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Head Scratchers: Anime: Fullmetal Alchemist
Please note that this page is for Headscratchers regarding the 2003 anime adaptation. For the manga and 2009 anime adaptation entitled Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood see Headscratchers/FullMetalAlchemist

Warning: this page contains spoilers.


  • What language are they supposed to be speaking in Amestris? What's its real world counterpart? Any writing in the show is in (albeit questionable) English, there are a lot of Nazi references, when Ed goes to our world he has no language barrier in either London or Berlin (although in London he was inhabiting someone else's body and that body would know English), Bratja is in Russian, Alphonse is a French/Italian/English name...
  • Why is Al able to sleep in this series but not Brotherhood? It seemed kind of odd that he was able to, maybe it was to make him seem more human?
  • When Scar's brother performed human transmutation to bring back his unnamed dead girlfriend, what part of him was taken by the Gate?
    • It's unclear, but given the blood on his pants and the rather sizeable scar in his crotch area, it's likely that it took his penis. This would tie in to his sin as well, having created Lust.
  • Where exactly did Gluttony come from? All of the other homunculi are given at least some backstory, but Gluttony's origins are never touched.
    • In the manga or the anime? In the manga Gluttony was created as an artificial 'gate' that didn't work. The anime never tried to explain him since, well he hardly looks human, so the whole cloning thing doesn't hold water with him. At least with Envy they could explain his unique appearance due to shape shifting, but they had no such rationilization with Gluttony.
    • The movie implies that he is a nonneurotypical former human, As like many other characters, his other-side counterpart has a quick cameo.
      • The ending of the anime implies that he was modified by Dante to be instrumental in the creation of the Philosopher's Stone, so his humanoid appearance is implied to have something to do with that. He does look human enough for the Shadow Archetype to hold water, so long as you actually remember that the homunculus can be transmuted in ways that humans cannot.
      • While I realize it was an error which occurred when adapting from the manga (as was the lack of real explanation for Bradley aging), my pet theory is that anime Gluttony was transmuted as a toddler, and that's why he is mentally undeveloped and looks kind of like a giant baby. Incidentally, all of the homunculi seen in the anime have weird red veins running through their bodies, and besides Envy's odd appearance, Greed has razor-sharp teeth. So, to be honest, a close look would reveal that none of them are truly human looking.
    • He's Hohenheim's dog, of course.
  • Wouldn't having his head upside down make it hard for Tucker to do things because everthing would be upside down from his perspective?
    • I heard a scientist once wore vertical-inverting glasses to test how his brain could adapt, and found that it became very easy to use his eyes that way after a few days.
  • In the anime, Ed discovers by accident he is able to perform alchemy without a circle - but for some reason, he explains later that it's because he looked through the Gate, and as such immediately gained so much knowledge as to be able to perform alchemy this way. If he had such a fundamental understanding of how it works, why did he have to discover it by accident?
    • If birds are born knowing how to fly how come they need to be pushed out of the nest before they can actually do it on their own?
      • This is the way I look at it. It gave him the subconscious knowledge of the process, and Ed just figured the rest out later.
    • Its a mistake on the part of the writers, upon looking at the gate you have the knowledge to preform alchemy without a circle. The only reason Al can not is because he has no memory of the gate due to the trauma of losing his entire body. Once he remembers the gate, Al can preform alchemy without a circle.
      • That's how the Gate works in the manga. The Gate works differently in the anime.
      • Al is also not able to perform alchemy without a circle in the series. That is part of the manga/Brotherhood.
    • Given that the 2003 anime implies the Gate is a much more traumatic place that the manga/2009 anime I've been operating under the assumption that after his second time through the gate (getting Al back) he repressed quite a bit of his memories from the Gate including most of the alchemical knowledge.
  • If there is no such person as Juliet Douglas, then why make the records so inconsistent?
    • Actually there was such a person (in the anime at least, I can't remember about the manga), but she had died by the time of the series
    • There's no such character in the manga, all that plot is anime-only.
  • Why the hell doesn't Hohenheim age in the anime?
    • He does, he just switchs to a younger body. Although it doesn't make sense that Envy's true form and Ed look so similar considering Envy would be Hohenheim's son from his original (or possibly second) body, but Ed is from a later body. Of course he could intentionally seek out bodies that look similar to how he used to look.
      • I am talking about his last body which looks the same no matter how old it is.
      • No it doesn't. The furthest back we see his final body seems to be about when Ed was conceived. From that time until he sees Ed again fifteen years have passed. So yeah, perhaps he should've aged a bit...save that Trisha Elric doesn't age from when Ed is born to when she dies, so presumably it's just the anime artists making it easier to identify characters and not wanting to have to draw up new concepts for bit scenes.
      • While the animators didn't make much of an effort to depict the aging of adult characters (everybody who appears in the Ishbal flashbacks except Scar looks virtually identical to their present-day selves), Hohenheim actually does age differently: in one episode Dante alludes to the fact that her (and by extension, it is implied, Hohenheim's) body ages at an abnormally slow rate, using this as the reason she left every husband she has taken since Hohenheim - to keep from being discovered as her body ages so much more slowly than theirs.
    • As for the whole Envy thing, I always thought that Envy shapeshifted into someone who looks like Ed and Hohenheim to prove his point.
      • This seems like the most plausible theory, but there's two major problems with it: 1) when Dante sees Envy in this form, her reaction (or lack thereof) seems to imply that she recognizes him; and 2) in the last episode, during a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment, Envy transforms into a full-body version of the form he showed Ed, right before he transforms into a dragon as he's traveling through the Gate. If he'd just made up that face to startle Ed, why would he transform again after Ed's gone - and into a full-body form, complete with clothing similar to Hohenheim's? This is the single biggest (and only truly serious) plot hole in the anime and it's bugging the hell out of me. Does Sho Aikawa ever attend foreign conventions? Because I would really love for someone to ask him about this and put the matter to rest once and for all.
      • Upon closer examination, the hair color and facial features of Envy's true form appear to be very slightly different when he's inside the Gate than when he is being beaten by Ed. Or, maybe it just looks that way. It's really hard to tell, not least of all because you basically need to freeze-frame just to see Envy's true form the second time.
    • Maybe Hohenheim just preferred to take over bodies that looked a lot like his original one. Probably makes the whole thing easier for him.
