We’ve come a long way since that dark low where I was about to stop watching this show permanently. Still, there are certain… problems with FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST that are never really going to go away. I’ll continue watching, don’t worry. “Tolerance” might not be the right word for it; “acceptance” might not be either, because I still roll my eyes whenever said problems come up. It’s lot like when King started showing up in the DARK TOWER novels. 98% of the books were this phenomenal epic and then you had this 2% where he wrote himself in as a character or made references to his own life... and that 2% forced me stop to stop reading and groan every time.
With this show, it’s the humor and often clumsy historical allusions. You have this episode, detailing the Ishvalan War, with some truly powerful drama and questioning of morality. For the most part, it's a great episode. But then you have the moments where characters go chibi, like Mustang's comrade does while he’s in the middle of a heavy, philosophical discussion. That isn’t comic relief - - that’s a tone with Tourette syndrome.
And there’s "Fuhrer" King Bradley. I’ve brought it up several times and I may bring it up several times more, because I’m distracted every time he’s referred to as such. Perhaps it was used historically in Germany before Hitler’s reign, but the country in this show isn’t Germany so acting like it isn’t supposed to be a blatant reference to the man is like referring to him as Il Duce and acting like it isn’t Mussolouni. So, having a Hitler analog ordering an ethnic cleansing, even if the creators insist it was in reference to some other conflict, is going to draw connections to the Holocaust that fall short of artful allegory. In some cases, it even verges onto bad taste.
Anyway, that rant’s done. I’ll say that I got so much sastifcation from the look on Envy’s face when he/she returned to the “painted” cell Scar. And the revelation about the Ishvalans being used to make Philsopher’s Stones brings a brilliant full circle reveal regarding the Homunculi’s extra lives.
Watch this episode, “The Ishvalen War of Extermination,” below and decide for yourself, then read my comments on the previous episode here.