Moments of 2010: FullMetal Alchemist: Brotherhood 60 I Find The Darkest Hour

[Eclipse] Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood - 60 (1280x720 h264) [9666B92A].mkv_snapshot_21.18_[2010.11.25_00.37.06]

I had watched this show in a marathon pace taking about two weeks a few months after the show finished airing. As such, my experience of it differs from those who followed the show from week to week over the past year. This means I find it rather difficult to identify a singular moment from a show that I am convinced that is as close to perfect as possible, in terms of balance, pacing, and overall quality.

I am not however, fully invested in it. I feel I’m a bit out of my depth even as I am confident in my ability to follow the story and the subplots; the nature of the fantasy world and its workings, and appreciate the action so lovingly crafted over the course of so many episodes. It’s very difficult not to be impressed, but I don’t feel I’ve come across a singular moment that sticks.

Nonetheless, this is my best pick: the Eclipse happens and the world seems as dark as it’s ever going to be.

[Eclipse] Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood - 60 (1280x720 h264) [9666B92A].mkv_snapshot_08.14_[2010.11.25_00.31.51]

First, two moments that leapt up to me with awesome:

1) Scar defeats Wrath

It was a poetically just victory. The head of the state that oppressed his people was Scar’s final opponent. Both were wounded and tired, and yet both possessed heroic ability and determination. It is this very thing that makes FMA: BRO awesome: the heroic quality of characters like Wrath makes me root for him even as I see Scar as the just champion. Of course I want Scar to win, but I am moved by every parry, thrust, and strike Wrath lands.

It makes the blood Scar spills noble, that it was from the wounds inflicted by a great foe. When Scar eventually bests him, it feels every bit the great victory that it is, despite being reduced to a sideshow by the much greater struggle transpiring alongside this.

[Eclipse] Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood - 60 (1280x720 h264) [9666B92A].mkv_snapshot_09.25_[2010.11.25_00.33.52]

2) Greed’s Counterattack

This fails anyway, but for a short while the fascinating cooperation between the human and false life form – the son who would depose the father, the prince who would depose the emperor – seemed to hold the victory…

“The world is mine!”

That pretty much says it all. The wonder in FMA: BRO how I can cheer for less than virtuous characters. The show gave this moment to this character, and when the spotlights went bright, he did not waste it. I gave a loud whoop and felt so crushed at how the whole effort was rendered nil by The Father.

[Eclipse] Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood - 60 (1280x720 h264) [9666B92A].mkv_snapshot_15.20_[2010.11.25_00.35.00]

The Darkest Hour

Despite all efforts, the Five Human Sacrifices ended up in the clutches of the enemy, who arrayed them as he needed. The time comes, and he performs the ultimate transmutation. The reveal is that the planet itself is a repository of knowledge of and in the universe, and to release its power is to open the gate of the the planet itself.

This transmutation accomplishes just that, portrayed in a sequence that remembers much love for End of Evangelion, particularly the Komm, süßer Tod scene [obviously not as indulgent (read: awesome)]. Of course, this show used its own appropriate music (with Latin opposed to English).

[Eclipse] Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood - 60 (1280x720 h264) [9666B92A].mkv_snapshot_21.51_[2010.11.25_00.37.43]

While I never doubted that I’d get a happy ending out of this show, I never doubted how it would come dearly – not cheaply at all. I still appreciate the very moment it seems like it’s all going to end badly. That all the work and sacrifice everyone put in, all the compromises they endured, all the blood on their hands, will have come to naught.

This too, is great entertainment, as perverse as it all sounds. What’s your favorite moment from FullMetal Alchemist: Brotherhood?

About ghostlightning

I entered the anime blogging sphere as a lurker around Spring 2008. We Remember Love is my first anime blog. Click here if this is your first time to visit WRL.
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29 Responses to Moments of 2010: FullMetal Alchemist: Brotherhood 60 I Find The Darkest Hour

  1. Everything about the final battles was amazing. Like you, though, I watched the show so fast that it was more an awesome ride than a set of great moments.

    Totally agreed on both points. Wrath was unbelievably badass. I knew he had to die, and I loved that Scar would do it, but I never stopped loving Wrath.

    • It’s difficult to dislike Wrath, as it is difficult to dislike characters who are self-aware and wholly committed to what they want. They know what they gave up (in this case, humanity) to be where they are and in the position to win big. This is all in keeping with the greater theme of equivalent exchange. The self-aware badasses aren’t that rare in anime, but very few approach the awesomeness and gravitas of Wrath.

