Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Season 1 Episode 16 Review: Footprints of a Comrade-in-Arms

Well, they certainly shuffled things around in this episode. Rearranging events from chapters 34 to 36, the episode had Ed and Al arriving in time to talk to Maria Ross before her arrest, and in fact learned of Hughes' death from her slip-up, rather than from a newspaper announcing her arrest, like in the manga. They also had the brothers' and Winry's visit to Gracia Hughes sooner, too, since after discovering the newspaper article in the manga, Edward encounters the events of the next episode, and doesn't visit with Al until after (though Winry is already there). Another thing is that Winry did actually make the apple pie and Ed ate it as she cried, to make her feel better.

I'll be honest, though, it flows very naturally. In fact, in some way, it appears to improve the pacing of the manga. By having the brothers in Central during Ross' arrest, and having them visit Gracia sooner, it lets the entire episode be dedicated to the emotional fallout of Maes Hughes' death and the lead up to the big events in the next episode. They used the end of Chapter 34 for the ending, which worked very well.

I have a few problems, though. The conversation between Mustang and Armstrong was missing the bit in the manga where Armstrong asks if Mustang if he would really let Edward go to war and drops hints of support for Mustang's goal to rule the country. I suppose, though, that staying with just the parts that concerned Hughes made more sense for the theme they were going for the episode, but that portion of dialogue would have been appreciated, as it does set up later events and establishes Armstrong as a Mustang supporter.

My other issue is with the scene that occurs after Maria Ross lets it slip about Hughes' death. Edward is shown running, running, running... and running. And running. There's a close up of this. And flashbacks to Hughes moments occur during it. It's really unnecessary, annoying, and insulting to the viewer, especially since the aforementioned bits of the bathroom conversation would have been better use of time in this episode than this scene.

There were a few weird moments with the character designs in this episode. For one thing, the military officer who arrests Maria Ross, Henry Douglas, doesn't closely resemble his manga design. Here, his head is all lumpy and misshapen, whereas in the manga, he's slick looking, with a permanent scowl. Another is the scene with Lust talking to Envy, where her bottom lip appears disproportionately large. Riza still has insanely large eyes. Even Edward looks a little off-model at times. However, it appears they're finally getting on Havoc, as his face isn't too long like in previous episodes.

Another thing is the music. Would it kill Akira Senju to compose some new music? Or for that matter, the producer to use the music appropriately? The only well-timed pieces in the episode were when the brothers and Winry were walking back from visiting Gracia and when Maria Ross was being arrested. The music they played during Gracia's talking was just the wrong track to use. It's bad enough the music pales in comparison with the first series', but do they have to use it so terribly, too? Step up your game, Bones.

That said, I still enjoyed the the episode. It wasn't anything special, but it built the foundation for the event(s) to come. What I appreciated the most was Edward and Alphonse running past the phonebooth Hughes died in. That was a great little detail to put in, given the focus of the episode. In the first series, it wasn't until much later that the Elric brothers learned of Hughes' death, and by then it was more of a concern for Roy than for them, as they'd already gone too far to consider backing out.

Next week has one of the most dramatic moments from the manga, so I'm really anticipating it.

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