  • Why was Dante's body deteriorating so fast if Hohenheim, and Dante had switch about the same number of bodies she should be deteriorating at the same speed as Hohenheim?
    • I thought it was because she had either switched more than she let on or the fragment of the stone she had been using was weaker than the one Hohenheim had.
    • I assumed it was because that Dante probably switched bodies more often, at least in the beginning. I doubt either of them knew about the soul decay at first, and if she didn't she probably would have switched quite often in order to stay young, while Hohenheim might have had a few doubts about bodyjacking innocent people. I mean, even though she knew about the whole "switch too much and your host bodies will decay thing," she still planned on switching into Rose's body just to pull a mindscrew on Ed.
    • More like a literal screw. The line "I want to be loved by the son of Hohenheim" still makes me shudder.
      • Me too.
  • How can Maes Hughes rise to that level when he was never in the Ishval Rebellion in the anime?
    • It's stated by Roy Mustang, (at least in the anime, my memory of the manga is fuzzy), that he was promoted two ranks by the Military when he was killed.
  • Why does Al never mature in the anime? Several people I know consider him 12 when his only a year younger than Ed?
    • It might have something to do with his not having a body. He doesn't physically age and so he doesn't mature.
      • The body, Mind, and soul are serperate components. The body is the physical presence, the Soul is the spiritualpresence, and the mind connectsd the two. If Al's body is not growing like it does in the manga, it should makes no difference.
      • Yeah, but the biggest part of a child maturing is the physical brain changing and developing new abilities. In the anime, his body is kept in a state of suspended animation, so his brain is 11 years old the whole time.
    • It IS because he didn't have a body. In the movie, it is explained that the human Al that returned to Amestris was the same age as when he had the accident, and none of the memory during his "armor" phrase.
  • How could anyone be fooled by Gluttony saying the word "Bang" he doesn't even sound like a gun?
    • There were people having things that seemed a lot like bullets shot through their bodies, so the noise was probably irrelevant. What's more odd is that Gluttony suddenly gained this power and it's never seen again.
      • Actually Lust killed Yoki, Gluttony just supplied the sound effects.
      • And if I remember correctly, Gluttony was mimicing gunshot sounds, not saying "bang". Probably more like * pak* . It's not that far fetched.
      • Indeed, tensions were very high at that point, the soldiers were sure that the Ishbalans were going to resist, while the Ishbalans thought for certain that another massacre was coming. In that situation if a man falls over dead with holes in him most people aren't going to stop and wonder: "Wait, those gunshots didn't sound quite right..."
      • More overthinking things. Gluttony was just saying "bang" for his own amusement
      • It was Lust firing her nails out and back quickly. Hawkeye later comments that the 'bullet' wounds from the incident are odd for not having the proper entrance marks, etc., and it seems to be a point of military investigation.
  • In the movie I know, I know, what exactly happened when Wrath died? What I mean is: how did he go to "meet" Izumi at the Gate when Homunculi don't have souls and are implied to cease existing after death?
    • It was wrong is my guess. Ed seems to pretty much clap his hands over his ears and go "NANANANANA! I'M NOT LISTENING!" whenever one of the homunculi question that they might be more than was originally thought. He only seems to back off when Lust dies helping him, and Wrath helps him to take down Envy, and even then, he never comes out and says whether or not he's changed his mind.
    • That scene kinda bugged me because it makes it seem like Wrath was REALLY Izumi's son all along. Which would of course mean that Ed would have killed, or uh, evaporated his real mother into the atmosphere. I always took it as Izumi was the only mother figure who actually cared for him even if she may not be his actual mother so in the afterlife he'd be with her... or something. At least that's how I saw it.
    • That scene to this troper confirmed that they did in fact have souls. Going by what the above person said, it's entirely possible that he would be with Izumi since I don't think Sloth ever really cared for him. I always took it that the homunculi had souls but not the same soul of the person that an alchemist wanted to bring back. Their own soul in other words.
    • I think it's entirely possible that the scene is just Wrath's hallucination as he dies. From what we've seen, the gate has never behaved like that. That said, it was implied that homuncili have souls of their own. In one scene Sloth says she has all the memories of being Ed and Al's mother, but they're not hers.
    • Also, even though Wrath is not literally her son, he is BASED on her son and was created by her, so clearly they share some connection even if her son and Wrath are not actually the same being. But yeah, it was probably just Wrath's hallucination, or y'know, Rule of Symbolism and all that.
    • Beings in the series are comprised of three components; body, mind and soul. Homunculi lack #3 but they obviously have minds of their own. I saw it as Wrath's consciousness going on to the afterlife. I also like my idea because it goes with Lust's dilemma of where soulless beings go after they die. Wrath's end would show that, despite lacking souls, the Homunculi do not just cease to exist upon death. They are thinking, feeling beings after all and can enjoy "going on" just like humans.
  • I realize it's to give Al a vulnerability of some sort, and that the rest of him might still rust a bit, but why don't they put some sort of covering or enamel over his blood seal?
    • Fear that it might get scratched off or that I might accidentally transmute it away alone would stop me from trying.
    • What's the point? It seems waterproof enough, and they're fighting enemies which cut through steel like it was air.
      • In the manga, I think it was waterproof, but the anime had an episode where Ed and Al were running from the military and had to fight mustang, his gang, and armstrong. When Al gets thrown into the water, Ed freaks out because it was supposed to have washed the blood seal off. Never really explained why it suddenly became a point when before they never had a problem with it.
      • In the episode where they went to Yock Island, Ed brought up that Al couldn't get the blood seal wet, but there is something of a discontinuity when Ed first knocks him into the water. My guess is that they looked at the seal afterwards, and noticed that it had been running, or something.
      • Another thing: why did he think that it would wash off? A couple dozen episodes earlier, Al goes for a dip without any repercussions whatsoever.
      • I don't remember exactly, but I think Al just might have not been submerged up to that point.
      • This troper seems to remember that he had submerged to the waist before, but never up to his neck.
      • IIRC, the blood seal was supposed to wash off, but because Al had recently become a walking Philosopher's Stone, he (and everyone else) is shocked to find that he is now immune to water
  • In the anime, if the souls from our world power their alchemy, what happens to the souls of people who die in their world? Do they just hang around, or do they power the gate, or what? (and it can't be that they power alchemy in the next world, because the gate that opens in their world when someone dies leads to our world).