  2. John Smith says:

    Beating up on critically injured senior citizens/assassinating legitimate, beloved heads of state. Yeah, you got a real sick sense of justice there, pal.

  3. Kiri says:

    Aw, should have posted this Monday night for the eclipse. ;3

    I… really can’t begin to go through the process necessary to choose a favorite moment from this series. Having watched it as it aired, it took a year, and having NOT read the manga, even now, I looked forward to every bit of it. I definitely agree that the spotlight and tribute the series gave to pretty much all of the characters, major or minor, villain or hero, was great. It balanced everything out in a way that’s also poetically fitting. There was no one that was perfect, and there was no one that wasn’t selfish in some way; it was only that everyone wanted different things, and they were all willing to fight just as hard to get what they wanted.

    I think one of the earliest favorite moments for me was Mustang’s defeat of Lust. There was a lot of great tension building up to it, and as the first homoculus to fall, it was a huge triumph, both for Mustang personally and the general side of “good.” Though I think that basically any sacrifice made along the way made me happy — everyone’s deaths, on either side. It isn’t so much reveling in the body count as it is marveling that the series manages to make you feel bad for EVERYONE’s death, regardless of everything, even when it’s a triumph for another character you care about. It goes back to that lovely balance.

    • Oh I wish I thought of that!

      When we say no one is perfect, we mean that no one is morally infallible yes?

      The fallibility of everyone ties into the overarching theme of equivalent exchange. Someone always has to give up something of value to get something important. I purposely did not include Mustang’s coming out party against Lust because it aired in 2009.

  4. sadakups says:

    There were a lot of good moments in FMA:Bro, but I pick your choice as the one that stood-out the most for me. I remember watching this in the office during lunch time with some colleagues and our jaws just dropped with the eclipse scene with the world going dark and everybody dying. And that cliffhanger, we just couldn’t wait for the next one.

    The other moment in mind is the Mustang-Envy encounter where Mustang burns the hell out of Envy. I liked it simply because Mustang was going really out of control and it took both Ed and Riza to make him realize that his hatred is making him something that isn’t him. I liked the part where Envy basically gives up after failing to create more flames (so to speak) among Ed, Scar, Mustang and Riza and realizes that all of his envy is because he wanted to be human too.

    • Digiboy picked the Mustang vs. Envy moment, but I think you did well to elucidate what exactly about it was at stake. Mustang was going to become what he wasn’t: a cruel murderer.

      He already was a killer — the Ishbal genocide made him that. But he participated in that with an unwillingness that was absent in this moment. Also, good job on pointing out the root of Envy’s envy. It should be obvious in such a work that celebrates the complexity and richness of being human, but it isn’t that obvious really.

      • sadakups says:

        Your article actually made me rewatch FMA:Bro today. This is probably how I’m going to spend my Christmas. 😛

        Oh yeah, Merry Christmas to you and your family, too.

  5. Sakura says:

    I don’t think I could have picked a singular point from the first round of FMA and the same pretty much goes for Brotherhood.

    Everybody is so well rounded, nobody is really black or white, they’re all a bit grey. Even somebody like Shou Tucker, who was pushed to such desperation, that he used his own family in his experiments and that is what makes the show so compelling, you feel something on some level for everybody. Even if your feelings run to disgust rather than admiration.

    FMA/FMA Brotherhood, are always going to stand out as one of my all time favorite animes. I know even before it aired a lot of people speculated that this wouldn’t be able to hold the interest of people who had watched and loved FMA.

    But I think even from the first episode of Brotherhood those fears were dispelled and once they completely moved away from the original FMA, it just kept getting better.

    • I had not experienced anything FullMetal prior to Brotherhood so I can’t give much in terms of context and a layered perspective. I’m glad I eventually did, and as much as I love this moment here, I can’t really say that it’s head and shoulders above every other awesome thing about this show. Or, maybe I didn’t want to write 1,000 words about WINry in the bathtub.

  6. ottocycle says:

    After the scene showing the world in darkness, Father proceeds to replicate nuclear fusion in the palm of his hand, in the form of a mini-sun. This music starts to play:

    That one unforgettable moment is still what I consider the only one where anime has shown absolute despair. I truly thought that it was GG for the good guys, mostly because of the unfathomable stuff that he could do.

