When I was in middle school, I was just dipping my toes into what the world of anime had to offer. I had been enthralled by the popular shows available on Cartoon Network like Pokemon and Dragon Ball Z. I wanted to explore what other options were available to me, expand my anime horizons. One of my friends told me of an amazing anime they watched on Adult Swim.
Once I began watching, I couldn’t stop. I studiously waited for each episode to air, on the edge of my seat during every episode. It was full of colorful visuals, action-packed scenes and extraordinary characters. If you haven’t figured it out yet, that show was the first anime iteration of Fullmetal Alchemist.
Years have gone by, and I’ve become more familiar with manga and anime in general. So, I decided to re-watch Fullmetal Alchemist(FMA). Of course, I watched the second version, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, this time around since this adaptation was much more faithful to the manga.
After days of binge-watching, I came to a realization. FMA, even though it’s a shonen anime, is the best story when it comes to showing the duality of love and betrayal to provide and enchance an incredible story and here are my reasons why.
Fullmetal Alchemist’s Revenge Out of Love
Scar’s story is one of revenge. He became a serial killer because of the aftermath of the Ishvalan Civil War. During the conflict, State Alchemists of Amestris attacked the region of Ishval and committed genocide to its people. Many were killed by the alchemists in the onslaught, including Scar’s brother, who protected him.
This event and his sorrow from losing his loved ones prompted Scar to seek revenge on the country and the individuals who massacred his brother and his people. Although what he’s doing is, in some ways, similar to his attackers, his reason behind it is different. The State Alchemists killed people because they were ordered by King Bradley, while Scar kills the alchemists because of his love for his brother and the fallen Ishvalans.
Mustang and Maes’ Death
Roy Mustang and Maes Hughes are both officers in the military. They became close friends during their time in the military academy and their friendship continued and grew stronger after graduating. Mustang then became a State Alchemist while Hughes became part of the Central Command’s Investigation Office. Hughes supported Mustang’s dream of becoming Fuhrer and even gave him advice and inside information to help him reach his goal.
When the news of Maes’ death broke out, Mustang became grief-stricken and was hell-bent on finding his killer. When he found out that the homunculi, Envy, murdered his best friend, something inside him snapped and directed all his rage towards his enemy to the point of almost killing it. In the final moments, it’s the support of Mustang’s friends and colleges that keep him from dealing the final blows.
His motivation for finding Hughes’ killer was born out of love and grief for his friend’s demise. He knew that his friend was a loving husband and father and a great friend and that he didn’t deserve to die. Seeking revenge was Mustangs way of bringing justice to his friend’s untimely death.
Love of Power
Shou and Nina Tucker
Shou Tucker became a State Alchemist when he created a chimera with the ability to speak. However, in the events of the anime, two years had passed since then. In the present, Shou is now scheduled to retake his State Alchemist assessment. Desperate to retain his rank as a State Alchemist, he transmutes his daughter, Nina, and their dog, Alexander, to create a new talking chimera. Later on, it was revealed that the first chimera he made was his wife.
In his desire to retain his current rank and research privileges, he sacrificed the people who loved him, his family. His love of power and wealth made him betray the trust his wife and child had given him and, in his selfishness, even claimed that it was for the evolution of science.
The King of Xerxes and Father
The story of the king of Xerxes and Father revolves around the theme of power and betrayal. The king wanted to become immortal and asked the help of Father, the first homunculi, to achieve it. So Father planned to sacrifice the people of Xerxes to create a philosopher’s stone that would make the king immortal. But, in a not-so-surprising twist, Father betrayed the king and made himself and his creator, Van Hohenheim, immortal instead.
In a similar vein, Father’s goal of becoming a god uses the same plan as before but on a much larger scale. He manipulated and infiltrated the government of Amestris so that he could enact his masterpiece. But, of course, his plan doesn’t work because of our protagonists. In the end, He used too much of his powers and was consumed by the god he was trying to contain.
Father and the king wanted more power for themselves, and in doing so, they deceived everyone in order to reach their goal. When all was said and done, both of them got their comeuppance and were defeated before attaining their goal.
Betrayal from Love
The Elric Brothers and Izumi Curtis
Izumi Curtis is a self-taught alchemist and a martial arts expert. She met the young brothers when she saved their town from a flood. Wanting to learn more about alchemy, Edward and Alphonse begged Izumi to become their teacher. She refused at first until she learned they were orphaned and offered a trial period to prove their worth as apprentices before making her final decision. After passing her trial and understanding her alchemical philosophy, Izumi agreed to train the boys.
She then instructed them in alchemy and martial arts for six months and considered them knowledgeable enough to continue training independently. Upon meeting them again and seeing that they can perfrom alchemy without a transmutation circle, she immediately confronts them about it. They explain what happened in their attempt to resurrect their mother and its consequences. She comforted Ed and Al but then expelled them as her students for disobeying her rule regarding Human Transmutation.
In this interaction, we see the boys let down their master by doing something she forbids. This act of betrayal stemmed from their despair of losing their mother. They loved her so much that they were willing to disobey their teacher, a person who became like a second mother to them both. This part also shows that even though the boys went against her prohibition, Izumi still understood their plight and comforted them in their grief.
Hohenheim and His Sons
Van Hohenheim is the father of Edward and Alphonse Elric. He left his family to look for a way to become mortal again. Naturally, this incident caused Edward to have resentment towards his dad. But in the final battle with Father, Hohenheim gave his all to protect his allies, especially his sons. He even offered his last bits of philosopher’s stone so that Ed could revive Alphonse, stating that he is doing this because they are his sons.
Hohenheim was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice just to see his children alive and healthy. He may not have been the best father to Ed and Al, but he made an effort to make amends. His great love for his late wife, Trisha, transferred to the boys to the point that he was saddened that his time was almost up, and he wasn’t able to spend time with them any longer.
Like his father, Edward also had a chance to make the ultimate sacrifice, except with Ed, he did it. For him to get Al’s body back, he needed to give something equivalent in exchange. So he decided that he would give up his alchemical powers saying that he was still a normal boy even without them.
Both Hohenheim and Edward were willing to risk their well-being to save Alphonse. This fact shows that they would do everything in their power to protect the ones they love, even at the cost of their own lives. It shows how strong their love is for each other and that no power in the world could stop that.
Fullmetal Alchemist is chock full of different perspectives of love and betrayal. It shows that love can be beautiful and ugly at the same time, depending on where it’s directed. It also depicts betrayal with the same duality depending on the reason it was done. Because of these reasons, FMA is still the best story of love and betrayal.
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