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Fullmetal Alchemist is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Hiromu Arakawa. It was firstly published in Square Enix’s Monthly Shonen Gangan manga anthology magazine from 2001 to 2010. Later it was adapted into two anime television series, two animated films, and one live-action movie.
The first anime series, titled Fullmetal Alchemist, co-produced by Bones and Aniplex, was broadcasted from 2003 to 2004, while Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, the second series, aired from 2009 to 2011.
The series is set in the fictional country of Amestris during Europe’s Industrial Revolution/Post WWII era. One of the most fascinating things that can be noticed by every Fullmetal Alchemist lover is that it depicts the atrocities and after-effects of the war.
Being an action-packed thriller with drama, unexpected plot twists, and glimmers of comedy, the Fullmetal Alchemist series is one of my favorite animes. This series is no less than a dark tragedy with aspects like brotherhood, companionship, devotion, vindication, political greed, sacrifice, loyalty, power, and its abuses, conflict, justice, and injustice lying at its core.
This series stands out because of the incredible and accurate political referencing and well-thought-out, realistic characters. In addition, each character has its own background story and development.
One of the most intriguing aspects of this series is the depiction of powerful, strong-willed, and admirable female protagonists. One such woman, Riza Hawkeye, a lieutenant in the military, a firearm specialist and sharpshooter, a loyal and devoted friend with unmatched physical and mental strength, became the favorite of young girls and boys alike.
Characters That Were Closest to Riza Hawkeye
To understand Riza better, let’s look at the characters she shared an unbreakable bond with that impacted her life and actions.
Berthold Hawkeye, a Master Alchemist expert in Flame Alchemy, was the estranged father of Riza Hawkeye. Despite his meager income, he provided good education to her.
He played the role of a cold and distant father who was always absorbed in his work. They did not converse much, but she always worried for him and his health. She called him a madman, from whom she was afraid and felt no emotional connection. Berthold tattooed his secrets and research work of Flame Alchemy on his daughter’s back.
Riza loathed him for it and even asked Roy to scribble it off from her back to prevent more men from madness. It was not that she did not believe in Flame alchemy to be an asset for mankind; it was just that she was afraid of the destruction it could cause. His death left her shaken, but she did not shed any tears during his funeral.
Roy Mustang, a Colonel in the Amestrian military and a superior of Riza Hawkeye, was one of the people she shared the most significant relationship with. Riza was his adjutant and Bodyguard and served as his closest and most supportive subordinate. She was a valuable asset to him both in-office and on the battlefield.
Riza shared a bond of friendship, loyalty, respect, devotion, and trust with Roy. She was his confidant. They first met when he was an apprentice under her father, Mr. Berthold Hawkeye.
Upon her father’s death, Roy shared his dream of saving and protecting the people of Amestris with her. She entrusted him with the Flame alchemy secrets tattooed on her back by her father, hoping he would take the knowledge and fulfill his dream.
Roy deciphered the codes, passed the State Alchemist qualification test, and began his military career. After the Ishvalan war, Roy positioned her as his subordinate. He gave her the right and responsibility to protect him from harm and shoot him from the back if he ever strayed off the correct path.
Winry once asked Riza why she had joined the army, to which she replied that she had someone to protect and that someone was no other than Roy. She was very protective of him and followed him in every battle he fought. She was his secret keeper, and she was the one he shared his weak moments and vulnerabilities with.
They both cared deeply for each other and were often referred to as their weaknesses. Even King Bradley once said that he could get to Mustang only through her. He used her as a hostage to ensure Roy’s “good behavior.” Roy was even ready to perform human transmutation to save Riza on the Promised Day.
The mere thought of Roy being killed by Lust brought Riza to her knees. It was the only time she felt that she had lost. She cried, lost her stoic demeanor, and started shooting her blindly. The fear and agony in her eyes were beyond describable. They protected each other, even going so far as to risk their lives for that. Roy saved her from Gluttony, Lust, Envy, among many others, and Riza did the same.
