This is where Brotherhood really begins to rise above the old series (here
). While the first set
was basically nothing but a recap of the original anime this set carves out its own story. Without giving too many spoilers it introduces several new characters (including the Elric brother's father) and has the lead characters finally hunting the homunculi instead of merely reacting to them. The biggest new character is Lin Yao, the prince of Xing (Basically China), who is introduced right off the bat in episode 15 as if to emphasize the split. He's hunting for the Philosopher's Stone so he can gain the advantage in the succession of his kingdom and become emperor and since they know all about it he hangs around with Ed and Al. Lin's selfish nature really bugged me at first but by the end of this set he was among my favorite characters, which is a shame because he doesn't have as much screen time in the rest of the series. Another new character is Lao Fan, who is the only character on the show that I never really liked. She's a little girl from a rival family in Xing and comes complete with a mini-panda. You also get to see the first real enemy death, and it's a big one. A big issue of this series is leadership and loyalty, especially to subordinates. There are four main leaders in this series and each of them has a different style. Lin and Mustang are loyal to a fault to their subordinates (although Lin's rather more careless about sending them into danger) while the homunculi's leader cares nothing for his. The fourth shows up in the next set and she is willing to spend her men's lives but never capriciously or on a whim. A lot of these relationships will be important as the series progresses.
A great deal is going on in these episodes. This series is really a straight continuation of the last set in style and direction. A lot of things are wrapped up and many new developments are revealed. After this set the show takes kind of an unexpected turn and has a very different feel as the Elrics are forced into a rather compromising position. The ending basically establishes the course for the rest of the series. There are a number of cool fight scenes including a big one towards the end.