Episode 15, "A Messenger From The East"
Synopsis: Scar attacks and kills a State Alchemist called Joliot Comanche. When he returns to his hideout, he finds Yoki with a little girl, who introduces herself as May Chang, who travelled with her little panda Shao May from the country of Xing. May heals a wound for Scar using Eastern alchemy (Rentanjutsu) and insists on accompanying Scar, in hopes of meeting Edward Elric. Meanwhile, Ed and Al visit Winry in Rush Valley to get Ed's arm repaired, and end up meeting a prince of Xing, Ling Yao, and his bodyguards. A battle ensues when Ling tries to force info out of the brothers, and Ed and Al eventually overcome their opponents. Ed discovers that Al can do alchemy without a circle now. Ed and Al intend to visit Central, and Ling intends to follow. Scar and Yoki journey, now with May as a passenger.
I'm not a big fan of the Xingese characters. On their own, yeah, they're pretty cool, they have all kinds of amazing moves, fine. But as a part of Fullmetal Alchemist, I always felt they were out of place, these exaggerated ninjas that don't even feel like they're a part of that world. And it's not because they're foreigners in Amestris, but that their abilities are so exaggerated. Fine, have foreigners who know martial arts and can sense things, but to have them as exaggerated as the Xingese are, it just doesn't seem like they belong there. It feels like if they were the main characters of their own series, I wouldn't mind, but they stick out like a sore thumb in the FMA world. And Ling in particular I found to be like a copy of Edward, but more relaxed, and I didn't like all the time he was spending with Ed when they could have been concentrating on the interaction between the Elric brothers.
That aside, this was the first episode with the Xingese characters, and I was curious as to how Funimation was going to approach the roles, voice-wise.
The first Xingese we meet is May Chang, the renantjustu... er, alkahestry... practicioner with a little pet panda named Shao May. Here she's voiced by one of my favorite voice actresses, the beautiful and talented Monica Rial. However, May's English voice sounds a little too much like her Ai Satoume from Shin Chan, and I can't help but imagine the character as Ai when I watch. The voice still fits May, but it'll be hard for me to seperate the two characters, even if one is a spoiled rich kid and the other is a desperate member of a dying clan looking for immortality. Rial has never let me down before, though.
Probably my least favorite FMA character, Ling, is played by Todd Haberkorn, who recently played Sgt. Frog. I actually quite enjoy his voice for the character. It has this sort of properness to it, but also a fakeness to it. Like he's putting up a front, a false pretense of geniality. And most importantly, he does sound "foreign", he sounds unlike any of the Amestrian characters. I didn't take to the voice immediately, but by the end of the episode he seemed like a solid choice for the character. But like I said, I'm not really fond of the character himself, so maybe I'm subconciously projecting that onto my opinion of his voice.
Lanfan has a decent enough voice. However, I have a bit of a problem with Fu's. He's this old Asian man stereotype. While it's all right to seperate him from Amestrians, it seems almost offensively over-the-top at times. But perhaps in time he will dial it down. Joliot Comanche sounded okay, for his small bit, which I still find patently ridiculous, even in FMA. It's even somewhat comedic. Scar still sounds too damn soft. He doesn't sell Scar's personality at all. He fails to sound the slightest bit angry or intimidating.
It's weird that the scriptwriters allowed Fu to say "ki", but they won't allow that to be said in any Dragon Ball-related English dubs, despite it being much more important a concept there. Usually it's just translated to "energy", which does the job about as well, but still falls somewhat short of the concept. Maybe they allowed that in the script because the Xingese are from a foreign land as compared to most of the main characters? Very strange.
Overall ENGLISH DUB Score: 3.5 out of 5