The five-member band for the opening song, L'Arc~en~Ciel, has derived its name from the french term "rainbow."
The origins of a Chimera are explained as combining animals with alchemy.
This episode was based on "The Two Alchemists" -- Chapter 1, Volume 1 of the Manga.
According to an interview with Seiji Mizushima, the director of Fullmetal Alchemist, there were only three Manga Volumes of Fullmetal Alchemist published when production of the Anime began. Thus, there wasn't much material to base the Anime episodes on. It was decided at that point that the Anime would eventually go in a different direction than the Manga series.
Goof: Missing radio cord:
When Al breaks the radio at the beginning of the episode, there is a mistake: when the radio falls and smashes on the ground, it's shown with a cord. After Al fixes it using the transmutation circle, however, there is no cord; even when he carries it back to the bar, there is still no cord.
First appearance of Lust and Gluttony. Envy gets a name check, but does not appear in it's true form.
Split-second production glitch: Right after Edward says "It's your fault for not stopping when I said" and before they show the Town of Lior caption, for a quick frame, you can see some Japanese characters and 1:05:18:19~
This is the first of 51 episodes of Fullmetal Alchemist. Anime are usually 26 episodes, which would make this show two seasons short by one episode.
Rose: But, you're not there!
Al: It's true, I don't have a body, but I'm here. This is my punishment for setting foot on holy ground where mortals are forbidden. We made a mistake, Rose, and we're paying for it.
Rose: He doesn't have a head!
Ed: Yeah! That's Al!
Cornello: Let me introduce you to one of my creations. You of all people will be able to appreciate this... a chimera!
Ed: You combined animals, the most depraved kind of Alchemy there is.
Cornello: Maybe so, but most effective!
Ed: Just a matter of time, Rose. Science will find a way. Science is the answer to everything. If I were you, I'd drop the scriptures and pick up an Alchemy book. We're the closest things to gods there are.
Rose: You're not a god. You're nothing close.
Ed: Neither is the sun. It's just a mass of hydrogen. Get close to it like Cornello claims, and all you'll do is burn up.
Ed: I can't see a church social down here, can you?
Ed: Alchemy; the science of understanding the structure of matter, breaking it down, then reconstructing it as something else. It can even make gold from lead. But Alchemy is a science, so it must follow the natural laws: To create, something of equal value must be lost. This is the principle of Equivalent Exchange. But on that night, I learned the value of some things can't be measured on a simple scale. My brother and I knew the laws of science, of Equivalent Exchange, that gain required sacrifice, that something had to be taken from us. But we thought there was nothing more we could lose. We were wrong.
Ed: What's wrong with you people? I'm not short! You come from a desert tribe of giants or something!
Al: Edward, please!
Ed: You want some of this too?
Cornello: You are the Fullmetal! The Fullmetal Alchemist!
Ed: Shorty? Could a shorty do THIS? What else do you want to call me -- a half-pint, a beansprout, a midget? I'm still growing, you back-water desert idiots!
Ed: Al, how come you keep sinking like that?
Al: I get full.
Ed: Of what?
(Al opens his suit and sand falls on Ed)
There isn't an opening theme for the pilot episode. "Ready, Steady, Go" by L'arc en Ciel was used for the closing credits in the US broadcast on AdultSwim.
The US broadcast on Adult Swim uses "Ready, Steady, Go!" (by L'Arc-en-Ciel) as the opening theme instead of the original "Melissa" (by Porno Graffiti) for episodes 1-13. However, the original ending theme "The Inerasable Sin" (by Kitade Nana) remains the same.
Daedalus and Icarus:
When Ed says "Get close to the sun, and all you'll do is burn up", after speaking about the sun in comparison to God, he is referring to the Greek myth of Daedalus and Icarus. The title of the episode "To Challenge the Sun", also alludes to it.
In the myth, an inventor, Daedalus, creates wax wings for his son, Icarus, and himself to fly. Daedalus warns Icarus to not fly too high, towards the Gods, but Icarus doesn't listen. When Icarus gets too close to the sun, and the Gods, the wax on his wings melts and he plummets to the sea below.
The myth teaches that when people become arrogant and try to act like gods, they will just end up failing. This is how Ed thinks of his attempt to revive his mother.
Lior's Fountain of Wine: Water to Wine:
Cornello's miracle is a reference to the miracle of water to wine one of Jesus Christ's many miracles.
A Chimera is first introduced in this episode. A Chimera in the series is the result of Alchemically combining animals together to get a new creature. In Greek mythology a Chimera was an animal that was part Lion, part snake and part goat.
Cultural Allusion: Japanese "Honorifics":
Beginning in this episode and seen throughout the series, the Japanese tradition of "honorifics" is noted in regards to the way certain characters address others in the series. Nowhere is this more notable than in the way Al addresses Ed simply as "Brother."
In Japan, a politeness-based society, there are markers built into the language that are used for addressing one's elders or for addressing someone of great respect, importance, or stature in society. This use of markers is generally one-sided (those receiving the politeness term often do not return the gesture to the inferior speaker).
This form of speaking also falls into address terms for family members, hence, as Ed is the elder brother, Al shows respect by addressing him as "Brother" while Ed simply uses Al's name.