Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Season 1 Episode 20 Review: Father Before the Grave

Frankly, I didn't care much for this episode. One of the big reasons is, I didn't care much for this part of the manga. In fact, most of volume 11, which the material used here is from, was a lot of over-explaining and belabored rehashing of old points. Aside from the Rush Valley-heavy volume 5, it was my least favorite volume of the manga. There really is a lot of unnecessary dialogue and exposition. I think Arakawa can do better than that.

However, even though I do agree with the Bones staff in paring down some of this material, the way they do it really makes you wonder if they've read the manga that closely. For one thing, the scene with Edward and Hohenheim at the grave is cut short, and instead of getting a lot of Edward's anger, we just get Hohenheim scolding him and Ed walking away mad. In the manga, he attempts to chew his father out for abandoning the family, but Hohenheim mutters to himself, which unnerves Edward, because it's interrupting his confrontation.

I mean, the key was that all you, as a reader, knew about Hohenheim, was that he abandoned his family, and Ed is enraged about it, but when you meet him, he comes off as more unnerving and weird, so it's harder to be angry with the character because you aren't sure what to make of him. Here, he just comes off as being sort of a dick. You lose some of that flakiness he has, as well as the humor when he notices that Ed's hair is like his, and Ed changes his hair back to the braid (it had beome unbraided in his time in Xerxes).

There's another thing that bothers me. When Edward brings up Alphonse's memories to prove he's the real Al, it just looks like a retread of episode 9's issue. In the manga, it's to prove that Al's body is somewhere with his brain still functioning. I'm all for cutting out the parts about Al attached to the "thing", or that bit they do later in the volume about Al's body living off of Ed's nutrients because of them exchanging places temporarily. Those things are really just unnecessary and not useful at all. But including the real important part about Ed's discovery just boggles the mind.

They also didn't explain that the reason why the "thing" not being Trisha was a big deal. It was because if it isn't their mother, Al's body wasn't paid as a price, just as a toll for passing through the doors, where his body should still be. They didn't really explain that, either. As for what that thing really was... uh, I don't know, some lifeless thing. In other words, it's not possible to ressurect a person. No, not even as a homunculus. That's a big difference between the manga and the first series, yet somehow they didn't really get that across.

But hey, they did include a scene with Winry giving her worthless opinion and another where Edward and Alphonse angst and Al gives a big speech expressing feelings we already knew about and renews his vow to continue when they both do that every two episodes. If I were the hotel staff, I'd ask them to shut the fuck up and get to their rooms, the other guests are trying to sleep. I rolled my eyes through that whole staircase scene.

That, and, "Duhr, Ed's back is getting bigger." Winry, nobody cares about your opinion. Go away, already.

Production-wise, the episode was decent. I wish they had at least been consistent with the voice casting and given Hohenheim and Father the same voice. It sort of spoils the sense of mystery surrounding them if you give them different voice actors. The new Hohenheim voice, Unshou Ishizuka, was Sergei Smirnov in Gundam 00. Great, another Gundam 00 cast member. He replaces Masashi Ebara, who was excellent in the role. So far, though, Ishizuka isn't bad per se, they just haven't given him much to do yet.

That damn BGM piece that sounds like an Italian bistro tune returned. Luckily, they only used it in an unimportant (read: Winry-centered) scene. Is the first OST going to be 12 tracks? At least we got some new music last episode. Can we get some more, please?

The digging scene, by the way? Not as good as in the manga.

Really not a good episode. Perhaps I'm just coming down from the high that was episode 19, but I somehow expected a little more than what I got here, even though I knew it wouldn't be as interesting as last week's. Say what you will about the first series, but it knew how to build. This one doesn't even know how to explain correctly. Nice job, Bones.

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