Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood – the series I kept talking about on my Twitter that I’d like to cover. Well, I finally did it! Got the chance to catch-up to it and I have to say that wow, what a masterpiece of a series this is!
I haven’t gotten yet the chance to read all the manga chapters. But I know at some point, I will. That is why I am mostly going talking today about the anime version of it – Brotherhood version.
In parallel I also started to watch the 2003 series, but as of now, let’s talk Brotherhood.
The start of the story
Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood starts like we all know, with the story of the two brothers, Alphonse and Edward Elric. When? After they’ve done the unthinkable taboo: try to bring their mother back from the dead.
But wait, how exactly did they try to do that? It’s the question that goes next to your head. Well, with nothing more than… unnatural means, the introduction shows you. And those unnatural means are the use of alchemy – the story’s main magic system.
While widely used and at the base of all magic happenings in the story, alchemy however, cannot with all its attributes and might, accomplish one thing: that to give life.
Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood: the lesson between alchemy vs natural
Natural life giving & the connections between parent and child are held above everything in the story! It’s explored through the parents’ roles, from various different angles. Likewise their relationship with their children. Main relationships that bring under the scope this lesson are the ones who are closest to the boys.
We have Trisha who gives birth to Alphose and Ed, and her care for them. We have Winry’s parents situation. Likewise, we explore Izumi’s miscarriage. We observe the natural course of life through these three main parent – child relationship.
Because once alchemy interferes in this natural process, the unthinkable happens. A being, trapped between two worlds, neither human, nor animal. Not natural to any state. We all remember Nina Tucker, don’t we?
Not to mention, the whole basis and main subject of this story: the Elric brothers in their quest to bring back Alphonse’s real body. His real natural body as opposed to the one he is in now – the metal one.
Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood’s story relevancy to nowadays
And I think Fullmetal Alchemist is more relevant today because of this aspect than any other time.
In the world of today that promotes being more mechanical, robotical, where the natural world is pushed aside in order to install a more digital one, FMA’s important message strikes through!
That yes, we can make use of artificial limbs, or even possess skills that make our life more easier. Yes, it’s okay to make use of those different tools to ease our life! Because that’s what they are tools. And their purpose is to be used.
However, the minute we stray from the natural path, we are quite prone to doom. And as proof to support that morale we have the chimera cases and the Ishvalan war. And last but not least, the almighty run for the final villain to beat God/Truth.
The allegory of FMA’s lesson to today’s time
I think that’s a nice allegory. Sure, in nowadays’ society, to even bring such a topic into discussion might be sensitive. But the way the series takes on the problem, in my opinion is quite brilliant.
Like it or not, accept it for its reality or not, there is a higher power than us.
In Fullmetal Alchemist we called it Truth, because the author has a nice way of symbolically express some ideas (which I hope to discuss soon in another post).
In real life perceptions over that higher power are different, from person to person. However, what I do think is that its existence is undeniable.
The higher power – all is one, one is all
Call it God. Call it Mother Nature. Call it Supreme Intelligence that runs thorough all life forms.
Call it however you want! But we know it’s there.
And it deals with the natural flow of life. And the natural is what governs us all, after all.
The moment one tries to interfere with the natural flow of things, like it was shown to us all throughout the series, things go astray.
And no matter the usage of tools at your disposal, the natural flow of life still prevails.
Yes, you can try and interrupt it. We have Elric brothers trying to bring back their mum. Izumi Curtis trying to bring back her dead baby. All those other examples.
Yes, it might look like you’ve made it. Like you’ve managed to raise above the God/Mother Nature/Truth/Natural Flow of life…
But, not only that you didn’t. At the end of the day you pay a big price for your ‘sin’.
Paying the price – accountability for one’s deeds (the law of equivalent exchange)
And like it’s shown to us in the series, everyone pays a price! Basically with the same things they try to bring back. Because that’s the law of equivalent exchange!
And also, no matter how much one tries to imitate that way of life, it won’t work. We have the Father and the Seven Sins that teaches us that lesson.
Although he was their “father” and they were artificial humans aka homunculi, they couldn’t create the same bonds a natural family would’ve. And that’s their price to pay!
Like one great naturalist said in a documentary – family is the most powerful force of the world!
And if you wonder who that is, it’s David Attenborough. In the documentary Species. Watch it, it’s a masterpiece! For now let’s get back to Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood.
And it’s something proven by the story itself. No matter how much the seven sins family try their ways to destroy the ways/bonds of the natural human beings, in the end it’s impossible. The story also shows that inside their unnatural selves all they wish and hop for is to have a chance to live the same feelings, emotions, connections the natural humans did.
Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood: an ode to the sanctity of life
And I think, like I said, that is a beautiful message about the sanctity of the natural life!
That above all else, it must be cherished. That there’s nothing else worth giving yourself away for, but this.
That no matter the tools you possess and with which you think you can recreate and imitate the natural world… in the end, you’re not going to succeed. Because you won’t feel the same. It won’t come natural.
A lesson learned, a price paid: the truth of alchemy vs the natural flow of life
And I think the fact that Edward when faced with the Truth, he finally understands that. And that’s why he gives away his alchemy.
Because yes, his alchemy was something to be proud of. And a tool of great use in his ordeals.
But despite all its might, it didn’t help bring back his dead mother. Nor it helped his brother’s feelings of hollowness when he was separated from his natural body.
And he has to accept that. He has to accept that, as much as a useful tool and helpful in its way it is, alchemy has also its dark side. Which can bring quite the suffering.
And no matter its impressive power, it can never imitate to perfection the sanctity of a natural life.
That its powers were not above God/Mother Nature/Natural flow of life.
And that’s something he finally understands when faced with the truth. And I think it’s brilliantly done!
Because not only this is a word play. It’s actually visually represented as well. And I think that’s what makes the message even stronger!
One of the reasons FullMetal Alchemist is absolutely perfect to me is because of this great lesson it lives behind.
FullMetal Alchemist Brotherhood is not a masterpiece of a story because its mechanical execution. But because the themes and the lessons learned. Because of the messages it leaves behind.
Because those great teachings transpire even in today’s world.
Despite being a series which ended years ago.
However, its message travels across years and the lessons still stay. And are still valid! Especially in the world we live in today. A world that more and more puts at risk the natural life and its flow. A world where the tools are put above the user.
Think a bit about the digital era we live in today and about us, as humankind.
I’m proposing you an exercise. Try watching the Netflix documentary The Social Dilemma. Then try watching FMA Brotherhood. And in between these, you can try watching David Attenborough’s documentaries.
I think that will make you understand what I’m talking about when I say that indeed… Fullmetal Alchemist is an ode to the natural world!
And for that, I’ll love this series more than any other. Yes, that means more than my all-time discussed and analyzed – Naruto.
With Naruto I had to do that because the story is flawed. But Fullmetal Alchemist? Nah, that’s not the case.
This story is absolute perfection!
Well then, thank you for reading.
Until next time, yours truly.