Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Season 1 Episode 22 Review: Distant Backs

An emotionally draining episode, this was fairly well handled as far as adaptation of material from the manga. It covered chapter 46 and most of 47 (Volume 12), dealing with Ling's fight with Bradley and Winry confronting Char. It also threw in a sizeable portion of material from Vol. 15, taking a lot of liberty with Scar's flashback by going more in depth, perhaps more than necessary. I wish they had included the bit at the beginning of Volume 12, with Hohenheim travelling by caravan, but I understood the cut. And I suppose they'll be leaving the rest of Ling's situation for the next episode. No problem.

Sure is plot contrived in this episode, though. Winry just happens to find Ed and Al just as Ed screams about Scar killing her parents. A gun happens to be right where Winry is. And for some reason, Ed doesn't use his alchemy to make a wall in front of her or anything like that? He just stands there as she points her gun at Scar. If he doesn't want her to shoot, he could have done any number of things where he stood. Nevermind that it seems a little weird that she went from zero to fifty in a split second. Still, I understood why she snapped.

What I really disliked was how my favorite part of the episode was also my least favorite part. And by that, I mean the Ishbal flashback. Volume 15 is, in my opinion, the best volume of FMA, aside from maybe volumes 6 and 7. Most of the volume is one, long, detailed flashback to the war in Ishbal. It covers what Roy, Riza, Maes, Alex, Kimbley, Dr. Marcoh, the Rockbells, Basque Gran, Fuhrer King Bradley, Envy, Scar, and Scar's brother were doing in the war. This episode tackled all the Scar material from that volume, which means it's unlikely to appear again later during the more complete adaptation of the fifteenth volume.

Don't get me wrong. I love how they approached the material. It was amazing. The sepia town punctuated by Amestrian blue eyes, the frantic "camera" expressing Scar's madness, the detail in the horror of the war. Little dropped hints about characters. It was all excellent. I can't wait to get it on DVD.

However, by going into this much detail now, it shifts the focus from Winry onto Scar. While Scar's reasoning is a factor in why he killed the Rockbells and what brought the characters to this situation, it should have been saved for later. That moment should have been more about Winry. Understanding of Scar's position can come later.

Not to mention, that means slightly less awesome to go around for the later flashbacks. I doubt they'll be replaying this, or the scene at the beginning of episode 10. While I understand why they're rationing out these portions of that volume in an attempt to help strengthen the material leading into it, I was sort of looking forward to a few episodes, or some sort of special focusing entirely on all aspects of the Ishbal war. Hell, it would make a fine FMA theatrical film.

I never particularly cared for Winry, as I've mentioned, but I did end up feeling really bad for her. I think it was her voice actress, Megumi Takamoto, who drove home the anguish. I'm still debating on whether or not she's as good as Megumi Toyoguchi, her voice from the first series. Eh, they're probably about the same at this point. Romi Paku also did an amazing job in this episode. Kenta Miyake still isn't as good as Ryotaro Okiayu as Scar, but he's okay. Mamoru Miyano put on his Setsuna voice for a few moments while Ling was yelling.

The art was a little inconsistent, however. The bits in Ishbal were perfect, but right when we got back to the present, the art seemed a little strange, especially when Ed jumped in front of Winry. Well, at least they saved their budget for the really good part.

Next episode looks to wrap up the confrontation with Scar and the homunculi.

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