Fullmetal Alchemist - a manga that birthed two separate anime adaptations. It's a series that had weekly releases at three different instances, all of which brought in new fans by the thousands. Each time, people who were new and loved the story would get together on forums, in person, or however else they could to theorize the mysteries of this world.
Sometimes, what they came up with was something that manga-only fans already knew, or the 2003 anime fans would theorize something the manga-only fans wouldn't have ever dreamed of. It was a real tornado of appreciation for an awesome IP, so let's take a look back and talk about some of the biggest theories that were confirmed about Fullmetal Alchemist.
10 Two Separate Adaptations Because It's Just That Popular
Out of all the most popular anime shows like One Piece, Gurren Lagann, and My Hero Academia, there are only a few that managed to get multiple anime adaptations. Jojo's Bizarre Adventure counts, as well as Hunter X Hunter, but both were remade due to a large amount of time passing.
Fullmetal Alchemist, on the other hand, got two series not only because it was wildly successful, but because each adaptation had its own unique story and style. Before Brotherhood came out, fans had all kinds of theories as to why we got two, like the 2003 ending not being loved by the community or the mangaka, but that just wasn't true.
9 Ishvalan Conflict Based On Ainu People Of Japan
The main political conflict within either iteration of Fullmetal Alchemist is the Ishvalan War. This war has references to all kinds of horrible moments throughout our history. Because of the show's German aesthetic, many assumed it was solely influenced by WWII Nazi Germany.
However, some crafty fans speculated it might actually be about the Ainu conflict in Japan near that same time period. And crazy enough, it was! The Ainu people of Japan and their plight is something that's hard to summarize, but to keep it anime-focused, the Shonen Jump series Golden Kamuy actually goes incredibly deep into explaining this issue.
8 The Mangaka Bought Props & Interviewed Veterans For Research
Now customarily, when someone writes a piece of fiction based on real-world concepts, there's research involved. It should be quite extensive research if the author wants to show respect to the period it's based on, but some writers out there simply Wiki-dive into the issue for a night or two.
Fans speculated that mangaka Arakawa was different though, as it seemed the alchemical knowledge, gun expertise, and political issues were just too realistic. As it turns out, Arakawa did an insane amount of research! She bought prop military guns, interviewed war veterans, and studied all kinds of alchemy-based texts. What dedication!
7 "Real" Alchemy Doesn't Require Equivalent Exchange
What's funny about Arakawa's research is that the central dogma of FMA, the law of Equivalent Exchange, is actually not part of Alchemy. Honestly, if anything, it's more comparable to Einstein's E=MC^2. Fans dug through old research papers and speculated on loose connections, but most decided that this was probably just something that Arakawa personally wanted to include. And they were right.
Arakawa grew up on a dairy farm, and her parents taught a similar mantra, one only gets back the amount of effort they put it. While it's sad this isn't an actual scientific principle, it's still a great life lesson.
6 Truth Knows Exactly What To Take
As both the 2003 and Brotherhood series went on, the Elric Twins encountered more and more people who had committed the taboo of attempting Human Transmutation. And each time, the person committing the transmutation lost a limb or something of equivalent value.
This varied from person to person but at least in the 2003 anime, it was confirmed that what the door or Truth takes is related to the human that's trying to be brought back. Izumi lost some organs, including her womb, when trying to bring back her son, Scar's brother is speculated to have lost his genitalia, and Ed lost his brother (or his body at least).
5 Every Single Female Is Hardcore
This was more a theory while the first adaptation was ongoing, but FMA has some of the most well written, able-bodied female characters in fiction. Izumi, Olivier, Hawkeye, Winry, Martel, Mei Cheng, Winry's Grandmother, and even Lust. All of these characters hold positions of power or with jobs that are stereotypically a "mans" job, but the show never really calls attention to it.
And boy, do they all know how to handle themselves in a fight! While the show was running, and especially after Brotherhood started, fans were constantly theorizing if there could ever be an unlikable female character in the show. Spoiler alert, there wasn't.
4 The 2003 Anime Ending Was Well Received By Arakawa
When it came out that the 2003 anime adaptation had branched from the storyline of the manga, fans became worried. It's happened so many times before, the anime studio catches up to the weekly releases of the manga, and has to make up the rest of the story as they go.
Usually, it comes out feeling rushed and unsatisfying. But, it was confirmed very early on that Arakawa gave the studio the okay to just do their own thing. Both shows have their own pros and cons and that's not something that can be said for many other stories.
3 Edward Elric Has Maturity-Dependant Height
It's no secret that Edward Elric absolute despises milk. The teensy lad always gets angry whenever he sees it and will never drink it. And, it's confirmed by multiple characters in the story that it's part of the reason he's so short. However, His height is actually also tied to literal emotional growth.
Throughout Brotherhood, Ed slowly gains height until eventually, he's actually taller than Winry. But, these height changes always occur when Ed matures in some shape or form, confirming the direct correlation.
2 The Series Obvious WWII German Influence
Now, we are at the most obvious fan-confirmed theory of the bunch. Yes, Fullmetal Alchemist incorporates various WWII German imagery. The leader of the Alchemists is called the Führer, the landscape is very European/German, and the Ishvalan conflict is comparable to the Nazi conflict of WWII.
Fans were wondering if it was simply European, or if Arakawa had actually based it on any real place at all for the longest time. But, it seems like she's just interested in history! I mean FMA is based in Europe and The Legend of Arslan, her other work, travels everywhere from the Middle East to the Mediterranean.
1 The Symbology References Real-Life Alchemic Concepts
Finally, to circle around back to Arakawa's research, she didn't just make up a bunch of fake symbols and alchemical concepts, she did the work. This dedicated mangaka has references to all sorts of ideas and concepts throughout the manga.
Whether it's the State Alchemist flag that's based on old iconography, the transmutation circles that reference actual alchemy documents, or even the upside-down Tree of Life that appears on the Door to Truth. Arakawa put her back into it and made FMA one of the most intricate and complex fantasy worlds we've ever seen.