and wasn't expecting kids. And he offers them the chance to try getting their bodies back if Ed becomes a State Alchemist. I think this is more sympathetic, anyway, even if not warm-and-fuzzy.

Also, Riza Hawkeye meets Winry! And Winry's parents died offscreen, because of soldiers, meaning they have a complicated and fraught conversation. Hawkeye and Mustang emphasize that it's the Elrics' choice whether to join the military.

The surgery and rehab for Ed's automail is supposed to take three years; he resolves to do it in one.

(Ed can do transmutation without a circle, as can their teacher, but not Al, who didn't see the Truth.)

And Ed's alchemy exam, witnessed by Fuhrer King Bradley, unusually--who gets to show off his extreme speed with a sword.

Ed gets his title, and then the flashback finishes and they arrive in Lior.

FMA 5, "The Man with the Mechanical Arm"

I put this one on the schedule to introduce the military characters, who otherwise were in FMA:B 2. Also Hakuro doesn't get introduced at all in FMA:B until late.

At this point Ed barely knows Mustang, and Hughes is enthusing about Gracia's beauty while pregnant (in a lovely purple shirt), which puts this a few years before the main timeline, and shortly after Ed recovers from his automail installation.

Pretty ordinary plot: terrorists with more sympathetic motivations than first apparent, improvised plans, climbing along the top of a train, etc. etc. Also the idea that the military would discharge a guy because they thought his automail arm was too powerful, instead of using him to destruction, does not make a lot of sense. I suppose Mustang's flame alchemy is a more effective warning about the kind of military this is -- or Mustang's puppet-mastering their taking the train and therefore getting an exemption to take the exam, one they didn't know they needed.

(I think Mustang is less puppet-master-y in FMA:B, to them anyway, but I could be wrong. There's no direct equivalent to this episode in FMA:B.)

Al trying to warn the hostage-takers about ricochet was cute, though.

FMA 6, 'The Alchemy Exam'

I was stitching for this one and the next.

Oh no, they were living with the Tuckers for months.

Oh no, Nina's terrible little-kid aren't-I-adorable speech impediment.

I guess FMA skips the birth scene in Rush Valley, to give us Elicia's birth?

Ed passes the test, not by transmuting a weapon and pretend-attacking the Fuhrer, but by saving a random other alchemist who's too tired to move away from falling objects, even though lots of other people are around.

FMA 7, 'Night of the Chimera's Cry'

Tucker is arrested and taken away at the end, by the Iron Blood Alchemist.

Nina-Alexander stumbles into Scar in an alley, and her suffering shows him why his brother gave him that arm, to track down evil State Alchemists.

And now we compare the last two with

FMA:B 4, 'An Alchemist's Anguish'

This opens with Scar confronting the Iron Blood Alchemist, who helpfully exposits that Scar has been targeting State Alchemists (already, in other words).

Mustang's staff mention a Lt. Yoki, a crook embezzling from a coal mine, who was exposed by the Elrics and is on the run.

The Elrics come to Tucker because they're interested in bioalchemy after Cornello's chimera.

Nina's VA is slightly less annoying.

The creepy animals in lab are shown up-front, not as reveal toward the end.

There's a mention of the Ishvalan civil war & the role of the State Alchemists.

I replaced this with the two FMA episodes because I thought more time with the Tuckers helped it land better, but I don't actually think that was necessary now, and it makes more sense of Scar's character, in particular, to go the FMA:B route.

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