Fullmetal Alchemist, Ending

By Shamus
on Sep 26, 2006
Filed under:
Anime

Full Metal Alchemist
I’ve spent a lot of time watching this series. In fact, this is the largest series I’ve ever watched, yet here at the end of episode 51 I’m only writing about it for the third time. I’ve had trouble writing about it because almost anything I say about the show is a spoiler. The goals of the characters change so often and new things are revealed at such a clip that there is no way to talk about the thing without getting into some serious spoilers.

I mentioned before that the plot had so many secrets-within-secrets that it felt like the story was just spinning its wheels. The very next disc I watched got things moving again, and it didn’t stop again until the conclusion. Characters started dying, the world started changing, and they started to get to the final level of secrets. Most other people have said this thing dragged in the middle of the series. I think that was my big problem with it. If we’d hit that final plot arc about 15 or 20 episodes earlier I would have been a lot happier.

I have not seen the movie, which I understand gives us the “full” ending. So, here are my thoughts on the ending of the series. Major spoilers ahead.

Let’s start with the bad:

Full Metal Alchemist
Al gets captured by Envy, and he becomes way too docile. He never puts up a convincing fight. We didn’t need to see a battle, but just showing that he made some effort to escape or at least struggle would have been nice. The audience must assume he was a limp sack while Envy lugged him how far? To another town?

The final alchemy that Edward performed made no sense. The writers already had a built-in Deus Ex Machina. They had a “get out of impossible situation, free” card. From the writer’s standpoint, the Philosipher’s Stone can do “anything”. So, they did the miracle, and then Ed somehow undid the miracle, even to the point of losing his arm again. What the heck? That is some powerful alchemy. Ed’s miracle was arguably more miraculous than the one Al performed, and Ed wasn’t even using a Philosopher’s Stone! The writers had a free pass to write any ending they wanted, and they still had to resort to cheating?

Full Metal Alchemist
I never thought of Rose’s baby as a real baby. It was just a cheap plot device that cried and needed to be rescued. Rose carried the thing all over, and weeks or months went by yet it was still an infant. (Hint: Babies aren’t that small for very long!) We never see her feed it, change it, or even put it down for a nap. She just carries it day and night. Was it a boy or a girl? What was its name? We are expected to care about this baby even though its clear the writers never did.

Full Metal Alchemist
It made no sense in the world that Bradley kept that skull in his safe. Ok, if Superman were to keep kryptonite around, I’m sure he would do the same thing: Keep it in a lead safe and make sure nobody knew the combination. The problem with this is that there is no explanation as to why he would keep the thing in the first place! Bradley could have had the skull crushed into powder and the resulting dust dispersed so that it would never again be a threat to him. Why would he keep this thing in his study? None of the other homunculi kept a stash of their only weakness handy.

What happened to Gluttony? Yes, it hints that Gluttony ate Dante, but we didn’t get to see her fate for sure, and unless we assume Gluttony ate himself then we know he went free. I was looking forward to seeing both of them get their comeuppance, so this was very unsatisfying. After all this time we learn that Dante was the main villain! Is it too much to ask that we see what happens to her? Emperor Palpatine wasn’t killed off-screen. After all of the gruesome deaths that befall sympathetic characters, all we see of Dante’s end is that surprised look on her face and then we cut away. Boo.

The memory reset on Al – as a side-effect of the cheating they did with Ed’s alchemy – was lame. A memory reset? Are you kidding me? That kid grew and learned so much. At the end I wanted to see Al gain his dream of becoming human again. Instead of completing his quest, it was like he never went on the quest in the first place. He became a much less interesting character to me.

These are some pretty serious flaws, but on balance I still liked the series. There was a lot about the ending that was right. There was a lot of good packed into those last few episodes:

Full Metal Alchemist
I liked how Mustang confronted Bradley. We were never really sure who Roy was in the show, or how far his ambition would push him. Sometimes he would seem ruthless, and other times humane, and it was always hard trying to figure out what made him tick. At the end when he revealed that his hunger for power was driven by his desire to atone for his crimes, and from a desire to prevent that from happening again, he fell into place as a character. His final gambit was interesting and that last fight was thrilling.

I loved the explanation for where the energy for alchemy came from. Early in the series they explained that you could make something into another thing of the same mass and composition – like changing the fragments of a broken teacup into a teacup. This made sense in terms of not creating or destroying matter, but was obviously a major violation of other rules: You can’t create order from chaos without using energy. I just assumed this was one of those holes in the science we had to accept. Then to discover that energy really was being used, and that it came from somewhere – that was very satisfying.

I liked the alternate history explanation. Our world and theirs were identical until the middle ages, when the subtle differences and links that bound the two worlds together became manifest. On our side, Alchemy did not deliver on its goal of transmuting common metals into gold, or of formulating a panacea, but the experiments of those times did lead to the birth of modern science. In the other world, Alchemy was real, powerful, and able to deliver on many of its early promises. Our world moved towards science, their world towards the perfection of Alchemy, and as time went on the two become increasingly estranged. At the start of the series we know nothing of this. The world is like a Final Fantasy world, unrelated to our culture or history. Then the links are revealed, and we learn that in the two worlds it is 1921. (Although the other world uses a different calendar by now.)

Full Metal Alchemist
I liked the final conversation between Ed and Mustang. They never really liked each other, but they always respected one another. They were using each other, they both knew it, and their parting words worked. (Although, am I the only person who noticed that Mustang tried to salute and then shake hands with the wrong hand? Odd.)

I liked the resolution of the story between the brothers and their father. We always knew we would see him again, and after so much build-up and speculation on my part I was afraid that it would be a letdown. It wasn’t. He was neither a saint, nor the dark figure who’d been pulling the strings. He was a villain who’d found redemption before this story arc even began, and was now facing the consequences for his past crimes. Interesting guy.

