Saturday, April 22, 2006

Episode 8

Aired 20060421.
The Philosopher's Stone.
Same as the original title.

This would be the first time the Philosopher's Stone enters the brothers' life, chronologically. But of course from episode 3 to 9 are all "back in the past".

  1. Ed is deeply troubled by the chimera incidence.
  2. Mustang pushes him ahead. (But sure looks unfriendly.)
  3. Tucker is executed.
  4. Ed is assigned to tidy up Tucker's research, but he can't bring himself to do it.
  5. Al notices Tucker has done research on the Philosopher's Stone and believes it's the key to restore their bodies. (The brothers act on their own separately till the end of this episode.)
  6. Ed thinks the serial killer got Nina and wants to join the investigation.
  7. Mustang refuses. Ed insists on doing it on his own, and ends up having to return his pocket watch.
  8. Ed's second encounter with Scar. Since he no longer has the pocket watch, narrowly misses getting killed.
  9. Al tries to find out more about the Philosopher's Stone from Hawkeye.
  10. King Bradrey the Fuhrer is introduced. (But neither his name nor rank is mentioned. We don't know he's the Fuhrer yet.)
  11. Ed borrows the serial killer case file from Hughes.
  12. Winry pays Ed a surprise visit and gets kidnapped by the serial killer.
  13. Ed finds the hide-out but also gets captured himself.
  14. After a life-and-death battle, the serial killer Barry the chopper is captured by the police.
  15. Ed strikes a deal with Mustang about searching for the Philosopher's Stone .
  16. His State Alchemist status is restored and officially receives the title "Full Metal".
  17. Scar still lurks around and notices Ed's got his watch back.
Wow~ 17 major evens within 23 minutes again! If next time it's also 17, I'm gonna label it a formula.

Poking time! Hmm... guess I'm really getting used to the English dialogue by now. Sigh... kinda sad...
  • The scene where Ed returns his pocket watch has lines too long and the timing is slightly off. It totally ruins the tempo. (Sigh... no need for me to say it again after a hundred times, right? But as long as they still do it, I'll say it.)
  • The voice of the cross-dressed Barry was originally female, while the English voice is "a man pretending to be a woman". This is (so far) the one and only place where I think the English version is better than the Japanese one.
  • Bradrey originally said to Al "you care about your brother a lot" (meaning "you're a good baby brother"). In English, it turns into "your brother must be very special to you". Wow... that... sounds... too much like doujin stuff...
  • Huh? Mustang called the Fuhrer "the King"? OK, maybe it's a nick name. His name is King Bradrey after all.
  • Hawkeye's voice is a bit too old.
  • Winry's voice is actually pretty good. Acting is good too. What a relief. I've been worried ever since the nightmare of episode 3. Seems like the actress is fine except for playing young kids.
  • Plot devices! How conveniently Winry was playing with a screw. How conveniently it was dropped and found by Ed. How conveniently Ed used it to free himself. Winry wouldn't have dropped the screw intentionally because she wouldn't know she was kidnapped before getting into the truck!
  • But... before that, why was Winry told to wait outside? There's no reception area in such a big military building? Ya gotta be kidding me!
  • Doesn't the connection of automail cause so much pain that Ed would pass out? (This comes up in a later episode.) Well... I guess if you're in a life-and-death situation, your pain tolerance goes up...
  • And... during the battle, when did Winry get up the stool? As far as I know, her feet have been on the ground since the beginning.
  • "Colonel Hughes"? Shouldn't it be "Lieutenant Colonel Hughes", Al?
  • As usual, Ed's lines ("tiny insignificant human" etc.) bled till the end of Winry's shot, which is supposed to be no dialogue. (Sigh...) Oh, not to mention he's really hard to hear when trying to speak with a trembling voice. Lack of acting skills? (Sigh...)
  • Take a closer look at the certificate. What the heck is this? "We give the name "Full Metal" to thy Edward Elric in the name of Fuhrer King Bradrey. Pale white and black with false citrine, imperfect white and red. The peacock's feathers in bright colours, the rainbow in the sky above. The spotted panther, the green lion, the crow's beak blue as lead. These shall appear before you in perfect white, and with many others. After the perfect white follows the grey and false citrine also. And after these shall app...... substance invariable, then you..." OK, as far as I know (from Saya's blog, here and here), this is the same as Ekart's German spell in the movie. It's got something to do with alchemy. ("12 Gates" or something like that.) Well, that could be another entry later.
  • Ah, the lid of Ed's pocket watch isn't glued like in the manga. (See the picture from way above.)
The "good" shots:
What? This face is way too cute. Is this really Ed? He looks like a girl! (Apart from that, the staff didn't forget the blood stain on his right hand.)

