In the realm of anime and manga, few characters have left as indelible a mark as Edward Elric from the renowned series “Fullmetal Alchemist.” Created by Hiromu Arakawa, this captivating tale weaves intricate themes of alchemy, morality, and the human condition into a gripping narrative. Join us on a journey as we delve into the multifaceted character of Edward Elric, exploring his background, character development, and enduring legacy.
- 1 All about Edward Elric
- 2 Edward Elric’s Appearance
- 3 Edward Elric’s Personality
- 4 Edward Elric’s Relationships
- 5 Edward Elric’s Abilities
All about Edward Elric
- Full Name: Edward Elric
- Kanji: エドワード・エルリック
- Aliases: Fullmetal Alchemist/Little Red Runt/Fullmetal/Ed/Pipsqueak, Insect, Hero of the People, Shorty, etc
- Species: Human
- Gender: Male
- Nationality: Amestrian
- Born: 1899
- Age: 15-16 (series), 18 (CoS movie, end of the manga)
- Occupation: State Alchemist
- Abilities: Alchemy/High intelligence
- Rank: Major
Edward Elric’s Appearance
Edward is small for his age, standing at only 149 cm (4’11”) at the beginning of the series, despite his attempts to appear taller, (due to the notation that he cannot stand regular milk). He wears his golden-blond hair long – usually tied in a braid that hangs down to his shoulders, but sometimes forgoing the braid for a simpler ponytail.
He parts his bangs in the middle so that they frame his face on either side as they fall and, in the center of the parting, he leaves a single strand of hair sticking up like an antenna.
In Chapter 56, it is revealed that he does this intentionally, presumably to add to his height. Ed’s eyes, too, are gold, signifying his Xerxesian ancestry. It is revealed in one of the Fullmetal Alchemist art books that the reason why Edward wears all black is to hide any oil stains that he may obtain from his automail.
Early on in the manga, Ed receives a thin, horizontal battle scar just above his right eye, which remains because his subsequent battles cause the sensitive skin to tear open repeatedly.
As of Chapter 76, however, the scar appears to have healed over completely. As the series progresses, some of Edward’s facial features (his nose and chin) begin to take on characteristics similar to his father’s.
At the end of the series, Edward is shown to have grown noticeably taller, being several inches taller than Winry and finally being at least equal in height to Alphonse.
Near the end of the 2003 anime series, it is revealed that the Earth has its own version of Edward Elric, who is identical to that of the storyline save for having his hair and bangs cut short.
As a result of his alchemical dismemberment, Edward was fitted with full steel automail prosthetics custom crafted by Winry and Pinako Rockbell. His left leg from just above the knee down is automail and his automail right arm reaches all the way up to his shoulder; both are designed so that their outer shells resemble modernized plate mail.
In the manga and 2009 anime series, after Edward travels to the northern area, he is refitted with new, cold-climate type automail limbs. Designed to be rich in carbon to prevent frost damage and lighter to help Edward’s movement, they are both significantly thinner than his previous models and even appear more lustrous, with a more prominent silver tint than the old steel versions.
At the end of the series, Edward keeps his automail leg and the scars from the installation of his arm remain indefinitely on his right shoulder.
In Conqueror of Shamballa, Edward is fitted with a gas-powered automail arm by Hohenheim for use on Earth, where automail does not exist. It is coated with a thin, skin-colored film so as to blend in with the rest of his body, but when the gas motor is activated – allowing Ed greater power and motion with his arm – the heat from the exhaust melts the coating, revealing the mechanical plating underneath.
Ed wears as his trademark a bright red, long sleeved, hooded cloak whose tail comes down to his upper calves. Emblazoned in black on the back is a Flamel, signifying his tutelage under the master alchemist Izumi Curtis.
It is likely that Edward fashioned this cloak for himself, as he needs to repair it often and, in Chapter 85, transmuted one from scratch using a roll of red cloth.
During the Elric Brothers’ trip to the northern area, Ed’s cloak was modified somewhat with a white fur trim around the hood to accommodate comfortable passage through cold conditions.
Though Ed’s clothes vary over the course of the series, he seems particularly partial to black and will nearly always dress in black trousers and some sort of black shirt under his coat.
In his usual outfit, Ed primarily wears a sleeveless black shirt with a black jacket that has silver/white lining along the edges, along with a red trenchcoat-type jacket.
