I came into into it knowing the basics of the plot and already very disgusted with the 2003 anime and knowing that Winry was gonna be left behind in this thing, so.
What I didn’t expect was how little sense Ed’s “sacrifice” of leaving Amnestris would make, or how blah it would feel. Like, it’s not like Ed ever acted like he wanted to go back to Amnestris in the first place. He’d never made any effort in that direction. As with the entire 2003 anime, it seemed the only person he valued at all was his brother. All the other people who had helped him weren’t a big deal. He didn’t ask about Winry when he first saw Al, he didn’t ask how his country was doing, or about Hawkeye or Mustang or Pinako or any of them. He clearly couldn’t care less.
As such, I’m not joking when I saw I’m genuinely glad this version of Ed didn’t stay in Amnestris. He’s clearly apathetic about everyone there. If he doesn’t care about Winry, he doesn’t deserve her help or affection. Seriously, Winry MADE HIM AUTOMAIL OFF OF GUESSWORK OF HOW TALL HE WOULD GET and CARRIED IT AROUND HER ENTIRE JOURNEY IN CASE SHE RAN INTO HIM. That is mega-thoughtfulness. And what does he do in thanks? Blows her off. Classy. Winry shouldn’t have to deal with a boy who so clearly doesn’t value her feelings. And Al also doesn’t seem to care about non-Ed personnel, he didn’t tell Winry anything of what he was doing or how he was looking for Ed, he apparently didn’t talk to her at all about anything, actually. So…yeah. Congratulations on losing those two millstones from around your neck, Winry. I hope you find someone who actually values your generosity, hard work, and affection.
There was no reason for Ed to go back to nazi Germany by the standards of the very plot the movie set up, which surprised me. Basically, he claimed it was to stop the nazis from coming to Amnestris, but the fact was the movie made it clear a portal needed to be open on BOTH sides for people to come through safely. So as long as the portal was destroyed on one side, Amnestris would be fine. What’s more, if any character in the movie besides Ed had agency (like say, Noah) Ed could have trusted them to destroy the portal on the other side. But he couldn’t, because everyone not-Ed was not heroic enough to do that shit. I guess Ed just wanted to go back to Germany because there was exciting violence going on there so he could have an oppurtunity to be heroic. Amestris has stabilized, so, no hero time there. And Al was self centered throughout the entire movie, only focused on his own dreams and getting his bro back, and Ed was like “no you have to care about stuff besides me” (because apparently Al needed to be told that wow) so what does Al do at the end? Ditch his country to be with his brother! Okay, no character development there, fine.
So yeah, I actually didn’t feel the ending was tragic at all? Though the movie was clearly going for that. The Elrics got what they wanted and Amnestris is probably better off without them. Happy happy. I just sort of find it hilarious they still tried to push the moral of “caring about other people” and “equivalent exchange” throughout all this, when the moral was clearly “care only about your brother” and “do whatever the fuck you want, alchemy makes no sense”. Like, Al gets his memories back when he goes to Germany because equivalent exchange. What? You mean he gets a reward for doing something he wanted to do? Okay. (I also like how running around getting nearly killed all the time in a body he couldn’t eat or sleep in was “the best years of his life”. Kay)
It’s a really big contrast to the manga, where the explicit point was that the brothers cared about everyone they had ever met and really valued to help they had recieved and realized their interactions with other people had made them who they are- AND they still cared immensely about each other. You can love someone a whole lot, and still love other people, was the point of the manga. All people are important. All. There’s room in people’s hearts for more than one person. And I could accept really self-centered protagonists and different interpretation of things, if this anime wasn’t always trying to convince me this self-centeredness was heroism. It’s not. Trying to pretend it is just…sours me on it. The two never developed much past being totally wrapped up in each other, and that’s that.
Lack of character development and character motivation was big problem in this movie. Wrath was completely different from the first anime, empathetic with other people and even managing to guess Al’s plan to bring his brother back, and actually caring about his biological mother. I suppose the only explanation for this is he changed in the intervening years, which is lazy. Nazi Hughes decides to save Noah, when he despises Roma, for no reason. And then apparently gives up being a Nazi? But there is nothing he learned that can account for this decision, no moment of epiphany, no event witnessed. He just did it. Because. And we’re just supposed to forgive him for this random decision? Forgive the fact he’s a racist who aided fucking Hitler?
Alfons’s actions only make sense through the lens he had a one sided crush on Ed and was doing this bad stuff to get his attention, but then decided to help Ed out in a last second bid to get his beloved to notice him and make Ed happy.. “I’M REAL, YOU KNOW, NOT JUST A DREAM!” Then he died. Can’t say I felt much about this. Ed barely reacted too. It was just like “oh man that blows oh well.”
Poor Noah had it the worst though. I liked that the persecution of the Roma was acknowledged through her plight, since it so often isn’t, but everything else was just stereotypical and awful. She looked like Rose, and surprise surprise, she took on 2003 Rose’s basic role here. She was a constant victim to be saved by white people (and nazis) but also someone following *the wrong path* our hero could moralize at and be all superior to. The only time she had agency was when she was willing to sell out her entire world and work with goddamn nazis just so she could live in another world where she could not be persecuted (and how dumb was she to think the nazis would LET her do that?) And the only two other Roma with speaking lines in the film? Sold her out at the very beginning (and presumably the entire caravan was in on it). Nice subversion of stereotypes! And Noah never developed. I excpected her to at least have a realization what she was doing was wrong when he white savior told her that, but no, she never gave any indication of getting over her self-centeredness. She still wanted to go to the other world, she just didn’t get to, sob.
Sooooo yeah. No point over here. I’m pretty baffled about how anyone could prefer this ending to the manga’s, the half-hearted doom and gloom not being to my taste aside, it just doesn’t make much thematic sense to me. That’s absolutely anyone’s right though, of course, and you don’t have to explain to me or anyone why you like it. I promise you I don’t mind and don’t need to hear it. This is just how I feel