Life lessons can be taken from a variety of media, anime included, and while I personally believe that you shouldn’t take every value you hold dear from things you watch or read, I think anime can offer a great deal of virtuous information.You may never be a champion athlete you may never travel into space but all of us have the ability to adapt and persevere through adversity. This is where the Elric brothers of the Fullmetal Alchemist franchise shine the most. The original FMA was my second anime I’d ever seen, and to this day its theme of perseverance, its questioning of authority and its yearn to seek truth still stand out to me.
Fma is an epic fantasy tale about overcoming life’s negative aspects by breaking them down and turning them into positive notes. We see death, despair heartbreak and immense regret yet these emotions while tragic in nature all succumb to the human spirit. Human spirit aided by magic of course but yeah. We all suffer, we all go through pain. Even in circumstances that are seemingly out of our control. One is all and all is one.
In this world alchemy exists, and not only that but it is used as a tool by scientists and the military in various ways. From medical care to bombings, from fixing a broken radio to spearheading a war of extermination, alchemy is a tool which is all about equivalent exchange.
Humankind cannot gain anything without first giving something in return. To obtain, something of equal value must be lost. That is alchemy’s first law.
On a personal side note I am a Christian. And before you freak out about me supporting a show whose main characters are seemingly atheists, to me what I try to take most out of the teachings of my religion is that I try to treat people the way I want to be treated. I act nice to others so that’s sort of what I expect. now does this always work? hell no. but I believe in it and I believe that this principle also fits with hard work. I. believe that the best things in life do not come easy.
We all face adversity in some form. The characters of FMA deal with life’s adversities. The Elrics deal with death and loss as well as forced maturity due to the lack of parents and their goal to abandon their previous life in order to obtain their goals. Mustang lives with regret, his horrible memories of the Ishvalan war of extermination haunt him. Scar is plagued by a broken heart felt for his brother who lost himself within alchemy and the outside world that had forsaken his people.
I love a revenge story and there are several instances of revenge and reclamation in FMA. Scar seeks to avenge his people, Mustang seeks to instill honor in Amestris, and the Elrics look to redeem themselves and in a sense, seek revenge on God himself for taking so much from them.
As Vic Mignogna has said many times, Ed is, by the end of the series not an atheist. he was a kid who had everything stripped from him leaving behind a shell. It’s for this reason Ed is one of my favorite characters of all time. He is human. he makes mistakes he has bonds he tries to separate himself from what should matter most to him as we all do once in awhile. We blindly value the material while sacrificing the emotional daily as we must do to survive. for example we go to work daily, and let work overshadow our day for that period of time.
That time can never return to us. it could have been spent with family, developing our interpersonal well being or even self reflection but that gets abandoned as a necessary sacrifice. Ed leaves behind the emotional to seek his goal and repay his debts and endures so much hardship along the way. He is the essence of perseverance and will to live. now he has little brother to help of course which ties into my next great point of fma: bonds.
FMA showcases what I expect out of immediate family members, love and devotion. They care for each other, put one another first and foremost and would shatter without one another. This bond is not shared by everyone in reality and it is in their undying loyalty to one another that I find the Elrics to be one of the strongest families I have ever seen.
Hawkeye and Mustang share a bond of military background and personal ties to flame alchemy. Hawkeye agrees with mustangs goals and guides him on the way there.
My favorite bond in the series is one that is often overlooked. Wenry and the Elrics. yes I know her and Ed get together and all but I think that her ties to both of them is so unbreakable it must be made of diamond. Wenry is part of what the Elrics abandoned yet she is their tie to their home they need her automail skills. Yes ed does have feelings for her but I always felt Wenry meant so much more than a mechanic and a waifu. She heals the wounds of the heart the boys Bear as much as she can, and is their tightest connection to humanity as they delve into a world of discord.
Wenry is a prime example of why home is always home even if only in memory. one could sever all ties to their town, but memories will remain and even when she is not in the show memories of their childhood with her resonate with Ed and Alphonse always.
Perseverance and bonds are just two of a myriad of factors that make fma a masterpiece. It has great music awesome visuals and the like, but what I relate to and love most are those characteristics. Some may hate on the series original ending like I once did and the actual full story development of fma may have been a little rocky and in truth I like Brotherhood better. You should still watch both, just maybe not back to back.
if there’s anything I want you to take from this just know.
“There’s no such thing as a painless lesson—they just don’t exist. … You can’t gain anything without losing something first. Although if you can endure that pain and walk away from it, you’ll find that you now have a heart strong enough to overcome any obstacle. A heart made fullmetal.”
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