Full Metal Alchemist
Armstrong is still a great character, and his motivational speech during the diversion battle was hilarious. Any other commander would have to convince his men that while he was disobeying orders, it was really their duty to do so for the good of their country. This is tricky business, and Armstrong’s entire argument centered around “feel how big and loyal my muscles are.” Even more hilarious was that it actually worked.

I found the ways in which the various homunculi died (or whatever you call it when you destroy a homunculus) were done well. It was nice when they finally started biting the dust for good.

On the balance, I’m not sure what to make of the writing in this series. Sometimes it was brilliant and subtle – like when Ed and Mustang parted ways. Other times it was childish and clumsy – like with Rose’s baby. The good parts made the sloppy parts stand out more, and I never understood how the writing could be so uneven.

Enjoyed this post? Please share!


202040 comments. (Forty is the only number whose letters are in alphabetical order.)

From the Archives:

  1. BigFire says:

    The anime lost me somewhere in the 30th episode where the plot divergences greatly from the manga. It’s understandable, since the anime have essentially caught up to the manga storyline. with only the Greed storyline beyond that point, the anime writers have to improvise. The manga story continue, and I like it a whole lot more.

  2. Wonderduck says:

    The anime lost me around, oh, episode 6 or so. I realized that I wasn’t enjoying it at all, for reasons I can’t put my wingtip on.

  3. Michael Davis says:

    Since you mentioned it as seeming odd to you, I’d imagine that the reason for Mustang’s left-handed handshake was that he wanted to shake Ed’s flesh-and-blood left hand rather than the artificial right one. (I’m not sure about the salute, though.)

  4. DrHeinous says:

    Fullmetal Alchemist is definitely one of my favorite series. Beautiful animation, good characterization, and an interesting plot. The latter is important, as every once in a while it throws you for an unexpected loop. So few shows do that; they’re generally quite predictable.

  5. Tallgeese says:

    I agree that FMA is a very interesting plot. I like inductive type plots that keep getting bigger as you go into the story. The same applies to others like Gundam Wing/Endless Waltz.

    Returning to FMA (mind you I haven’t seen the movie), I think that it was something of a hasty ending (after Al saved Ed from ‘fully dying’ so to speak) Al ended up on the other side of the gate but got Ed’s body back and so on. A little too ‘fastwarded’ somehow. I do think that everyone wonders what happened to Dante, & it seems to be a somewhat ironic death to someone Gluttnoney feared so much!

  6. EmeraldTiara says:

    If you read the Wikipedia article on the FMA anime homunculi (I did) it clearly explains why the homunculi can’t destroy their remains. They don’t trust anybody else to do it, and they can’t do it themselves, obviously, as they get paralyzed if they touch them. Any human would use the remains against them, and the Homunculi are in a constant state of battle, much akin to sibling rivalry. Envy clearly states that he would use Greed’s skull to kill him, although that may just be because Greed was a traitor to Dante.

  7. GlitterEyes says:

    I just want to say i’ve got quite a good website which allows you to download or watch full metal alchemist the movie for free. It’s oakwoodanime.net. You go onto movies in the list the just clik full metal alchemist.

  8. EmrealdTiara says:

    BigFire: ‘…where the plot divergences greatly from the manga. It’s understandable, since the anime have essentially caught up to the manga storyline…’
    Actually, the manga/anime diversion was planned from the start. And, as any person would infer, Envy took Al to the underground city under Central. Although the deaths (yes, that’s right) of the homunculi were good, they were lacking something…at first, Ed couldn’t kill any of them, and suddenly he finishes off two of them like *that*…

  9. Edward.Elric says:

    I like de eposody of fullmetal alchemist I like the final so Edward recover the body your brother..but he live in germany munich this is “echange equivalent”

  10. Mr. Feline says:

    The not destroying the skull things makes some more sense since Bradley was Pride. (at least to me it does)

  11. shortkitty says:

    I don’t think “uneven” is quite the word for it. If you read the manga, you can tell it’s all going in the same direction. But the anime uses bits and pieces of the manga and fill a lot in, which makes for a mixed up story.

  12. cat astral says:

    hmm…well hi there everyone! what’s up! i decided i’d better add to the conversation here since, as a writer myself, i happen to think this series is one of the single most brilliant and perfect creations i’ve ever encountered in my life, for reasons too many to name. and since you all seem somewhat confused by certain plot elements, i decided i’d better set things straight. you see, i have found that the truth is the show all makes perfect and everything in the entire plot falls perfectly into place if you just think about it enough. so anyway, this may take some time to explain but i’ll do my best to help you understand it all…

    first, as to the handshake betwee mustang and ed when they say goodbye, here’s how it happened and why it happened that way: initially, mustang started to salute ed. this was simply done by force of habit because that’s what mustang was used to doing with ed. but then he stopped short when he remembered that ed had made a point of leaving the military. so rather than saluting, he decided to offer his hand for a handshake. and since mustang is a true gentleman, he purposefully offered his left hand. the intention there was to show ed that he wanted to shake his real, flesh-and-blood hand. he was trying to make a personal gesture of friendship and warmth. ed, however, isn’t the type to admit that he REALLY cares about anybody except his brother. he also had an ongoing battle with mustang from the first day they met…a battle over who was REALLY the one in control of their interactions. each one of them always wanted to have the upper hand on the other guy but neither one ever really did…at least not by much. they could never really control each other’s actions but at the same time they always tried. they always WANTED to be able to accomplish their goals alone, yet they always ended up needing each other’s help. so in recognition of this unusual love-hate relationship, when mustang offers his hand, ed only gives it a quick slap. to me, this interaction was perfectly representative of their entire relationship with each other. ed never really acknowledged how immensely mustang had helped him because ed always felt like he accomplished everything on his own. so after the handslap, ed quickly ran away, back off on his own path again like always. it was the perfect goodbye for them and perfectly embodied their “guardedly close” relationship. hopefully that makes more sense to you now.

