On one hand, I"m excited at passing the halfway point of the series. And these last few episodes really HAVE been a major transitional point.
You are watching: Fullmetal alchemist: brotherhood interlude party
Season one was many things, but overall it tended toward conspiracy thriller. Edward, Mustang, and the others were investigating ominous mysteries in their homeland, and unraveling the web of corruption within their own organization. That"s basically run its course now. The Elric brothers have found out more or less who and what the enemy is. Mustang has been all but officially stripped of his rank, and I doubt Edward will keep his state alchemist certification for long. From this point on, they"re going to have to work towarddefeatingthat enemy, and they"re not going to be able to do so from within the system it hides behind. So, I expect major changes in not only the scope and feel of the story, but (in some ways) its entire genre.
But, I might not get to see that today after all. "Interlude Party" is an episode I"ve been warned about. In fact, I remember hearing people complain about it years ago, before I even knew what Fullmetal Alchemist was about. And, when I googled "worst Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood episode" after watching "Miracle at Rush Valley" to see if it was going to get any worse, well...this was the only episode title that appearedsignificantlymore times on the search results than that one did. And, completely unprompted, at least two of my Discord members have independently asked me to please skip this one.
Sorry, Discord people. With the amount of buildup I"ve been given for this episode, I really don"t have any choice.
What I gather is that this is a clipshow episode, and (as the title implies) every bit as filler-y as those tend to be. Why they started off the season with something like this, I won"t pretend to have any idea. But regardless, let"s see how embarrassing S2E1 really is.
As the episode does not start where either of the season one finale cliffhangers left off, it is definitely an interlude. The visuals confirm that there also is, in fact, a party. So, truth in advertising if nothing else!
A whole village worth of Amestrian rural types celebrating around a big fire, while happy violin music plays. After watching them drink their beer and listen to their violins and just be ridiculously Central European in general for a while, we catch a familiar face watching from the outskirts. One of the Hohenheims is here, staring coldly at the scene from behind his creepy anime villain glasses. A moment later, the younger version of Pinako that we saw in that old photo of hers comes up and tries to get him to drink with her, which gives us an approximate time and place.
And also an approximate Hohenheim. I doubt more than one of them was living in Resembool in the decades leading up to the brothers" and Winry"s births.
He relents, shifts his head to rid his glasses of the spooky glare, and almost sort of smiles. I"m increasingly getting the impression that he and Pinako weren"t just friends. Then, roll the new intro!
It, um. It has a nasally disco song playing over it. And the visuals are way, way less energetic and fluid than either of the previous intros as well. Half or so of the montage is barely even animated. I know it took me a long time to warm up to the "Hologram" intro, but with that one I acknowledged from the beginning that the visuals were fine, and that the song was just unfitting rather than bad. I don"t think I can say either of those things about "Golden Time Lover." The song would be okay if the vocalist wasn"t so nasally, and the visuals are passable by general anime standards, but compared to either of the previous FMA:B intros? Yeah, easily the weakest of the three. Hopefully it won"t stick around too long.
As far as story relevant stuff goes, there"s one moment where we suddenly cut between Father on his throne and Hohenheim sitting morosely at a campfire, with the camera zooming into Father"s eye and then out of Hohenheim"s. It"s framed in a way that seems to be hinting at sharedexperience, on top of them being clones or whatever. Also, there"s one bit where Kimblee is holding a philosopher"s stone in his mouth. Bad idea, Kimb. The last thing that caught my attention was one bit of the montage that features a bunch of ruthless looking soldiers marching across a fortified wall in a snowy, alpine place.
This is probably that northwesten border that Amestris shares with that unfriendly rival empire, Drachma. Guess we"ll be going there in the next dozen episodes, and probably learning a little bit more about the world beyond Amestris.