    • It's not like people in our world can see the Gate. Maybe death in the FMA world powers something else that they similarly have no idea of?
  • If Al's body has the soul of hundreds of people why does it have such a small charge?
    • I'm pretty sure it's because his Philosopher's Stone wasn't technically complete since it was part of his body and that's why Dante needed Gluttony to eat him, refining it to a more complete state and adding in the souls of people Gluttony has eaten.
    • Because in the anime was made wend the manga was still ongoing, and didn't know that "incomplete" stones were complete in manga terms just had a low number of people use (like a dozen)
  • The anime seemed to have a needless Kick the Dog moment given so that Mustang would end up killing Winry's Parents. Considering their reasoning for having them killed, you think they could have: 1. Detained them and sent them home, 2. Taken their patients as Prisoners of War while they were still recovering instead of just letting them run out and continue the fight. Both of those would have been more sensible than sending Mustang to waste them without warning.
    • We're talking about the Amestrian government here. Ya know, the one run by amoral sociopaths who aren't even human and a 400-year old bitch who has a decaying soul and starts wars so that ethnic groups will become desperate enough to wipe out a huge number of their own population for just a slim chance at survival or, in the case of the north where there were no legends of the Philosopher's Stone, just for shits and giggles. They aren't exactly concerned with taking the merciful route.
    • Of all the things in the first anime that bothered this troper, that was probably the worst offender. Manga Roy would never do that. He saved Maria Ross even when all evendence pointed to her as the murderer of his BFF. During the war he obviously felt like an undeserving of life dog shit but he carried on because it was a kill or get killed situation, and he found back his motivation for living when he realized his subordinates were dependant on him. I firmly believe if manga!Roy was put in that situation he would have never killed them, either pulling a Maria Ross on them or directly a Basque Gran on whoever gave him the order. No. Also, the "whatever, the higher-ups are evil" doesn't do it for me. In the manga they're evil, but at least they're good at covering it up. In the anime they seem to be pretty unconcerned with keeping up appearances, or else mildly retarded, what with the extremely crappy cover-up for the Juliet Douglas plot thing. That, or it's the Amestrian population who is a mass of imbeciles who don't give a shit about politics, and will continue supporting Bradley as long as he kisses some babies in public from time to time.
      • That last bit sounds surprisingly familiar...
      • Manga!Roy and anime!Roy are different characters, when you get right down to it. While you may prefer the characterization of Roy in the manga, it doesn't mean that his characterization in the anime is inconsistent. From as early as episode seven, the anime gives hints that Roy isn't as emotionally balanced, or as emotionally strong, as his manga counterpart, and is suffering a rather severe case of PTSD as a result of that. As for the government doing bad things and the people not caring? It is, unfortunately, Truth in Television. The people of Amestris are happy and well fed, like people in Apartheid South Africa and the segregated South. Or, in fact, people living in first-world industrial countries who buy blood diamonds. That's just a nasty aspect of human nature, and since the anime tends to go a more "realistic" route (at least as far as human psychology is concerned) in order to make a more obvious commentary on the real world, it's understandable.
      • This troper agrees wholeheartedly about them being completely different characters, and that is precisely what bugs her. If they really felt they needed someone to fill the wangsty alcoholic Jerk Ass spot, they should have created a new character for it instead of shoehorning the role on the poor guy. About the first anime being more realistic... well, this troper has never been of the opinion that True Art Is Angsty.
      • This troper wonders if the supposed alcoholism, napping while at work, and some of the other sillier moments ("I love dogs!" and "Miniskirt Army") were actually carefully constructed cover for more covert activities. A public statement about wanting to be Fuhrer someday, followed by the Miniskirt Army speech, would not be taken seriously. Mustang is definitely in non-alchoholic badass mode and culminating various covert operations in the last few episodes of the series, too, which seems to bear out this theory.
      • No one is saying that it is "true art," just that the first anime tends to fall more on the cynical side of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism than the manga and (presumably) the second anime. Also, Complaining About Shows You Don't Like much?
      • No one is saying it's true art, naturally. You only said darker is more realistic, at least in terms of character portrayal. I agree on it being cynical. I don't agree on it being realistic. And yes, I'm complaining. Because, yes, a lot of things in the first anime bug me. Hence, I take it out on the It Just Bugs Me! page, which seems perfectly logical. Also, I didn't even bring out the topic, I'm just agreeing with a fellow troper who is obviously nagged by the same stuff.
      • Except that the anime did deal with human psychology more realistically. The way that they handled Roy's PTSD was clearly based on Research. That doesn't mean that it's automatically * better* than the way the manga handled things, just different. Tropes Are Not Bad. And griping about it seems somewhat silly, since neither portrayals of the character negate the other. Unless there's some actual Character Derailment involved (with respect to the canon's internal consistency, not with respect to a different portrayal in a separate canon), you're going into subjective territory.
    • As bad as some of the wartime behavior of modern 1st-world nations may be, remember that this a story about I Can't Believe They're Not Nazis being told by real people who literally have living relatives that participated in little incidents like the Rape of Nanking and the Three Alls Policy. Incidents so hideously vile that frank descriptions of them seem too absurdly monstrous to have really happened, and which people absolutely must be reminded of. I think that having a likeable character such as Mustang ordered to commit war crimes helps to show that militarist dictatorships are always truly evil to the core, and that they unavoidably, irrevocably stain the conscience of everyone who is involved with it.
      • That's the impression I got while watching it as well. Good people, strong people, moral people, can commit the most horrifying crimes under the right circumstances. I thought it was a brilliant touch making Roy the one who killed Winry's parents.
      • I agree completely. Furthermore, telling the audience that Mustang was responsible for killing innocent people, but having all of those innocent people be nameless characters only briefly, if at all glimpsed, makes his crimes seem far more abstract. By making Mustang responsible for the deaths of the family of a major, sympathetic character, the audience HAS to deal with what he's done, on an emotional level. It's a much more poignant and appropriately disturbing way to communicate the discomforting truth that otherwise decent people may be forced to do atrocious things during wartime, and it also sets up anime!Roy as a much more psychologically complex character than his manga and Brotherhood counterpart.
