When Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood came out back in 2009, the re-adaptation of Hiromu Arakawa's award-winning manga was met with wide critical acclaim and swiftly became a fan favorite. Today, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is considered a classic and a must-watch for every anime fan. It's even responsible for getting many people into anime in the first place.
It's easy to fall in love with Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, its world, its story, and most of all its characters. The writing is outstanding, the animation still holds up ten years later, the soundtrack is beautiful, and it's just an amazing show overall. But what makes it truly special is the impact it has on its audience. It's why we're still discussing it today. The messages this anime is sending carry through and stick with you for a long time.
10 NOTHING EQUALS THE VALUE OF HUMAN LIFE
The Elric brothers had to learn this one the hard way. After attempting to bring their mother back to life, Ed and Al were forced to face the harsh truth: nothing equals the value of a human soul. Meaning, life that has been lost cannot be brought back, not ever, not even with alchemy because human life is priceless. It has no equivalent.
Humanity is a constant theme in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. Who is and isn't to be considered human is a question we ask ourselves over and over again as we watch the story unfold and chimeras, homunculi, and people like Alphonse are introduced. But if there's one thing that's certain, it's that human life is without equivalent and that each and every one is worth exactly the same. So, Brotherhood teaches us not only to value our own lives but also the lives of others just as much.
9 VENGEANCE WILL DESTROY YOU
Vengeance is another theme that Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood makes good use of. First, there’s Scar, a man driven by nothing but his desire for revenge. Revenge for what the Amestrians did to his country, Ishval, and revenge for the death of his brother. Scar let his vengeance consume him to the point that he acted in the name of the god Ishvala against the teachings of his religion and went after people who had nothing to do with his vendetta.
Then there’s Roy Mustang, who almost got consumed by hatred and vengeance when he came face to face with Hughes’s killer. Thankfully, Ed, Hawkeye, and Scar himself managed to keep Mustang from losing control. But in those few moments when we got to see the intensity of Mustang’s vengeful and bitter side, we saw a man consumed by pure hatred and if he hadn't been stopped in time it would have destroyed him, just like it did Scar.
8 HATRED AND VIOLENCE ONLY BREED MORE HATRED AND VIOLENCE
Which brings us to the next life lesson Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood teaches us: hatred and violence only breed more hatred and violence. The atrocities the Amestrians committed in Ishval give rise to widespread hatred and desire for vengeance among the survivors, which his personified in Scar. Driven by hate, Scar set out on a path of violence and destruction that only led to more suffering.
Fortunately, Winry was strong enough to break the chain of violence. She didn’t let the hatred take her. She moved on from the pain. Eventually, Scar was able to do the same. Brotherhood teaches us that we should learn to let go of the past, endure the pain and move one. You can’t forget what happened or pretend that it didn’t but you can put it behind you and perhaps even forgive.
7 PROTECT THE ONES YOU LOVE
A number of characters in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood have equated protection with love. Hawkeye tells Winry that she joined the military because there’s someone she needs to protect. Later on, she tells Ed that he has to protect Winry because he loves her. Roy Mustang gives a memorable speech about how the power of one man doesn’t amount to much, but at the very least, each of us can protect the ones we love; and in turn, they will protect the ones they love.
Despite being on a quest to get their original bodies back, the Elric brother's priority is to protect the ones they love, even at the cost of achieving their goal. Throughout the anime, we witness several acts of characters protecting their loved ones in various ways. If we’re fortunate enough none of us will ever have to go through the kind of stuff the characters in the anime went through, but in whatever way we can we should strive to protect the people we love.
6 EMOTIONS DO NOT MAKE YOU WEAK
Upon first glance, Major Alex Louis Armstrong looks like a brute, but behind those shiny muscles, epic mustache, and the curl that’s been passed down the Armstrong family line for generations is the softest, kindest, and most generous heart. The Major with his imposing physique and warm heart is the embodiment of “looks like he could kill you, but is actually a cinnamon roll”.
He’s not afraid to show emotions, burst out in tears, bare his heart and soul, and rip off his shirt. In fact, all of the heroes are allowed to have a full range of emotions, which is a nice change of pace considering we often get these larger-than-life characters who believe crying is somehow a sign of weakness. In Brotherhood it’s a sign of being human, a sign of having character, and a sign of strength.
5 THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS A PAINLESS LESSON
If there’s one big takeaway, one central idea in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood it’s this: there’s no such thing as a painless lesson. In order to gain anything, you must lose something first. We learn from our mistakes, we grow from our experiences, and sometimes that means getting hurt. But, as long as you manage to endure the pain and walk away from it, you will be just fine.
Ed summed it up perfectly in the anime’s closing narration: "There's no such thing as a painless lesson. They just don't exist. Sacrifices are necessary; you can't gain anything without losing something first. Although, if you can endure that pain, and walk away from it you'll have a heart strong enough to overcome any obstacle." Pain isn’t a bad thing because it makes us develop a thicker skin, a stronger will, and a fullmetal heart. Isn’t that a wonderful and inspirational message to leave your fans with?
4 WE CAN DO BETTER THAN EQUIVALENT EXCHANGE
Throughout the anime, the Law of Equivalent Exchange is repeated so many times that it inevitably got firmly imprinted into our memory. If one wishes to obtain something, something of equal value must be given. While this certainly makes sense, we’ve witnessed it being turned on its head way too many times not to question its validity.
Ed and Al have certainly had it with Equivalent Exchange, that is why they came up with a new concept: you take ten and then you add something of yourself, you'll return eleven. In a way, it’s as if the author is telling us that we, as human beings, can and need to do much better than just equivalent exchange.
3 FLAWS MAKE US HUMAN
Throughout the show, the heroes are fighting the homunculi who are the living embodiments of the Seven Deadly Sins. They were created by Father, from Father in an effort to attain perfection. Father stripped himself of pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and sloth, thinking he’d become a perfect being, someone worthy of becoming god.
Hohenheim said it best, “excessive want will destroy anyone, but those same desires are necessary to understand what it means to be human”. Human beings are flawed, and that’s ok. Those flaws and weaknesses are what allows us to stand up and learn how to become better people.
2 THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH BEING GREEDY
Speaking of the Seven Deadly Sins and the homunculi, the one that stands as a fan favorite is most certainly Greed, or Greedling, as dubbed by Ed. Not only did Greed side with humans and sacrifice himself to help the heroes, but he also served as an excellent example of how these sins can be good. Greed can be good for you. Everyone wants something they don’t have and that’s ok.
In his death, Greed was happy because he’d gotten what he always wanted: real friends. According to Greed, to be greedy is simply to want and to be hopeful. So, the message is: be greedy about things because that’s how you actually get them.
1 KEEP MOVING FORWARD
In an early episode, Ed and Al find themselves in Liore, a small town in the East where they meet a young woman named Rose who had been fooled by the preaching of the false priest, Father Cornello. Once Rose finally realizes that Cornello had been lying to her and that there’s no way to bring her dead boyfriend back to life, she becomes unhinged, not knowing what to do with her life.
That’s when Ed steps in and snaps her out of it, saying “Stand up and walk. Keep moving forward. You've got two good legs. So, get up and use them. You're strong enough to make your own path.” And he’s right. As long as there’s still fight left in us, we have to keep moving forward.