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: 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.
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 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 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
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 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 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
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.