QUOTE (Bag of Magic Food @ Nov 15 2009, 03:32 AM)
Do you think maybe the studio suddenly decided they needed to slow down the show for some reason after episode 30 was made, and they made episode 27 afterwards to help accomplish that?
I suspect that Bones kept the Ishbal flashback to one episode because they were afraid of losing non-manga viewers and figured that trimming out "non-essential" material would be more beneficial to plot progression. The Ishbal flashback is one of the greatest character development arcs, and its impact was enormous for manga fans when the chapters were first published; however, considering that the manga is released on a monthly serial and had been going on for years at this point, it was only appropriate that Arakawa write and draw out enough chapters to compile a tankoban.
On the other hand, the newest TV anime has a few things going against it that Arakawa doesn't:
no one's going to say the world economy is any better at this point, and Japan is definitely not
exempt from this effect. It's likely that Bones is trying to maximize its viewership so it can continue receiving money to make future episodes. That means that they are more than likely to cut out manga material that would either cost too much to animate or
potentially lose non-manga viewership (eg. omission of the Ling and Lanfan vs. Gluttony and Envy, removal of Mei Chan's intro at the Youswell mines, trimming the Ishbal Annihilation campaign into a mere flashback).
- number of planned episode
According to amber1003 on DA in September 26th of this year (http://amber1003.deviantart.com/journal/27402435/), the series is planned for 63 episodes. However, this announcement (if correct) is relatively recent, considering that the series was relaunched back in April 5th. This may be some speculation, but it's possible that Bones didn't actually have a number of episodes planned during pre-production since the manga has yet to finish. Unlike the first series where everything was planned from the start, the production team for FMA:B probably had a lot more trouble guessing most much money they should invest in episodes, promotions, etc. Again, this leads to material getting cut from production in lieu of staying on television air.
- fanbase and viewership
with the first series, Bones created an enormous FMA fanbase that spread to international acclaim, arguably an even bigger fanbase than solely FMA manga fans. This popularity was both a benefit and bane to the second FMA anime production team: they now had to revamp the anime without looking like a complete repetition of the first series (less they lose viewership from anime-1 only fans) and
they had to remain loyal enough to the original manga to please FMA manga readers and
keep viewers interested in the next plot development after material from the first and second FMA anime series ceased to overlap. In order to maximize viewership and keep money rolling in for production, Bones had to cut just enough so FMA-1 anime fans would not cry boredom or draw "___ was better than ___" comparisons, manga fans would continue to watch the series for the favorite scenes to be animated, and viewers with no prior knowledge/interest in the FMA canon would continue watching to see what happened next plot wise.
In short, I think there are numerous reasons why episode 27 exists solely as a recap episode with little or no plot relevance, but I'm guessing budget issues stemming from viewership and pre-production planning are likely the core of the series' odd pacing up until now. Episode 27 might be indicative of a budget and/or production issue that Bones has not (and probably won't) released to the public, and episode 30 might be indicative of their budget loss from CGing Envy's second form in episode 25, 26 and 28 (it's possible that Bones felt that it was only worthwhile to animate the Ishbal annihilation campaign if they had more money to do more artistic justice to the scenes, and ended up scrapping the whole flashback in favor of plot progression over character development).