    as to bradley keeping his own skull around, that also makes perfect sense as i think others here have already explained. he can’t destroy it himself because he is physically incapable of it, and he doesn’t trust anyone else to destroy it, including other homonculi. so the safest place for it is in a locked safe in his own home where (A) it can’t hurt him, and (B) no one else can find it. so there you have it. it fits perfectly.

    as to rose’s baby…yes, it was merely a plot device but who cares? even the incredibly plain character design of the baby alludes to the fact that the writers never INTENDED for us to feel sorry for that baby. and why? most likely because the baby wasn’t supposed to be the focus of what was going on. the writers wanted the focus to be on ed’s internal battle, on dante’s philosophising, and on the culmination of all the events in the series. giving the baby more depth and importance would’ve put too much focus on the baby itself which would’ve distracted from the philosphical issues ed was having to face and the more important plot twists that were driven by the mere presence of the baby. so, i mean yeah, the baby was a plot device and that’s all, but that was intentional and there’s not neccessarily anything wrong with it. in fact, i think it was a wise idea to write it that way. in fact, if you think back, the fact that Mrs. Hughes’ even HAD a baby earlier in the series was just a plot device as well, which helped to form the bond between the elrics & the hughes family. and again, it didn’t matter. we were only given as much info about those babies as we needed to understand a plot point that needed to be developed. they served their purposes well without distracting from the more important main characters that were being effected by the babies. so, to me, using the babies as plot devices without making them uniquely interesting of their own accord was actually the best way to write it.

    now, as to ed’s final elchemy, explaining this one is kinda hairy but you’ve got it COMPLETELY wrong! that transmutation was FAR more meaningful than you’ve given it credit for. it was much more than a simple “get out of impossible situation free” card. FAR more. what it was was his renewed attempt at human alchemy…AND IT FINALLY WORKED! the difference between this and any other human alchemy that was EVER done before by ANYONE is that by this point in his life, ed had realized how deep equivalent exchange really goes. he realized he wouldn’t bring his brother’s soul back without giving up his OWN soul. now think about that for a moment! previously, everyone who had tried human alchemy, including the elrics, had done it selfishly because they always wanted to be WITH the person they brought back. so they had all tried to bring them back using ONLY the PHYSICAL materials in a human body. no one had ever given up their own soul to bring back someone else’s soul because that would’ve defeated the purpose of bringing that person back to be with them. and since they had only used the PHYSICAL materials needed to bring back a person, all they got out of it was a creature that physically resembled their loved one but didn’t have a soul…and that’s a homonculus! cool, huh?

    right, so for ed’s final alchemic miracle in the series, what seems to have happened is that he figured that out! instead of using JUST the PHYSICAL materials needed, he actually offered to give up his own soul and entire body to bring back al’s entire soul and entire body. so now do you realize what this means? it means ed’s final alchemy in the last episode was the first time EVER that human alchemy was EVER successfully performed! he finally figured it out and made it work, and it was just a matter of equivalent exchange…he realized he needed to give up his own soul to get al’s back.

    on the other hand, when al used the philosopher’s stone to bring ed back to life, it was different because he used a different method. he simply had the power of the stone so he used it on a whim to bring back his brother’s soul, and it worked. the negative consequence, of course, was that using the stone destroys it. and since the stone was essentially his armour/body, that means the suit of armour we knew as al was gone. and remember, that wasn’t the real al, it was just a suit of armour that had been transformed into a philosopher’s stone, and from the very beginning, al was just controlling the armour with a small piece of his soul. now stop for a moment and make sure you understand that: when al used the stone to bring ed’s soul back, al wouldn’t have disappeared if it wasn’t for the fact that he WAS the stone. if he had been a normal human alchemist with a separate stone, he could’ve brought ed’s soul back and only the stone would’ve disappeared while al himself remained to greet his brother. but since he WAS the stone, therefore when it disappeared, so did the armour that his soul was attached to. hence, al’s soul no longer had any sort of anchor in this world and he was gone.

    now, you’ll also recall that only a PART of al’s soul was actually anchored to the armour. basically, the armour posessed a piece of al’s soul along with a limited supply of his memories. the rest of his soul and memories were still inside the gate. so when the stone disappeared, that limited part of al’s soul and those limited memories that had been attached to the armour were therefore sent back into the gate. BUT that part of his soul and memories, although they were now inside the gate, were not reconnected to his original body and memories which were also inside the gate. so both parts of al were inside the gate but were still separated from one another.

    therefore, when ed did the final transmutation that brought al back, only al’s original body and a lot of his earlier memories were returned. the limited part of al that had been attached to the armour all along was left inside the gate, still separated from al, while the rest of him came back. that’s why he didn’t have any memories of the past several years adventuring with ed: because that part of him HADN’T BEEN adventuring with ed. that part of him had been lost in the gate the entire time.

    now before i say too much more, let me say that you NEEEEED watch the movie now! you absolutely MUST watch it before you form any final conclusions. it is neccessary for you to see how the details i just described above come into play in the movie to bring everything to a more satisfying conclusion.

    oh, and as to dante, yes, i take it she was eaten by gluttony. and to the person who thought this was strange since gluttony always feared dante, there’s an explation for that, too. remember that just prior to the elevator scene where gluttony apparently eats her, she had just used alchemy to separate gluttony’s mind from his body, meaning that when he ate dante, the only thing he felt was a need to feed. he was feeling no fear at all because he couldn’t.

    truth is, if you just pay enough attention and give it enough consideration, every point of the entire show not only makes sense but adds depth to the story as a whole. it can all be explained and it all falls into place perfectly as i see it.

    so let me just reiterate…think over it some more, and IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THE MOVIE, DO NOT, I REPEAT, DO NOT JUDGE THE ENDING OF THE SERIES YET!!!!!! THE SERIES IS ACTUALLY NOT OVER UNTIL THE END OF THE MOVIE! the movie brings several things together and creates a VERY satisfying ending, in my opinion.

    hopefully this explanation helps you all out a bit. enjoy the movie!

