‘Fullmetal Alchemist’ Ending, Explained: Why Did Edward Elric Stop Himself From Bringing Al’s Body Back?


Directed by Fumihuko Sori, “Fullmetal Alchemist” is a mix of the manga storyline and visual effects that make it believable as a movie and can also be treated as a movie adaptation of the anime. The visuals are spectacular, which places the film on a higher altar. Usually, the adaptations undervalue the plot and the anime, but this time the movie exceeded expectations and did not disappoint. Although the acting is a little over the top, that is to be expected from the film and drama industry in Japan. The film was released on December 1st, 2017, and is available on Netflix.

Spoilers Ahead

‘Fullmetal Alchemist’ Plotline: What Is The Film About?

The movie starts with the backstory of the two brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric. The two brothers live happily with their mother, but one day, disaster strikes them, and they lose their mother. Focussed on bringing their mother back by alchemy, the two brothers started preparing, but even after following every procedure, the brothers lost more than they bargained for. In the process, Edward lost a leg and an arm, and Al lost his entire body. The story continues a few years after the catastrophe with the brothers. Edward is hellbent on bringing Al’s body back, even at the cost of his life. He finally gets a hint that would lead him to the real Philosopher’s Stone, but while in pursuit, he is caught by the state military, and the stone is proved to be a fake. Edward, undeterred, follows every single lead and finds the Philosopher’s stone with the help of Winry, Alphonso, and his other friends, only for Truth behind the stone to shock him to the core. The stone was the best exchange for Ed to get Al’s body back, but Ed refused to go with the exchange because he simply could not exchange life for thousands of other lives. Al agrees with his decision, and they set back out on a quest in search of another way to get Al’s body back.

What Really Happened To The Brothers? Who is Truth?

The brothers had attempted what Alchemy deems immoral and illegal: human transmutation. When the brothers were young, to bring back their mother, they attempted human transmutation. The results, however, were far from what they expected. Edward lost Alphonso and his leg for attempting the process. He struck a bargain with Truth and lost his arm in the process but gained his brother’s soul back. Edward was brought to the Gate of Alchemy to face Truth and the consequences of their actions. Truth seems to be a constant companion to Edward because he occasionally relives through the nightmares of his consequences and has to answer to Truth, who he can contact easily. Alphonso is spared from this, because his soul exists but not in his true body. Therefore, he cannot feel pain or sleep. His body is with Truth intact and waiting for a fair exchange. 

Truth is a metaphysical entity that seems to be portrayed as a conscience that does the moral policing for those who mess with alchemy. Truth simply exists to stop Human alchemists from playing God and going against the destined path of nature. The Gate of Alchemy serves as the visual representation of punishment that the Alchemist goes through if they attempt to play God by experimenting with human transmutation. Truth will then take away their most valued object or person as it sees fit. But it may let the Alchemist go by exchanging either the Philosopher’s stone or other equivalent exchanges.

Is Captain Hughes Still Alive?

Ed and Al joined the State Alchemists to find the answers to the questions they were looking for. While being state alchemists, they are befriended by Captain Hughes and are constantly chided by Captain Mustang for their rash actions. Both the Captains have a soft spot for the brothers and help them out whenever they require it. Hughes especially goes out of his way to help the brothers out with their missions and takes care of them when they are weak. Hughes helps the brother by providing them with leads to the Philosopher’s stone, and Mustang carts them back home when they cause a commotion; in other words, they seem to assume the roles of parents to the boys. 

While in pursuit of the Philosopher’s Stone, the boys get a lead to Dr. Marcoh, who was formerly the leading Alchemist of the military, supervising the creation of the Philosopher’s Stone in secret. Ed and Al had to go through Tucker, who seemed to be a promising bio-alchemist who could help Al get his body back. However, he turned out to be a fake villain who used his family to achieve his goals. Dr. Marcoh, on the other hand, turned out to be a better lead, and Hughes cracked the code Marcoh left behind before he died, along with his assistant and Ed. Marcoh was killed by a Homunculus named Lust, who had tried to kill Hughes as well, after he found out the real meaning and the exact location of Lab Number 5. Hughes was eventually killed by Envy, another homunculus who can shapeshift. Envy shapeshifted into Captain Mustang and eventually killed Hughes in front of eyewitnesses. The blame fell on the close associates of Mustang and him. However, Envy reveals himself after being set on fire by Mustang. Hughes had revealed the exact location of the stone to Mustang before he died.