      • It bothered me for different reasons: namely that it seemed so pointless. Roy already had the deaths of thousands of innocent Ishbalan civillians on his concience in both versions, which meant the point about good people committing war crimes had already been made. Adding Winry's parents really shouldn't effect Roy that much beyond a "straw that broke the the camel's back kind of way". Having Scar do it on the other hand, worked better for me if only because those are the only two deaths that our favourite Ishbalan can't justify to himself as being for revenge. He has to live with the fact that he murdered two people who were only trying to help him. Having Roy do it bothers me as well because it sends (unintentionally) the message that all those Ishbalans he killed shouldn't upset him nearly as much as the deaths of two Amestrian doctors.
      • At the time of the Anime`s writing the manga's identity of the Rockbells' murderer hadn't been revealed. All they had to go by was "Doctors killed", and "Doctors helped those on the other side of the conflict". The writers had been given the task of wrapping up a loose plot line, and since that was what all they could go by they did the best they could.
  • Ending of the anime doesn't make no sense, unless Roy is a suicidal maniac. He knew that he can only defeat Homonculi if he has some part of their old body. And he didn't have any! If Selim Bradley didn't come (which made no sense, by the way... What kind of child goes to interrupt his father fighting with some traitor? He should have known that dad would be kinda busy) Mustang would die and he wouldn't help anybody in any way. It was just luck.
    • ...Roy is suicidal. He's shown time and time again throughout the series that he's more than willing to put his life on the line in order to make up for the crimes he committed in Ishbal. He says as much when he's fighting Bradley. Also, nobody told him how invulnerable the Homunculus really were. I will agree that Selim was luck, but it did make sense that he'd go and get his father's treasure from the fire, and then make sure that his father wasn't going to get himself killed in said fire. It makes even more sense that he'd want to make sure his father knew how much he loved him before he was possibly hurt in the fire. Really, it sounds like a child's logic to me.
    • Roy rhetorically asks "how many times do I have to kill you, before you die." Since a homunculus' invulnerability runs on red stones, he might have just killed him enough to use them all up. Bad. Ass.
    • What bugged me about that end scene wasn't that Selim came to interrupt Bradley...but that he didn't spare a single, frickin' glance at Mustang who was being impaled through the chest with a saber by his father. He's a child; he should be paralyzed with horror. But maybe his father just does this a lot...?
    • Isn't it King Bradley who was holding the Idiot Ball in that scene anyway? He could have just told Selim to run far away and hide the treasure again. He might have even gotten the upper hand again if Selim left fast enough.
    • What really bugs ME about all this is how despite having Reality Is Unrealistic posted nearly every single page, people on this site really CAN'T seem to believe it when reality IS unrealistic. It is a perfectly natural reaction for a child of a military general. Daddy is invincible, everything in this room is alright. Here's your thingy dad, I'm heading out now. THIS HAS HAPPENED before, with regards to such things as home invasions when the father of the young children present just so happens to be an officer of the law, especially a high-ranking one. I see entries all the frickin' time around here "A person doing this would never act this way" or "Children would never do such things in real life!" 51% is majority. 51% is bare minimum for 'normal.' That leaves a HUGE amount of possible deviation from the norm.
  • If the Philosopher's stone is made of human souls, what gives the Red Water and concentrated Red Water its power?
    • The Red Water itself doesn't contain any power—just the crystal form. As to why: Perhaps it contains an element that cyphons power from the Gate. Also, this troper always assumed that the reason why the people of the village were getting sick was precisely because even the initial crystal form required sacrifices—it was just not done consciously like with the Red Stones or the Philosipher's Stone. Another possible reason: maybe the monsters in the Gate just chose the Red Water arbitrarily for the lulz.
    • Perhaps the red water is left over from some ancient alchemical project.
    • In the first episode, Cornello makes some sort of comment about state alchemist watches contained "alchemy enhancers," so it's entirely possible that there are seemingly mundane (as compared to crystallized human souls) materials that can provide an energy boost to alchemy, and red stones just happen to be the best. Of course, it's entirely possible that Cornello had no idea what he was talking about.
      • The alchemist watches contain red stones (imperfect philosopher stones) for alchemic power amplification.
    • Maybe crystallized red water is very dense and has a lot of materials in it which can be used for equivalent exchange? Still doesn't explain how it allows non-alchemists to use alchemy, though.
      • Me again, I just thought of something. Dead souls from the other world power alchemy, yes? It seems incredibly arbitrary, but we accept it as a premise. Couldn't they power the crystallized red water as well? Maybe souls naturally gravitate towards red water, and it just has to be refined to allow their power to be tapped. This would explain why crystallized red water keeps getting used up like philosopher stones; it would be consuming souls as well, just souls from the other world instead of souls sacrificed from this world. And that would explain how someone without the "understanding" step of alchemy could still have such power; a few more souls just disappear to compensate for it. Yeah, that sounds good, souls gravitate towards either liquid red water or its crystallized form and provide it with power much the same way sacrificed souls power the red stones and the philosopher stone.
  • Why (in all the versions) did Shou Tucker experiment on his daughter: with his wife, you could say that he was desesperate to obtain results like the Mad Scientist he is, but later he was a State Alchemist: he could certainly have pulled enough strings to have homeless, prisonners, Ishvalians as guinea pigs. That would not have made him a nicer character, but experimenting on his own daughter always seemed to be a very big Idiot Ball.
    • My impression is that in either version, he's not really that competent (compare the humanoid chimeras in the series with his efforts) nor that ambitious. The only reason he wants to be a State Alchemist is for the pay, so it's not like he really thinks ahead about future discovery. I should note that in the anime, where he survives and becomes a chimera himself, he seems to get more competent at that point, and I think it's at least implied he is using victims of the government conspiracy for his research.
      • He certainly seems that way in the manga, but in the anime, they had him working for the bad guys after his supposed execution (at which point he becomes a somewhat bizarre dog-like chimera with an upside-down face, and he seems to have strangely become much better at research.
    • It's also entirely possible that he didn't realize that he could use those people. He didn't seem particularly well connected enough in either version (at least pre-chimerification in the first anime) to realize what the Amestrian government was really like.
      • First anime!Al indicates at one point that Tucker knew that it wouldn't completely work, yet did it anyway, prompting him to suggest that he did it because he could. In the manga, Tucker suggests that he did it because working with humans was more effective than with animals.
    • It's possible that he'd first used his wife, possibly accidentally and was surprised that the experiment worked. When he later used his daughter, he was at the end of the line and might not have had access to anyone else, plus he states that it was the age factor that he was testing, so maybe none of the possible candidates were young enough to meet his requirements.

