Episode 30, "Ishbal Extermination"
Synopsis: Riza Hawkeye relates to Edward, and Marcoh to Scar, the Amestrian military's role in the Ishbal conflict. After the war broke out, it was seven years before Fuhrer King Bradley ordered the State Alchemists into Ishbal to eliminate the population. In a flashback, Mustang meets with Hughes and Hawkeye after a long while, and sees that they all have the eyes of a murderer. Hughes, however, looks forward to a future involving his girlfriend, Gracia, back at home. Zolf J. Kimbley, one of the State Alchemists uses a Philosopher's Stone made up of Ishbalan civillians to kill others. The head Ishbalan cleric tries to exchange his life for the life of his people, but King Bradley refuses the deal, calling him foolish. The war eventually ends, and Roy has Riza become his assistant. Back in the present, Riza tells Edward that Roy's path will eventually lead to judgement on those who took part in the war, regardless of who was manipulating them. Envy goes to check on Marcoh, but finds a dead body and the word "vengeance" written in blood on the wall.
The dub for this episode is quite good. And do you know why? Because it's mostly Travis Willingham's Roy, Colleen Clinkenbeard's Riza, and Sonny Strait's Maes, with few other characters making significant contributions. Edward has a few lines, sure, so does King Bradley and Marcoh, all cursed with poor performers, but their scenes are mercifully short.
I'm going to go ahead and say that Travis Willingham has become the best performer in the entire English dub of this program. He started very shaky, and he never really impressed me in the first series. I wouldn't say that he was ever terrible in the first series, but not great. He needed work. In this episode, he shows that he can sound both determined and worn, gentle and angry, and even charismatic. It's some of his best work yet.
Colleen Clinkenbeard has always been an excellent Riza Hawkeye, and this episode is no exception. She normally has this very sober, stiff sound to her, but can also become very whistful or regretful sounding. In the scene where she questions why they're killing so many people, and is then questioned by Kimbley she sounds geniunely shaken.
In that scene, we get a bit of Eric Vale/Johnson's Zolf J. Kimbley. I don't have any major hang ups with his voice for the character, which gives him a sort of bemused wickedness, a knowing malignence. However, I feel like he doesn't have much charm to him, the way the Japanese VA does, and his overly raspy delivery can sound too on-the-nose. I know what he's trying to get out of the character, enjoying the character's brutality, but the great thing about Kimbley is that you don't really know what to expect of him. He can put on a mask of kindness that seems geniune, but little bits of evil peek through even as he's doing so. Johnson's Kimbley seems more appropriate for the first show's interation, and even then just on a basic level.
I didn't feel like this series handled Kimbley's big scene as well as I would have liked to. In the manga, Kimbley's musings on a soldier's job feel more of a cold hard truth in a mounting storm, but here it's like a veiled threat.
Of course, I don't find Ed Blaylock any bit the intimidating figure that Hidekatsu Shibata. His dimissal of God feels like his condemnation of the entire concept, but with Blaylock it feels more like a pitiful challenge from an old man. I really can't get into Blaylock's Bradley. It lacks that power Shibata gives it.
I really wish Brotherhood would have done this material more justice. It should have used all the material from volume 15 of the manga and done two episodes. If they needed to pad it, they could have added more scenes of destruction, but I doubt they would have had to. This feels more like a "best of", and even leaves out some of the really good stuff, like Basque Gran's rebellion or the scenes with Winry's parents being warned but staying to treat people. They took some of the material and put it in that earlier episode where Winry confronted Scar, but I felt like it would have been better here.
The dub of the episode was great, but the episode itself was a bit disappointing, compared to the manga's version of this flashback.
Overall ENGLISH DUB Score:
4 out of 5