Review and Synopsis by Anime Girl

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood and Strong Female Leads Review By Anime Girl

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood takes the Law of Conservation of Mass and makes it into an exciting adventure. For those who don’t know what that law is, you can refer back to the way Brotherhood explains it with what they call the Law of Equivalent Exchange: “In order for something to be obtained, something of equal value must be lost.”

Alchemy is the practice of breaking something down into its molecular components and then rearranging those particles into something else of equal mass. For people in the past, this was incredibly tempting when they thought they would be able to make gold from other metal materials. For the two young brothers in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, however, their motives are entirely different.

Edward and Alphonse Elric attempt human transmutation, which is the one forbidden act of alchemy. They do this in the hopes of bringing back their dead mother, but they pay a horrible price for breaking the rule. Edward loses his left leg and right arm, while Alphonse loses his entire physical body. His soul is affixed to a suit of armor instead.

In the hopes of returning to their original bodies, Edward obtains metal limbs to replace the ones he’s lost. These metal limbs are called ‘automail.’ Luckily, perhaps, Edward now has the ability to perform alchemy with a clap of his hands rather than drawing an alchemy symbol. This, coupled with their undying will to return to their original bodies, propels him to become a Fullmetal Alchemist.

After years of searching, the brothers turn their attention to something called the Philosopher’s Stone. This Stone is an ancient relic that would allow any alchemist to overcome the Law of Equivalent Exchange. Through their journeys, they create military allies and find themselves in the grips of an international conspiracy. Not only is this conspiracy shrouding the truth of the Philosopher’s Stone, but it’s also concealing the dark history of their country.

Between racing against time to find the Stone, finding serial killers, and uncovering dark, once forgotten secrets, the brothers begin to question if what they find will actually turn them human again or if it would rob them of their humanity entirely.

About Hiromu Arakawa, the Author

Hiromi Arakawa goes by her pen name, Hiromu Arakawa. Her genius is what lies behind both Fullmetal Alchemist and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. The latter was based on the manga that she created and became wildly popular as the series we know today. She used the male pen name to publish all her works to make them ambiguous and bring a broader audience. In Fullmetal Alchemist, she has created a steampunk-like world that plays with themes like racism, war, genocide, and the link between knowledge and power. Another topic she broached with her work in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood are strong, real female characters. She approaches all of these subjects with a darker side of story-telling that makes the piece unique and realistic for its audience and in a humorous way that helps to soften the blow of sometimes hard to digest material.

Amestris and its Female Characters

The world of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood takes place in the country called Amestris. Perhaps by no accident, Amestris comes from the Greek word ‘Amastris,’ which means strong woman. One aspect of the female characters in this series is how they are so human.

All of the characters within Fullmetal Alchemist and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood are strong characters. When it comes to a male character, this usually doesn’t have to be said or demonstrated. We believe that a male character is inherently strong; otherwise, why else would they be the main character. However, this doesn’t translate to female characters.

When a female character is considered strong, that is usually what defines them as people; a strong woman. What makes Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood so unique is that the female characters are well-rounded, strong leads. Their strength doesn’t define them, and they are allowed to show their weaknesses. I’d like to point out that it’s not your classic female weakness either that is often depicted in other animes, movies, and books.

At no point does a woman’s strength take away from her femininity in this series, which is another unique point that Arakawa makes. Arakawa does a tremendous job of allowing all of her characters to be human, above anything else, in both series. The female characters in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood don’t have to punch people in the face to be considered strong and full characters.

Additionally, they aren’t a side piece or a jumping-off point for the male character’s development. The women in this series are individuals with their own goals and missions. When considering which characters to highlight, there were almost too many to name, which is a testament to Arakawa’s fantastic job when creating Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. The following female characters are the ones that have stood out the most to not only myself but also to other female fans who have fallen in love with the powerful female characters in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood.

Olivier Mira Armstrong

Olivier is the woman in charge of Briggs’ Fortress. Brigg’s Fortress’s primary function is to protect the country Amestris from any invasions from their neighboring country, Drachma. Interestingly enough, Drachma or drachmae is the currency that was used in Greece. Anyway, Arakawa completely turns female stereotypes on its head when she created Olivier Mira Armstrong.

Being as she is in charge of this Fortress, she doesn’t have time to make put up and show and to entertain others with good graces and gestures. She rules with an iron fist and is blunt and to the point. What’s really remarkable about her is that she maintains a sense of justice and what is right and wrong, something that isn’t always present when there is a character who would be described as ruling with an iron fist.

When Arakawa made her younger brother, Alex Louis Armstrong, she made him a bit of a softy, which makes Olivier stand out even more.

May Chang

May Chang is the feminine character of the year for me. She is the 17th princess from the neighboring country Xing. She comes to Armestris to find out the secret of immortality to secure her throne in Xing. It is during these travels that she joins Edward and Alphonse.

What makes May’s character stand out so much is that she is relatively young compared to the other characters. She is small, spunky, and gifted in Xing’s version of Alchemy called Alkehestry. While this character may look and act like a young girl, she isn’t defined by these qualities. She isn’t forced to be more mature for her age, like other female characters in this kind of plotline, and she also isn’t depicted as a small, weak little girl.

She’s tough, holds her own, and is a brave fighter. But just because she’s tough and driven by her mission doesn’t mean that that’s all she is. She wears pink and has an animal sidekick that follows her on her journeys. May also develops crushes on both Edward and Alphonse at different times throughout the series. Still, it never takes away from her character, personality, or character plot development.

I appreciate how Arakawa allowed for a girly character to be strong while also being her own age.

Riza Hawkeye

True to her name, Riza is a sharpshooter. In fact, she is the confidante and personal assistant to Colonel Roy Mustang, one of Edward and Alphonse’s characters during their journeys. She has a gift with firearms in general and is a very talented sniper. I appreciate this character because while she is loyal to Colonel Mustang, she isn’t blinded by him the way that some female characters are depicted. She calls him out when she needs to and maintains her own beliefs, making her a strong woman, friend, and character.

Izumi Curtis

Izumi Curtis is the prime example of how awesome a woman can be. She is one of the greatest alchemists in the series but often calls herself a simple housewife. This makes it all the more rewarding when she shows how strong her powers are. Arakawa found a way to make the perfect blend of masculine and feminine in this character by giving her such gifts and calling herself a housewife.

There are a lot of dualities locked up in Izumi. She is firm and caring. Strong and tender. Weak and strong. She even has regrets, which isn’t often given to female characters apart from not fulfilling a more stereotypical role. All around, Izumi is a well rounded, strong character who Edward and Alphonse owe so much to and wouldn’t be the same without.

Winry Rockbell

It would have been really easy for Arakawa to make Winry the main love interest. In doing so, Winry’s character would’ve been lost like countless other love interests, only there to serve the single purpose, but Arakawa doesn’t let this happen. Winry’s character shines through in a way that the others don’t. Winry doesn’t have any military training or alchemy skills, but she is still an important character in the series.

After growing up as Edwards’ and Alphonses’ neighbor and childhood friend, she maintains a close relationship with the brothers as the series progresses. She provides them with vital emotional support while also being emotionally vulnerable after losing both of her parents in the war with Ishbalan.

On top of all that, this woman is an engineer! She is the person who made the “automail” that Edward’s lost arm and leg have been replaced with. She also helps to maintain the pieces as the series continues.

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood in Conclusion

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood holds true to the manga books that it’s based on. While the story is engaging and can draw you in, the characters are prime examples of strong females and good storytelling, and talented character development. Without these women, Edward and Alphonse wouldn’t’ be where they ended u without their invaluable support.

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