This is his main outfit, and over the course of the manga and 2003 Anime, the jacket undergoes multiple changes. This is seen at the beginning of the manga and 2003 anime where the jacket is longer and is tucked into his belt.
However, when he first leaves Resembool, it hangs over his belt and has a zipper on top. The most common version portrays the jacket being connected at the top with a button, and falling slightly short of waist length, making it possible to see his black shirt.
He also wears a wide brown leather belt to which he keeps his silver State Alchemist pocket watch affixed. In the 2003 anime, this belt is instead changed to two thin belts worn parallel to each other.
As part of his attempts to seem taller, Edward is rarely seen without his elevator shoes – black leather boots with thick, red soles. Additionally, he frequently wears white gloves when in public to conceal the fact that his right arm is artificial.
It is likely that his general outfit is meant to convey a red, black, and white motif, as these three colors (as well as the gold color of his hair and eyes) are considered significant in traditional alchemy.
Edward Elric’s Personality
On the surface, Edward displays an immature sort of personality. He is decidedly stubborn and strong-willed, frequently letting his pettiness and vindictiveness get the better of him (it is this stubbornness that contributes to Führer Bradley’s decision to codename him “Fullmetal,” as “Hagane” (literally meaning “steel”) is a term in Japanese that denotes someone of obstinate disposition.) and often has to be restrained or reprimanded by Al or whoever else is present.
He is somewhat selfish and self-absorbed, generally acting more out of self-interest than any sort of philanthropy as well as taking several opportunities to stroke his own ego or flaunt the governmental power and monetary license of his military position.
He is largely hostile towards figures of authority and feels little incentive to follow orders with which he disagrees, earning him the distinction of being a loose cannon of sorts.
Edward is also rather quick-tempered, resorting more often to steel-fisted violence than calm negotiation to settle disputes (even going so far as to suggest that refraining from hitting Paninya because of her gender is a sexist notion and, therefore, against his principles).
He has a reputation for being foul mouthed and is an incurably sarcastic cynic, only too happy to bluntly and harshly relieve others of their comfortable delusions regarding God, reality, or their own self-importance. Edward has also displayed a propensity towards impatience and an inability to sit still for long, which perhaps contributes to his love of travel.
However, for those few people who have made an impact on him, Ed shows his deeper nature to be one of marked selflessness, unflinching loyalty, and great compassion.
As someone who has had to suffer greatly at such a young age, Edward cannot ignore the true suffering of others and becomes sympathetic upon sensing pain and resolve in people’s hearts.
Though his solemn advice to such people is often tempered with brusque criticism, it is only because he genuinely wishes to place them on the most direct path forward. As one who has to struggle with a maimed body, he urges those with healthy bodies to use their strong legs to move forward, and as one burdened by the mistakes of his past, he stresses the necessity of people taking responsibility for their own errors.
Though he will intervene on behalf of the oppressed if he concludes that a situation has called for it, Ed tends to help only those with the will – but not the means – to help themselves, in which case his recklessness and disdain for authority often has him bending the rules to dole out a Robin Hood esque justice in accordance with his strong belief in the concept of Equivalent Exchange, earning him notoriety and popularity as a “hero of the people.”
A defining trait of Ed’s shown throughout the series is his guilt complex; as far as he’s concerned, his and his brother’s current states are his fault, partially because it was his idea to transmute their mother in the first place and partially because Al lost his entire body as a result of the experiment, while Ed only lost an arm and a leg.
He was even convinced that Al hated him for what happened to his body, and was scared to ask him about it for years. As a result of this trait, he starts off as highly standoffish, trying to accomplish everything on his own and not accepting help from anyone but Al, as well as being convinced that he can solve all of his problems through Alchemy.
Over time, however, he learns to depend more on his friends and share his burdens with others. But while he may work on his guilt, it never truly goes away, as even towards the end of the series, he’s still beating himself up over Nina Tucker being turned into a Chimera, despite having saved countless other lives along the way.
Of course, the most noticeable of Edward’s dispositional characteristics is his Napoleonic denial of his shortness. Even in moments of relative composure, any and all references to his stature cause him to violently lose control of his emotions and lash out both verbally and physically.
One of the most common reasons for these outbursts is if anything related to his size, since he has a complex about being shorter than average (his height is 165 cm).
