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Fullmetal Alchemist is a Japanese manga series written by Hiromu Arakawa. It was first published in Square Enix manga anthology magazine between 2001 and 2010. Later, it was adapted into an Animated series, Fullmetal Alchemist, which got broadcasted from 2003 to 2004, followed by a remake in 2009 called Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood.
It is about dark human tragedy and unconquerable love between brothers. The series revolves around the two Elric brothers- the elder Edward and the younger Alphonse. It is based on Alchemy, by which anything of desire can be created through transmutation. However, it requires something of equal value to be sacrificed.
The series depicted their failed attempt at human transmutation. It showed how the brothers tried to rectify their mistakes while fighting the evils. The genre of this series is mixed like science fiction, drama, fantasy, adventure, action, and comedy.
Fullmetal Alchemist is one of the best-selling manga series and has won several accolades. It is still popular among children and adults alike due to its complex but epic plotline, strong characters, and character development.
Besides that, the historical references, blend of action and comedy, fight sequences, and the science of Alchemy to quest the thirst of curious minds keeps the audience hooked.
The selling point of the series is its character’s portrayal. One of the characters is Alphonse Elric, a young Alchemist in awe of whatever his elder brother does and endeavoring to be as good of an Alchemist as his brother is.
His character became an all-time favorite of the kids, which is evident by the popularity of Al’s merchandise.
Alphonse in the Series
As Alphonse is among the main characters of the series, it would be imperative to give a brief account of the plot to understand him better. Edward (11) and Alphonse (10) Elric lived a regular life with their mother in Resembool.
Their father, Van Hohenheim, a famous Alchemist, left them without any reason shown, and his absence led to their mother’s death. The boys then trained under Izumi Curtis to learn Alchemy.
Later, Edward and Alphonse tried to bring their mother back through human transmutation, which was strictly prohibited and violated the laws of equivalent exchange. As a result of failed transmutation, Edward lost his leg and sacrificed his right arm to retrieve Al’s soul, binding it to a suit of armor.
Ed got an automail arm and leg attached to his body by Winry and Pinako Rockbell, the automail engineers. Elric brothers set their home ablaze, intending to never look back. Ed later became a State Alchemist. He, along with Al, went on an expedition to find the mythical Philosopher stone to get their bodies back.
In Central, The Elrics got attacked by an Ishbalan serial killer known as Scar. They also met Dr. Marcoh there, who told them that the Philosopher stone was created from human souls. They found a laboratory where Stones were formed but were hindered by the Homunculi.
Homunculi are the seven sins personified in the series, such as Wrath, Lust, Gluttony, Envy, Greed, Pride, and Sloth. They are the antagonists, challenging the Elric brothers in their journey. It was later revealed that they were created by “The Dwarf in the Flask” (aka “The Father”) by injecting a Philosopher Stone broken off from His Stone into the body of living beings.
The Elrics then headed north, where they met General Olivier Armstrong. They learned that “The Dwarf in the Flask” founded Amestris to amass enough population to create a massive Philosopher Stone. He wanted to achieve godhood by absorbing the being beyond the Gate of Truth on the Promised Day.
The Elrics and their comrades faced Father in a final battle on the Promised Day. Al’s armor got destroyed during the fight, but he sacrificed his soul to restore Ed’s right arm. “The Father” was defeated by Ed and was dragged into the Gate of Truth. Edward later surrendered his ability to perform alchemy to fully restore Alphonse to his human form.
The whole series revolves around the love between the Elric brothers. Alphonse stood by Ed’s side and protected him no matter what came their way. He was innocent but passionate, forgiving, calm but firm, and loved his brother enough to never blame him for the misery he was living under.
He always worried about how difficult it might have been for Edward to live with an automail arm while himself being trapped in armor. The sole reason why Edward wanted to become a state Alchemist and search for Philosopher Stone was to restore Al’s body into human form.
Characters Who Played a Great Role in Alphonse’s Life
To comprehend the essence of Alphonse Elric’s character in a better way, we must learn about the characters that shaped his life. The following list expands upon these great individuals.
Edward, the “Fullmetal Alchemist,” was the older brother in the series and a prodigy who succeeded in becoming a State Alchemist when he was 12 years old. He was muscular (but small in size, which irritated him the most), witty, and bold. He could see through people what Al’s innocence would not let him see.