After the so-so OP, we return to the Resembool bonfire party. Lol, they"re waltzing now, I guess East Province really is the most German part of Amestris" mixed European fantasy counterpart millieu. Most of the villagers have gone home, and those that haven"t are either dancing, playing music for the dancers, or just watching. Hohenheim and Pinako are among the third group. She"s still trying to convince him that loosening up once in a while isn"t the worst thing in the world, even if they have more important things they could be doing. Hmm. What important thingsarethey doing, I wonder? If nothing else, she says, folk celebrations like this are a needed distraction from the constant string of wars Amestris has been getting itself into. She mentions Ishval as a particularly recent one; from the chronology, this must be the conflict that resulted in Ishval"s annexation, and which set the stage for the rebellion and its genocidal repercussions some decades later.
You know, maybe we"ve just been sheltered from it due to the narrative being focused on peopleinthe military, but the show could be doing a better job of showing a country groaning under the weight of constant warfare. Whenever we"ve seen civilian life, there"s been no sign of, say, food shortages or failing infrastructure caused by resources being diverted to the front lines. We"ve seen broken families from the most recent Ishval conflict, but seeminglyonlythat conflict; the amount of attention it gets, and the lack of any other wars being talked about except in the most abstract and nonspecific way, gives the impression of this actually being a pretty peaceful part of the world most of the time. I think that may also be why the Amestrian junta seemed to lack much of a bite in the show"s early episodes. Everything is supposedly militarized, but who are they fighting? What is it costing them? How much of the Amestrian population grew up missing one or more parents to wars other than the Ishval Revolt? Etc.
Maybe the situation with the country"s war economy is just more complicated and deceptively nice-looking than it seems. But, I"m starting to lean toward "the story just doesn"t do a very thorough job of presenting the warlike society it intends Amestris to be."
Pinako complains about the state of the country some more, while Hohenheim listens. Then we hear a voiceover of Lust and Envy"s conversation from "Rain of Sorrows" about how easily humans are provoked to senseless violence, and rewatching that episode"s Liore riot scene. Then Scar"s monochrome home city being shelled again (okay, yeah, we"re seeing other flashbacks in this episode, but they have normal coloration. Ishval is canonically a black-and-white supernatural fallout zone). Then Hughes in his office, when he was starting to notice the recent border skirmishes having something like a pattern to them. Then Edward"s geopolitics lesson to Yao. Yeah, it"s a clipshow ep.
Finally, we get back to some new material, with a little girl running up to Hohenheim at the party and asking him to dance. Pinako gently ribs him about this, and he doesn"t respond.
In fact, he hasn"t moved since well before the clip montage interrupted the scene. One could understandably think he died sitting up.
Finally, he musters up the energy to move his lips again, and tells the girl to go dance with someone else. Or by herself. Whatever. Pinako gives her a more cheery sendoff, and then adresses Hohenheim again. First mocking his sourpuss-ness again, and then mentioning that "those boys" were about that age when they first started thinking about human transmutation.
Unless Pinako had a run-in with the Witch of the Wastes after this point and aged forty years overnight, she couldn"t possibly be talking about Edward and Alphonse. Who are we talking about now, then?
But, no...then there"s more clipshow of Edward and Alphonse doing the thing, intercut with Hohenheim talking about how they have much to atone for and he can"t really give them any encouragement. Pinako tells him he"s being incredibly harsh on them.
But. Pinako is young. And Hohenheim is...well...here.
Are they talking about some other boys entirely, with the show just doing a confusing wannabe-artsy thing showing theotherboys who attempted human transmutation while they do? Or is this all supposed to be in Hohenheim"s mind, with young!Pinako being a representation of his empathy or something like that? IDK.
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Flash ahead to freshly maimed Edward and Alphonse recovering in the months after the incident. We saw this clip of Edward reading some alchemy books while sitting in a wheelchair before, as he starts looking into the philosopher"s stone. Then them finding out about philosopher"s stone being made of people from Dr. Marcoh"s notes. The show"s go-to "scary" music plays, and then the villagers are dancing around a collapsing wooden pyre in a manner reminiscent of a sacrificial rite.