    • Stony says:

      “as to rose’s baby…yes, it was merely a plot device but who cares?”

      Ever noticed when Ed was protecting Rose and her baby, every time the baby cried the homoculous went nuts. She couldn’t destroy the baby because it was pure and innocent. This shows that the Homoculous are born of the greed of alchemy and purity is yet another weakness of them.

      Homoculi are born of the greed of alchemist and are created artificially from the evil of those forbidden alchemic rituals. Babies are born from love and the fruit of two people who create them. Babies are born from two equal parts of humans and thus are pure. Hoimoculi are born of greed in trying to create something unequally for self greed or power. As any cartoon, movie, or other media from the past will tell you, good triumphs over evil. This plot device is to show the true nature of alchemy, purity, and greed. How evil never truly wins, and how purity and love are all we need to defeat evil.

      As a self proclaimed writer, you sure do glaze over simple plot devices. If you really look at the Rose situation, its the basic plot of good prevailing over evil and that purity and selflessness is stronger than greed and lust for power. It also shows us that the act of greediness is not where the damage is done, it’s what comes of that greed. These are all simple plot devices used for many years. Good vs. evil. Virtue vs cowardice.

  13. cat astral says:

    oh by the way, al didn’t fight back against envy at first because he was afraid to use alchemy…he was worried it would destroy him. so i think he was kinda waiting for ed to rescue him. but when ed died, something snapped in al’s head and he decided he didn’t care if it destroyed him, he was going to use alchemy and the power of the stone. and as you know, it did destroy him. so that’s why he hadn’t been fighting envy earlier, he trusted ed to save him and he didn’t want to accidentally destroy himself.

    at least that’s what i think.

  14. Sara says:

    Actually, I remember Rose feeding the baby once… but that’s besides the point. Babies need a lot more care than we saw her giving it. You need to do more than just HOLD the baby. Babies are really plot devices in this series… Wrath started out as a plot device for Izumi… but then he grew up. And got a character.

    Also, a lot more makes sense after you watch the movie. TRUST ME. (You find out what happened to Gluttony!)

  15. Chloe says:

    just because al was afraid of accidently destrying himself, doesn’t mean he needed to be COMPLETELY useless! he was just lying on the floor going ‘ed! ed!’ he doesn’t need to use alchemy to stand up! and we know from earlier in the series that he’s a good fighter. he could’ve DONE SOMETHING, except he just lay on the floor! It took him about 5 minutes to DO something when ed died. could someone give me an insight on WHY he decided to act so USELESS?!?!?!

    Plus if when al came back he was back to his 10yr old self and that part of his soul that had adventured with ed was still in the gate, that means that al and ed are now 6yrs apart instead of 1yr!
    so al just gets another chance to live the past 5yrs again? that’s just really weird……i wonder if the part of his soul in the gate could be fused together with the rest of it….so is he ACTUALLY 10 or is this weird time warp thing made it so he’s 14 but in a 10yr old body and with no memory or is it some other complicated thing?!?

    but the confusing points aside (mostly at the end) this anime is one of the BEST i’ve watched :D i’ll try and find answers by watching the movie. Does the second movie connect with the series?

  16. James says:

    I have some quick clarification of the problems you had:
    First, the movie makes no sense even with connection to the series. It’s just really bad.

    Let’s start with the bad:

    Full Metal Alchemist

    Al gets captured by Envy, and he becomes way too docile. He never puts up a convincing fight. We didn’t need to see a battle, but just showing that he made some effort to escape or at least struggle would have been nice. The audience must assume he was a limp sack while Envy lugged him how far? To another town?

    –This is kind of hard to understand… except Al is very docile. We see this from the beggining, he doesn’t like hurting anyone or anything. Ever. Doesn’t matter if it’s a cat, a dog, a human, or a human shell with a mind but no soul. It was very MUCH in his character to not fight. And in addition, Envy has proven many times that she is much more powerful than Al, so a fight between the two would lead to the death of Al… but wouldn’t destroy the philosopher’s stone at all. Al is afraid of dying, as is every other character in the series… so he tries to preserve himself.

    The final alchemy that Edward performed made no sense. The writers already had a built-in Deus Ex Machina. They had a “get out of impossible situation, free” card. From the writer’s standpoint, the Philosipher’s Stone can do “anything”. So, they did the miracle, and then Ed somehow undid the miracle, even to the point of losing his arm again. What the heck? That is some powerful alchemy. Ed’s miracle was arguably more miraculous than the one Al performed, and Ed wasn’t even using a Philosopher’s Stone! The writers had a free pass to write any ending they wanted, and they still had to resort to cheating?

    –It is much easier to undo something than to do something. How much effort is put into making a window pane? How hard is it to take one out? In order to do something as amazing as bring Edward back to life, which entailed of something Ed has already done (it was basically a soul attatchment to a homunculus… no one was brought back to life) and Dante had done… and Dante is no great alchemist. She’s really mediocre… but yuo’d be powerful too if you’d been studying for several hundred years.

    Full Metal Alchemist

    I never thought of Rose’s baby as a real baby. It was just a cheap plot device that cried and needed to be rescued. Rose carried the thing all over, and weeks or months went by yet it was still an infant. (Hint: Babies aren’t that small for very long!) We never see her feed it, change it, or even put it down for a nap. She just carries it day and night. Was it a boy or a girl? What was its name? We are expected to care about this baby even though its clear the writers never did.

