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The Women of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

FMA: Brotherhood
(Via MyAnimeList)

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (Anime, 2009-2010)

By: Hiromu Arakawa

A couple of weeks ago, my sister and I completed another anime. This time we watched both anime series of Fullmetal Alchemist.

The basic synopsis of this anime is two brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric, commit human transmutation—the ultimate taboo of alchemy—because they wanted to bring their mother back to life. However, their human transmutation was a failure, which results in Edward losing limbs, and Alphonse losing his entire body. The two boys go on a journey to search for the Philosopher’s Stone in order to get their original bodies back.

This anime has a fantastic storyline, and well-developed characters that many viewers can appreciate and like. While watching this series, I paid close attention to how the female characters were depicted. Aside from being strong independent women, Hiromu Arakawa seems to emphasize a special trait within each female character, that resonates with them throughout the series. One could consider the women of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood to be role models for all women because each female character’s unique trait appears to represent qualities that real women should possess.

May Chang
“May Chang” (Via Wikia)

May Chang: Selfless

May Chang travels to Amestris to find the Philosopher’s Stone in order to present it as a gift to the Emperor of Xing, which will guarantee the survival of her clan. Her goal could be considered a selfish act. However, her adventures in Amestris shape her into a selfless person. In one scene, Scar tells May Chang to return to her country, Xing, because she already full-filled her quest, with the capture of Envy. She refuses to go back to Xing because she wants to help her friends save the country of Amestris from Father even though it isn’t her home. Another act of selflessness is when Riza Hawkeye was on the brink of death, May Chang decides to use her alkahestry to save her as oppose to grabbing the Philosopher’s Stone that is in plain sight.

Lust
“Lust” (Via MyAnimeList)

Lust: Beauty

Even though Lust is an antagonist and her name refers to one of the seven deadly sins, she represents an important trait for women, beauty. The term, “lust” refers to a person’s inner desire for sexual pleasure, or sexual desire for someone. Hence, Hiromu Arakawa seems to illustrate one perspective of beauty, in which Lust’s body is drawn as a way to appeal to a male’s gaze. I’m not advocating that women should be objectified or be the sight of perfection, instead through Lust’s characterization, one could assume that a woman should be confident in her beauty, inside and out.

Lan Fan: Loyalty

Lan Fan
“Lan Fan” (Via MyAnimeList)

Lan Fan is a skilled fighter. She constantly protects and guards the 12th prince of Xing, Ling Yao from danger. Her loyalty resides with Ling Yao. She is willing to sacrifice her life in order to protect him. In one scene, Lan Fan amputates her arm in order for Ling Yao and her to escape from King Bradley.

Olivier Mira Armstrong: Leadership

Olivier Mira Armstrong
“Olivier Mira Armstrong” (Via MyAnimeList)

Olivier Mira Armstrong has a stoic and cold personality, and strong leadership skills. She is willing to go against the authority of her superiors if it goes against her beliefs. Armstrong is in charged of the Briggs Fortress, and cares deeply about the well-being of her soldiers. Her subordinates have high respect towards her. In one episode, Buccaneer and some other members went down to explore the underground passage and to find the missing Briggs soldiers. They only had a 24 hour time limit, or else they will be locked in. However, Armstrong didn’t close the door; in fact, she had faith that her men would definitely come back. Armstrong has faith in her subordinates, and she believes that they are physically and mentally strong, capable of fighting against anyone.

Riza Hawkeye: Common Sense

Riza Hawkeye
“Riza Hawkeye” (Via MyAnimeList)

There are many sayings that go along the lines of, “Behind every good man, there is a great woman.” For Roy Mustang, Riza Hawkeye is that woman. She acts as Mustang’s “right-hand” man and personal assistant. She protects Mustang from danger by using her sharp shooting skills, and does mostly all the work that Mustang procrastinated on or is too lazy to do. She acts as the voice of reason to Mustang, and she maintains a level head when emergencies or heated situations occur. Whenever Mustang gets too emotional and loses his way, Hawkeye is always there to guide him back. When Mustang became obsess over avenging Maes Hughes’ death by torturing Envy, Hawkeye was willing to kill him for acting like a monster, but through her threat, she was able to snap Mustang back to his senses.

Winry Rockbell: Intelligence

Winry Rockbell
“Winry Rockbell” (Via MyAnimeList)

Winry Rockbell is a talented automail engineer, and her work is highly praised by others. If Winry Rockbell actually existed in this world, I think she would be attending a prestigious university, and majoring in mechanical engineering.

Izumi Curtis: Nurturing

Izumi Curtis
“Izumi Curtis” (Via MyAnimeList)

Izumi Curtis is a housewife, and a teacher of alchemy to Ed and Al Elric. A long time ago, she had a miscarriage, and performed human transmutation in hope of getting her son back, but the transmutation failed. Despite this unfortunate experience with alchemy, Izumi takes in Ed and Al as alchemy apprentices. Aside from having a teacher-student relationship, I feel like that they also have a mother-son relationship because she cares about the boys like a parent.

