I was trying to get through here without posting, but I feel that I just have to.
I want to say, first off, that FMA is my all time favorite anime, and even though I've only been watching anime a few years, it looks like it will stay that way. Every time I watch DMA (the Dubbed Metal Alchemist, as I call it), I get this bizarre feeling like I'm about to get blood drawn, or charge in front of speeding traffic. But it's actually quite enjoyable! Sure, I still think the sub is better, and some things really annoy me about the dub, but over all it's pretty good, and I can laugh over most of the things that I don't like (like the fact that Ed had the same voice at 6 as at 15?) so it's enjoyable.
As for episode 4 itself, I first want to point out that it isn't REALLY a useless episode, as it is often accused of being. If it hadn't been for this episode, all us FMA fans would be asking "Wait, WHY did Ed recognize Lust? When did he see her? Who the heck was talking with their father about human alchemy??" This answers the questions satisfactorily (Ed saw Lust when she was "checking up" on Majihal, who had been writing to their father about transmuting Karin...though sometimes I wonder how Ed recognized her...he only saw her for about a second, so he'd have to be some kind of...oh, supergenius. Right.
) and we get to see one of Ed's first "adventures" on the road to becoming the Fullmetal Alchemist. Not a bad deal. But still, not my favorite. (I think...36 is my least favorite? It's one or two before the "Flame Alchemist" ep...)
Anyway, my opinion of DMA #4:
--Liked: The translation was pretty good overall! I mean, yeesh, some people would have you think they were planning to rewrite the entire script before the series came out, and I've been pleasantly surprised at how close most of the lines have been. Some of the "new lines" I enjoyed immensly! (I have an away message that makes note of the fact that Al is a GIANT ROBOT FROM THE FUTURE) I've also gotten used to the voices...somewhat...I'm no longer reaching for the band-aids to stop my bleeding ears whenever Ed talks. That's a plus. And...well...as usual, the words matched the mouths perfectly. (If nothing else, I can ALWAYS say that about an episode!)
--Didn't like: Ok, I'm going to try really hard not to be too nit-picky here. I don't like Ed's voice. I guess some people do, but I just don't think it sounds like him at all, by which I mean the voice does not make me think of an "Ed-type" character. Al's voice is good...but I think his voice acting is poor. I can stand the fact that he sounds too young (I've always thought Al should sound old for his age, since that's how he acts) but I noticed, and I swear this is true, Al shows more expression in his face than in his voice. And he's a suit of armor, people! That just ain't right! I really noticed for the first time that the minor characters keep re-using voice actors. That shouldn't bug me, but it really does. It also bothered me that the tomboy sounded...um...not like a tomboy? (Same thing bugged me about Winry, but I'll not go into that since she's not in this ep) But, ok, enough about that. Most important, I feel that they are very subtly re-interpreting the characters. Lines like, "You're back to your depressed self"; personally, I never thought of Al as a depressed character: he's often reserved, less emotional than Ed, more logical and thoughtful, ridiculously friendly, and he's also very naive at times, and even cheerful, though not always, and when he is depressed, he keeps it to himself. Ed, on the other hand, hits all the extremes of happiness, anger, angsty depression...I dunno. It's not really a specific complaint (I can't point to any particular scene and say "this PROVES Al is not always depressed!") but I feel that the line is misleading. That does sound nit-picky (I apologize profusely!) but I just feel that a lot of little things like that have been slowly building up...
Ok, I'll move away from that, since I'm starting to sound quite negative. Even if a lot of little things bother me, I still feel that I can enjoy DMA, if not as well as FMA, and I look forward to seeing more! I'm a tad disappointed that I'll miss the next...three episodes, but I'm sure there will be reruns or something.
Ok, about Ed's age, I know it's been explained before, but what the hey, I'll say it again. He's 15 at the start, but then they go back in ep 3 to when he's 6 (not 5), then 8, then 10, and he leaves home when he's 11. The flashback continues (his 12th birthday is in episode 6) until the end of episode 9, which ends with a quick flash-forward to just before the start of the series. (Back when I first downloaded, I discovered this convenient loop, and kept re-watching those episodes without moving on...it was a good way to keep myself from flunking all my finals, since it meant that I wasn't obsessively watching new episodes but casually watching a "mini-series" whenever I found time...so I know them quite well!) Ed's 16th hits on episode 24. There are more flash backs, but they're all contained within "normal" episodes (so you watch modern Ed and Al, then you see a little bit of younger Ed and Al, then you go back to modern again...not too complicated) so it will be less confusing. Plus, they're easy to tell apart! 11-12 Ed has a comically large zipper! (Ok...so MAYBE you have to have seen the eps a million times like me to notice that...)
Anyway, those thinking this is the "best" so far...I know how you feel, I was watching this for the first time once myself.
Each ep is the "best so far"! But the quality will improve dramatically very soon with the edition of a few o' my favorite characters!!!
Also, someone mentioned (either here or somewhere else...?) that Ed didn't seem bothered by the fact that he'd killed Majihal. Ed doesn't always show his emotions on the surface, but he does bring it up once later, and I think it's on his mind more than we know. I certainly notice a lot in re-watching that I hadn't seen before, much of it related to Ed's emotional state. Oh, and he didn't draw an array in the GRASS to freeze the river. Don't be silly. It was drawn in the dirt with a stick, which is MUCH more logical!!
You know that training they mentioned in the third episode? Well, a lot of it probably involved learning to draw arrays REALLY fast using bizarre materials...("You have two minutes to carve an array on this piece of wood using only your fingernails and a feather. Go!") ...or not...
I think that's all I have to say. I reccomend you all see the Sub who haven't already, since I do believe it is superior. However, this isn't too bad...I'll certainly keep watching when I can. And get the DVD.