Episode 43, "The Stray Dog"
Synopsis: Winry and Sheska arrive in Risembool, spooked by a strange man, who follows them home. Pinako identifies him as Ed and Al's father, Hohenheim. The brothers run through the desert, careful not to come in contact due to the Philosopher's Stone in Al. Roy and his group are approached by Fuhrer King Bradley near the ruins of Lior and orders him to take them into custody. Maria Ross and Denny Brosh come to Risembool reporting to Winry that the military is searching for the brothers. Ed and Al go the back way to Risembool, through a forest, but encounter Mustang's group, and are confronted by Mustang and Armstrong. Cornering the Elrics, Roy reveals that he was merely upset that they chose not to trust him.
Debuting in this episode is Edward and Alphonse's father, Hohenheim. He doesn't have an extraordinarily active role in this series, but what little he does does provide a lot of context and back story. He's voiced in Japanese by Masashi Ebara, probably best known for being the exhuberant Might Guy in Naruto, who does a good job of making him sound whistful, but present. Scott McNeil (famous for being Piccolo in Dragon Ball Z and Dinobot in Transformers: Beast Wars), a favorite voice actor of mine, is the voice of him in the English dub. However, I feel like he really phoned in the performance. It's really like he had no interest in voicing the character.
To be honest, I immediately took to the character. He was actually a favorite character of mine even in the first series. I liked how mysterious and odd he was, and yet he's this powerful, complicated guy with a tragic past. Granted, it's not quite as tragic as in the manga, because a lot of his circumstances in this series is of his own doing. I really wish McNeil had performed better, for a lot of reasons.
Ed Blaylock is a horrible Bradley. There's just no personality in that performance. I can't wrap my mind around why anyone thinks he's good in the role. Shibata has such presence.
I don't like some of the changes in the script for the dub, too. Little bits here and there. For instance, Edward mentions that he and Alphonse houldn't touch because they might dwindle the Philosopher's Stone accidently, and he might lose him before he has a chance to return his (Al's) body. But in the English dub, he just says he doesn't want to lose Al. And in the scene with Bradley and Mustang, the English dub has Bradley calling Edward an "enemy combatant", where in the Japanese version it's more subtle.
A weird thing in this episode is Edward suddenly wanting to drop the subject of the homunculus he and Al made. Didn't he already admit to it aloud when he confronted Sloth underground in Lior? I can understand being so upset about it he doesn't want to admit it, but he already came to grips, didn't he? Or is it that he just doesn't want Alphonse to worry about it? It seems a little too late to turn back now. But given what he does in the next few episodes, that's not a bad justification for his actions here. Still, he should trust his brother a little more.
How the hell did Frank Archer survive the array's activation in Lior? I mean, those other soldiers just dissolved. Was he just halfway in the town? Did he turn away at just the right moment? Even if he survived the actual activation, those injuries are surely fatal, right? Well, no. No, we'll see just what (really bizarre) plan Bones had for Archer. It's a bit of a head-scratcher.
My favorite scene in this episode, which I wanted to talk about last, is the final scene, with Roy Mustang confronting the Elric brothers. He wasn't hunting them down because he was ordered to, but because he felt angered that the brothers didn't think to clue him in on what they were doing. But it is understandable why they didn't, just as it is why he's angry about it. What's more, his speech about vowing not to follow unreasonable orders after he was forced to kill the Rockbells has a certain poignance to it, especially since Winry's right there and has had difficulty reconciling the person she thought Roy is with what he did. The death of the Rockbells had a deep impact on Roy, who wants to be in a place where he wouldn't have to kill innocents like that.
However, it may be a little naive, since who knows what type of difficult decisions one would have to make even in a high position, or if they may be that different. One wonders what would happen if Roy truly achieved his goals.
Back onto the voice actors, the Japanese VA for Roy really nailed that scene, and as usual, his English VA didn't sound believable at all trying to be serious.
3.5 out of 5