In the series, where they were faced by a nurse disguised as a thief, Clara, Al fell into her traps, thinking that her intentions were pure. Ed always knew that she was just a con artist. Ed’s anger at himself for making his brother suffer so much due to his mistake made him arrogant and spiteful.
He hated his father, Hohenheim, and blamed him for his mother’s death. While Al never hated him, he still understood his brother’s reasons to do so. Al loved his brother, and he missed the warmth of his body. The series where he said he cannot even remember what Edward’s touch feels like broke my heart.
Both the brothers had completely different personalities and approaches. But whatever the circumstances were, they were ready to give up their lives for each other in a heartbeat.
In the end, Al returned from the gate of truth when he saw that his human form was weak and would not be able to fight to save his brother’s life. He sacrificed what he always wanted to have, and Ed did the same. This spirit of sacrifice made the Elric brothers come out victorious.
Trisha was Al and Ed’s mother. She loved them to the moon and back but was devastated after her husband, Van Hohenheim, left them out of the blue. The pain of losing her husband affected her health. She treasured seeing her boys performing Alchemy because it reminded her of her lost husband, who was also an Alchemist.
Trisha adored her boys, and when Edward and Alphonse showed a small craft of transmutation to her, she relished them both even though Al’s crafting was not so perfect. She never shared her sorrows with her kids, but they saw the sadness and hollowness in their mother’s eyes.
Trisha hid her illness, and on the day of her death, all Trisha could think of was how her boys would survive in a world full of perils. She had saved all of the money she received from her husband and gave it to her boys.
Alphonse loved her mother to pieces. The thought of having her back and just seeing her smile once again made him cave into Ed’s suggestion of performing human transmutation-a prohibited act with severe consequences.
The Scar was an Ishvalan War survivor who lost all of his family in the Ishvalan Termination Camp. His tattooed arm was an incomplete Philosopher stone with all the souls of dead Ishbalan people in it, transmuted to him by his brother to save his life.
He became a serial killer to avenge the death of his loved ones and became determined to kill all the State Alchemists. In a fight scene, Alphonse confronted Scar about how he considered Alchemy an act of blasphemy but used it himself for killing innocent people like Winry’s parents.
Scar reminded them of the consequences of Alchemy that resulted in Nina and Alexander’s death and how it destroyed Alphonse’s human body, thus making him trapped inside a metal armor.
Scar was against Alchemy and thought of it as a curse but later realized that alchemy is not the enemy. Those who use it for killing innocents are the real criminals. He teamed up with the Elric brothers against the Homunculi and fought Lust and Gluttony.
Scar and Alphonse have a similar story where both of their brothers lost their arms to save them. Scar took the darker path of revenge, while Alphonse didn’t. He was the one who convinced Scar to look beyond the destructive capabilities of Alchemy.
They grew closer, so much that Scar saved his life more than once by transmuting his remaining arm, along with all the powers within it, into Al’s metal armor to protect him. He prayed to God on the Promised day to forgive his transgression and the use of destructive Alchemy.
Born into a family of automail engineers, Winry lived with her grandmother. Her parents were never shown in the series, and it was revealed that they were killed by one of their patients, Scar. She lived next door to Ed and Al’s house, and they grew up together. Both the brothers treated Winry as their family.
In childhood, Alphonse developed a slight crush on Winry, who liked his older brother Ed. Ed and Al used to fight over who will marry Winry. This affection later faded, as Al liked to tease Winry about her love interest. Winry was joyful, kind, empathetic, gracious, hardworking, stubborn, straightforward, and talented in the art of automail engineering.
Ed often called her an engineering otaku, owing to her love for machines and her devotion towards her patients. She loved the Elric brothers and was protective of them. She offered free repairing to Ed’s automail arm and the leg for a lifetime.
When Lin suggested that Alphonse was lucky to be trapped inside an armor as he was immortal now, Winry got mad and left the room. She felt the pain that Alphonse suffered by losing his body. Winry was emotional, forgiving, and compassionate, and she even forgave Scar for killing her parents.
When Alphonse started to doubt his human existence. And wondered whether his human form existed or if Ed just lied about it. Winry scolded him for questioning Ed’s love, and she apprised him that the thing worrying Ed the most was whether Al blamed him for his loss or not.