  • In the anime, we learn that alchemy is powered by the souls of the dead in our world. But what does that mean, exactly? Does using alchemy in the FMA world cause deaths in our world? Does alchemy only work because there's so many people dying in our world? What would happen to the souls otherwise? Is there an afterlife that souls used to power alchemy don't go to? Are souls conscious? So many questions; one would think that there'd be a little more explanation to such a big plot twist.
    • Eh, it's a fantastical explanation for a fantastical power. I think it's a good idea for writers to leave some things unanswered in fantasy, because a full explanation may either seem like an out-of-place infodump, or raise a whole new set of questions and Fridge Logic. And since I think the most significant part of that Reveal was to drive the point home that true Equivalent Exchange was impossible, I don't really agree that a greater explanation was necessary. (Although it would have been cool.) Many of the same questions haven't yet been answered in the manga, where the origin of alchemical power is fairly similar.
      • It's not so much the why or how that bugs me, but more that I have no idea the characters are talking about. By itself, "souls of the dead power alchemy" is too vague to really mean anything.
      • Huh? How so? It seems like a fairly staight-forward Soylent Green thing to me.
      • What I don't understand is what would happen to the souls otherwise. That's why I asked if souls were conscious or if they went to some kind of afterlife if they weren't turned into power for alchemy. Without knowing that, we might as well be told that alchemy is powered by the sun.
      • How do you figure that? It seems to me that death being the fuel for anything is horrific, regardless of what happens in the event that the "souls" are allowed to "pass on" normally. I mean, knowing that wars, famines, plagues, and genocides are what give you your power — it's heavy stuff, period. What really matters is that alchemy is ultimately fueled by some form of human suffering, regardless of the technicalities. I personally think that saying anything more would have been completely superfluous, and may have even served to undermine the simple but poignant revelation that alchemy wouldn't be possible if fewer people in "our world" were dying. How is that in any way comparable to something being "powered by the sun"?
      • Well, you did just answer one of my original questions ("Does alchemy only work because there's so many people dying in our world?"). Some clarification on whether or not alchemy is actually causing the high number of deaths would be nice, though. These aren't complaints, just unanswered questions, which is why JB Ms were created in the first place.
      • Actually, I believe that I heard somewhere that it's not necessarily souls that power alchemy in the same way that we would think of them, but that there's a release of energy upon someone dying, and that is what powers it. Philosopher's stones just capture and crystallize that power into a physical substance. In that case, what happens to the actual souls is irrelevant, though I do agree that it's a bit open-ended (I like it when fantasy settings explain all the mechanics of their world).
      • Above explanation makes more sense than any other. Perhaps it wouldn't use souls if they sapped more power from whatever is around. Using the radio as an example, you would need a bit of fire as the 'energy' and you would need a smidgen more minerals to repair it, as the fire+extra materials would make up the energy and natural mineral loss. A similar example I can think up also, is bloodbending from Avatar, it sucked the life straight out of the plants around them, first while training, and then while battling. In the same way more energy must be used to convert oils into usable forms, perhaps by electricity, coal, or hydro, a burning fire from a small stack of papers would give off the energy necessary for transmutation-without-cost. Think of the energy used as being close to what one would use manually with their muscles fixing or rebuilding something from scratch, but transmuted and 'paid for' in nanoseconds. If the souls-as-energy theorum is correct the standard alchemy teachings underestimate the cost required, also this means in the right circumstances Roy is a walking energy battery, and is practicing one of the few perpetual-use forms of alchemy. (ie once he's set a fire, he can work off the fire ala a fire bender. He is after all, causing a very low-yield reaction (turning a smattering of oxygen into hydrogen then igniting it) and then force-feeding it with the oxygen around. That would be my estimation based upon his attack's animation, anyway.)
    • It is explained that by transmuting something you need the materials to do it, but also the energy to perform the transmutation. That energy is provided by the souls from our world that go through the gate, so just like any regular system, energy is provided and then used. People die every second so it's really unlikely power for transmutations would run out. How many souls are needed for a transmutation is left unstated.

  • In the anime, there are five traditional homunculi, one scientifically-created homunculus (which I like to believe simply skipped the "wait for the person to die" and "make a copy of their body" steps, effectively killing the person in the process and using the soul that was there in the first place for the template if it was strong enough to survive), and one false gate (or something that serves a similar purpose and can digest metal). Three of them were made hundreds of years ago by people from the same couple, two were made using their research (both within the last thirty years or so), but two were made by completely unrelated people within the last twenty years or less, right around the time the only homunculus that could age to death was created (and shortly before Ed and Al created Sloth, without prompting from anyone else). TL;DR notation: skip to here My question is, why were over half of the (seven) confirmed homunculi created so close in time (within thirty years of each other) in mostly-unrelated circumstances, conveniently filling in the Theme Naming roster, when the other three were made by the same two immortal people over hundreds of years? Especially when the only known mortal homunculus happened to be one of the ones that showed up just recently. TL;DR notation: End of Core JBM Are there completely unrelated homunculi wandering about outside of Amestris, or even in Amestris? Did the Industrial Revolution and population boom mean that there was suddenly a lot more alchemical power for those with the gift, so they progressed faster and got to the Independent Study: Successful Creation of Abominations class before the lack of alchemists who were both old and bold cut off the learning curve? Were all of the other homunculi, for some strange reason, not immortal?
    • The Homunculi needed to eat Red Stones to survive and become more humanoid, I think... so maybe Dante just didn't happen upon the other ones? Wrath didn't need the stones to become more human-looking, but he already had the Gate's influence to make him look like something other than a horrific abomination, and I doubt everyone who attempted human transmutation tried to shove the results back through the Gate.
      • Just hit it with a shovel and bury it or go into a BSOD, so they never get the false philosophers' stone material or other power increasers. That makes sense, thanks.
      • Also, Lust flat out says to Greed that she's the new Lust. There have probably been other homunculi and they've just gotten themselves killed (how else would Dante know about the whole "using their real body to kill them" trick?). Dante is constantly replacing the homunculi who die; that's why there's quite a few who are so recent: their previous versions died just before the story started and Dante had to go looking for replacements for the first time in years. What I want to know is why she names them after the seven deadly sins, and why they seem to emobdy those sins. It's never really explained. Maybe Dante just had something for religious imagery? I wouldn't put it past the psychotic bitch.
