THE LAST EPISODE!!! I HAVE TOO MANY THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS.
So we have Roy cured with the Philosopher’s stone to help Ishval. This scene plays a bit differently in the manga, where Roy was a bit more despondent and at a loss for what to do after becoming blind. Still, the message is the same- Dr. Marcoh knows he has no right to speak for the Ishvalans and this won’t absolve him, but he wants to help anyway, Roy and Riza know they can’t be forgiven for their sins or atone through this, but they also want to help anyway, especially since Amestris now owes the Ishvalans a lot. And Roy only gets his sight back if he promises to use it to help Ishval. It makes sense he’d get it back, since he didn’t do human transmutation and therefore shouldn’t be punished. Maybe Truth foresaw this? Ooooooh..(it certainly would have been interesting to see him try to become Fuhrer while living with blindness though)
In the manga, Jean did not get cured with the philosopher’s stone. He was shown starting to be able to walk a little (with great effort) through strenuous physical therapy, but no magic cure. While Roy not giving Jean the stone is a plot hole, I think Jean living with his disability and making small steps through his own effort with the themes of the story- no matter what the challenge, people can live full lives and keep going through their own effort. Natural processes don’t have magic cures, but Jean is still goin’ at it anyway. That’s thematically consistent and inspiring and it’s nice to see a disabled character who doesn’t get it magicked away. So I’m a bit disappointed by that change.
The conclusion of Scar’s arc is him reconnecting to his culture and his religion to rebuild his community.
I really like that line- “the death of a culture is the death of a people”- it’s especially interesting knowing Arakawa’s background, that she is so connected to the cultural suppression and erasure of the Ainu. I also like the acknowledgement that religion is often a huge part of different cultures, and valuable because of that. Scar’s faith is reaffirmed once more.
Not abandoning his past and his people, but moving forward, working with them, rebuilding, working for his culture and religion to live on- that was where Scar ended up.
So, Hohenheim uses a diss that cuts pretty close to Father’s core. We’ve already established that Father is actually insecure about being an “imitation human” who was born from Hoho, so Hoho pointing out that he’s a genetic dead end must be a blow, which is why he responds so viciously with “I CAN CREATE STUFF”- but you note his “creation” is really just a recreation of people he didn’t make himself, but actually already destroyed. And then he promptly destroys them again.
The homunculi would actually count as creations. Sure, they’re made FROM father, but children are made from their parents. The thing is, Father is imitating family dynamics out of envy without really bothering to understand them. He does not NURTURE the homunculi like parents often nurture their children, and in the end, that’s led to the destruction of almost all of his creations- he even tries to destroy Greed again in this episode. It’s not that he can’t create, he just doesn’t appreciate the value of those creations, so in the end, he just eliminates them and brings about destruction.
How horrifying must it be for Hoho to see the people he lost so long ago take such grotesque, needy forms and then be blown up AGAIN. And of COURSE Izumi gets approached by the baby. It must remind her that she created something that lived a grotesque, short life with her own transmutation. Ugh.
Aaaand Father explodes it all
Haha Olivier is literally the only one who listens to Greed’s demand to stay back and that’s only bc her men say so, not him. Look at Olivier’s development though- there’s no way she would have been willing to ever take a break when we first met her, and DEFINITELY no way she would have trusted Alex to do the job.
Olivier being proud of Bucanneer and lecturing dead Bradley about how awesome the men she trained are :’(
ALPHONSE IS REALLY SUCH A KNIGHT IN…well fairly dinged-up armor now oops. And Hoho protected Ed and Izumi!
Aaand then Father just backhands him outta the way ouch.
Briggs to the rescue! And then…here come Hawkeye and Mustang!
Arakawa is making it as clear as possible that Roy can’t fight, achieve his dreams or use his power without Riza by having Riza literally be Roy’s eyes, she is the person who guides, directs, and allows him to use his flame alchemy in both the literal and metaphorical sense. It’s the clearest demonstration that he NEEDS her, he would be LOST without her, and they need each other to fight. It’s a true partnership, two halves make up one whole.
