Anime Breakfast: Fullmetal Alchemist and the extent of the sacrifice

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In this new episode of Anime Breakfast we are going to talk about Fullmetal Alchemist, what is probably the best shonen ever: let’s live it, in this dedicated article

A lesson without pain is worthless. Because, without sacrifice, man can achieve nothing.

New week, new Sunday, new episode of Anime Breakfast. We have also left behind the space western of Cowboy Bebop, an undisputed masterpiece of oriental animation, and this time we are looking towards a genre that is often mistreated because it is usually recommended for young boys: the shonen. If your audience is included in an age group that reaches a maximum of 19, you cannot present mature, sometimes obscure themes, skilfully mixing the concepts of life, death and sacrifice, can you? Incorrect: Fullmetal Alchemist exists. Let’s talk about!

Laws of Alchemy | Anime Breakfast: Fullmetal Alchemist and the extent of the sacrifice

Written and illustrated by Hiromu Arakawa, Fullmetal Alchemist (from now on, in this article, abbreviated FMA) was born as a manga back in 2001 when its serialization on Shonen Gangan began, then finished in 2010 for a total of 108 chapters and 27 volumes. Two distinct animated series are then drawn from the comic. The first, produced by Square Enix and entrusted to the Bones studiois simply called Fullmetal Alchemist and follows the events narrated by the manga only in its first volumes, to then completely divert direction and culminate with the film The conqueror of Shamballa.

The second, however, has the subtitle “Brotherhood” and completely follows what is narrated by the paper counterpart of Arakawa. Universally recognized as one of the best adaptations in the history of Japanese animated series, FMA Brotherhood has always been backed by Square Enix and Bones who packed it into 64 episodes, costing approximately 500 million yen. According to official data, the company has gained, between the two series in total, more than 2,310 million yenquadrupling the cost of production. Without considering the sold copies of the manga, which have made FMA a real mass phenomenon and which has given way to the production machine of other means of entertainment, from merchandise to video games.

Anime Breakfast: Fullmetal Alchemist and the extent of the sacrifice

Clash of the Alchemists |Anime Breakfast: Fullmetal Alchemist e l’entità del sacrificio

Set in a Europe loosely inspired by 19th century Europe, but borrowing additional influences from the industrial age, FMA takes place in the country of Amestris, a world full of cities, villages, cobbled streets and brick buildings they give the production an extremely European look. To all this are added magical and supernatural elements that intersect perfectly with the real world. You may have already understood it from the title, but Amestris is mainly based on Alchemy and on those who practice it.

Edward and Alphonse Elric, Ed and Al for friends, are two brothers who, after having lost their mother due to an illness, try to bring her back to life through the use of alchemy. The experiment fails tragically and the two boys are terribly injured: Ed loses a leg, while Al loses his whole body. Determined to at least bring back his brother’s soul, Ed sacrifices his right arm and traps Al’s essence in armor, which comes to life and effectively becomes Alphonse Elric. Years go by and the two, still determined to recover their original bodies, live their lives in search of a solution.

Anime Breakfast: Fullmetal Alchemist and the extent of the sacrifice

Spiral of Truth | Anime Breakfast: Fullmetal Alchemist e l’entità del sacrificio

Over time, Edward becomes a State Alchemist and begins to work for the army, receiving in exchange two mechanical limbs, called Automail, to replace his prostheses. That way, they have everything they need to find a solution to the mess they made years ago. And this solution has an actual name: the philosopher’s Stone. That’s enough, we don’t want to reveal anything else about the intricate story of FMA, simply because it is so captivating, interesting and fun to follow that it would be a real shame to risk running into spoilers of any kind or nature.

On their journey, Ed and Al meet a long list of iconic characters who have made the history of the medium. We pass by Winry Rockbella young childhood friend of the Elric brothers and an expert mechanic of Automail, to progress to colonel Roy Mustang, a skilled fire alchemist who aspires to one day become the leader of the country. Always with the idea of ​​not making any kind of spoiler, we don’t even want to delve into the characters, but it is enough to know that each of them, for better or for worse, will face an almost mandatory personal growth during the course of the series.

Anime Breakfast: Fullmetal Alchemist and the extent of the sacrifice

Lullaby of Resembool | Anime Breakfast: Fullmetal Alchemist and the extent of the sacrifice

The need to make difficult choices and face the consequences of one’s actions permeates their lives, especially when these actions involve serious facts that cannot be resolved in any way. The public is driven, together with the various characters, to question themselves, to ask themselves deep ethical and moral dilemmas and to try to understand if and how it could have been done differently. And all this does not only apply to the Elric brothers, on the contrary: each secondary character is rich in nuances and carry stories, ambitions and motivations on their shoulders. Yes, even the antagonists… especially the antagonists.

Self-finding plays a huge role in the series, especially for the Elric brothers. After losing part (or all) of their bodies, the two find themselves forced to redefine their concept of humanity, to understand who they really are. In this sense, the Philosopher’s Stone is not so much a destination as a journey: that of recovering the ego, one’s personality and identity. The two are not treated as saints, on the contrary: what happened to them is one direct consequence of one’s wicked choicesof wanting to go against the natural flow of time and the ineluctability of death.

Anime Breakfast: Fullmetal Alchemist and the extent of the sacrifice

Beyond the Walls | Anime Breakfast: Fullmetal Alchemist e l’entità del sacrificio

The concept of “equivalent exchange” thus becomes pervasive: to get something, you have to give something else of equal value in return. Power has a cost, life has a cost, choices have a cost, ambition has a cost: everything has a cost. The Elric brothers, like all the other FMA characters, are often forced to make difficult choices and to sacrifice something precious in order to achieve their goals. Objectives that are not always the most honorable: in fact, Amestris is dominated by the political corruption of the high ruling class, especially of the military regime that governs it with oppressive and abusive actions.

Finally: humanity. What is human being really? A body? One soul? What is it that makes us truly human? Ed and Al in the first place, but we with them, we are forced to ask ourselves about meaning of existence, about emotions, sensations, love and compassion. Challenging the traditional definitions of humanity, the FMA tackles the question of giving a definition with sometimes a lot of tact, sometimes an impetuosity that takes your breath away.

Anime Breakfast: Fullmetal Alchemist and the extent of the sacrifice

The Blind Alchemist

Here we are, also this week we have reached the end of the episode of Anime Breakfast dedicated, this time, to Fullmetal Alchemist. We can only recommend viewing it (or reading the manga, if you like), especially the second series Brotherhood. Arakawa’s natural ability to place important issues in front of the viewer such as the sense of sacrifice, the concept of human beings, life and death make Fullmetal Alchemist one of the most impactful shonen in the entire Japanese entertainment industry. It is essential if you are a fan of the genre. Don’t miss it.

And that’s all we had to say about Fullmetal Alchemist. Let us know what you think below in the comments and stay tuned with us at for all the news on the subject of cinema and TV series!

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