  • At the end of the anime Tucker actually made a complete replica of his daughter Nina and Ed scoffed at it pointing out that is was a body with no soul. Why didn't he just have Tucker make him an Alphonse "doll" and bond Al's soul to that instead of the armor?
    • Why should he even care about Alphonse?
    • Also, wasn't it implied (or stated outright) that making the "doll" involved human lives as well as Tucker becoming that weird creature? I also don't think that Ed or Tucker would know how to remove Al's soul from the armor and bind it to something else without killing Al.
  • In the first anime, Father Cornello orders Ed to be locked in a dungeon-esque prison, right? So here's my issue with that: why in the world is there a dungeon in a church?
    • Hey, the Spanish inquisition had no prob with it. Besides, the whole church was just there so Cornello could take over the world with a army of fanatics. He also might've needed it to keep the "ingredients" for chimerae locked up.
  • People say Ed acts cold toward Winry. I don't see anything cold though; Not in Brotherhood, FMA, or the manga. Am I missing something?
    • In the Gecko Anime, a lot of Ed and Winry's close, interpersonal scenes never occurred, while at the same time many of their mutually antagonistic moments, like giving each other crap for being obsessed with alchemy and automail, respectively, were kept. The inevitable result of this makes Ed look a lot more apathetic at best and downright hostile at worst towards Winry.
      • Their relationship seems comfortable to me.
    • Yep what one of the people above me said that the first anime nerfed Edwin and instead went with Royed (watch the movie it has so many Ho Yay moments that it's not even funny) that is why if you like the manga/Brotherhood you will mostly likely like Edwin and Royai and if you like the fanfiction anime you will preferably go will with Royed since they turn Winry into a complete bitch and they cut out memorable scenes with her and Ed, such as the Scar confrontation and the promise to cry again with our original bodies.
    • 'Never noticed any Roy Ed. The first anime seemed Edwin to me.
    • Same. First Anime had LOTS of Edwin. Also, I would like to note the fact that it was the original Mangaka who crafted the plot of the first Anime, since she wanted it to differ from her plans from the Manga. It thus does not qualify as "Fanfiction".

  • In the first Anime, Rose suddenly has a baby when Ed and Al meet her again. What the hell where did that come from?
    • She'd been raped by Amestrian soldiers at some point during the Lior rebellion.
      • To clarify, it's never stated directly, but it's heavily implied. When Edward asks what's up with Rose, Scar just says she got captured by the military and that when she came back, she could no longer speak. Ed slowly gets a look of absolute horror on his face as realization dawns on him and Scar bitterly asks whether the soldiers deserve to be forgiven after that.
  • On a similar topic, where did people get the theory that Rose was gang-raped? The series didn't give any hints toward that, just rape. No details on how, how many times, or how many people.
    • It probably has something to do with the fact that it's said that she was dragged back to the base by a group of soldiers, not just one. I wouldn't be surprised if that's what actually happened, considering how often it happens in Real Life
    • Hello? The baby? The traumatization? The fact that soldiers raping women has been a historically common occurrence in real life?
      • Well, they're asking specifically about gang-rape rather than rape. Regular rape can result in babies and traumatization, too. But I agree that the main reason people suspect this is that gang-rape by soldiers in particular has so often been a weapon of war against civilian women (see the part of the The Vagina Monologues about a Bosnian woman who experienced this for a - albeit, quite graphic - Real Life example).
  • Why would Envy's true form look like Edward? Envy was born about 400 years before the series started, way before Hohenheim's current body and Tricia even existed, meaning that biologically, Envy had completely different parents from Edward. Yet they look almost identical. The only explanation I can think of is that Hohenheim chose bodies that looked similar to each other, but that doesn't explain their complete similarity. Besides, it would still require taking another mother into account. It really bugged me when I first saw it and I can't think of any sort of explanation.
    • This was explained. Envy is the son of Hohenhiem, and Ed's half-brother. That's why they both look like Hohopapa.
      • No, Envy is the son of Hohenheim's original body, while Ed is the son of the last body he inhabited. Different bodies = different DNA = no biological relation.
    • I like to think of it that Envy lied about his "true" appearance, either just to freak Ed out, or because Envy knew that Ed wouldn't have taken him as serious about it unless he actually looked like Ed. It was just to get his point across, and his true form most likely doesn't look like that at all.
  • The "Kids" OVA from the first anime. Why is everyone apparently in Japan? A majority of the writing is in Japanese, and Ed's house is Japanese style. Also, how are they related? Are 'Winry' and 'Ed' twins?
    • According to the FMA Wiki, Seiji Mizushima has stated that "Kids" is non-canon.
    • It's mentioned at the end of The Movie that Ed and Al intended on looking for the man with the uranium bomb, which (earlier in the film) is mentioned as being found in Japan. Assuming that Ed and Al actually make it to Japan, perhaps they stayed there? It would seem like the answer, considering Ed's there (and 100 years old). My guess is that after settling in Japan, Ed had a family and the kids ended up being his grandkids or something. It's been a while since I've seen the OVA, though. I could be off base.
      • And why is everyone else apparently in Japan? Their.. 'Reincarnations', so to speak, are all in Japan.
  • Okay, three things upon rewatching.
    • One and two: Ed is killed, then Al uses his Philosopher's Stone completely to resurrect Ed in his perfect form, leg and arm and all. Then Ed performs an equivalent sacrifice: trading his body, mind, and soul for the body, mind, and soul of Al. That's why Al comes back as he was from beyond the Gate with no memories of ever being in an armor. Which, that's alright. Except that after his soul was transferred to the armor, he does have previous memories, obviously, he wasn't just a blank slate. And his soul, when he regains his body, is capable of being transferred into armor as well(I do take the movie as canon, it's not THAT bad). So why did he not have any memories from the armor? It's kinda odd.
    • In the final episode, Sheska speculates that Al's memories of his time in the armor may have been his payment to the Gate for his resurrection (or possibly Ed's).
  • #2. After all that, Ed ends up on the other side.......with his automail. I thought he was whole when he crossed?! Why did the automail suddenly come back?
    • The implication is that Europe!Ed had his arm and leg crushed during the zeppelin crash, and thus had to have them replaced with prosthetics. That's prosthetics, not automail - look closely and you'll see that the design is more primitive, and it lacks the responsiveness and functionality of automail. He gets real automail again in The Movie.
