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Watch & Learn: Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood #3

It's very different watching while strangers are looking over your shoulder.

 Wait... why does an iron monster need a loincloth?
 Wait... why does an iron monster need a loincloth?

Let me start by sharing that I watched this episode on a plane ride, something that I do infrequently enough that it’s worth commenting on. See, it’s one thing to watch a crazy anime show like this in the privacy of your living room. It’s another to watch it in an aisle seat at the front of economy class. When you’ve got rows and rows of strangers’ eyes looking over your shoulder, you can’t help but think about how they’re perceiving FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST Episode #3 “City of Heresy.” With the sound and subtitles off, this looks like a rambunctious Saturday Morning toon.

Little do they know what’s really going on, hm?

Maybe I’m repeating myself, but I can’t get over this show's dichotomy of the kiddy and the heavy. You’ve got serious discussions of faith and god complexes and a plot about a false prophet making hollow promises about resurrecting the dead… acted out by cute characters with a great tendency to go “super-deformed.”

Moving on, I can see how the alchemists identity themselves as men of science, but how can Edward be an atheist? Last episode’s centerpiece was about him dropping in the after life and talking to a cosmic creator entity. His little brother’s ghost is haunting a suit of armor... and he still doesn’t believe? Sheesh, he makes endearingly-skeptical Agent Scully look positively gullible in comparison.

 Are you SUPPOSED to be jerk, Edward?
 Are you SUPPOSED to be jerk, Edward?

Another thing about Edward - - I’m wondering if I’m supposed to be viewing him like I viewed Shinji in Eva. As in, he isn't the standard "likable hero" but a realistic expression of what this kind of character would actually be like given the circumstances. Shinji was a sad sack who never got his act together. Edward's a conceited, overachieving teen who's cocky without actually ever being charming. Do any of you Anime Vice lunatics agree with me?
 
Anyway, watch this episode, "City of Hersey" below and here, and read my comments about the previous episode here.
 

  

-- Tom Pinchuk is the writer of UNIMAGINABLE for Arcana Studios and HYBRID BASTARDS! for Archaia. Pre-order the HYBRID BASTARDS! hardcover now on Amazon.com.

zaldaron July 14, 2010 at 1:21 a.m.
yes.  He is a much more realistic potrayal of what a kid in this situation would really be like.  As for being an atheist..he would say that when he feel into the whole what he met wasn't a cosmic entity god like thing and that souls, don't necessarily mean their is a god.  But yeah that always struck me as a little odd to (also they don't remember much about what happened when they fell through..though that is hard to pick up this early).
 
And I disagree on Shinji by the end of the show he got his act together in fact the last episode was entirley about him getting his shit together and thus allowing mankind to evolve into the overmind that it evolved into in the end of eva..
sotyfan16on July 14, 2010 at 1:45 a.m.

I'm curious as to what the other passengers thought as well. I'd find myself obliged to ask a few. Only thing like that that happens to me is my friends coming into my room while I'm watching a harem. The scene is always one with a sexual position and panty shot. Thus, they think I'm watching hentai. 
 
I digress...I notice a lot more with Brotherhood the dichotomy you speak of. It's so random at times. It makes me laugh when I shouldn't and I like that. Fullmetal Alchemist as a show covers a serious topic but does itself a favor by not taking it too serious. I think the end result is a wider audience. 
 
As for the entity, I'm going with it and its realm being "Mu" but the source of everything at the same time. I really don't see it as a type of god. While on this subject, if you think defying known physical laws with a strange realm and alchemy is as far the rabbit hole goes you and anyone else unfamiliar with FMA are sorely mistaken. The best, no, maybe strangest, and fantastical is yet to be known (some will take until the end of the series). 
 
Ed has to be strong for Al. He's the older brother and things are partly his fault. He came up with the idea of bring their mother back. Ed is like Shinji in how he keeps his pains on the inside but he differs in not letting it get him down or stop him from doing his job and having some fun enjoying life. Now as for your pic of Al...It's because he has an iron rod! Hahaha

Helloson July 14, 2010 at 3:13 a.m.

