For those of you uninitiated to the world of Fullmetal Alchemist, this would probably come off as a pretty dizzying first episode, since they cram so much into it. There are appearances of characters that didn't appear in the manga for several chapters in, or even in the first animated series for a few episodes. Still, it establishes some of what the world has to offer, in terms of the magical "alchemy", without really going into the physics of it (I'm sure they will soon, though).
For those of you who are manga faithfuls, you might be divided by this episode. After all, it's an anime original story that reveals things about certain characters that aren't disclosed for several chapters, but at the same time it hints at several bits of manga canon in a way that tells you that indeed this will be a closer to the original manga, specifically with the short appearance of "Father".
What did I think? For a purely fanservice episode, it was exactly what I thought it would be. Pure fanservice! In other words, awesome. It was truly a visual feast. It was good to see Alphonse a tad more active than he was in the first series, really fighting along Edward in almost equal terms. Isaac using his blood as a weapon was creepy and cool. That bit with Armstrong hitting the ice and it veering off into a building was pretty humorous.
My only problem with introducing some of the characters sooner than expected is that some of the reveals from the manga go spoiled. I do appreciate Hughes coming in early, though. This is what the first anime did, too, and it worked out well, giving what occurs later on a deeper impact. I chuckled at Alphonse keeping a tab on the foods he wants to eat when he gets his body back.
The voice changes were decent. I think I'll get used to Roy's new VA, though I almost expected him to ask Haro to help him snipe targets. Kimbley's new voice is excellent, Hallelujah (lol). So glad that the voices of Hughes, Armstrong, and Bradley haven't been changed, and are still as good as ever. And of course, Romi Paku and Rie Kugimiya are back in full swing as the Elric brothers, as expected. Romi Paku is just... she's something special.
The next episode looks to go into the manga material, but again, not the first chapters in Lior. Instead we get an episode like the first show's episode 3 ("Mother"), that flashes back to the Elric brothers' youth and their try at human trasmutation. I think this is from chapters 23 and 24 in the manga, if I'm not mistaken. They have to go to Lior after this flashback! I mean, Lust already mentioned it at the end of this episode, and both Lior and characters from it appear later on in the manga, so they can't avoid it forever!