Trisha Elric: Open-minded

Trisha Elric
“Trisha Elric” (Via MyAnimeList)

Although she isn’t physically there, she greatly influences the lives of Ed, Al, and Van Hohenheim. What caught my eye was how open-minded and understanding she is with her husband’s, Van Hohenheim, situation. She was willing to accept that her husband is an immortal man from an extinct nation known as Xerxes. That is a lot of “baggage” for a woman to handle in a man, but she openly accepts it all. Furthermore, when Van Hohenheim decides to leave his home, Trisha supported his decision, and continued to love him despite the distance.

Overall, each female character has unique characteristics that is fully shown throughout Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. Hiromu Arakawa created strong, dynamic female characters that could be seen as role models for women.

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27 comments

  1. Great post!

    I would argue that Winry encompasses so much more than intelligence, though. I can’t think of a single word to describe it, but I would describe it as seeing the bigger picture, or having a greater understanding of how the world works. You first see this when she helps in the birth scene… she’s scared, but she knows that in that scenario, she’s not the important one, and she focuses on what needs to be done. Later on, when confronting Scar, she’s the one to end the circle of hate, because she understands that this circle does exist; she sees the bigger picture of what revenge and hate means in the long run. Finally, when she offers herself up as a hostage to Scar when in the North, you really understand just how she sees the world. She doesn’t want to go with him; she probably still hates him, but this is the only solution they can come up with, and she understands that what Ed and Al are dealing with are so much bigger than her own feelings. You get glimpses of it elsewhere as well; knowing that the brothers can’t tell her things, but being there for them anyway; her confidence in them returning to her later, and so on. I don’t really know how to describe it properly, but I guess it’s this awareness of meaning on the larger scale; a kind of “greater” maturity, if you understand what I’m saying.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the comment!

      It was really tough to figure out what I should put for Winry because there is so much she does. She is such an important character for Ed and Al’s development. That being said, I took the safer route when picking a trait.

      Hmm… from your description, I think “visionary” is an appropriate term to use. Winry sees the “bigger picture.” She looks towards progress or what’s going on in the long run as oppose to just focusing only on the here and now.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I think Winry is a perfect example of the empowered woman of today. I did love her response in the end after Edward boarded the train and the (other) woman said something about Edward being off to somewhere else again and not keeping still in one place, she replied coolly: “Men who keep still are no fun”. It was a simple statement. But made me really think highly of Winry’s character from the beginning. She doesn’t need to be equipped with a sword, or good with martial arts, her perspective in life is enough to make her such a badass character.

      I just started with my blog so I really can’t stop myself from commenting on topics that really excites me.

      Have a good day!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yeah Winry is an empowered woman of today. She keeps Edward and Al grounded and humane.

        Congrats on starting your blog, and I hope you find some interesting reads here. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. FMAB is my all-time favorite anime! Just a note on Lust: the actual deadly sin is described as a “disordered” or “inordinate” desire for sexual pleasure (meaning a desire to use someone for sexual pleasure). I felt like, because Lust was evil, that was a big part of who she was; a seducer. That’s kind of what she does to Havoc in order to get information from him on what Mustang is up to (i think that’s early season 2).
    Haha, sorry for being technical. You still brought up some good points!
    You might be interested to know that i’m writing an anime/fantasy novella. It’s not a graphic novel or anything, but the characters all act and speak like anime characters. The plot resembles an anime too. Feel free to check it out at: https://thegoldenlands.wordpress.com/the-prologue/
    Thanks!
    Aul

    Liked by 2 people

  3. The FMA series certainly has a strong roster of female characters. From the characters mentioned I was disappointed that Lust didn’t get more screen time in Brotherhood because she was an important character in the first anime.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I was kind of disappointed as well. I thought she would have more of an impact in Brotherhood, but she didn’t. :/

      Like

  4. I agree with everyone you decided to include in this, though I enjoy Maes Hughes wife Garcia who I believe also shows an admirable trait to me she had Acceptance and Forgiveness which is somewhat humorous. I mean the Elric brothers come back to find that Hughes died and then go to Garcia admitting that they dragged him into what got him killed. I mean essentially they were partially to blame for the ending of his life in a way or another. Instead of screaming at them or getting angry she accepts that it was just the type of man her husband was and also encourages them to move forward. I mean I’m sure they aren’t her favorite people but at least she doesn’t want to get revenge or even screw with their life.

    Yep women could benefit a lot if they could accept and forgive things as well as Garcia Hughes. (He says with sarcasm he hopes doesn’t kill him.)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I like your post. This anime is definitely one of my favorite anime of all time. I also love the use of the seven deadly sins, and how these characters were written.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Interesting topic on the Fullmetal Alchemist girls. I think you did an excellent job on describing their traits. I the girls are one the interesting aspects in the show. I suggest Nina representing as innocence. She was just an innocent girl who later suffered a tragic fate from her father and then Scar. I miss her :(.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I can see Nina representing innocence. Personally, she isn’t a favorite of mine, but she is a pivotal point for the Elric brothers on their journey as alchemists.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Yay! Girl power. Yeah! I think my favourite would be Olivier Mira Armstrong. I think she’s a very strong woman, of course the others in this list are strong in different ways, but I find myself gravitated by her. And you’re right, she’s a true leader. She doesn’t show her emotions, but in her own way, it’s how she’s effective as a leader. Love this post. Girl power!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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