Distinctive to these outbursts is Ed’s tendency to take even the most casual mention of his height as a gross insult and interpret it exaggeratedly, mistaking words as simple as “small” for phrases as contrived as “so-tiny-that-he-need-not-fear-being-crushed-by-a-boot-because-he-fits-so-easily-between-the-grooves-of-the-sole” and the like.
Those unfortunate to utter the word “small” in his presence are fated to suffer one of his vindictive tantrums unless he is in the wrong and needs to be put in his place such as when Izumi Curtis calls him a runt while scolding him and Al in the manga.
He also accepts Nina referring to him as “Little big brother” in the 2003 Anime. This part of his personality is presumably no longer present by the end of the series, given that he has grown to normal height by then.
Though Edward professes that he does not believe in gods, his spiritual sensibilities tend more toward the deistic than the atheistic. He does not pray but frequently acknowledges the existence of a God in his speech, whom he often blamed for the difficulty of his life.
Ed’s aesthetic sensibilities are also quite twisted in that he is a great fan of gothic or macabre fixtures and will usually transmute decorations filled with monstrous or demonic imagery and unnecessarily gaudy details, much to the dismay of anyone who receives a gift or service from him. He has also made it known that his trademark red coat is part of this general lack of taste, as it is what he says is: “a badass color [that] gets the blood going.”
Edward Elric’s Relationships
Edward’s relationship with his younger brother is easily the strongest and most significant of his personal connections. Ed is very protective of Al, but Al seems to care about Ed in an almost parental way.
Though the Elric brothers have wildly different personalities and argue often about the best way to go about things, they are close enough that each would readily and willingly give his life for the other.
As it is, Edward willingly sacrificed his right arm as material for a Soul Binding Transmutation after Alphonse’s whole body was taken into The Gate (an act that almost killed him) as part of the payment for the attempted resurrection of their mother.
Edward managed to call his brother’s soul back from the void and affix it alchemically to a suit of armor, but remained wracked with the guilt of having both initiated the experiment that caused the accident and damning his brother to a cold existence inside an artificial body incapable of physical sensation (something that Edward believed his brother blamed him for).
Despite his own physical hardships with his automail limbs, Edward appears to care relatively little about returning his body to its original state and is entirely focused on restoring Al as soon as possible.
Ed’s relationship with Winry Rockbell is likely one of his more complex personal connections. Born to the kind family that lived next door to the Elrics, Winry grew up alongside Ed and Al and means as much to them both as would a sister she and Ed are more than childhood friends, they are a family.
As such, however, Edward argues with Winry even more than he does with Al, their similarly stubborn personalities keeping them at odds with one another despite their powerful bond.
After the terrible accident that claimed Ed’s arm and leg, Winry took on the role of his personal automail mechanic, building him sophisticated new limbs at the tender age of eleven.
Since then, Winry has served as Ed’s constant well of support, both mechanically and emotionally, though they still find themselves arguing frequently. However, this affectionate hostility appears to be masking a deeper relationship.
Though Edward has not outwardly admitted any romantic feelings toward Winry, he is rather overprotective of her and becomes unnaturally flustered at the mere suggestion of an amatory relationship between them.
Winry, for her part, has admitted to herself that she fell in love with Edward long ago. This relationship was confirmed at the end of the series, with Ed confessing his feelings to and eventually marrying Winry. According to the Fullmetal Alchemist Chronicle (Official Guide), they get married in 1917 and have two children.
Officially, Colonel Roy Mustang is Edward’s superior officer, but their relationship is far from the typical professional connection. There exists between them a sort of amicable animosity, as Roy takes a great deal of personal pleasure in teasing Fullmetal and watching him squirm under his orders and, at the same time, Ed takes pleasure in getting around his orders and showing Mustang up whenever he manages to find an opportunity.
Though their meetings are fraught with a great deal of apparent, mutual dislike, Flame and Fullmetal hold a great deal of respect for one another and are compatriots as well as co-conspirators in the secret battle against the Homunculi.
Having originally scouted the young boy for the State Alchemist program and formed a bond with him, Roy genuinely wishes to see Edward fulfill his goal and Edward also subtly supports Mustang’s secret bid to become the Führer and improve the country.
Edward’s relationship with his estranged father is strained in both the manga and 2003 anime versions of the storyline. Edward had always appeared to have some animosity towards Hohenheim when he was a child because he thought he was a deadbeat father who left him, Alphonse and Trisha.