One thing I’m sad was cut out from the manga is that Riza also physically shields and protects Roy from harm during all this too
I MEAN CAN WE APPRECIATE THAT RIZA IS BEING ROY’S SHINING KNIGHT WITH LIKE ONLY A PINT OF BLOOD LEFT IN HER BODY (and in the manga, it’s made clear she’s ABOUT TO PASS OUT and literally SMACKS HERSELF AWAKE TO KEEP GOING) I’m amaze at how dedicated she is to being his hero.
Ling’s got ur number Greed, whatever ur number is.
Ed loses his automail for the fiftieth time this year. But doesn’t it show how much he develops that he JUST GETS BACK UP AND TRIES TO KEEP FIGHTING A GODLIKE CREATURE EVEN WITHOUT HIS ALCHEMY? Remember how he just gave up and accepted death when Scar smashed his automail in episode 5?
What a long way he’s come since then- he’s really taken Al’s words to heart and isn’t giving up on fighting back and keeping alive even in a much worse situation.
Haha but NOW EVERYTHING’S AWFUL BECAUSE ED IS TRAPPED AND FATHER’S GOING TO KILL HIM AND EVERYONE’S TOO STUNNED AND INJURED FROM THE EXPLOSION TO HELP HIM BUT AL
Okay there are so many fucking things to talk about here.
First, I just mentioned Ed’s arm breaking completely is a clear parallel to episode 5, and his completely different reaction to it shows how far he’s come. Well, the parallels to episode 5 hold true for Al.
Once again, Al is unable to move and pleads desperately as his brother is about to be killed (and ditches polite language in his frustration).
Only this time? Al realizes he can do more that plead. He realizes he has the power to save Ed.
If you don’t think Denny and Maria’s reunion is the cutest shit ever, I don’t know you. WHAT A DORK THIS MAN IS. Seriously, it’s great FMA takes time to pay attention to the bonds between minor characters like this and give them their hilariously heartfelt reunions.
“Hey, you with the eyes! You’re immortal, right?” Haha I love that May is just like “whatever” about Father. She truly is the best.
“I will handle him”. Yeah, it’s probably not a good idea to fight the Final Boss by yourself no matter how awesome you are, May, but you have to admire her guts. Like “eh, I’ll take the big one, you two be dolls and handle the little one”. And the fact that after a second of protest Ed and Al are just like “okay, sure, we’ll do what you say, get him gurl.” Actually Ed complains about her telling them to take Pride. Like COME ONE ED A 12 YEAR OLD IS TRYING TO TAKE ON THE BIG BAD BY HERSELF AND TELLING YOU TO TAKE THE SMALL FRY AND YOUR REACTION ISN’T “HEY NO I SHOULD TAKE THE BIG BAD” INSTEAD IT’S “BUT PRIDE IS SCCCCAAAARY”.
Scary Pride may be, but he took a lot of damage forcing a human transmutation. Looks like Truth wasn’t very forgiving of that for his part after all.
I like how Father is basically like “UGH DAMN KIDS GET OFF MY LAWN”. Our Big Bad is basically a cranky old man wow.
I really like that the story goes out of the way to show with the Ishvalans that stereotyping people of certain races and religions as “terrorists” is wrong. It’s a really important message to send in this day and age. Ishvalans have committed terrorism in the past, and for pretty sound reasons, but that doesn’t mean the majority use these methods, or approve. In fact it is the disenfranchised race that is stereotyped as terrorists and hated by most of the country that ends up being the key to saving the country from the REAL threat- some privileged (and mainly white men) who are respected by the country and sitting comfortably the seat of power. Super awesome.
