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"Fullmetal Alchemist" Vol. 6: Homunculicious!

We’re just about at the halfway mark and things are heating to the boiling point. Ed and Al are on the cusp of finally discovering the secrets of the Philosopher’s Stone in the military’s mysterious Laboratory Five. With Al locked in a life or death duel, episode 21 begins.

On this disc, we see more of Scar’s past and are introduced to man who is supposed to be dead — Shou Tucker, the Sewing-Life Alechmist. What Ed finally finds in the laboratory after a long string of action sequences is truly unsettling, and the music cues and scenery help to make this scene even more powerful. Scar’s flashback is also incredibly dramatic. This episode may very well be the best example of well-played drama and horror in any anime series to date.

In the next episode, soldiers rescue the Elric brothers from Tucker, and Lust and Gluttony make an appearance as the Laboratory Five arc swings to a close. This episode is so chock full of plot and story advancement that I can’t even scratch the surface. The series is in full swing.

As Ed gets some well-deserved rest, Winry is swept up by Major Hughes and Al, with his body fixed up, believes Barry’s accusation that he is a fake soul created by Ed and runs away. This episode provides a much-needed breathing period from all the action in the previous arc, and I couldn’t help but feel like the Elric brothers: exhausted, but curious to learn more about the horrors they witnessed. It also proved, once again, that Maes Hughes is the most likeable character in the show, and his wife and daughter are also impossible not to love. It’s a shame that such perfect families are hard to come by in real life. Watch the scene where Winry arrives as the station very carefully, and you’ll catch a cameo of two very important characters appearing in the next volume.

The final episode, while still enjoyable, is one of the weaker entries in the series. As Al wanders the streets confused, he meets two Ishbalan children from a secret group living underneath the city. Al finds Scar among their ranks, injured. A series of attacks by the military follow, and our heroes just barely escape. The main flaw in this episode is that it’s simply boring. Rick and Leo are good additions to the cast, and it’s always fun to see Barry the Chopper, but too many plot holes make this episode seem shoddy and without plot direction.

Despite the shortcomings of the final episode, Fullmetal Alchemist Volume 6 stands as perhaps the best to date. Interesting new characters like Greed promise even better things to come, and the first episode’s ending certainly doesn’t grow dull upon repeated viewings. I don’t know how many different ways I can say “Fullmetal Alchemist is the greatest anime ever” without sounding redundant. Even its worst episodes stack up with the best episodes of weaker series. And it gets even better from here.

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