This was a quaint little episode, nothing very impressive storywise, but some information was given on a few matters, and we got a little bit of heartwarming via the Risembool scenes. They seemed to have seemlessly adapted chapters 8 and 9 in one episode without any real hitches. It was a fairly uneventful, but somewhat poignant episode, and certainly necessary for further developments down the road.
The production values in the episode seemed to have been improved from the last one, which makes me wonder why they bothered, since the last one was so much more important. For one, the town that Marcoh lives in was one of the most beautiful things I've seen in an animated television program. The art made me want to live in that small town. It's too bad we won't ever be seeing it again. Weird that they didn't have the rest of the visit by Lust, too. I guess we won't be seeing Marcoh again until he's being held captive by the homunuculi under Central.
The music is still a bit disappointing. Oshima's score was so wonderful, this one seems to pale in comparison. Not to mention they seem to be reusing the same tunes from the first two episodes again and again, with nary a new track. There are a few pieces I enjoy, but you can't even begin to compare them to "Brothers", "Amestris", "Sin", and the like.
I guess a big draw for this episode is Winry. She has a new voice actress, Megumi Takamoto, who we heard a little bit of in episode 2. She also seems thinner in this series, and her design seems to stand out more overall. She also has a green bandana instead of her first series pink one. I guess these are supposed to be huge differences, but I can't for the life of me see them. The new voice actress seems to do a decent job, but frankly, I don't really care much for Winry. I don't dislike the character, but I also don't see the big deal about her. I sort of like how the first series ended up downplaying her, developing her only so much as long as it served the main plot and its themes.
Really, though, we've already seen this material in the first series, and though it was still necessary to see it again, I felt like I enjoyed what they did with it before. Tying in the Marcoh meeting with the Scar attack helped along the development of the Ishbal war subplot and even the Risembool episode seemed more subtle and touching, especially with things like Winry shining the light for the brothers.
We'll be getting the watch stuff in the Rush Valley episodes, though, which I'm also not looking forward to, because it was the worst part of the manga.
Though I was pretty fond of the extra scene added involving Edward staring over Winry's shoulder as she worked. Little new bits like that really add to the experience.