Van Hohenheim was an extremely powerful and ancient Alchemist and was later revealed to be the estranged father of Edward and Alphonse. His abandonment resulted in Trisha’s ailment and subsequent death, and Edward hated him and blamed him for her death.
It was later revealed that he was 400 years old. Hohenheim was using the power of the Philosopher stone for hundreds of years to switch from body to body to keep himself alive. He had been made immortal by The Father, and he spent his whole life to stop him.
Alphonse Elric never hated Hohenheim. He understood that Hohenheim did not abandon them. However, Hohenheim considered himself a monster for deserting his wife and children, but he had no other choice.
Alphonse met his father again in Reole with Winry. Hohenheim told him about his history with “The Father,” the destruction of Xerxes, and the reasons for himself turning into a Philosopher Stone. While Ed never considered him his father, Al did not hesitate to call him dad when they first met.
Izumi Curtis was a Master Alchemist and skilled martial artist who lived with her husband Sig in Dublith. After the death of their mother, Alphonse and Edward took a plea to Izumi to teach them the alchemical theory and martial arts.
She taught them a lesson by stranding them in a deserted forest for a month, only to be brought back if they learned the meaning of one for all and all for one. It meant that we are all part of a universe, and the whole universe is made from small fragments like us, and nothing exists without the other.
Izumi adored the boys as her children. When she got to know about their transgression, she felt disheartened and removed them from her pupil ship but agreed to treat them as friends and colleagues.
When Ed and Alphonse returned to Izumi for more knowledge on Alchemy, they got to know that Izumi performed human transmutation to bring her stillborn child from the dead. This affected Alphonse deeply, and he grew closer to Izumi.
She was brave, courageous, strong-willed, and had a great wealth of knowledge. Her training profoundly affected Alphonse’s life, and she was the one he respected and feared. She continued to be a source of guidance to the Elric brothers throughout their journey.
Mei Chang, a Xing Princess skilled in the art of Alkahestery, started her journey towards Amestris to learn about the mythical Philosopher stone. She developed a close relationship with the Elric brothers, especially Al.
Mei was kind, intelligent, sweet with impeccable inner strength. She was highly skilled and could manipulate the matter at a distance by creating two transmutation circles, one at her target and the other near herself. Mei also assisted Scar during his travels.
She fell in love with Alphonse, who did not reciprocate her feelings but considered her a good friend and an ally and protected Mei during many battles. Al wanted to learn Alkahestery from Mei, and their relationship grew stronger with time.
Mei was possessive of him, as when she saw Winry come out of his metal armor, she started crying and speculating Winry as his love interest. Mei and Alphonse made a great team and were majorly successful in capturing Envy and delivering weakened Homunculus to Xing.
Mei appeared on the Elric Family photo featuring Ed and Winry with their kids and Alphonse. Implying that their relationship grew over time from being friends to being a part of the family.
Alphonse Elric: The Metal Armor Boy
Being trapped in a metal armor body that almost looks like a robot makes Alphonse the tallest among the other characters (even taller than Major Armstrong).
He looks like a giant in front of his older brother Ed, and people often mistake him for the elder one (the fact that irritated Ed the most). Ed was named the Fullmetal Alchemist because of his metal arm and leg, but the fun part is Al looks more of a Fullmetal than his older brother.
Al’s metal helmet has a big conical thorn attached to its forehead facing forward. A white string of hair comes out of the back of his head that was later cut short. His eyes have a red and white lining, making him look angry at times, which is quite the opposite of his actual demeanor.
The trunk of metal armor consists of a removable triangular breastplate bulging forward and attached to the throat guard and arms.
A lilac-colored and square-shaped cloth covered the groin with circular leather patches above it on the abdomen area. Al’s armor has a red Flamel sign printed on its left arm, denoting him as a pupil of Izumi Curtis, a Flame Alchemist.
The peculiar thing about the metal armor is the conical thorns attached to areas like shoulders and feet, with three on each of them. A skin-colored weapon holster is attached to Al’s right thigh, while leather gloves are on both of his hands. Al is believed to be almost 5’10 to 5’11 feet tall at the end of the series.
Al’s appearance before the incident was quite similar to his elder brother. He had round eyes with golden blonde hair parted to the side. In the 2003 anime, his eyes and hair appeared darker in color, showing his resemblance to his mother, Trisha. He was always taller than Ed, even when they were younger.
