Let Me Put My Suggestions In You: Fullmetal Alchemist
Posted by Arthur Harkness
Welcome back everyone, to another edition of Suggestions. Last week I gave suggestion duties to our newest contributor, Lillith, who has been an absolute writing machine. This week however, your boy Arthur is back with another installment and guys, this one is looking to get quite emotional. It’s strange, because the geeks have been all kinds of emotional lately. Between the unveiling of the new Doctor, Big Evil finally watching David Tennant’s final Doctor Who episodes, and me feeling cheated by playing Dishonored and being penalized for the high amount of murder I was committing, emotions have been running quite high in the geekdom. I decided to keep the emotions flowing, and I beg of you, please let me put my suggestions in you….with the amazing Fullmetal Alchemist.
Fullmetal Alchemist tells the story of two brothers; Edward and Alphonse Elric, who in an absolute moment of desperation, commit the unthinkable and try to bring their dead mother back to life, and set along a course the crosses lines of absolute tragedy, and such touching emotional bonds that you feel like you have gained and lost a loved one at the end of almost every episode/manga chapter. The story of Fullmetal Alchemist is appealing to almost anyone; the tale of brothers attempting to reclaim what they have lost, and the journey of meeting new people and encountering issues along the way. It’s a fairly standard plot, but the way it is presented and written is at times heartbreaking, and other times so emotionally jarring that you can barely handle it. Like mentioned before, the tale consists of them attempting to bring back their mother through the use of alchemy. Alchemy is the study of breaking down certain materials at a molecular level, and then repurposing them in a different manner. For example, Ed can place his hands on a slab of stone, and by using alchemy, can turn that stone into a giant wall or even a spear if he needs to use it to fight. That is not the only thing they can do, as alchemy is essentially specific to each user. Some are more water based, others can form unbreakable shields and skin around their bodies (GREED!!! I love you!!) and others like Edward, who is special in terms of alchemy ( I won’t tell you why, because it would be too much to explain, and it will reveal a HUGE spoiler) can do almost anything with alchemy, and the only thing I can do is be jealous of the ability.
Alchemists, for the most part, are generally looked after and employed by the state military, which uses them as advanced soldiers and clean up artists during wars. The state military is a major source of contention between Edward and Alphonse, as they both are using the military to achieve their own ends of locating the Philosopher’s Stone, an extremely powerful artifact that lets the user bypass the equivalent exchange mantra of alchemy, in which to create something, something else must be destroyed. With the stone, you can create things out of nothing, and it’s a highly sought after piece of hardware. The thing is though, nah I can’t tell you….it’s way too serious. The state military uses the alchemists to do things that at some points can be considered heroic, and at other times, downright horrifying. Crossing the lines of morality, the state justifies itself and its actions by way of mock uprisings and shoving certain secrets under the carpet so they general population doesn’t know. It sounds vaguely familiar…..but that doesn’t mean that all state alchemists are bad. In general, most of them are good and just want to be given the ability to hone their crafts, but others, like Dr Tucker, Brigadier General Basque Grand, and a few others, are fucking horrible. The acts that some of these men perform, are just well beyond redemption, and not to mention Grande is just a huge dick in general. You do not feel for them…..maybe Tucker, but that doesn’t excuse a goddamn thing. The acts that some people can perform with alchemy, can be rather dangerous, so it is understandable why the military would want to keep them in line…even though they are questionable in their own right.