Blaming his mother’s death on Hohenheim’s sudden departure, Edward antagonizes him and initially refuses to accept the slightest bit of help or cooperation from him. After a while, however, Edward comes to terms with his father’s presence and comes to trust his expertise in regards to dealing with the Homunculi. Unlike Al who calls him “Dad,” Edward only addresses him by name.
Before her death from a contagious illness in 1904, Edward’s dear mother had always been a source of greatest comfort to him. Wishing to fill the void left in Trisha’s heart from her husband’s sudden and seemingly permanent departure, young Edward did everything he could to make her smile.
In fact, it was the fact that his mother was so pleasantly surprised by his alchemical abilities that Edward became so engrossed in alchemy at such a young age.
In no uncertain terms, Trisha’s death was the defining moment of Edward’s young life – the trigger for all the sadness that was to follow. However, he still holds her dearly in his heart, suffering from the void that her absence has left within him.
As a former student of this Spartan-minded alchemy mentor, Edward’s respect for Izumi’s great wealth of knowledge coupled with his memories of her harsh physical and spiritual training during his youth contribute to the fact that she is initially the only person of whom the brash young State Alchemist is outright and unapologetically afraid.
That being said, the time she spent raising Edward and Alphonse to be skilled alchemists and wise young men in general has left an immensely profound print on their hearts, causing them to see her (in her gentler moments) as a sort of surrogate mother, just as she seems to look at them as surrogate sons.
Their relationship hits a strain with the boys’ shame at having directly disobeyed her teachings, but when they own up to their transgression, Edward and Izumi are able to come to an understanding, not merely as master and student or as surrogate mother and son, but as friends and colleagues.
Alex Louis Armstrong
Moved by their tragic story and impressed by their determination and courage, Alex has taken quite a liking to Edward and Alphonse Elric and often concerns himself personally with their safety and well being, as when he escorted them to Resembool and when he placed them under the protection of his own subordinates in Central City.
Edward frequently expresses resentment at the major’s overbearing, coddling nature while Al relishes the long-lost chance to be treated like a young boy at Armstrong’s hands.
The Elrics have found in the Strong Arm Alchemist a particularly trustworthy friend and the major fervently looks forward to the fulfillment of the boys’ potential as well as to the return of their bodies.
Initially, Scar hunted Ed down for being a State Alchemist (though Ed himself never participated in the Ishval massacre) and Ed hated him for what he did to Nina.
This hatred grew when he learned Scar also killed Winry’s parents. He wasn’t above luring Scar out so he would try to kill the Elric brothers, forcing the Homunculi to intervene since they needed Ed and Al alive.
Ed also revealed to Scar that it was Father and the Homunculi who were the main cause for the Ishval war. In spite of this, Scar often worked with Ed in the later half of the series to stop Father and while Ed still clearly held a strong animosity toward him, he accepted Scar’s help.
The two were initially not on good terms, as Greed kidnapped Al to learn how to bond a soul to a suit of armor. Edward, as a result, fought with Greed before Wrath captured him. When they remet, Greed became Ed’s enemy and followed Father’s orders. Ed tried to reason with Ling (as Greed took over his body but failed).
When the two met again, Edward asked Greed if he wanted to join him. Greed suggested instead Ed, Darius, and Heinkel be his subordinates, a proposition Ed accepted.
Despite their arguments, alongside Ling, Ed became one of Greed’s closest friends and the two worried for each other during their battle against Father and the other homunculi.
Greed was happy to have sacrificed himself for his friends and thanks them. Edward was visibly horrified when Greed sacrificed himself to stop Father, and landed the final blow against Father as revenge.
At first, Ed and Al found Ling starved and fed him. They managed to talk about alchemy and alkahestry but when Ling demanded they tell him information regarding the philosopher’s stone, they resisted which caused him to send Lan fan and Fu to attack them.
Afterwards, he frequently stuck by them, trying to receive information about immortality. While Ed was initially annoyed by him, the two were often worked together with such as luring the homunculus out (by luring out Scar) and fighting against Gluttony and later Envy (inside Gluttony’s stomach) the two quickly bonded.
Ed became worried and frequently called out to Ling when Greed took over. Eventually, as Greed and Ling worked together, Ed and Ling began to converse more, becoming friends as they sought to stop Father and though the two bickered, the two also developed a begrudging respect for the others’ abilities and have since developed a strong bond.