      • Actually, I think I was wrong - Earth! Ed dies in the zeppelin crash, and when Amestris! Ed offers himself to the Gate in exchange for Al's body, mind and soul, it transports him to the other world (this time with his body as well, meaning he's stuck there like Hohenheim). And, I guess, it takes back his arm and leg too. Or something.
    • #3. Episode 22. What the fuck. Did Scar do with his arm. He breaks into where Ed and Al were researching Marcoh's papers. Alright. Then he puts his right arm on their decoded notes. Then the writing on those notes...glows red...and disappears. Then Scar lifts his hand and...summons a floating red orb of the text floating around....WHAT.
      • That part WAS a bit more magick-y than science-y, yeah...IMO it was a bad idea to have the philosopher's stones be so overly magick-y in execution. A lot of the rest like revivals, that's oldschool alchemic lore. But I don't recall any ancient texts nestled between turning poo into platinum where it implies one can learn information by TEARING IT OFF THE PAGE AND STICKING IT STRAIGHT INTO THEIR BRAINS.

  • How do the names work on in our world, when it comes to the lookalikes? Some characters have the same name (IE, Gracia and Hughes), others have somewhat changed names (Alfons Heiderich and Alphonse Elric), and others have different names (Noa and Rose).
    • I'm more wondering about how the locations of other-world lookalikes work. Most of the other-universe duplicates are living in Germany in the movie, but when Ed first possesses his other-world self in the TV series, he's living in London. My theory: the other-world Ed (and Hohenheim?) were born in Germany, but lived in London during WWI while Hohenheim was an advisor to Winston Churchill. The real question is, did Hohenheim materialize himself in Europe, or possess the body of the equivalent person from Europe? Is he still the biological father of the Europe!Ed? If so, why isn't he also the father of Alfons Heiderich? If not, why are he and the other-world Ed living together, and where are Europe!Ed's real parents?
  • Does Riza have a the tattoo in this continuity? I'm pretty sure it was revealed after the anime..
  • Why'd Hoenheim mistake Winry for her mom, when her mom was a brunette here?
    • He didn't actually mistake Winry for her mother; he merely got their names confused, while still being aware that they were two separate individuals. (After all, Winry was already 4 or 5 years old when he left Risembool.) When you live for 400+ years, remembering the names of every person you meet probably starts to get a bit difficult. The dub script changed Hohenheim's dialogue at the end of the Cold Opening for episode 43 to help clarify this.
  • Dante needs a Philosopher's Stone in order to transmute her soul to a different body, right? So how does she transmute her soul to Lyra? Did she already have a Philosopher's Stone? I haven't seen this brought up in any other discussions of plot holes in FMA 2003, so it's possible I missed something here.
    • You did — during Hohenheim's conversation with Dante, he mentions that he left her fragments of the Philosopher's Stone, and assumes that she must have used them up by now. She used the last bit of the Philosopher's Stone to take over Lyra's body. Now that she doesn't have any left, she's in a tight situation and becomes more proactive about her search for the Stone, shown in how she personally oversees the Lior affair.
  • Why does Pride keep the skull of the man he was modeled after? If it's his only weakness, why doesn't he just destroy it? And if he can't destroy it himself, why not have Dante or one of the other Homunculi do it? (My theory: because he's Pride. What could be more prideful than having such absolute confidence in your abilities as to keep your greatest weakness in your own home?)
    • Perhaps there is a mental block on actually destroying it, or perhaps Dante has tried it before and found destroying the remains makes them weaker for some reason. But whatever the reason, pride keeping his greatest weakness in his own home does seem to fit with 'pride.' Also it means that in order to FIND his weakness, one needs to break in in the first place. So it's moderately safe at the same time as being brazenly dangerous. He would know immediately what happened if someone took it.
  • Hohenheim said that our world took the path of "science and technology" instead of alchemy centuries ago, and thus is more scientifically advanced. But in reality, 1910s Amestris seems only slighty less technologically advanced than 1910s Europe. Sure, Amestris doesn't have planes, zeppelins, neurotoxins, A-bombs, rockets or Einstein, but they do have locomotives, machine guns, semi-automatic pistols, telephones, cars, radios, microphones, and a seemingly decent knowledge of physics and the elements. Technologically, they really only seem about 20 years or so behind our world, and in some respects (radios, telephones, cars) about equal.
  • What the hell was Hohenheim doing for 10 years? Formulating a plan to stop Dante? Researching ways to slow the decay of his body?
    • From what I could gather, it seems that Hohenheim was at least somewhat aware of her activities and suspected she had a hand in the military. He only confronted her when he realized that she turned her attention on his sons. As long as she agreed to leave them alone, he would give her information about why her body was rotting, and that would be the end of it. Presumably, he held some level of affection for her that prevented him from actively moving against her. Dante, however, definitely wanted him found and neutralized, which is shown in how she tried to get information out of Ed and Al during her debut.
  • When Ed first possesses the body of his Europe equivalent, he is alarmed by the moral implications of usurping the free will of his other-world self. When he goes back to Europe, he never seems to be bothered by this again. My theory: the European Ed died from the injuries suffered in the zeppelin crash; when Amestris!Ed sacrificed his mind, body and soul to the Gate to bring Al back, the Gate decided to transmute his mind and soul into Europe!Ed's body, thus keeping it alive.
  • Lyra's dead, right? What about Bradley? I've heard a few people say he's alive, however the ending seemed to make it very clear he died.
    • He did die, very clearly. Mustang burned him to death. Lyra died quite a bit earlier, after Dante took over her body. Although Dante died in the last episode as well.
  • Ed's great-granddaughter in a future OVA looks like Winry. It's apparently canon too, though it's hard to wonder why everyone settled in Japan (to escape from Germany? but why Japan?)...Eh..Huh? Why does she look like Winry? Does that mean either Ed or Al married this world's Winry?
    • I wouldn't call it canon. The advertisements for The Movie make it glaringly obvious.
  • In Episode 48 of the 2003 series, Mustang starts to salute Edward (right-handed), doesn't complete it, and offers Ed his left hand for a handshake instead, which Ed slaps away. Question—why offer the left hand? Because Ed's right hand is metal and Mustang wants to shake flesh to flesh, or is this some kind of disrespectful offer (left-handed vs. right-handed)? (This troper is really sensitive to this visual because Japan is such a strongly right-handed culture. Technically, a left-handed handshake would be an insult.)