Alphonse Elric, a protagonist of the series, is kind, calm, compassionate, supportive, devoted, and affectionate. He has great inner strength and never lets his anger blur his judgment, unlike his brother.
Al loves people around him and protects them even at the cost of his own life, especially Ed. Al is selfless and patient, even towards his enemies, like Scar. Al has childlike purity in him, even though he lost his childhood just at the age of 10 by being trapped into metal armor. His mental growth stunted, but he never lost the tenderness of his heart, even in a metal body.
Despite being the younger one, Al is more mature than Ed and acts as a pacifying factor in his life. The best part about Al is his forgiving nature. He never blames anyone for the tragedies and sufferings in his life.
It’s inhuman to have all the good qualities. Right? The same was the case with Al. He had his insecurities, weaknesses, and moments of doubt and hopelessness owing to his dark past. He doubted his existence and memories. For a moment, he even thought that he never existed in real life, and all the stories of his childhood were made-up lies by his brother.
When he realized that doubts regarding his brother’s intentions hurt him, he felt deeply remorseful. He carried the burden of blaming himself for the pain Ed had to suffer. The sole reason he wanted to be an Alchemist was to bring his brother back to his original form.
Al never liked being a giant and heavy and hated it when people treated him as an adult or when small children got scared of his metal armor. By heart and soul, he was still a child. Ed craved human touch and warmth. He told his brother that he could not even remember what his touch felt like. It was this craving that led to his fondness for small cats.
Al lamented the long nights of solitude and restlessness. He also regretted the fact that he could not eat any food. He missed it so much, and the first thing he wanted to eat after coming back to normal was Winry’s apple pies. The Elric brothers are fond of science. When Ed became a State Alchemist, he got access to a central library with millions of books on Alchemy. Al benefitted a lot from him and all his privileges.
Al has great inner strength and beliefs. When Scar asked him how he still sides with Alchemy when it has brought nothing but a curse on him, Al replied that his metal armor is merely a hindrance but not a curse. He never lets the hardships take over his virtue and naiveness.
Skilled Combatant/Physical Strength
Al is a trained martial artist and a highly skilled combatant. The tough training that he has undergone in the pupil ship of Izumi made him physically as well as mentally strong. Although his metal body gives him an advantage over his opponents, the combat techniques are credited to his hard work.
He has unwavering stamina and immunity against extreme weather conditions and other physical vulnerabilities. His impregnable metal body protects him from several attacks, and the lack of need for sleep makes him warier. Al’s fight sequences are a treat for action enthusiasts. And his fight sequence with Greed is nothing short of epic.
Al is particularly a skilled and competent Alchemist. His transmutations are clean, quick, and detailed. In the beginning, he draws transmutation circles to perform transmutations. However, he gets over it when he retrieves his memories, which were suppressed after passing the Gate of Truth.
His style of Alchemy is rather conventional, unlike his brother, who uses quick-witted techniques to outsmart his opponents. Al can even transmute without touching the matter- a feat rare for many other Alchemists.
In the manga series, it is shown that he can split his soul into pieces and use objects as golems, mainly to see things from their perspectives. However, his abilities and strengths alter in the manga and animated series due to their diverging plotlines.
Why I Love Alphonse Elric!
Alphonse was undisputedly my favorite character from the series. He had an aura that no one else matched, not even Ed. In my opinion, Al was the one who suffered the most throughout the series, yet still the most forgiving one. Even though he was trapped in metal armor, he was still worried about getting his brother’s arm and leg back.
Not for a second did Al blame his brother. He was sensitive and felt things no one else could but had never outright spoken about them. Al did not share his despair with anyone, and he did not like his vulnerabilities being on display.
Perhaps, Al didn’t want people to feel sorry for him, and he was just the most selfless person in the series. Either way, he was a great brother, a compassionate and protective friend, and, ironically, a caring foe as well.
The scene that broke my heart was when Ed and Al were having a conversation after finding out about the fate of Nina in the series. Her father used her body to form a Chimera to understand human language. Al felt so powerless and insignificant for not being able to save her.
When Ed faced ‘Barry the Chopper’ after he captured Winry, he got almost defeated, and when he was saved by Al and Armstrong, the fear in his eyes shattered Al’s heart. The thought of losing his brother made him angry, and he rebuked his brother for his willingness to die. The scene gave me goosebumps, and the dread in Al’s eyes was something out of the world.