Riza was the one who kept reminding Roy of his path and never let him stray. They both acted as each other’s reminders to never lose faith in their cause. Riza was undoubtedly the person Roy cared about. He referred to his subordinates as his chess pieces, and he was his “Queen.” They loved each other, and their love didn’t require a formal title.
The Elric Brothers
Edward and Alphonse shared a beautiful bond of respect, trust, and loyalty with Riza Hawkeye. She accompanied Roy Mustang to Resembool, where he went on a quest for State Alchemists and encountered Ed and Alphonse. Riza ensured their friend Winry that the boys would not be forced to join the military.
Riza felt sorry for them and what they had been through, and she believed in what they did and why they did it. She was always kind towards them, cared for them, believed in them, and protected them on the battlefield.
Riza was one of the people who always supported Elrics in their journey for redemption. The Elrics also admired her and respected her. In a fight scene with Lust, Alphonse protects the grieved Riza (who was in agony after hearing about the death of Roy at the hands of Lust) from Lust’s attack.
Riza, in return, after losing the courage, asked Alphonse to run away for his life and leave her behind. However, Alphonse refused, and they fought Lust together.
When fighting Gluttony, Riza had to flee the battlefield with Roy. Still, she gave her military gun to Ed and asked him to use it against Gluttony. Ed hesitated, calling it a weapon for killing people. Riza insisted and told him that it was a weapon for protection and he should use it accordingly. Similarly, she helped Elrics lure out Scar and homunculus.
She always trusted Edward. They had a deep and thorough discussion on life and death when she was transferred to Central, and she shared her view of the Ishvalan war, her dreams, passion, and guilts with him. Riza cheered for the Elrics when they emerged victorious on the Promised Day.
Rebecca, an outgoing, smart-mouthed woman with a quirky sense of humor, was Riza’s best friend. They met during their military training days in the military academy and remained in contact after graduation. She was the opposite of Riza and often used to make jokes about Riza working for a famous “womanizer.”
She kept teasing relatively-rigid Riza about men and asked her persistently to get married. Riza’s sharp and acidic sense of humor was displayed whenever she was with Rebecca. They supported each other and were always ready to provide aid whenever in need.
Riza Hawkeye, the “Queen”!
Riza is a pale-skinned woman with brown eyes and mid-length blonde hair fastened up in the back by a clip barrette. Her bangs fall in a hawk’s wing pattern from right to left that partially obscures her left eye. She is in her mid to late twenties.
Due to her military training, she has a muscular and tall (approximately 163 cm) physique with broad shoulders. She has her ears pierced with a silver stud in each of them. She usually wears faux glasses while disguising herself.
Riza has a sizeable ornate tattoo covering her whole back, with some parts of it being obscured by burn scars. Riza is primarily seen in her military uniform with a black, short-sleeved turtle neck underneath. It is believed that she did it to cover the Flame Alchemy tattoo on her back.
When out of her uniform, she is seen wearing the same black turtle neck with long skirts and boots with her hair down. She kept her hair short in her youth and during her tenure in Ishval, but she started keeping them long after being inspired by Winry Rockbell. In the end, she was again seen in her hair cut short.
Riza Hawkeye, a lieutenant in the Amestrian military and the carrier of secrets of Flame Alchemy, was a woman of strength, vigor, and courage. She lost her mother at a young age and spent most of her childhood alone with her workaholic father.
Her loneliness left a profound effect on her personality. Her apparently cold and rigid “no-nonsense” demeanor reflected how she spent her early days. She remained quiet and sober most of the time, with a highly professional attitude. She understood people and the way they acted. She empathized with the people who carried the burdens of their past.
She spoke less but always spoke the words of wisdom. She revealed most of her thoughts through non-verbal communication, with trademark sharp looks and rare subtle smiles.
Riza believed in Roy and entrusted him with the Flame Alchemy secrets. She was a great friend who supported him and even stopped him from straying away from the righteous path, and she did not let him go down the path of vengeance.
Riza joined the military and took part in the Ishvalan war. Her excellent performance in the military academy earned her great respect and fame. She met Roy and Hughes in Ishval and shared her disbelief and disappointment in the military and Alchemy.