    –YOU GOT IT! Although you didn’t realize you got it… no one cares about Rose’s baby. Ed and Al, the two most caring people on the face of the planet don’t care about Rose’s baby. Hell, even ROSE doesn’t Rose’s baby (she keeps giving the baby over to be used as a summon). The baby exists to be used to summon the gate… it exists to further Dante’s research. THIS is why you’re supposed to be appalled, not because you care about the baby, but you care about the fact that someone’s using an innocent child to further research. It’s like animal testing, only instead of anyone trying to make it painless, they’re trying to make it as painful as possible.

    Full Metal Alchemist

    It made no sense in the world that Bradley kept that skull in his safe. Ok, if Superman were to keep kryptonite around, I’m sure he would do the same thing: Keep it in a lead safe and make sure nobody knew the combination. The problem with this is that there is no explanation as to why he would keep the thing in the first place! Bradley could have had the skull crushed into powder and the resulting dust dispersed so that it would never again be a threat to him. Why would he keep this thing in his study? None of the other homunculi kept a stash of their only weakness handy.

    –No other homunculi keep their remains around them? Well, Of the seven homunculi, only two know where their stuff is. Er, one should know, I suppose… but doesn’t. And of those two, Bradley and Greed, one keeps his remains near him, while the other doesn’t. Greed doesn’t keep his remains near him… because they’re sitting next to a rather experienced alchemist who already kicked the tail out of him (wonder who sealed him in Labratory 4? Dante.) Why would he go back and try to steal it back? Not too smart. And Greed actually carries HIS skull with him (it’s in the bag that he puts in the safe that the Crimson Alchemist steals). So so far, 2 for 2 of the homunculi who know where any of their remains are keep them with them… for whatever reason. Want to hear the reason?

    –Imagine for a moment that Bradely had taken your idiot advice, and ground it up and stuck the powder in Ishbal, dispersing it so that no one could get it. What happens if some of the dust breezes into central, as elements on planets have a habit of doing? Keep in mind, the concentration and volume of his remains doesn’t matter… it’s his REMAINS PERIOD that matters (remember Lust’s reaction to a couple hairs?) Therefore grinding bones into dust and setting loose in the world actually greatly INCREASES your chance of being paralyzed by your remains, as opposed to keeping them near (but certainly not on) your possession. Besides, who’s going to break into the Fuher’s safe, and steal the skull? In order to get the skull, someone would have to have access to the most closley guarded secret in the military (Bradley’s identity) as well as knowledge about Homunculi’s weaknesses (three PEOPLE alive at the beggining of the series have that knowledge that we know of, and two of them learned it through hundreds of years of research and one of them stole the information from one of them).

    What happened to Gluttony? Yes, it hints that Gluttony ate Dante, but we didn’t get to see her fate for sure, and unless we assume Gluttony ate himself then we know he went free. I was looking forward to seeing both of them get their comeuppance, so this was very unsatisfying. After all this time we learn that Dante was the main villain! Is it too much to ask that we see what happens to her? Emperor Palpatine wasn’t killed off-screen. After all of the gruesome deaths that befall sympathetic characters, all we see of Dante’s end is that surprised look on her face and then we cut away. Boo.

    –Ummm… Emperor Palpatine was killed off-screen. He’s last seen falling down a pipe… screaming. Unless he’s magically capable of screaming while dead, he dies off screen. And secondly, while the series has some pretty greousome scenes, nothing depicted is nearly as gross as someone eating a human. Cannibalism is pretty much universally despised in the current industrial world, and I’m certain that even in liberal Japan it’d be heavily restricted on television.

    –Also… how does gluttony do anything to deserve comeuppance? You are a most heartless human being if you can’t feel pity for this creature: baseless and soulless, with only a desire to make people around him happy (his relationship with lust). And because that person is TAKEN from him, he refuses to do what he was designed to do, eat. After that his mind is abolished, leaving nothing but a body and a desire to eat. And you don’t pity him? Certainly Sloth deserves no pity, and even Lust occasionally shows a heartless side… but Gluttony over and over shows but two things: an unceasing obsession he can’t help, and care, even love, for the one person who means anything to him: lust.

    The memory reset on Al – as a side-effect of the cheating they did with Ed’s alchemy – was lame. A memory reset? Are you kidding me? That kid grew and learned so much. At the end I wanted to see Al gain his dream of becoming human again. Instead of completing his quest, it was like he never went on the quest in the first place. He became a much less interesting character to me.

    –This is perhaps the dumbest thing I’ve heard in this post. The whole end of the series is about how there IS something out there, that equivalent exchange DOES exist… it’s what these creatures in the gate deem as ‘equivalent.’ The creatures beyond the gate deemed Ed’s banishment, as well as all of Ed and Al’s experiences from Ed’s point of view, Al’s immortality (don’t forget you always gain in exchanges…). And look how hard Hoenheim, most brilliant alchemist like, ever, tried to gain immortality, and he failed. Al had to surrender that… as well as all the knowledge he had gained as WELL as the effort he spent, as well as Ed’s ability to do alchemy. Also, he’s permanently seperated from the most important person in his life: Ed. How is this a great exchange for anyone? Ed gave up SOOO MUCH just so his brother could live. Ed gave up HIMSELF.

    This made sense in terms of not creating or destroying matter, but was obviously a major violation of other rules: You can’t create order from chaos without using energy.

    –Are you trying to quote the second law of Thermodynamics?

    The entropy of an isolated system not in equilibrium will tend to increase over time, approaching a maximum value at equilibrium.

    First off, I hardly think a teacup on a surface is an isolated system, unless you take the planet Earth as an isolated system (its not… what about the sun?). Second off, in theory, a random system will occasionally create something ordered. This is why the word is ‘tend.’ And finally, we know that most alchemists at least use some energy from their bodies, go watch the episode “Passing the Test” again.

