There’s no doubt that Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood is a well loved and popular anime title. The number of mentions on best anime of all time lists, it’s most favourited status on MAL, and the sheer number of fan arts and fan fictions about the characters speak volumes of how the fan base loves this particular work. And there are plenty of good reasons to love it. Really great story that is given sufficient episodes to really develop, rising action that really drives toward a climax, a great main and supporting cast and even fairly solid villains, not to mention the heart and humour the anime brings to its tale. However, this isn’t going to be a review of FMA Brotherhood, but rather taking a look at 3 life lessons you can learn from watching the diminutive alchemist and his bound-to-a-suit-of-armour younger brother.
Lesson 1: Someone who shares the same goals as you is not necessarily your friend.
This one should be self-explanatory but sometimes it is almost as though people crave someone who understand them so much that they overlook this point. Throughout the course of the story, Edward and Alphonse run into many a character who is seeking a philosopher’s stone and their motives are wide ranging as are their uses for the incomplete stones they come across. In the case of Full Metal Alchemist, the brothers can almost assume that anyone sharing a similar goal as them is probably up to no good and will become a hindrance sooner rather than later.
At the same time, the brothers cannot complete this journey on their own. They need those who support their goal but may not necessarily share it to assist them on their way. And that’s the important lesson here.
Winry may not ever want to be an alchemist and she personally has no desire to possess a stone, but she does understand what drives Ed and Al and she supports them with everything she has. Her goal is not the same, but it complements what the brothers wish to achieve which makes Winry invaluable in more ways than one.
While finding someone who does share the same goal can be great, just because someone doesn’t necessarily want the same thing as you doesn’t mean they can’t understand what is driving you. This comes through incredibly clearly throughout Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood.
Lesson 2: A government that can manipulate the information provided to its people cannot be trusted not to become corrupted.
As much as I try not to get political on my blog, Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood, through its fictional institutions but based on fairly familiar government structures, manages to make some fairly good points about political power and corruption.While it gives no actual solutions to the points it raises, it becomes quite clear that Amestris as a country is rife with corruption with those in the inner circle benefiting while those on the outside simply become fodder for the machine.
A large part of the issue is that the government controlled all the records and there did not appear to be much in the way of independent reporting of events going on. With both the war in the past and the ongoing events in the story, cover-ups and lies were frequently fed to the public and the main characters manipulating their actions and responses.
And while I don’t assume that our governments are actually being run by homunculi that are trying to bring about the end of the country, the point about providing truthful information to the public was fairly well made and is as relevant now as it was when this story first came out (if not more so).
Lesson 3: You can’t stop tragedy but how you deal with the tragedy is more important.
Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood is a story built on tragic events. The war in the past that took Winry’s parents, the death of the Elric’s mother, Nina, Hughes, and so on. However, on each of these occasions we see characters dealing with the tragedy in their own ways and we see that some responses are more helpful than others.
For Edward and Alphonse, they refused to let go of the past and the tragedy and instead of accepting what had happened and moving forward, they created a secondary tragedy when they tried to bring their mother back to life. This cost Edward a leg and his brother his whole body and Ed only saved him through giving up an arm (puts a whole new twist on the costing an arm and a leg). There were a few factors that played into this. For instance, their incredibly young age and the absence of any other parental figure. While Winry’s grandmother certainly tried to look out for them, it wasn’t enough during such a tragedy to keep them from taking this path.
And the tragedy may have ended there with the brothers never going any further except that Mustang came along and offered Ed a lifeline. For the remainder of the series we see Edward clinging to that hope and thread as he journey’s forward. When he meets Tucker and Nina and that encounter inevitably leads to tragedy, Ed, while he feels the tragedy, doesn’t make the same mistake again of trying to deny the tragedy or make it go away. Instead he ensures Tucker can’t hurt anyone else and then seeks comfort. It doesn’t make the tragedy of Nina any better, but at least a secondary tragedy was avoided.
What lessons have you learned watching Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood or from another anime?
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