31 Dec, 2008

Three Reasons Why I Love Fullmetal Alchemist

By: Guest Reviewer

fmaLydia Hojnacki is a hardcore anime fan, manga lover, gamer, fan fiction writer, and cosplayer. She counts Devil May Cry, Sorcerer Hunters, and High School Girls among her favorite series, and can be found at conventions around New England dressed as Trish (Devil May Cry) and Mrs. Lovett (Sweeney Todd). This is her first contribution to PopCultureShock.

I don’t think I am the top authority on Fullmetal Alchemist, but after watching the anime, reading the manga, and reading the novels, I certainly know a lot about it. To top off my knowledge of FMA, I also know that alchemy actually exists—at least, it did in Medieval times. Now it is a forgotten science.

I learned about FMA in college, when a friend of mine was drawing a character from the series. It wasn’t until I watched the anime, however, that I really got hooked. At first, I was caught up in the epic storyline and rooted for the Elric brothers to succeed in their quest to find the Philosopher’s Stone. The more I watched, however, the more I could relate to the characters, and the more I loved the series. Now I am completely obsessed with the cast.

Not surprisingly, the characters are my three top reasons for loving Fullmetal Alchemist. So, without further ado, here are my favorites.

1. The Elric Brothers
Edward Elric, the main character, is one of my favorites, and he is a big part of why I like FMA. When we first meet him, he is an eleven-year-old preparing to take the state alchemy exam. Over the next fifty-one episodes of the anime, we watch him turn into a teenager, becoming tougher, braver, and more sarcastic as the series progresses. At the same time, however, Ed is also very sensitive about his height, overreacting to short jokes and getting upset when people mistake Alphonse, his younger brother, as the older of the two. (Being short myself, I can relate to Ed’s problem!) Ed also goes ballistic when people assume that Al, who wears a suit of armor, is the “Full Metal Alchemist.” (That title, is in fact, Ed’s.)

Al is an equally important character. Al is calm and level-headed—you might say he is the yin to Ed’s yang. The two brothers have a very close relationship because of a terrible accident. While trying to bring their mother back from the dead using alchemy, Ed nearly killed both of them. To save Alphonse from certain death, Ed bound his brother’s soul to a suit of armor, losing his arm and leg in the process.

2. Roy Mustang
Roy Mustang shows up in Ed and Al’s hometown of Risembool after the catastrophe. Mustang encourages Ed to become a state alchemist so that he and Al can re-claim their bodies using the long-lost Philosopher’s Stone. After Ed passes the test, making him the youngest state alchemist ever, he begins to report to Roy. Roy sends Ed and Al on missions designed to help them find clues as to the whereabouts of the Philosopher’s Stone. Roy also tends to tease Ed about his height. This greatly impacts Ed and Roy’s relationship, due to the fact that height is a very sensitive subject for Ed.

Like Ed, Mustang is very sarcastic, a coping skill he developed after witnessing the Ishbalan Massacre when he was a young soldier. When we first meet Roy, he is a Lieutenant Colonel, but he works his way up to the rank of Brigadier General. (Die-hard fans will note that Roy holds the title “Colonel” throughout most of the series.) He’s also known as the “Flame Alchemist,” but most characters refer to him by military rank. Mustang’s number one goal is to become the Fuehrer, the ultimate military post, so that he doesn’t have to take orders from anyone—a direct response to what he saw happen on the Ishbalan campaign. Mustang is also a shameless flirt (and a little pervy, too). His friends joke that when Roy becomes the Fuehrer, all the female officers will have to wear tiny miniskirts. None of Mustang’s subordinates are really sure if his obsession with women’s uniforms is a joke or if he’s serious since Roy seems bi-polar.

3. The Awesome Female Characters
FMA has some kick-ass female characters as well, the most important of which is First Lieutenant Riza Hawkeye. She also happens to be my favorite character. She is Colonel Mustang’s right-hand man and bodyguard. Riza is calm and collected, and very handy with a gun. She is strict but very kind. At first, Hawkeye doesn’t have much interaction with the Elric brothers, but she is always very kind to them and she know about their use of forbidden alchemy. Riza very rarely loses her temper, but when does, she’s pegged as crazy, as is suggested by an incident with her dog, Black Hayate. After he peed on the wall, she shot circles around him for not going to the bathroom outside. Now that’s housebreaking!

She has a close friendship and a good working relationship with Roy Mustang. Some fans think she has romantic feelings for Mustang, but those feelings are far more complicated and far less obvious. It appears that her main drive is to follow Mustang to the top. She sometimes makes this clear, but other times tries to hide it. She also has the ability to talk back to Mustang without him snapping at her. She saves his life a lot, usually when he isn’t thinking and does something stupid.

Another character that I really like is Izumi Curtis, who could perhaps be known as the “Beastly Beauty.” She is Ed and Al’s alchemy teacher. She is a very important character, appearing halfway through the series in episode 26. Like Hawkeye, Curtis is a kind woman but a tough cookie. When she finds out that Ed and Al tried to bring back their mother using the forbidden practice of human transmutation, she beats the crap out of them. Then she hugs them. More importantly, she understands why they did it—she herself had attempted the forbidden practice after her child died in childbirth.

Winry Rockbell is another important female character in the series because she provides a link Ed and Al’s past. She is a childhood friend of the Elric brothers. After their mother died, she and her grandmother Pinako looked after them. She is now Ed’s automail mechanic. She designed Ed’s arm and leg for him, and she is always scolding him for not coming in for regular maintenance. Winry loves to take things apart and then put them back together again. Winry can also befriend anyone very quickly (e.g. Hawkeye). Winry is kind of like an honorary sister to Ed and Al.

I love FMA for many reasons. It has an amazing artwork and a cool story. But I love the characters the best; I feel like I know them, that I can relate to them, and that I want to spend time with them.

–Lydia Hojnacki

6 Responses to "Three Reasons Why I Love Fullmetal Alchemist"

1 | Madame Otaku

January 21st, 2009 at 12:51 pm

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This is possibly my favorite article I’ve ever seen on Manga Recon, if only for three reasons.

1) Hawkeye-sama is my favorite character too. In fact, I worship her so much that, yes, I always add the ’sama’ honorific to her name.

2) The Miniskirt Harem got mentioned.

3) YOU’RE SHORT TOO. We should start a club for short people. We could have official shirts and stuff.

2 | Mario

March 27th, 2009 at 11:00 am

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Full Metal Alchemist is greaaat!! Love the anime, the manga and everything around it!!

3 | Shelby

August 29th, 2009 at 2:57 pm

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Fullmetal alchemist is so great and my number 1 favorite character is Edward Elric!!!! He is so smart, so short and sarcastic!!!! :D

4 | Shelby

August 29th, 2009 at 3:00 pm

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I love Fullmetal Alchemist and I just started reading the manga!!!! Ed is so cute! Love the anime and manga!!!!

6 | Tiffany :P

September 7th, 2009 at 12:30 pm

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ahhh, no i totally love al better than ed cos he’s nicer :)

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