    • Stony says:

      Plus you have to factor is physics. The greatest law of physics states that even if something is destroyed, the information is never lost, just spread or reorganized into another shape. If you ever get the chance, read up on the “String Theory”. This is by far the greatest argument for everything. Even alchemy cannot get around the laws of physics. Which is probably many things happen as they do in FMA. Anything Square Enix does tends to follow natural law in some way. I don’t think they’d blow off laws that govern everything in the universe to cheat.

  17. Shamus says:

    That is a comment of legend.

    I was looking for a way to demonstrate how FMA fans are some of the oddest and most argumentitive I’ve ever encountered. This is a priceless example.

    Well done, crazy person on the internet. Well done.

  18. Dan says:

    LOL, all I can say. I love that post. Most of it was spot on, although a few of the arguments you made weren’t necessary as the correct answers are explained in the manga. I suggest the wikipedia page (as someone mentioned earlier). Bradley couldn’t destroy the skull for example, there is even debate about what would happen to a homunculus who’s artifact were destroyed, although its doubtful the homunculus would be killed, perhaps something bad would happen, I don’t know. I’m not the one who thinks that. Anyhow, good posts all, and I enjoy reading them, they make you think even more about a story. And FMA is one of the best! Right up there below DEATHNOTE! FTW!

  19. ashley says:

    this is fantastic i lov ful metal alchemist its the best i wish it was real im so addictied 2 it !!!! i wish i had all the vidios of full metal alchemist !!! that would b sweet!!

  20. tansy says:

    ok first of al PLEASE STOP CRITISIZING FMA it is the best and most inteligent sieries i have ever come across book or show the movie RULES there are no flaws in the plot line just look at james and cat astrels comants they bolth prove my point exept james the movie is AWSOME you should watch it again but you two are briliant to have figured al that out congrats! about the movie it is compleatly related to the show al at the end regans his memories in equivlint exchange for giving up his own world forever at the end of the movie al’s decision to come over to our world with ed also perfectly repersents how he feels about his brother he was faced with a chice and barly any time to decide he could either stay in his world without his brother and keep evrything and evryone else he knows or lose al of them and keep his brother and al doesnt even need to think about it keeping with his brother is apsolutly automatic for him watch the movie and watch it again the more times you watch it the deeper it is you realize new things about it and it efects you more and more each time

    • Stony says:

      And that’s the fundamental flaw in your argument. Not everybody connects things the same. Like the paintings of many well known artists, they are interpretted differently by all who see them. “The Scream” is cited by many to be of death and sadness. I have no clue how they see this, but I don’t debate them because that’s their belief. Everybody finds different meaning. Not everybody loves FMA. Not everybody takes away the same message. We discuss plot devices which don’t truly explain everything that is going on. It’s our own interpretation unless stated in cold fact by the creators themselves.

      I for one don’t really care what anybody else’s interpretations are. I’ve got my own beliefs in what I think is going on. Those beliefs make me feel good about how I see the show. If everyone were to conform to one general theory, there’d be a lot of completely bored people out there. FMA is in no way perfect. For some yes. For others, no. I love FMA, but do not see anything perfect about it. It’s imperfections are what draws me in. Things get really confusing because I think there is a flaw. I think about it. Apply my own theory to them. Now, I’ve turned the story into something that makes sense to me and I like that portion more.

      There is no right answer to how to interpret things. Everybody has their own opinion. If somebody believed that when you dropped something it rose instead of dropped, they’d be in some wacky sense right. On the other side of the world, that would be considered going up because they fall in exactly different paths. It’s all in how open your mind is.

  21. Crystalgate says:

    When I was watching the last 5-10 episodes, I made some guesses regarding the ending. I guessed that neither Ed nor Al would die and that at least Al would get his condition fixed. However, I also though that despite all that, it would not be a happy happy ending with rainbows and butterflies. Far from it. I fealt as if it would be uncharacteristic of that anime to go with the really happy ending considering all the time it has spend highlighting how things has consequenses and can get really nasty.

    Basically, I thought Ed and Al would succeed with their endeavours, but there would be some con attached to it. This is also what happened. For me, the teleportation of Ed to another world and Al’s memory reset looks like the con the writers had, or fealt they had, to add in order to make the ending “in character.”

  22. Victoria says:

    It’s twelve in the morning and I should be working on my heath project but I ran across this post looking for pictures of Rose and her baby.

    The kid was treated inhumanely as a plot device, and no one seemed all to concerned about it, besides myself when I wondered what my mother would think if she came in and saw them tossing a kid up in the air like a Quaffle ball, but I don’t think Rose intentionally gave the child to Dante for that use.

    Please note the ever-vacant expression while Dante pokes/prods/gropes her in those final episodes. I don’t think she was entirely there for a while.

    Both of my dissappointments with the finale had to do with Roy and Riza’s relationship. in the Epilogue Riza turns into a bit of a schoolgirl, and her personality seems to do a complete 180.

    I know Riza digs Roy, a lot. But she has spent so much time suppressing those emotions in favor of serving him until he has achived his goals – a noble cause in and of itself, but the change was just too abrupt.

    And where did that eyepatch come from? I seem to recall no substancial injuries to Mustang’s face after he had successfully killed Bradley. So did Archer shoot him, or did one of Riza’s bullets go through Archer and hit Mustang? I don’t think her gun was the proper caliber to do that, but did robocop even get a shot off?

    And was the injury so horribly sever that Mustang has to wear that massive eyepatch instead of a normal one like Bradley?

    I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I’ve begged spoilers off friends and such, and learned Mustang doesn’t use alchemy for a good portion of it. My thinking is he shouldn’t be using it at all, seeing as he has no depth perception.

