4. Female villians and the treatment thereof- 2003 had a lot more of variety in female villians than the manga, which basically had Lust (and Martel for two seconds)- but I found a lot of them to be AGGRESSIVELY sexist cliche. I already went over Dante in my last review so I’ll just quote that.
I like it when villains have some form of relatability or pathos or at least thematic significance and she was like…eh. She wanted to be young and she wanted to have sex, the end. Pretty cardboard.It’s too bad, because the manga was pretty short on female antagonists, there was basically just Lust.
But Dante is like a female villain checklist basically. Obsessed with looks? check. Obsessed with youth? check. Dependent on male characters for any power? check! (of course Dante needed Hohenheim or Edward to make her a philosopher’s stone! Girls are dumb!) Openly sexual and therefore evil? Check! Obsessed with men who heroically spurn her evil affections? check! Hits on the main character? check! Has either her oldness or lack of good looks mocked by male characters? check.
Is there anything else to her besides this? No not really. Too bad, she could have been interesting but the writers went with a stereotype. She didn’t even have the redeeming quality of being badass really.
Then there’s Psiren. WHY DID THAT EPISODE EVEN EXIST. GOD. From her comibination Playboy Bunny/Catwoman on Crack outfit that made no sense and other “sexy” outfits, her ability to turn Al and to a lesser extent Ed into a complete dumbasses who were willing to give her the benefit of the doubt because *feminine wiles* and sparkly shoujo tears, the fact she flirted in the most cliched manner possible with the protagonist despite him being you know, a child, that she kept her alchemic power in her cleavage for no reason, and most painfully of all, Ed’s accidental gropage of her during battle because fighting women is so silly sometimes you grab them in the wrong places lol isn’t it rich! It was literally like they had a check list of “sexy lady theif” cliches and were determined to deliver on each on in the most annoying way possible.
Basically every lady villian was either a seductress or evil matriarch- Dante got to be both! And they stuck close to it. Even Lust’s arc can be classified as a High Heel Face Turn.
5. Scar and the Ishvalans and POC in general- I found the arc about them a lot less complex and I think they definitely had a LOT less of a major role here. It’s not like the manga wasn’t sometimes a bit iffy with it’s handling of the whole deal (though the only place that was really ehhhhhhh was the conversations in Briggs IMO), but it was definitely supposed to be a BIG DEAL and no one was let off the hook for it. In this anime, the Ishvalan’s are either villians or victims, and their being rebuilt and also the guilt over the war is almost an afterthought.
The manga subverted this “villian or victim” characterization by a) having Scar start out a villian but have a massive complex and redemptive character arc where he ended up SAVING THE COUNTRY HE HATED at the end. b) Miles. Miles! I love you Miles. Never a villain or victim, c) having the knowledge Scar’s brother left him be ESSENTIAL to saving the entire cast and country as well, d) have actually pretty much all the Ishvalan survivors come in and use their knowledge to save everyone e) HAVE SCAR AND MILES in charge of rebuilding their own people at the end.
But in the anime, Scar never sheds his role as a villain. Sure, he saves Al, but his last act is to FUCKING KILL 7000 PEOPLE. He’s all over the place. And he dies. Oh, and apparently he was *inspired* by the Elric bros, so any goodness he had had to be inspired by white people. In the manga, his complete turn to anti-hero was inspired by his mentor, his brother, Miles and Winry. And May somewhat. Out of all those people, only one is white and one is fictional-Chinese, the rest are of his race and they were the most prominent.
And they turned Liore into a city of darker skinned people, only to have them completely wrecked (unlike in the manga, where they rebuilt). Also, less prominent PoC overall among the main cast of heroes, since the Xingese characters were never introduced, and neither were Miles and Jerso, and Paninya’s role was downsized a little bit.