The atrocities committed by the Amestrian army shattered her, and she had tremendous guilt and regretted the countless lives that she had taken. She was furious at herself for choosing this path. Despite her love for Roy, she even had a thought to kill Roy for the destruction his Flame Alchemy was causing.
Her heart ached for the lives she had taken. She built a small grave for the Ishvalan child and cried over it. This showed how much softness her heart had. She took responsibility for her actions rather than blaming others for them.
She knew she would have to make sacrifices and dirty her hands with blood to fulfill the dream she and Roy shared together. Finally, she asked Roy to burn the sigil off her back to not let more men choose the path towards madness.
Riza was humble and courteous, and she treated people around her with respect. Her softer side is apparent through her interactions with younger characters like Edward, Alphonse, and Winry, to whom she was gentle and cared deeply for them.
Riza’s physical and mental strength and her loyalty were her best qualities. She was determined and never lost hope. She never left the battlefield and fought in the front rows. She battled Gluttony, Envy, Lust, and the Father, and she never backed off for a second.
Riza was intelligent and sharp-minded. Her presence of mind had solved many riddles. For example, she produced a map of the underground tunnel while she was blindfolded, just by counting the steps. She predicted the condition of Scar by just looking at his shirt. She was the first one who realized that homunculi were something non-human.
Riza’s persona and skills were so impressive that a serial killer like Barry the Chopper was swooned by her and did not resist the arrest. Her coded conversations with Roy helped him uncover several mysteries, like Selim being the homunculus.
Riza was selfless, ready to give up her life to protect her loved ones. When ambushed by Gluttony, Roy came to her rescue, and she scolded him for showing his identity to the enemies.
She thanked him later but was angry at him for risking his life for her. Riza attended Roy and Havoc day and night without any rest when they were in the hospital.
She was empathetic and helpful. She rescued injured Lan Fan and took her to a safe hideout when she was on the run. She could not refuse when Lin begged her to protect his Bodyguard. She believed Maria Ross’s innocence and helped Roy make Maria flee the prison.
Riza was dutiful and responsible. She refused to abandon Roy or anyone on the battlefield, even if that meant refusing orders from the commanding officer. She was always on time and rarely took day-offs for herself.
Riza was a firm believer in a better future. She was ready to sacrifice anything to help Roy reach the position of Fuhrer. She told Ed about her and Roy’s commitment to bring peace and democracy in Amestris even though it put their own lives at stake.
Riza did not resign from the military after the Ishvalan war because she believed in Roy and the use of power and alchemy for people’s good. Later, Riza deserted the army to help Roy start a coup d’etat against the government and military high command. She was with him till the very end.
A Military Combatant
Riza was known as the Hawk’s eye of the Ishval war for her excellent sharpshooting skills. She was an officer in the Amestrian military. She was famous for never losing her marks and was a highly skilled snipper.
She used bolt-action rifles, sniper rifles, pistols and was even an expert in shooting with two handguns at once. In addition, she was also highly skilled in military combat tactics and covert operations. She was highly professional and hardworking and was known for never taking day-offs whenever a critical Operation came down her way.
She could disassemble, clean, and reassemble standard-issue firearms in record time. Her physical combat skills were excellent, and she never hesitated to throw hands whenever needed. Riza often maintained a calm and stoic posture whenever in battle. Her action sequences were definitely a treat to watch.
Riza had high-level administrative and secretarial skills such as keeping subordinates in line and organizing and filling out paperwork. In addition, she owned and maintained records and assigned work to associates daily.
Riza and Roy’s Face-Off With Envy!
The scene of Roy and Riza battling Envy was a perfect description of Riza’s strength, courage, love, and care for Roy. It depicted their relationship to the finest.
They faced Envy on the Promised day in tunnel 3. Envy revealed that he was the one who killed Mae Hughes, setting Mustang’s hatred going. Mustang attacked Envy mercilessly with back-to-back fire shots, and Riza followed him.
