OK THIS IS GOING TO BE AN ESSAY BUT CAN WE JUST TALK ABOUT ALPHONSE ELRIC FOR A SECOND
Alphonse is such an overlooked character. People tend to focus more on Edward, as he is technically the protagonist, but they seem to forget the fact that Al is just as talented as Ed. They both equally worked out the formula for human transmutation, and their alchemical ability is more or less equal. Other characters go on about how Ed is a child prodigy and the youngest state alchemist, but it’s never mentioned that Al is even younger than Ed and is pretty much as intelligent as he is. Not to mention that he’s actually better than Ed in some areas, such as hand-to-hand combat.
But oh my god Alphonse has suffered so much. Ok all of the characters in FMA have had some kind of traumatic experience, but I’m talking about the physical side here. It’s easy to think “oh yeah he can’t eat or sleep or feel, that’s sad” but I want you to really imagine this in detail:
By doing some rough calculations (I won’t explain them here but if anyone asks then I will), I estimate that Alphonse regained his body four and a half years after losing it. Now you have to remember that he couldn’t sleep. He had to stay awake for that entire time. Have you ever had one of those nights where you can’t sleep at all and nobody is around and you feel so lonely and you don’t know what to do to pass the time and the night seems to go on forever? Yeah, Alphonse had that every night for approximately 1,644 nights. Assuming you sleep for half your life, think back to 9 years ago and imagine living from that point to this point. That’s a long time.I can’t even comprehend it; it must have felt like one long, endless, lonely day. And it’s shown several times that it clearly bothers him - it seems to be the one thing he hates the most.
And then there’s eating. Have you ever craved a food really badly even though you weren’t physically hungry? The kind of craving where you can’t think of anything else until you eat that food? Yep, Alphonse had that experience with all food. Ever badly wanted to cry just to let your emotions out? After all the emotional events Al has been through, he can’t even cry about it. And to top it all off he can’t feel anything, which is the thing i find hardest to comprehend.
But the line from that top picture is what makes me want to shout from the rooftops about how much I love Alphonse Elric. You have to think about what he’s been going through in the past few weeks or so - he kept on losing consciousness as his soul was pulled towards his body, he’d been taken over by Pride, trapped with him, and then had to fight him, and suddenly his armour body is transmuted away and he ends up at the gate.
And his body is right there in his reach. You can tell that he wants to transfer his soul back into it more than anything in the world. After four and a half years of no sleep, no food, no tears, no pain, no sensation whatsoever, he could finally become physically human again. But he chooses not to because of his friends and his family and the entire country. In the above screencap you can see that he’s crying. He may not be able to produce tears but the display of desperate emotion is obvious. He has to choose - take this opportunity to restore his body like he originally intended, or help out in the mess that the Elrics and everyone else got caught up in?
And of course he chooses to help, despite knowing that his time as a soul bonded to a suit of armour is running out and he could potentially die at any moment and he might not ever be able to get to the gate again and he might have to spend the rest of his life without experiencing any of the things I mentioned before. Because he blames himself and only himself for losing his body, and he would rather live a lifetime’s worth of what he went through in the last 4.5 years than risk anyone getting hurt in the final battle because of his emaciated body.
And what does he do as he’s leaving the gate to go and save the world? HE APOLOGISES TO HIS BODY. AS IF HIS PHYSICAL FORM WANTS HIS SOUL AS DESPERATELY AS HE WANTS HIS BODY BACK, DESPITE THE FACT THAT IT’S REALLY JUST TRUTH WHO LIVES AT THE GATE ANYWAY.
Why does he do all that? Because he’s fucking Alphonse Elric and he’s an amazing person, and one of the most underrated FMA characters ever. Don’t even get me started on his role in the final battle because this essay would turn into a novel.