It really is a powerful indictment of the ignorance and prejudice against underprivileged minorities - condemned thanks to a few extremists- even subtly pointing that it’s a smokescreen and citizens are directed to use these people as a scapegoat so they will ignore the abuse of power, oppression and murder being perpetuated by their government. It’s also to try to quash the minorities from striking powerful blows agains the system, like the Ishvalans are doing now while simultaneously disproving the prejudice against them. REVOLUTION YEAH.
Back to the ultimate showdown of ultimate destiny with Scar and Bradley. Man does Bradley get really poetic about fighting. WE GET IT, YOU LIKE TO FIGHT. Okay, but seriously, it helps us understand something about Bradley- he knows he’s just a pawn in this game, and he doesn’t care how it turns out. He knows nothing about himself, his whole life is constructed, he must feel completely displaced all the time- but in a fight? None of the matters to him anymore. All that matters is trying to win and survive. There’s no need for an identity. And it’s also the perfect outlet for his anger- this aimless anger at his lot in life that he can’t really direct at the guy who made him without getting killed- he can now channel it somewhere. So in the end, this is what Bradley wants. He just wants a good fight, a good challenge, because that’s the only escape her has at this point.
And then we have a HUGE character moment for Scar. He has now tattooed himself with his brother’s reconstruction alchemy. He no longer solely destroys. He can recreate now too.
And isn’t that beautifully symbolic of Scar’s entire arc and the MASSIVE character development he’s gone through? Before, Scar’s only goal was destruction- destruction of himself, destruction of others. He had no other goal- he was not trying to protect his people or rebuild them. But now, he wants to rebuild as well. He’s still willing to destroy, eradicate the evil that threatens his people- but now he wants to protect and rebuild his culture too.
So once again, Arakawa subverts the damsel in distress/female character made a prop and put in peril for male character’s angst bit SPECTACULARLY.
How amazing is it that rather than using Riza’s distress as a tool to give Roy something to angst about, the narrative explicitly has Riza take control of the situation and even while bleeding to death, she’s sharp and aware enough of what’s going on that she sees help is on the way- and even while bleeding to death, she manages to signal Roy that allies are here and he needs to stall and give an opening for them to attack. Even near death, she’s still saving the day and being the best soldier in the world. How frickin’ hardcore is that. Once again, proof if you try to take Riza Hawkeye hostage, she will turn it back around on you spectacularly and save the day instead .
And how great is it that rather than the cliché of Roy ignoring Riza’s warnings and tragically sacrificing himself to save his imperiled love, Riza gets Roy to listen to her and so it turns out SHE saves him from making a terrible decision instead?
Mostly how amazing is it that ROY RESPECTS RIZA’S WISHES and that’s shown to be the right thing to do? When Riza tells Roy he doesn’t want him doing something to save her, he LISTENS because he respects her opinions, agency and judgment and know she knows what she’s doing and has a right to decide what happens to her. He sees her as a partner and ally, truly as someone he trusts, not a helpless damsel he must protect even if she doesn’t want him to protect her. If she tells him she doesn’t need him to save her, he’ll follow her wishes and do as she says.
This is how you write a respectful relationship and how you write a woman with agency and how you subvert the hell out of audience expectations regarding dynamics in fiction.
Like seriously, whenever someone tries to use Riza as a tool. Once again, she asserts her agency, takes control of the situation, and protects those she cares about instead. Just like Winry did when she was threatened! PARALLELS. I fuckin’ love these ladies.
Also CAN WE APPRECIATE MAY CHANG HERE? Roy couldn’t have saved Riza from dying. He was completely helpless to do anything. BUT MAY’S GOT THIS. So May swoops into save Riza from bleeding to death and Roy is just so grateful. What could have been a cliched “man saves female hostage” sitch ends up being about a young woman saving another woman, while men stand back and respect her skills! That’s pretty great!
And can we talk about what AN AMAZING THING it is that May sacrificed a chance to grab the philosopher’s stone to save the life of this woman she didn’t even know?
May had the opportunity to ensure the safety of her clan forever, to take control of the throne. the reason she crossed a desert on her own and put herself through hell, right there, but she saw someone suffering in front of her