To confuse Riza, Envy disguised himself as Roy. However, Riza’s presence of mind came in handy, and she sensed that he was not the actual Roy.
She pointed her gun at him to uncover his identity, saying that Roy used to call her Riza whenever they were alone. Envy fell for it and showed his real identity, and Riza revealed that she lied. They fought, but Envy got the upper hand and almost killed Riza.
However, Mustang came just in time and saved Riza. He attacked Envy with full strength, and his Flame Alchemy power and vengeance were indeed on display. He almost killed Envy.
Just as he was about to give the final blow, Riza stooped him and pointed a gun at his back, asking him to stop. She begged Mustang to seek approval saying that she could kill Envy herself and not let him go down the path of vengeance.
Mustang answered that she could kill him if she felt like it, but what would she do after he died. Riza replied that she had no intention of living a carefree, happy life alone.
She would kill herself, too, thus removing the traces of Flame Alchemy that only brought Alchemy. Roy ceased and sorrowfully stated that he would not lose Riza and apologized for causing her pain.
The Promised Day
Roy was forced to perform human transmutation on the Promised Day. Riza’s throat was slit, and ‘Doctor’ offered Roy that he would heal her with Philosopher stone only if he would open the Gate of Truth. Being devastated by seeing Riza in such a state, Roy complied but was signaled by Riza not to do so.
However, Roy was later forced to do it, losing his eyesight. Nevertheless, he did not lose courage and asked Riza to fight beside him. She became his eyes by guiding him while aiming and alerting him against the father’s counter-attacks.
Why I Admire Riza Hawkeye
Riza Hawkeye was undoubtedly one of the best female protagonists in the Fullmetal Alchemist series. She stood at par with the heroes, and her strength and capabilities were nothing short of heroic. In addition, she was kind, caring, and loving with an awake conscience.
I loved Riza as a friend. She was not someone who followed Roy blindly and supported him in everything he did. On the contrary, she was his mirror and voice of reason.
She showed him the reality and stopped him whenever she felt he was swaying from his path. She supported him with her heart but stood up before him whenever he was about to lose his way. What else do we need from a friend?
I admired Riza for her military skills. She was a great marksman and was very attentive. Her reason for being the sniper was quite interesting. She liked guns because that way, she did not have to come in contact with her victims. Her reason was a transparent one.
She did not run away from her duty, but her soft heart could not bear to look into the eyes of the people she killed. She lamented her participation in the Ishvalan war and cried for the lives she took. A great soldier with a woke conscience was what made Riza.
I loved how Arakawa portrayed women in the series. She wrote them to almost perfection, each having its own abilities and storyline. The depth she added to Riza’s character was phenomenal.
With every hero of the series, a woman grounded them, supported them, and backed them up. She was to Roy what Winry was to Ed. Riza became a role model for young women due to her intelligence, well-respected profession, attentiveness, kindness, vulnerability, and whatnot. She was everything a young girl could aspire to be.
Trivia and Fun Facts
Do You Know the Meaning Riza’s Name Holds?
One of the meanings of Riza’s name is “Guardian.” It is a Hungarian version of Thereza or Theresa. It suited her perfectly. She was a guardian of her father’s secret through the tattoo on her back and the guardian of Roy Mustang and his alchemy.
She never allowed him to stray from his path to becoming the Fuhrer and use the Flame Alchemy for anything but safety and people’s good. She protected him and stood by his side, just as a guardian would.
Do You Know that Riza’s Name Had a Military Origin, Just Like Other Military Personnel in the Series?
Nearly all military personnel in Fullmetal Alchemist were named after a military vehicle, vessel, or weapon, and Riza was no exception.
Her surname was referenced to the Grumman E-2 Hawkeye, carrier-based tactical Airborne Early Warning (AEW) aircraft used by the US navy. Hawkeye meant “particularly observant, especially to small details or having an excellent vision in general.”
Do You Know How Winry Rockbell Inspired Riza’s Style?
After being transferred to Central, Riza started to keep her hair long and open. She once revealed to her friend Rebecca Catalina that she let her hair grow after meeting Winry in Resembool, realizing that it might look good on her. However, in the series epilogue, she could be seen with her hair cut short again.
