Mark Watches ‘Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood’: Episode 61

In the sixty-first episode of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Hohenheim reveals his secret. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch FMA:B.

This show is simply incredible.

  • It can’t be said enough, but on sheer storytelling prowess alone, Hiromu Arakawa should be crowned queen of something. Y’all, we’ve been on the same exact day for like fifteen episodes. And this doesn’t make the show seem sluggish or the plot static, and it doesn’t bore me in the slightest. That’s an amazing feat, y’all. There are flashbacks, there are tons of character parallels, things are constantly re-contextualized, the show is intensely serialized, it’s upsetting in a way that doesn’t make us lose so much hope that we don’t want to watch the show. Somehow, Arakawa and the folks who worked on this show were able to balance a ridiculous number of difficult concepts and techniques without sacrificing the quality of the animation or the depth of the storytelling.
  • And really, it’s hard not to think about how good Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is when you watch “He Who Would Swallow God.” It’s full of everything I’ve come to love about this world.
  • It’s fitting, then, that this opens with the younger versions of the Elric brothers, before their innocence was lost along with their bodies, pouring over a book of their father’s that gives them the clue to what Father has just done: Father made a fairy tale real.
  • What an eerie fairy tale it is. Unlike the rest of the episodes, there’s no opening song over the credits; instead, we treated to an unnerving sequence of silence in Amestris. The country is literally dead, bodies littering the ground, all light purged from the world. It’s so horrifying, isn’t it? This is what Father wanted; it’s what the Homunculi wanted (for the most part). Decades of planning and manipulation have led to this very moment.
  • Fifty million people were sacrificed in a single moment. Fifty million. I can’t even wrap my mind around the idea, so it helps that Father’s physical form suggests just how powerful he is. He’s able to block all alchemy and then create a sun in the palm of his fucking hand. He is a god, able to create and destroy with impunity.
  • FOR LIKE FIVE MINUTES. CAN WE TALK ABOUT HOW BEAUTIFUL AND HILARIOUS THIS IS? Father spent an ungodly (lol) amount of time setting this genocide up, and Hohenheim undoes it all in less than five minutes. FLAWLESS. But it’s not just a solution to this crisis; this reveal helps to explain why Hohenheim has been traveling for so long. He was depositing the souls within him into the ground at strategic points in order to counteract Father with another transmutation circle: ONE THAT RETURNS ALL OF THE SOULS TO AMESTRIS.
  • And I also love May Chang, who is able to protect the entire group from Father’s wrath by creating a protective barrier with her alkahestry. All that talk of the Dragon’s Pulse and pulling energy from the Earth finally comes to fruition, not just through May, but in Scar and Scar’s brother.
  • I’ll get to that in a second because I still need to just take a moment to say that I was ridiculously touched by the image of Edward and Alphonse holding their father up as he battled Father. Just… oh my god, Hohenheim was so happy.
  • SCAR. SCAR. Oh my god, Wrath tries so hard to bait the man, using blasphemy and some pretty heinous insults to Scar’s culture to make him distracted, and GOOD GOD SHUT UP, WRATH. Wait, you actually will because Scar LITERALLY DECONSTRUCTS YOUR ARMS.
  • Though I can’t ignore that Wrath stabbed Scar with a part of his sword in his mouth. That’s impressive any way you look at it.
  • Ugh, how haunting is that moment when both Scar and Wrath collapse at the exact same moment, and we have no idea who is going to die?
  • Y’ALL. LAN FAN AND SCAR ARE BOTH CHARACTERS WHO DESIRE REVENGE, AND NEITHER OF THEM TRULY GETS IT. And it’s fascinating to me that Lan Fan doesn’t express an urge to be the one to kill Bradley herself. Instead, she asks him about his wife. Oh my god. I think that is such an incredible thing that she wants to give Mrs. Bradley closure instead of seeking closure for herself. My heart.
  • I wouldn’t say that I have developed a single feeling for Bradley, as he’s perhaps one of the most despicable villains of the whole show, but I did appreciate that we got that very rare insight into what his life was like once he was able to step out of his role as the King of Amestris. It’s still fucked up; the dude describes his time as essentially being entertained by humans while he was busy plotting their genocide.
  • It’s so weird to think that Bradley is gone. Wow.
  • And Scar was the one to kill him. In this act, he doesn’t necessarily kill the wrath within him, though. In fact, it’s these two streams of thought that intertwine inside of him, and Scar realizes that his brother once spoke of the very concept. So Scar uses his hatred and his hope, and he activates the very Reverse Nationwide Transmutation Circle that his brother had discovered. And we finally discover why the people from Ishval and Xing felt like the alchemy in Amestris was always so wrong: Father’s Philosopher’s Stone was literally acting as a barrier between the alchemists and the tectonic plates they should have been able to access.
  • Even then, it’s not like they’ve stopped Father. I still don’t know how this is possible when there are only a few people able to fight him. After he rushed to the surface, it was clear that he was going to go start murdering random Amestrian citizens to amass a Philosopher’s Stone on his own, and each death would make him a little bit more powerful.
  • I do have some hope, though, and it’s because I believe in these people. It’s comforting to know that Riza, horribly wounded as she is, is still willing to fight for what she believes in. All of these alchemists and humans are willing to give up their own lives. (Oh god, could no one else die? That would be the worst, y’all.)
  • But holy shit, THIS SHOW IS STILL NOT DONE WITH ME. The confrontation between Edward and Pride is so surreal and chaotic, especially since Pride knows that Father doesn’t really need Edward alive anymore. The threat is so much more real, but that desperation on Pride’s part is their ultimate downfall. BECAUSE SOLF KIMBLEE. I LITERALLY DID NOT BELIEVE THAT THIS WAS POSSIBLE. I figured that he was gone forever! But it makes sense that someone as vicious and strong-willed as Kimblee would be able to make their soul survive within Pride. It’s fascinating to me that Pride’s flaw comes from their willingness to live. Pride was willing to compromise their hatred of humanity in order to stay alive, and that’s what Kimblee punishes Pride for.
  • AND THIS IS SO BIZARRE AND UPSETTING AND FUCKED UP AND I’M ALSO SUPER PROUD OF EDWARD? He’s the only alchemist we’ve seen who is able to turn their own soul into a Philosopher’s Stone and survive. Twice.
  • MY GOD, the original form of Pride is a tiny embryo.
  • what is this show
  • I still dread the moment when Mrs. Bradley finds out who her family really was. IT’S NOT GONNA BE PRETTY.
  • What an exhilarating episode, y’all.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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