Ouroboros, Homunculus And The Philosopher’s Stone: Why Did Hakuro Betray The State?

Hakuro was first presented as a leader who loved the brothers and would help them out regardless. However, Hakuro did have a dark aura around him that set him apart from Captain Hughes and Mustang, who would help the boys out. So, his betraying the State did not come as a surprise after he intentionally broke the team and sent them away separately. Hakuro then arrived at Laboratory No. 5 disguised as a prison cell to finish the incomplete experiment left by Dr. Marcoh. Hakuro wanted absolute power, which he could achieve only by commandeering the homunculus, artificial humans. He used Philosopher’s stones to make sure that the homunculi could come to life and complete his mission, unleashing terror upon the inhabitants. However, before he could unleash them, the homunculi tore through him and devoured him to gain power. Ultimately, they were wiped out under the command of Mustang’s assistant and Mustang’s power, while the other half of them were eaten by Gluttony, a homunculus working with the Ouroboros along with Lust and Envy.

The Philosopher’s Stone was the driving force of life behind the alive homunculi. Lust, Envy, and Gluttony, however, were driven by Philosopher’s Stones much more powerful than these newborn homunculi. Therefore, they wouldn’t die even after being killed many times. But every stone had its limit. They were ultimately killed after being set on fire repeatedly by Mustang. Lust and Envy lost their lives as humans after being artificial humans for too long. Gluttony had escaped in the meantime, mostly to make sure the organization of Ouroboros was aware of the new threat to their lives.

‘Fullmetal Alchemist’ Ending Explained: Why Did Edward Elric Stop Himself From Bringing Al’s Body Back?

Mustang, while setting Lust on fire, took hold of the Philosopher’s Stone she had and instead gave it to Ed. Edward had looked for the stone for so long and had finally had the stone in his grasp. The Philosopher’s Stone’s ugly Truth made him hesitate to exchange it with the Truth. The Philosopher’s Stone was derived from the torture of various humans imprisoned for various reasons. This experiment was headed by the State Alchemists in secret upon the orders of the State and was led by Dr. Marcoh and his group of alchemists. This Truth led Ed and Al to feel absolute despair that they were to exchange their bodies with numerous souls attached to the stone. Edward’s conscience simply did not allow him to do such a task. Even though Ed bore the guilt of human transmutation and was continuously reminded of his past by various enemies, He still could not bring himself to exchange the lives of countless people and instead set out with Al and Winry to find another way.

Is ‘The Revenge of Scar’ A Sequel Of ‘Fullmetal Alchemist’?

In “Fullmetal Alchemist,” Ed and Al are unable to get back Al’s body and Ed’s body parts. They refuse to exchange the Philosopher’s Stone, which was made from the sacrifice of human prisoners while locked up in prison disguised as lab no. 5. Ed and Al did not want to exchange their lives for their bodies. Truth was willing to accept the stone, but Edward took a step back because his conscience would not allow him to go forward. Thus, the movie ended with them setting out on a quest to find another way of getting Al’s body back from Truth. “Fullmetal Alchemist: The Revenge of Scar” seems to pick up from the journey they set out on to discover another way to get back their bodies from Truth. It is a sequel where the brothers set out on another adventure only to be confronted by new mysteries. They will also find out more about the Ouroboros and how they work in this movie. However, in the anime, Tucker was actually killed by Scar and not Lust. Therefore, this movie would provide a new twist on events.

See More: ‘Fullmetal Alchemist: Revenge Of Scar’ Ending, Explained: Are Edward Elric, Lin Yao, and Envy Dead?

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Alokananda Sen
Alokananda Sen
Alokananda Sen holds a bachelor's degree in Journalism and Mass Communication. She has a keen interest in graphic designing, reading, and photography. Her insatiable appetite for cinema and pop culture enticed her to work as a content writer. She is currently pursuing a Post Graduate Diploma focused in Animation & VFX to explore a new dimension in her career.

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