Otaku Pride

Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood – Episode 4

Posted on: July 16, 2009

Episode 4: An Alchemist’s Distress
Renkinjutsushi no Kunō (錬金術師の苦悩)

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Summary

Somewhere in Central one night, the Iron Blood Alchemist Basque Gran gets attacked by a man with a scar on his forehead. Gran manages to trap the man inside a metal enclosure by using alchemy, but he gets too close to it and is killed when the man breaks free. Hughes and Armstrong are part of the team that finds Gran’s body afterward, and they’re eventually joined by King Bradley who makes it clear that any rebels must be taken down. Ed and Al meanwhile return to headquarters and tell Mustang about what happened in Lior. They’re interested in the chimera that Cornello created, so Mustang sends them to Shou Tucker, the Sewing-Life Alchemist. Tucker became a State Alchemist after creating a chimera two years ago that understood human speech, however the only thing that chimera said was that it wanted to die. It died shortly thereafter of self-starvation.

At Tucker’s house, Ed gets ambushed by Tucker’s dog Alexander and daughter Nina, and it turns out that Tucker’s wife had left him. Tucker wants to know why Ed and Al interested in transmuting living things, so Ed tells him the story of their past. Tucker decides to give them access to his lab and library, and the two brothers spend the entire day reading. The only break they take is to play with Nina and Alexander, and soon it’s time to go. Jean Havoc comes to pick them up, and before leaving, he reminds Tucker that assessment day is coming up soon. This means that Tucker will have to report the results of his research, and it weighs heavily on him because he already did poorly last year. Failing again this year would mean losing his State Alchemist title.

The next day, Ed and Al learn from Nina that Tucker’s wife left him two years ago. Nina’s loneliness reminds the brothers of the distance they had with their own father, so they opt to play with her some more. Tucker reveals later that life before he took the State Alchemist exam was hard, and his wife couldn’t put up with it, so she left him. He doesn’t want to return to those days ever again, and he offers to play with his daughter, making her quite happy. When Ed and Al arrive the next day, they find that Tucker has successfully created another talking chimera. Ed is at first amazed, but after it calls him onii-chan (brother), he realizes that this chimera is actually a transmutation of Nina and Alexander. What’s more, it now makes sense that Tucker transmuted his wife two years ago in order to pass his exam.

Ed is furious at Tucker, but Tucker tries to defend his actions by claiming that mankind’s advancements come from human experimentation. When Ed tries to lecture him on playing with a person’s life, Tucker points out that Ed once did the same thing. This leads to Ed punching Tucker, and he keeps doing so because Tucker keeps saying that they’re the same. Al eventually stops his brother, and since they can’t do anything for Nina and Alexander, Al apologizes to the chimera that wants to play. The two report back to Mustang, and Mustang thinks that as State Alchemists, there will be times when they have to take lives, so what Tucker did isn’t too different from their position. He feels that, since something like this will likely happen again where Ed will have to get his own hands dirty, Ed can’t let it get to him like this. What frustrates Ed is that he’s just a human who couldn’t even save a single girl.

With Tucker’s house now under guard, Tucker is stuck inside with the chimera form of Nina. He is soon paid a visit, however, by the man with the scar on his forehead who has already killed the guards and is now after him. After killing Tucker, the man observes the crying chimera and decides to kill it as well since it can’t be changed back. As he leaves the house, he says a prayer for the two souls.

Personal Thoughts

So a lot of the basic elements are the same as the first series, but the context of story is quite different. Here, Ed and Al aren’t preparing for the exam anymore and are instead doing research, and that allowed them to keep it all in one episode. Basque Gran also shows up at the beginning and is promptly killed off by Scar, which I guess served as Scar’s introduction. The fact that Tucker is killed by Scar at the end is different as well, but it’s probably for the better since I never really liked Tucker’s character anyway. Overall, they set this episode up to have plenty of emotional impact with everything that Nina says/does after the transmutation and all of Ed’s frustrations, but having seen the original series and knowing what would happen kind of took away some of that away. It might be nostalgia talking, but I remember the first series having more impact. That doesn’t mean though that this episode isn’t worth watching. If nothing else, it’s interesting to see how the manga story was developed differently compared to the first anime, and it looks like next week will have a battle between the Elric brothers and Scar.

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