“You can’t come home to a place where you’ve got no family waiting for you.”
-Edward Elric, Fullmetal Alchemist S1E17: “House of the Waiting Family”
Brief synopsis: Ed and Al return to Resembool to get repaired.
Title significance: There is something very ghostly about this title, and I think that fits well into the theme of Al and Ed returning to their childhood home. They haven’t been there since they left to join the military, leaving their home to burn. The ruins of their old house has been left empty, awaiting their return.
Then there’s the bit more cheerful connection to the title. Ed and Al spend most of the episode acting as though they have no home. But Grandma Pinako and Winry have made clear that they have a place to come to, that even if they no longer have a home, they have a family who waits for them to come back. They have people who miss them when they are gone.
Morality of alchemy: We didn’t really get into the morality of alchemy much this episode. All we saw was a touching scene where Ed is able to repair his brother. We see the life that it brings and how it sprung from brotherly love, as Armstrong so tearfully announced.
But the darker side is lurking just below the surface like the inscription inside Ed’s watch. Their old home is a burned wreck. There is a grave for their mother. All recall another alchemical attempt that turned ill. It was done out of love, yes, but what resulted was something evil.
Success of morality: Lurking beneath the surface this episode.
What “House of the Waiting Family” does right:
- Winry – Winry is probably one of those characters that divides the fanbase. I personally like her (partially because she reminds me of Gadget), and I think this episode really shows why. She’s very talented. She clearly has feelings for Ed, but doesn’t let it make her starry-eyed. She obviously cares about both of the brothers and their safety. She has a passion outside of the boys though. She’s a great tomboy character, and I think she works really well. I also love her character design.
- Armstrong – Louis Armstrong is the perfect comic relief. I love everything about him. I generally hate physical comedy, but Armstrong makes me love it. I don’t know why.Maybe it’s the sparkles. They have a life of their own. Maybe it’s because he is such a large character, and it’s a bit unexpected.
- The watch – I love the fact that Winry discovers the secret inside Ed’s watch. It makes sense for her to look, as into mechanisms and how things work as she is. While I didn’t find what was written to be exactly interesting or compelling, I thought it was a very cool visual.
What “House of the Waiting Family” could have done better:
- Lantern – Firstly, I am not a fan of how heavy-handed this symbolism was. It really decreased my enjoyment of the episode. I also don’t like how we heard the story, then two second later, we saw Winry do the thing with the lantern they had described. The entire thing was very clumsy.
- Al – We get this big emotional scene where Ed visits his mother’s grave by himself. Al does not go with him. For all we know, Al never goes to visit their mother’s grave. I find this so weird. Are they implying that Al was not affected by their mother’s death? Like, they made such a big deal about Ed doing it, that it just felt weird that no one seems to think Al should be given the same opportunity.
- Resolution of having a home – This episode just wasn’t all that interesting. I know it was trying to be heartwarming and make a point about how Ed and Al do still have a home, do still have more they could lose, and to make us care more about Winry and her grandmother, but it felt very manipulated to me, and that really decreased their desired effect.
Overall: A pretty poor episode.