Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Season 1 Episode 08 Review: The Fifth Laboratory

Wow, this episode covered a lot of material, and pretty seemlessly, too. The last part of Chapter 11, all of Chapter 12, and the beginning of Chapter 13. The Laboratory 5 incident in the manga was much shorter in the manga, since there wasn't a chimera Tucker, and Stones are created directly, rather than with the "red water". The anime added those things for the first series. I was still very impressed with how smoothly everything transitioned in this episode, though. Definitely one of the better episodes as far as adaptation of the manga.

The production values skyrocketed from the previous episode. We're talking about quality equal to the first and fourth episodes. The art, the animation, the music, the voice acting, all solid in this. The only one little hitch in the art is the consistantly off-model face of Havoc, who suffers from a bout of long face that looks really awful. Other than that, everything else looked beautiful. I was even pretty impressed by the music, even though most of it was reused bits. Still not Oshima quality, but it has its own personality.

As for the voice acting, the armored guards have different voices this time around. Hideyuki Umezu, Ian Vashti in Gundam 00, is the new voice of Barry the Chopper. He sounds similar to the way Kentarou Itou played him in the first series, but a little more serious and threatening. This is sort of strange, since Barry in the manga is much less serious than the first show's version, and ends up in a lot of wacky antics and funny moments with Roy's group. It's weird that he should now seem more threatening than before.

I really thought both Romi Paku and Rie Kugimiya did amazing jobs in this episode. Also of note was Minami Takayama's Envy, really improving since Envy's first appearance. She made him sound very Dilandau-ish in this episode. It was excellent. I'm still adjusting to the new Ross and Brosh, though. They still seem a little awkward in those roles.

I sort of miss the darker ambiance of the Fifth Lab incident in the first series. The battle between Edward and the Slicer brothers seemed so much more severe and dangerous in the first series, probably helped along by the music score, or the lack thereof in certain parts. Then the series followed it up with the desperation in Ed's decision to make a Philosopher's Stone by the goading of Tucker and the homunuculi. It was so perfect, even though the red water always went mostly unexplained. I guess I enjoyed this episode just slightly less than the episodes the first series gave us, because I enjoyed the dark desperation of the first series, the pushing of all its central characters to their limits.

Still, an overall strong episode from this series.

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