    Another thing I heard was that he gets demoted for a suspected roll in the death of Furher Bradley. I’m sorry, but back then, in the army, horses past their prime were put down. He may have initiated the Coup de Tat that brought the parliament back to power, but they needed a scape goat. Public executions were usually a good way to celebrate bringing in a new era of hypocracy (even today; Saddam Hussein’s execution was not a private affair) and they’re good for public opinion, especially if the government wanted to make nice to Ishbalans. What better way than delivering up the head of one of their most feared oppressors? Mustang was an amazing character, but his ending was unrealistic and again, not on par with his character.

    Last thing : How did Scar drag that body up to the top of the building when he didn’t have any arms?

  23. joeshmoelb says:

    The reason he was able to “undo” what Al had done in restoring
    Ed is for a very simple reason that most people would surprisingly overlook.

    The whole point of Equivalent Exchange is that the most valuable thing a person has is his life correct?. So with this in mind when your trying to do something, make the Philosophers Stone for example, What would be more valuable?

    The lives you forcibly took, or your own life that you gave willingly? With this in mind it is easy to say that one life IS equal to another. This is why Ed is able to trade his life and body for Al’s.

  24. Terrafire says:

    Possibly the anime I had was subbed very strangely, but I had understood the final ending completely differently.

    Al never actually DIED, as such. He used the Stone to resurrect Edward, but the entire stone was used up.

    Since the whole stone was used up, the blood seal was destroyed(it wasn’t attached to anything anymore), and Al’s soul became adrift. (EXACTLY like the time they tried to resurrect their mother. He wasn’t dead, but he no longer had a body)

    Ed woke up some time later, and realized what had happened.
    (here is where I begin to guess. There isn’t any explanation in the anime of what happened.) There were no bodies nearby to transmute Al into, but he must have known that Al’s body was still intact, inside the gate. (Wrath, after all, had his body inside the gate for a while)

    So he went into the gate to bring back Al’s body. (presumably he never tried before, because it was so incredibly dangerous) He succeeded, losing a limb and Al’s memory to bring Al’s body out, and another limb to reattach the soul.

    However, Ed himself couldn’t get back out, and was trapped on the other side. He couldn’t come back through his own power, because Alchemy is impossible on the world he was on, and nobody in the other world attempted to mount a rescue mission.

  25. Felblood says:

    I find two of your points quite good with qualification, and I wish to add one of my own.

    Bradley keeping the skull in his office makes sense for a much less intelligent character, but somebody as sooth as Bradley could have come up with hundreds of more secure ways to store the thing.

    His son could have served as an agent for some of the task, and he’s clearly capable of looking in the safe to make sure it’s still there, so it’s mere presence, while wrapped, isn’t enough to totally stop him.

    As for Dante not getting a death scene, the reasons are two fold.

    1. We never get to see Gluttony eat anyone. Marcoh and the Prophet from the first episode are both killed off-camera, with nothing but the blood in Gluttony’s teeth, to confirm their demise.

    2. We never get to see Dante really fight. All of he battle takes place off screen. Even when she’s confronting Ed, we just get a spinney camera effect, instead of a fight. This is the only time Ed confronts a villain like that without trying to stab/crush/main them, no-kill policy or not.

    You’d think the authors never got around to giving her a fighting style, so they just BSed around any situation that would lead to her needing to fight.

    For my own part, I found the gate to be a huge letdown.

    It could have been assigned almost any set of properties, and it would have been fairly believable, but instead of assigning it properties it is given the ability to do whatever the writers feel like doing at the time. It quickly becomes obvious that the gate’s powers aren’t based on any soft of internal logic, but on what plot’s it can enable.

    *This is Reality* Crossover? -Coming right up! Do you want an alternate dimensional self with that? You want Nazis with that? Steampunk?

    We can do that, because we have a MIS-TEER-IOUS gate; it slices it dices, it breaks the fourth wall! It even invokes every cliche known to man!

    Overall the series was great and the fights were awesome on every level, but the ending sucked.

    I loved FMA, but the ending sucked.

    It was good, but enjoy it while it’s in front of you, because in the end, you won’t be able to look back at it quite so fondly.

  26. the_true_gate says:

    Full Metal Alchemist is the best anime ever made…I havent seen the movie yet, but after the last episode, everything was so unclear…Now, after reading all these comments, it seems so much more clear..
    Btw..In the movie..Does Ed come back?

  27. live4him4eva says:

    To Victoria: To answer your question about Scar dragging a body without any arms, I assume Scar was just being stubborn ol’ Scar and heaved him somehow onto his shoulders and balanced him. Sounds unlikely, but possible, especially for Scar, who is quite strong.
    It’s a possibility that he was also helped by Lust, but I’d have to rewatch that episode to confirm that.

    To the_true_gate: I’m not going to spoil it for you, but if you would like, here is a link to somewhere you can watch it: http://zomghi2u.com/2008/03/fullmetal-alchemist-movie.html

  28. Ed says:

    I was somewhat annoyed by the ending feeling like there will be a sequel, and I am ever furthermore annoyed at the sequel being a remake closer to the manga.

    I do however see some problems with your interpretation of the ending. Ed was dead, their was no way of bringing him back to life, except with a philosophers stone, but as they stated earlier, you can never bring a soul back once it has crossed the gate, so apparently there is a slight luphole that shows you need to act quick before life is completely lost. Al, used the infinite power of the philosophers stone to bring Ed back to life and heal his wounds, thus sending Al’s soul back towards the gate after the philosophers stone was destroyed. Al wasn’t dead because his seal was technically never broken. So what Ed decided to do was offer his mind (symbol on his forehead), his heart (symbol on his chest), and his body (arms and legs) and attempt to use them as an offering in his transmutation to seal al’s soul into something else.

    their are some plot holes that they left out such as how ed had any idea that he could bring al’s body back through the gate and reattach his soul to the body, and how he sent himself back through the gate into london at the currently present time, but i’m assuming they left it to creative interpretation. all in all the ending was needed to give a bit more credit since I don’t think they decided to create a get out of jail free ending.