Pinako, Winry’s grandmother was the one to look after the brothers when their mother passed away. Ed and Al refer to her as Granny (at least when Ed’s not arguing with her), same as Winry. Ed tends to argue or banter with Pinako a lot, but she still cares a great deal for him and Al like her own grandchildren.
Edward Elric’s Abilities
Despite Edward’s small stature and young age, he is a remarkable combatant, useful in a down to earth anime like Fullmetal. Having apprenticed under Izumi Curtis, Ed was taught to condition his body through regular workouts and sparring as part of her philosophy, “to train the spirit, first train the body.”
As such, his slight frame belies a compactly muscular build that, in addition to his naturally high energy level and endurance, fuels his considerable strength and agility which allows him to throw people much bigger than he is.
Due to Izumi’s Spartan training, Edward has become a particularly competent hand-to-hand fighter, able to hold his own against armed opponents and even skilled martial arts practitioners.
Besides that, his steel right arm and left leg augment his fighting strength by adding to his defensive and offensive capabilities as well as his speed after he is refitted with a lighter, cold-climate automail in Chapter 70 of the manga.
As suggested by his unprecedented acceptance into the State Alchemist program at such a remarkably young age, Edward Elric is an alchemical prodigy of genius level intellect.
From early childhood, he displayed proficiency for alchemy, acquiring self-taught alchemy skills and comprehension from the advanced literature in his father’s abandoned study at an age that shocked even his mother.
Having incorporated alchemy into his life during his developmental stages, Edward sees the world alchemically and is, therefore, able to solve complicated codes, puzzles, and mysteries much more easily than normal.
He has also shown himself to be exceptionally adept at chemistry and reasonably competent with biology; indeed even his preparations for the failed attempt to resurrect his mother were indicative of these.
Edward’s near encyclopedic knowledge of alchemical theory is astounding and contributed to his incredible success with emergency Soul Binding experimentation.
He shows an uncanny level of focus that allows him to effectively shut out everything from his surroundings and devote all of his considerable mental power to whatever problem demands his attention, especially in the case of books.
Edward’s skill with alchemy was so great that he was able to turn himself into a humanoid Philosopher’s Stone stone in order to force his way into Pride, and then revert himself back to normal immediately afterwards. While in his Philosopher’s Stone form, he was able to destroy Pride’s Philosopher’s Stone from the inside, reverting Pride to his pure form.
As a result of having passed through The Gate and witnessing the Truth, Edward became one of the few alchemists who does not require a drawn Transmutation Circle to perform alchemical transmutations.
By merely touching his palms together, he creates an energy circulation with his arms and transmutes by using his own will as a substitute for the necessary runes.
This remarkable talent makes his transmutations both instantaneous and incredibly versatile, allowing him to use alchemy to its fullest potential in direct combat. In the 2003 anime, Edward was initially unaware of his new talent and continued to draw transmutation circles when performing alchemy, but after he accidentally used this ability to heat water to comfort the pregnant Gracia Hughes, he ended up using it regularly.
In the 2003 anime, his skill with transmutation increased to the point he could transform his automail arm into a functional gatling gun for battle, as seen during his fight with Sloth.
With this quick style, Edward becomes a master of his surroundings and uses the substances therein to supplement his physical prowess in battle creating giant earthen hands to lift objects, columns of stone to gain himself the higher ground and ogre faced battering rams with which to strike opponents.
Ed also specializes in transmuting weapons with which to do battle and often crafts menacing-looking swords and ostentatious lances when necessary, but his primary weapon is his automail right arm, whose forearm plating he transmutes into various blades.
Of course, the true genius of Edward Elric’s combat alchemy lies in his aptitude for incorporating the alchemy styles of others into his own after merely having once seen them in action, which makes him very adaptable to various situations.
So far, he has adapted Scar’s use of the deconstruction stage of alchemy, Alex Louis Armstrong’s gauntlets and stone spikes as well as Greed’s carbon armor hardening into his combat repertoire.
Edward loses his ability to perform alchemy after using his Gate Of Truth as the toll in order to bring Alphonse back, though he still retains his knowledge of alchemy, full of the truth of this background.
In “Fullmetal Alchemist,” Edward Elric is more than just a protagonist; he’s an embodiment of complex human emotions, aspirations, and the pursuit of redemption. His journey from a grief-stricken child to a formidable alchemist is a testament to the power of storytelling in anime.