    • Ed forced himself to become left-handed/ambidextrous, and I'm pretty sure that Mustang is left-handed as well. He offered his hand instead of saluting because he thinks of Ed as a child, not a soldier.
  • When Dante tells Envy that Hohenheim died after she sent him beyond the gate, does she beleive at the time doing so killed him by separating his mind from his body or is she lying about his death so that Envy stays in their world and does not try to cross the gate to pursue Hohenheim, so he would channel his anger at Ed instead? It seems more probable to be that she was knowingly lying about his death.
    • What she actually tells Envy (at least in the English dub) is that she seperated Hohenheim's mind, soul, and body inside the Gate, and that therefore he's "as good as dead".
  • How come Envy's jealousy and anger towards Hohenheim's more recent family is projected mostly towards Ed and not as much towards Al and seemingly not very much at Sloth, the Homunculus formed from Trisha?
    • Possibly because he views Ed as having "replaced" him more than Al, since Ed looks the most like him and Hohenheim.
  • Why does Ed hate milk so much?
    • He prefers Soy.
    • It's just material for more short jokes. Since you need calcium for strong bones and all.
  • The end of The Movie. Why didn't Ed close the gate on the Ametris side and have Al attach his soul to the armor - like he did to see Ed - and close the gate from our side? That would have let them both stay in Artemis.
    • Because they didn't have time to think up of such a plan. It was all very sudden, and The Gate in Germany was still completely undefended and was still at risk at being further abused by anyone on the other side by the minute. He couldn't even have known thatEickheart had gone full Body Horror and had already been killed by Hughes, for all he knew that crazy bitch was still alive and ready for another go at Amestris. He probably felt the need to act fast, and just casually waiting for Al to get another armor to go destroy the Gate was probably unacceptable to him. There's also a possibility he felt our world needed him more than Amestris does, especially with the threat of the atomic bomb which he vowed to stop from ever being used.
  • It's stated that human bodies are somewhat resistant to alchemy: you can deconstruct them or change around some elements floating around in them, but Ed says that stuff like altering the carbon in Greed's body, turning Sloth into ethanol, or merging Wrath with a bed wouldn't be possible if those Homunculi had been human. So how is it possible to make chimeras using human beings?
    • Wasn't it stated that you couldn't transmute [i]your own[/i] body? I think it's stilll perfectly possible to perform alchemy on other humans.
      • I'm assuming transmutation on humans is allowed. That's how Kimbley's bombs works right?
  • When Ed and Hohenheim travel to our world at the end of the series, Britain seems to be in the middle of World War I. But Conqueror of Shamballa, which is supposed to occur two years after the series, is set in 1923, five years after WWI ended.
    • I just figured he wasn't sent to the same place he died (London) after the second time he entered the gate.
  • If Hohenheim and Dante had Philosopher's Stones to enable their Body Surfing, where did we get Envy and Greed from - i.e., why weren't those human transmutations successful? We know from Al's successful revival of Ed after his death from Envy that having the Stone does indeed make it possible to perform a successful human transmutation.
  • Why do so many people seem to hate Rose from the first anime and the EdRose pairing? I donít see anything wrong with her or it.
    • I think part of it has to do with people just generally hating the first anime as a whole. Rose barely had any screentime outside of Liore in the manga and second anime, while Winry was a much better character, resulting in a staunch division of manga/Brotherhood fans who like Edwin, first anime fans who like Edwin, and first anime fans who like EdRose. Personally, this troper shipped Edrose from the very first episode of the first anime, having never read the manga before then, and was surprised and disappointed when she didn't go with Ed and Al on their journey at the end of the second. Having read the manga and seen Brotherhood now, this troper's fondness for Edrose has...waned. Not because Rose is any less likeable of a character, but simply because she's less relevant of one.
    • I haven't delved deeply into the 1st anime, but here's my take on its lack of popularity in Brotherhood. Both of them handle their emotions in highly different ways, with Ed's being the more "mature". Because some fans have gotten so used to emotions being handled silently or even outright ignored, Rose's reaction to losing her fake religion seems overblown and dramatic. Some people simply feel like Ed is just too good for her just because of this. His way of advising her is also pretty harsh, too.
    • This troper is Edwin shipper but never had a problem with EdRose, maybe on the account of the fact I don't consider the first anime canon to the FMA series so I don't think it ever had a chance since Rose was a minor character in the manga/Brotherhood. Also Rose is a Edwin shipper herself in the manga. I think it has to go mainly for Ship-to-Ship Combat and Die for Our Ship and all that jazz.
    • It's probably the fact that Rose has a lot less agency and is more of a "victim" - especially in the first anime, where it's heavily implied that she was raped by the Amestrian military invading Lior, and goes mute as a result - compared to Winry. (Or Roy, for that matter, as the usual Take The Third Option for the "who should Ed be with?" debate here - he's got his own PTSD issues, but deals with them quite differently.) Western anime fans in particular generally prefer their heroes with feistier characters like Tsunderes rather than more sheepish ones. The fact that Rose's status as the latter is entirely not her fault (and would likely happen to anyone under such circumstances), and that she was a fairly spirited character in her early appearances pre-Trauma Conga Line, is something a lot of people seem to forget or willfully ignore. It could also be the impression that the writers themselves liked Ed with Rose the best: Dante seeing taking her body as a way to get Ed to have sex with her, Rose actually admitted her feelings for Ed (albeit, while at least somewhat sedated), the fact that Conqueror of Shamballa was originally supposed to have a love triangle involving Ed, Alfons and Rose's double Noa, etc. As they also downplayed a lot of Ed and Winry's Belligerent Sexual Tension from the manga, one can see how there might be a backlash among Ed/Win fans who feel that the writers are Shippers On Deck for their top competitor.
  • Why did Mustang choose to fight Pride in a wine cellar? Roy's specialty is Playing with Fire, Pride's is Implausible Fencing Powers, therefore, the best place to fight him would be an open space with plenty of room to move around, not in a sealed room where Roy's within arm's reach of Pride while he can't do anything about it without harming himself. Why would Mustang do that?
  • How come Edward comes back to our world at the end of Conqueror of Shamballa? It seems like an Ass Pull to have Ed come back after all that time and effort used to come back to Amestris.

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