Do You Remember the Code Names Roy Used for Riza?
Roy used to refer to his subordinates as chess pieces. Riza was his “Queen,” which he often called her. The Queen is undoubtedly the most powerful and valuable piece in chess (the only “female” one). With Roy being the “King,” the Queen was, undoubtedly, what Riza was.
Her battle ability was unmatched, and she was the closest to Roy. The Queen is also called the “counselor,” depicting Riza’s role as Roy’s adjutant and conscience. Other codenames given to her by Roy were Elizabeth and Mrgott Orange Peko.
Do You Know Why Riza Preferred Using a Gun as a Weapon?
Riza was not a killer. Nevertheless, killing people distressed her, and her acts during the Ishvalan war haunted her. She was a sharpshooter, a firearm specialist, and a perfect marksman.
She once mentioned to Roy that she liked using a gun because, unlike swords and knives, one doesn’t have to feel their victim die. She grieved the Ishvalan she killed in the line of duty.
Question: Did Riza and Roy Get Married?
Answer: Although the romantic relationship of Riza and Roy was highly implied throughout the series, they did not marry. Furthermore, they never confessed their love for each other, but it was pretty evident that they had feelings.
Riza stood next to Roy (now promoted as General in the Amestrian army). Therefore, It is depicted that she still remained by his side as his personal adjutant and Bodyguard.
Question: Was Riza Hawkeye an Alchemist?
Answer: No, she was not. Although Riza was a well-trained and highly skilled military combatant with excellent sharpshooting skills and a firearm specialist, she was one of the protagonists, not the Alchemists.
She carried the secrets to Flame Alchemy on her back (thanks to her dad), but she never learned the science of Alchemy herself.
Question: Who Actually was Riza’s Father?
Answer: Berthold Hawkeye, a brilliant Master Alchemist, aiming at perfecting and postulating complex theorems applied to Flame Alchemy, was the father of Riza Hawkeye. He mentored Roy Mustang. Berthold was the son-in-law of General Grumman, the head of Eastern command (and a superior of Roy Mustang).
Question: Did Riza Die in Fullmetal Alchemist?
Answer: No, she did not. Edward and other protagonists defeated The Father on Promised Day. General Grumman became the Fuhrer, and Roy Mustang was promoted to the rank of General in the Amestrian military, with Riza retaining her position as his adjutant and Bodyguard.
Question: Did Riza Kill Envy?
Answer: No, she did not. A thrilling battle involving Riza and Roy against Envy took place on Promised Day. Roy took down Envy, nearly killing him.
But, just as he was about to give the final blow, Riza stopped him, saying that she would not allow him to go down the path of revenge and madness. She also said that she would shoot him for killing the already defeated Envy. However, Envy committed suicide in the end.
Riza Hawkeye FMA Guide: Conclusion
Riza Hawkeye, a loyal, trusted, caring, and honest character with unmatched mental and physical strength and intelligence, was among the best female protagonists ever.
The way Hiromu Arakawa portrayed her female characters is incredible and praise-worthy. She made them as vital and as relevant as the heroes of the series. They had their own specific stories and their own role, and Riza was no exception.
The best thing about Riza was her determination, honesty, and dedication towards her duty. She was devoted to her friends, and she never failed to protect them in case of need. The way she stood by Roy through thick and thin and never, for even a second, doubted his capabilities and strength is nothing but beautiful.
She believed in him when no one else did. She pushed him, motivated him, and held him up whenever he fell. Roy could not have asked for a more trustworthy and dependable friend and sub-ordinate.
Riza was a treat to watch in action scenes. Her sharp-shooting skills and presence of mind on the battlefield were commendable. She was generally calm and had a stoic demeanor, but get on her wrong side, and you are in for a beat-up.
Riza was undoubtedly among the best-written and perfectly executed female characters of the Fullmetal Alchemist manga. No wonder her exceptional qualities and impressive persona made her the favorite of young girls and boys alike.