(Sorry, no picture for this one.) So far, the camera pans I noticed in this episode all have multi-plain effect to increase depth of field. Elements are divided into layers according to their distance from the camera, and slide at different speed. There're also plenty of focus-racking and hand-held cam effect. Excellent details!

Just when I thought this is an "animate the mouth only" shot, water drips from Mustang's hair! His hair is animated from the weight of the water droplet!

Hey look! Ed's feet don't reach the ground! So he's that short? (Well, he's only 12 here.) However, his proportion seems a bit off and the chair is too small. So... Barry keeps a kid's size chair in his shop???

Where have the cuts on his left arm gone??? Somehow I get the impression that... this layout tries to draw attention to his chest? Haha... I see. No wonder he got nailed by the doujin community. He's been set up by the anime staff!
The missing cuts from the last shot. Actually, this scene would be Ed's first time transmuting his automail into a sword.

Danger's over. Al's here. Ed can finally relax... Actually, this shot is the turning point for me and the exact moment where I "switched side". I was first attracted to this series by the gap between Al's appearance and his voice. And I had been buying Al figurines only. He is the smarter one, more mature, more reliable, more of a leader type, and has a heavier existence. In other words, more like the hero. But, perhaps the production staff also realized this as a mistake, Al's entrance had been drastically reduced in this and the previous episode. It is only until now that Ed's character surpasses Al and gains more attention and importance. Well... at least for me.

The fighting sequence probably helps too. It's not the usual "hero triumph" formula, but a disadvantaged kid struggling to stay alive. Running, screaming, crying, panicking, fighting for life. It's extremely... refreshing, and successfully arrives at empathy. This scene is done so realistically, you can feel his fear as if you're running away from the killer yourself.

So~ if the brothers were treated equally by the production staff and given the same amount of air time, Al would naturally be considered as the hero by the audiences? But... cutting his shots isn't fair! Al can't have any facial expression (except for the simplified gag face) and that's a huge handicap.

This dolly-up shot is when Ed accepts his "Full Metal" title. Notice the final framing. Normally an extreme close-up like this would keep the eyes and mouth equal distance from the top and bottom of the frame. This shot almost cuts off the mouth. I'm not sure what the director's intention is, but this does emphasize Ed's eyes. As this is one of the key moments in the whole series, with the previous shot of a back-lit Mustang already looking heavy-weight, Ed's shot has to have the same, if not more, impact.

Hey the background is CG... wait! No, it's not! Looks more like a post-production effect done in the editing suite. Pieces of the background (buildings and trees) are slide and distorted. Usually you can tell something's CG by their super smooth movement.

Last but not least, Winry. The impressive part is near the end of the shot. Performing while facing away from the camera is... extremely difficult! Yet the subtle expressions, emotion, movement, timing, are all perfect! The animator has done an amazing job!!

Japanese sites spying time: (^_^)
The review of episode 8 (part 1 & part 2) at Yoo's blog Fuuyuu. Oh! He has the same view on the "hero triumph" formula, except even deeper.
The review of episode 8 (page 1 & page 2) by Saori Amano at Egaoni Aetara.

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