Absolutely rediculous. 

Every Iron monster needs a loincloth or in this case empy suit of armor with someone's younger brother's soul attached. I'm still suspicious of the Iron Giant.
SamJaz is online on July 14, 2010 at 3:16 a.m.
What I find brilliant about this show is that while Ed is clearly the main character, he's more realistic than other main characters in other shows. He's not an ideal role model, but nor is he a bad influence. He's just... Ed. In fact, almost every main character in the show is well developed and is much more realistic than those in others. In fact, in terms of realism in characters, FMA is one of the rare examples, such as Highschool of the Dead, Gantz, and Evangelion where people act like people, not characters to move the plot around.
Luffyon July 14, 2010 at 4:12 a.m.
I watched the entire original series of FMA and never even noticed the loincloth until someone pointed it out.
CharredKnighton July 14, 2010 at 6:30 a.m.

Keep in mind that this was the first two chapters and Ed really isn't this much of a jerk.  He quickly develops into a much nicer character, and the atheist belief is dropped and never brought up again.  Ed is actually quite an idealist character in brotherhood, so this was really just an early portrayal of  Ed.
Mezmeroon July 14, 2010 at 6:35 a.m.
Of course he is an atheist.  I don't know what's so hard to believe about that.  In the context of the show's bizarre concept of alchemy it makes a loose amount of sense.  The brothers only attempted human transmutation because they had hope that anything was possible.  One could almost view that as a belief in God.  The science of alchemy forbids the practice of human transmutation.  They ignored the warnings of their own science and they paid for it.   He's an atheist at this point because he now holds the science of alchemy as the Truth.  Also Shinji is too much of a morose character to compare here so I'm not sure why you even tried.  Maybe you were trying to find a popular reference to compare your perception of Ed to, but I think that was a poor choice.
BigChiefon July 14, 2010 at 7:18 a.m.
I was glad to see a fairly realistic and sympathetic atheist in media, as those don't seem to come along often. Although you bring up a valid point that he has in fact met an entity calling itself a god, who knows how on the level that was.
 
Keep it up. I love reading your thoughts on the show as it progresses. I'm interested in your take on events in the near future.
kashif1on July 14, 2010 at 8:25 a.m.
The loincloth is apparently because Al is awkward to draw otherwise.  Oh and you'll like Ed al ot more later.  Also Ed has seen god, therefore he doesn't need to believe so he is technically an athiest
Gaseroon July 14, 2010 at 3:07 p.m.
How is Ed an atheist? Easy: Alchemy = god, aka SCIENCE!
 
I credit the super-deformed moments in the show as pandering to a young audience and typical anime tropes. I would have preferred they not be there but the show is still enjoyable with them.
thekokapellion June 17, 2011 at 1:44 a.m.
I have always thought that Ed was a more believable and slightly irreverent portrayal of the traditional shonen hero, and that's one of the reasons I like him so much (although maybe I'm giving it too much credit b/c I'm a FMA freak). Also, I don't know that Ed is an atheist so much that he believes that God hasn't really been taking care of him and his brother, so he has to do it himself and forget about God.  After all, he's not one to ignore logic and what's in front of him.  As for actually stating he's an atheist, I think he might have said that just to provoke Rose into taking him to see Cornello, as he's not just knowledgeable but genuinely clever.  Then again, maybe I'm reading too much into it.
rojpetricon Dec. 15, 2012 at 4:47 a.m.

accident years back lost his younger brother Alphonse and one of his legs. Sacrificing one of his arms as well, he used alchemy to bind his brother's soul to a suit of armor. This lead to the beginning of their journey to restore their bodies, in search for the legendary Philosopher's Stone.

Dig Deeper into Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is the second anime series based on Hiromu Arakawa's original manga. Edward Elric with his brother Alphonse failed to resurrect their mother. Now, they travel across the country with their alchemy to restore their bodies as they hunt for the mythical Philosophers Stone and correct their mistake.

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