    “Do you want me to throw this here sun at you?”

    • The only one? Then you need to watch Berserk my man.

      I think the Kom Susser Tod moment in End of Eva should feel similar, but it is so odd and mindfucking that despair is merely one of many things I felt when I first saw it. I also felt more intimate, but just as desperate moments in Kaiji.

  7. Marigold Ran says:

    The new season’s going to suck. I’ll probably watch some of your recommendations.

    Merry Christmas. Don’t let your house burn down.

  8. While I can’t reveal my choice because that’s my own post, I have to say you did a good job paring down that final arc down to one great episode full of great moments. I have to say if anyone stood out for me at the end of FMA: BRO it’s Wrath. There were times during the first series that I forgot it was essentially a shounen series. In a way, Wrath is a device to remind you of the show’s roots. He’s the Dragon, but he’s also the this shows’s ultimate example of how well Arakawa can do action scenes (I suppose I’m getting off topic cause now I’m starting to tak about the manga).

    Also, it’s nice to see Scar get some sense of closure in that scene. It was incomplete, but at that moment it felt right, though a bit sad. Wrath earned my fanboy support long ago.

    The opening of the gate of the world was a beautiful scene, but like you said it had a different tone from the End of Eva scene. It had hope, or an expectation of hope. Eva had snuffed that out long before the “world came tumbling down”.

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  10. KrimzonStriker says:

    Hmm, I can’t say I was ever hoping for Scar to win myself, no matter how necessary I knew it was, another part of me couldn’t bridge my personal feelings of admiration for Wrath and utter disgust for Scar, likely because you skipped over the critical contrast between their characters over the course of the story. While certainly Wrath’s commitment to his cause and determination to see through his misguided cause, garners much sympathy from us all (I mourned alongside Mustang that we were unable to convince him otherwise), the fact that he chose his own wife signaled to me his own defiance as well, that if he was to ultimately be chained to his fate then he would do so on his own terms at the very least, taking me back to the fall of Oskar von Reunthal in Legend of the Galactic Heroes.

    Scar, Scar I will never forgive nor ever try to understand, for his crimes represented a baser instinct, committed without any thought, or reason, or understanding of the consequences to his actions. And when he finally reflects upon them he at last begins to see how ill-served and pointless they ultimately were to what he was trying to do, far too late to make it up to his victims, like Winry. Thus why he ultimately goes on the road to penance and why Wrath is able to remain defiant and unapologetic to the very end.

    • I never did take to Scar… interesting in this case: Wrath was very easy to like for me, and his being evil was a tragedy for me to appreciate being a fan of his character; Scar on the other hand was a character I wanted to hate and then went about his sins in such a strong and uncompromising fashion that I grudgingly admire.

      • KrimzonStriker says:

        That wasn’t exactly my own observation, because as I said Scar went about it on a base, instinctual rage, never taking the time to consider otherwise given how blind his hatred was. When the realization finally does come, having been forced down upon him by several of the characters, does he finally see the flaws in his own argument and justification. In Wraths case, his reasons at least made sense to him and his homunculus nature, no matter how much we may disagree with it. Bradly was who he was made to be. Scar on the other hand, though greatly influenced by his surroundings, ultimately chose to condemn himself for it. This preconception on my part allows me to get pass any hump presented by Scars redeeming qualities, to the point where by the end I only have pity and disgust for his character, and confident in that this acknowledgment is what he deserves.

        • Hmm okay, interesting juxtaposition of the combatants. In any case, the defeat of the head of state responsible for the genocide by and Ishbalan is “poetic justice” regardless of how I feel about Scar.

          • KrimzonStriker says:

            Which is compounded in turn by the irony that in doing so Scar saved the very nation that committed said genocide in the first place. Sweet and bitter are the lessons life teaches us I suppose.

  11. Sammiches says:

    Everything was just phenomenal. And the friends I was watching it with and I were completely blown away by the gateway to the universe scene. This series just went above and beyond my expectations and the ending was anything but a disappointment. Everything ended so beautifully, even if some were very sad. I love how Greed ended. I don’t cry easily, but I could feel tears burning in my eyes as I watched this. This series is simply the best. And I plan on having a beginning to end marathon soon. I honestly can’t sum this series up in just one word, too many can describe it.

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