Episode 18, "Marcoh's Notes"
Synopsis: The mysterious people in black, Lust and Gluttony, fight Scar in the Central First Branch library and cause it to burn down. When Ed and Al arrive, and are given new escorts (Maria Ross and Denny Brosh), they discover the library has been destroyed, dashing their hopes of finding Marcoh's hidden research notes. They consult with a woman named Sheska, who formally worked there, who they discover has the ability to remember everything she reads, and makes a copy of Marcoh's notes. However, the notes are all coded and the brothers have difficulty decoding. Eventually they do, and are horrified by the secret behind the Philosopher's Stone: it's made from human lives.
We start this next chapter of the show with this very quick scene of Scar encountering Lust and Gluttony at the library, leading to its destruction. I like this bit, because not only do they go back to it later, but it serves to sort of introduce us to the enclosing threat of these characters. They already know what Edward and Alphonse know and are a step ahead. There are bigger things going on and we get into it in this arc.
We're introduced to Maria Ross and Denny Brosh in this episode. They don't make much of a first impression. The only thing we get is that they find it difficult to deal with these children who act very mature for their age. They spend a lot of time in these next few episodes constantly be exasperated by the Elrics (specifically Edward), trying to get them to realize their limits and fall in line, to leave things to adults. Of note, the English voice actress of Maria Ross, Meredith McCoy, is quite good in this role. It's of note because there are a lot of voices I dislike in the English dub, so I figure I should mention the ones I like.
Another character with a good English voice, and one of my favorite characters in this series, is Sheska. She's basically Yumiko Readman from Read or Die, but without the paper powers. She is a hardcore bookworm whose house is stuffed full of books. I love the bit they do where they show her search through her books as she sees it in her head and how it really went. It's one of the funniest scenes in the series. Gwendolyn Lau is perfect here, at least as good as her Japanese counterpart. I love the awkward quirkiness of this character, and both of them really make her that, but also endearingly cute, too.
SOYLANT GREEN IS MADE OF PEOPLE! PEEEEEEOPLE!
Okay, well we finally get the dark secret of the Philosopher's Stone here, which is that it's made from human lives. Uh, but that makes me wonder about the red water again, which we'll see even more of. If Philosopher's Stones are made of red water, is the red water made of people? How are people made into the red water? That's something this series never really answers, and it's one of its biggest flaws.
Speaking of flaws, next episode we get Scar's floating orb trick!
3.5 out of 5