The story of Ed and Al is literally heartbreaking at times. Just when you think that they are close to coming to a solution or close to reaching the stone, they are dealt blow after devastating blow, and it can oftentimes be and should be more than kids of their age should be able to handle. When they attempted to bring back their mother, the world did not appreciate them messing around in things they shouldn’t be sticking their noses into, and took Ed’s arm and leg, and Al’s entire body, which is why he looks like he is constantly wearing a suit of armor. Little do most people know, that armor is hosting Al’s soul, and if the blood seal Ed drew to bind him to it should ever wash off or become damaged in any way, Al’s soul would drift away into nothingness, and Ed would be left alone again….fucking depressing right? It comes into play at one point in the show, and when it happens, it happens so quick that you have absolutely no time to react. I spat my drink out when I saw it, and thought it was the end of everything. We all know though that Arthur perseveres, and so do the Elrics. To make things worse, and I probably should have mentioned this earlier, they are hounded and hunted by a group of artificial life forms called Homonculi, who are the bodies of the people who were brought back by alchemy after they died. Human transmutation is the ultimate taboo in the Fullmetal universe, and the act of doing it is punishable by complete existence erasure. I mean like you will cease to exist if certain people found out about it. I would tell you more about them, but you will just have to wait for Friday for the Villain Spotlight, because they are just simply too fucking awesome to be given only a few lines. Also, there are major spoilers with them that I would like to avoid at this moment, and I will have to have spoiler warning banners flying high off the battlements of the Villain Spotlight. It’s only right.
When Ed and Al are not being dogs of the military, they are out wandering the country attempting to help out people in need. Alchemists have gotten a justifiably bad wrap, mainly due to state initiated quells, but they have been trying to restore the people’s faith in alchemy and the alchemists who perform it. They become for the people, because that is what they feel alchemy is for; the people and the betterment of everyone. It’s kind of awesome to see that too, as you see the hate and contempt the people have towards them when they first meet them, but after only a few days, it’s the exact opposite. One of my favorite episodes involves a small mining community being run around by a corrupt state officer, to which Ed and Al completely fuck over, and turn the town over to the people in one of the funniest and awesome ruses I have ever seen. The look on the people’s faces after they realized that Ed and Al did this for them, all for the cost of just one room to sleep in for the night, really gives you an insight into how helping other people can be one of the most joyous moments anyone could have. Its heart warming….I mean BRUTAL!!! Definitely BRUTAL!!! Ugh, damn these emotions of mine!!!
I have had an unhealthy obsession with Fullmetal for the past few years, to the point where my first 3 tattoos were of the Elric brothers, and a transmutation circle. Badass right? The show just hooks you in a way that is spectacular and emotionally gripping at the same time. The story and emotions that are exuded by the Elric Brothers is masterfully done, and makes you question what you would do if you were put in the same position as them. Would you sacrifice everything about yourself to save your brother? Would you risk being put the death or being thrown in prison to see your Mother again? Would you walk to the ends of the earth, helping people and spreading the good word, even though every alley seems to be filled with people who would want nothing more than to fill you up with either lead or mystical forces? You have to feel for the characters, because they are almost human and beyond just a show. I know it sounds like I am borderline crazy, but you will not find that sort of human connection in many live action shows. I can’t tell you how many times I have watched any sort of reality television, and reflected that I have known more cartoon characters and shit, planks of fucking wood, that deliver more emotion and range than some of those people. It’s rather sad to be honest. Now I feel like I have given you just a bite and taste of what is awaiting you on the journey that is Fullmetal Alchemist. I wanted to give you guys more, but out of respect to you and the show, I have to cut it off somewhere. Otherwise, I could potentially tell you everything that happens, and that wouldn’t be fair. For your homework tonight, I recommend turning on NetFlix, loading up Fullmetal Alchemist (Start with the regular version first, and then move onto Brotherhood after, which is a more accurate telling of the manga which came out years after the original series) and basking yourself in the glory of this wonderful show. If you don’t like it, then you need to rewatch it. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have an underground city of lost souls to locate. Until next time geeks!!
PS: I know I left out Scar…..but for good reason. Much like the Homoculi, I wouldn’t be able to say anything about him without giving away major spoilers. He is so fucking badass though, guys. Like super badass. Like Borderlands badass. I couldn’t just mention him in passing. Who knows though…..maybe you’ll see an anti-hero column some day?
—Follow me on Twitter @ ArthurHarkness
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