I always believed that Al did not want to be an Alchemist. He did everything to support his brother and bring his body back to normal. Al went on a journey to become a State Alchemist to get close to his brother. He protected him in every way he could and beyond.
Al was hesitant to perform human transmutation, and he was a by-the-rules person. It was not that Al did not love his mother or want her back, and it was just that he was afraid of losing his brother as well.
Al caved in just because he loved his brother so much that he was ready to do anything for him. Al thought so highly of Ed that he could not even stand up to him. Not that he was afraid of Ed, it was just that he revered him way too much.
Trivia and Fun Facts
Do You Know Elric Brothers and Homunculi Were Cousins?
It might sound absurd, but yes! They were. “The Father” was the first Homunculus, and he was created with the help of Van Hohenheim, who gave his blood. In the series, he actually looked like him.
Do You Know About the Connection Between Fullmetal Alchemist and WWII?
It might be surprising for you, but the Ishvalan war reference used in the series is based on the Ainu people and their wars with Wajin (ethnic Japanese). The Fullmetal Alchemist is set in the twentieth century, and the Ametris is based on Germany in WWII. The Military weapons used by German soldiers are shown to be used by the characters in the series.
Have You Ever Wondered why Ed’s Character Was So Short?
Edward was often called a pipsqueak (a word he hated the most), and it was a recurring joke in the series. Still, the reason for him being so small was believed to be that his energies were being used to keep Alphonse’s soul attached to the armor.
Do You Know that Alphonse Could Actually Let People Inside his Armor?
We all know by now that Al’s armor was hollow from the inside. But he could also let other people get inside him. It was believed that he only let women and cats enter his armor with only a few exceptions (such as Mei’s pet panda, which he thought of to be a cat).
Do You Remember Al Laughing During the Comedic Scenes?
Well, his metal helmet did show emotions. But it was not always like this in the manga. The writer initially did not draw his face to show any emotion. They were later added in Chapter 4 of the series.
Question: Was Alphonse a State Alchemist?
Answer: No, Alphonse was not a State Alchemist. He wanted to become one and even passed the written examination. Still, Al could not pass the physical test without everyone knowing his secret. He wanted to become a state Alchemist to bring his brother’s arm and leg back, but mainly to stay close to him.
Question: Who was Al’s Character Inspiration?
Answer: It is believed that Al’s character inspiration has been the Nonexistent Knight by Italo Calvino. Their physical appearance and personal characteristics are very similar to each other.
Question: Did Mei and Alphonse Get Married?
Answer: It is not clearly shown whether they got married or not. Although in the final episode, a frame of the Elric family is shown featuring Edward and Winry with their two children, alongside Al and Mei. Implying that their relationship did grow more than just being friends.
Question: Was Al Able to Perform Alchemy Without a Transmutation Circle?
Answer: At the beginning of the series, Alphonse needed to draw a transmutation circle to perform alchemy. For instance, when he pulled one to escape the Greed’s clutches.
But later, after getting his memories awakened that was suppressed after he entered the “Gate of Truth,” he remembered that he too could perform alchemy without the transmutation circles.
Question: Did Alphonse Defeat The Father?
Answer: Although he battled alongside his brother on the Promised day against “The Father,” he was not the one who killed him, and it was Edward who did it.
Alphonse Elric Character Guide: Final Thoughts!
Alphonse’s character was definitely the most well-written and beautifully executed among all. The depth he carried, the life lessons he taught, and the innocence he showed made him a favorite of children and adults alike. The way he showed compassion and love for his brother, the spirit of sacrifice and forgiveness that he had, made him almost sound like an angel.
He had his weaknesses, but the way he handled them was remarkable. His character was not standing alone, and he influenced people’s lives around him. The way he always stood by his brother’s side and made him a better human, the way he cared for Winry and Mei, and the way he made Scar choose the right side made him a salient part of their lives.
He was the star of the series. Al’s journey was full of hardships and difficulties. But he came out victorious, and even in his moments of victory, he was ready to give up everything for his brother. The best part was that he never lost hope and courage.
He evolved from a small boy to a warrior who fought for what he believed in with strength and vigor. He was a great Alchemist and a highly skilled combatant with praise-worthy physical strength. All these character traits, along with his fascinating metal armor, made him one of the best characters ever existed.