  29. Leon says:

    FMA surely has a interesting and addictive plot. The story gets bigger as it goes, the characters are great and the whole idea of alchemist is brilliant. The ending of this anime is pretty good as how Edward sacrifices himself for his brother’s body. Edard knows it wouldn’t be 100% to save his brother, but he did it straight ahead.

    I believe this isn’t the ending? cause the manga is still going on??

    They’re remaking the anime and i believe the new series would continue the plots from the manga????

    Can’t wait to see when Edward goes back to his world.

  30. LightFighterX says:

    I didnt get the ending. I just finished watching the first series and it was like a ****ing cliffhanger. D:

    It just ended with ed saying he is coming back home. How? What? Space ships dont work that way. Hell, if thats how he gets back, they should at least tell us. >8U

    • QtpiKee says:

      Why does everything have to end in sugarcoated rainbows to be deemed good? Cliffhangers encourage creativity. They make you think and reflect on the series and the possibilities. Not to mention that it leaves open the opportunity for sequels… So here’s your homework: Recognize that everything doesn’t have to have a clear cut happy ending. Appreciate the beauty of how the ending makes you yearn for more of the characters. It means that you connected and enjoyed the series.

  31. Mike says:

    I agree about the ending; it was a huge disappointment. Regardless, it was a great show otherwise. But that ending…

  32. Xean09 says:

    What I dont get is how this would be considered equivalent exchange:
    You sacrifice tens of thousands of lives (presumably more) to make a philosopher’s stone, then, use it to ressurrect 1 life [even taking a max of 2 cosidering Tucker’s pathetic attempt at Nina]

    Unless……….

    U lose ur humanity and probably go insane kiling all those ppl…..is that the price?!

    • QtpiKee says:

      It is equivalent because the philosopher’s stone can be used to do ANYTHING, whether it’s letting you move your soul from body to body thereby granting you immortality like Dante, or bringing someone back to life. You completely ignored the aspect of the infinite uses of the philosopher’s stone only seeing how it was used in that instance. In conclusion, yes, a stone that can be used for any purpose imaginable would be worth such a high exchange value, like tens of thousands of lives. BAM!

  33. Aelelia says:

    Considering that the last post was in December of 2010, I don’t feel so bad about reviving a dead topic.

    You really should consider watching FMA: Brotherhood if the middle and ending of the original FMAA bothered you. Brotherhood follows the events of the manga, and the slog through the middle of the story is a tad less confusing. The ending is much better as well, without the ridiculous deus ex machina. You get what you expect from the ending, and the filler plot device that is Rose’s baby doesn’t exist at all. When I first found out that the anime of FMA was not going to follow the manga (Ed and Al’s mother becoming a homunculi was filler, among many other things) I dropped the anime completely and only read the manga. I fully intend to watch all of Brotherhood though.

  34. david says:

    hey man the resson that it didint make sence to you beacuese u most uner stand alchemy its self if you dont you wont be able to under stand the show like on your seconf paragraph you sed that you didint under stand he sacer fice his hole intire body to get his brothers body back thats the role of equalvalince exchange you most to obtain something you most give something of equel value

  35. AJ says:

    You could argue that since because Ed was able to go to the gate and make it to the other side, he could do it again. In doing so, he had to offer something. Also, the gate seems to be a sort of afterlife.

    When he died in the episode where he crossed the gate the first time, you could argue that he was using London-Ed’s life as an offering to the gate to cross back into the world of alchemy, since it was not too late for Alchemy-world-Ed to return back (meaning, his spirit had spent an equal time in London as the body had spent time in the gate), it would have been an equivalent exchange. When London-Ed died, Edward’s spirit was able to return to the afterlife/gate himself. His spirit, originally from the world of Alchemy was affronted by the gate, allowing him to cross.

    When he went through the gate once more to retrieve Al, he had to offer something. It is explained by Izumi that Al’s memories in that suit of armor could have been part of the offering. You can also see that Ed is back into the world where mechanics have thrived and Alchemy had not. He is also missing his arm and leg again. He said so himself (before performing the transmutation), that offering his life would prove pointless. He even says that does not know whether or not he saved Al in the end. So not only did he offer his arm and leg, but his soul AND body crossed the gate to go BACK into the world of mechanics (though I think it’s more accurate to call them universes, rather than worlds) even if he were to die again and approach the gate, he would not have anything to offer to cross back into the world of alchemy, and would become one with the gate (as Wrath used to be.)

    To sum it up:
    1) Ed was able to cross the gate because he had knowledge to.
    2) Ed was able to cross from Mechanics universe back to Alchemy Universe because his body was still in the gate, and the time his spirit spent in London was equivalent to the time his body spent at the gate.
    3) Ed was able to resurrect Al because he offered his arm, leg, Al’s recent memories, and his body and spirit back to the other world. He had undone everything that was accomplished (successfully going back and forth between worlds, the time he had spent with Al, what Al had learned after he had lost his body, offering up his arm and leg again) to bring his brother back.

    It’s not cheating. It’s making the whole endeavor that we went through with them entirely pointless. And that’s why it’s so cruel.

Leave a Reply

Comments are moderated and may not be posted immediately. Required fields are marked *

*
*

Thanks for joining the discussion. Be nice, don't post angry, and enjoy yourself. This is supposed to be fun.

You can enclose spoilers in <strike> tags like so:
<strike>Darth Vader is Luke's father!</strike>

You can make things italics like this:
Can you imagine having Darth Vader as your <i>father</i>?

You can make things bold like this:
I'm <b>very</b> glad Darth Vader isn't my father.

You can make links like this:
I'm reading about <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darth_Vader">Darth Vader</a> on Wikipedia!

You can quote someone like this:
Darth Vader said <blockquote>Luke, I am your father.</blockquote>