Fullmetal Alchemist - Episode 17 Review

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Episode 17, "House of the Waiting Family"

"I'm your son's butch boyfriend." "He's not my-" "He's not my-" "I'M the pretty one here, you mass of muscle! Get away from my boy-bitch!"

*****SPOILERS*****

Synopsis: The Elric brothers arrive at the Rockbell home in Risembool, where Ed recieves a wrench to the head from Winry for his troubles. Winry wants to take apart Ed's State Alchemist watch, but he won't allow it. While Ed's new automail is being constructed, he goes to visit his mother's grave with Den. Alphonse has trouble remembering a childhood friend, but Winry explains that it's only natural. When Edward's new automail is finished, he repairs Alphonse's damage and they spar, which Armstrong takes part in. Winry takes the opportunity to investigate Edward's watch and finds a message, "Don't Forget 3.Oct.10" inside. She tearfully returns to watch to him. Later, Armstrong makes the boys realize that, despite having burned down their own house, they do have a home to return to.

"So where's that Walmart they were going to build?"What's all that writing on her tombstone?

Comments:

One of the big differences between the episode where the brothers go back home in this series and in Brotherhood is that in this series, we've already seen Winry in the story, already know who she is, and we even know who killed her parents. So automatically, the viewer is able to sympathize with her, the poor girl whose parents were murdered by the military for just doing their doctorly duties. It probably makes her somewhat shrewish personality a little more tolerable.

As most people know already, I am not much of a fan of the character of Winry, mostly because I think the "female friend/romantic interest" trope is beneath this series. Though I guess she can barely be considered a romantic interest in this series. It's the sort of hackneyed trope that's fine for Gundam (though I also find Frau and Fa a little annoying too), because they're essentially entertaining toy commercials. But for Fullmetal Alchemist? No thanks. Another thing is that I felt like Brotherhood was always making a big deal out of her, and already not liking her as a trope, it was hard for me to like her as a character. I sort of prefer her largely hands-off characterization in the first series. She's still there to support the brothers, but she doesn't overstep her bounds. I guess you might argue that I prefer an undeveloped Winry, but she still develops, just not anymore than she needs to.

That isn't to say I don't ever sympathize with her or appreciate her contribution to the Elric brothers' lives, but it can be a rare occurance.

That said, I thought this episode was pretty good. It wasn't as great as some of the previous episodes, especially the two episodes we came off of recently with Scar, but it is a little better than the episode just before this. What I enjoyed the most was the sense of genuine warmth we get from the Rockbell household, be it from Pinako or Winry, even though they love to tease Edward. Or hell, perhaps because they like to. It's a family-like ribbing. And Risembool itself seems very peaceful and soothing, and healthy for the hectic lives of our heroes.

We get the first sign of Alphonse's growing wariness at his situation in this episode, when he forgets about a friend from the past. This is compounded when Edward seems to be holding something back from his brother. An upcoming event pushes this concern even further. I love the bit in the scene with Ed trying to get his words out, when Armstrong barges in, breaking the door, and talks to them about the night's sky. Nice subtlety, Alex.

We also get the bit with Edward's watch. In Winry's excitement to finally take apart the watch (something understandable for a gear head like her), she didn't realize something important would be in there (after all, Edward is usually not very sentimental). Seeing his "don't forget" message made her realize what an intrusion it was, and probably revealed that what happened to him was always on his mind.

My favorite scene in the episode, though, was Ed, Al, and Armstrong walking to the Rockbell house towards the end and seeing Winry shine the light, similar to how Trisha would shine a lamp when Ed and Al were late. The music was perfect in this scene.

It's not really a favorite episode, but it was pretty damn good.

"So, he was a suit of armor the whole time!" "Very observant, Major."Ed couldn't quite find room for the rest of the message after "don't forget" which was "to nail Winry".

Overall Score:

3.5 out of 5