Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere: Christian Symbolism and Fullmetal Alchemist

The blogosphere is full of great (and not-so-great) blogs.  One of the first blogs I came across when I first started searching them out is also one of the best.  Many of you frequent the wonderful site, GAR GAR Stegosaurus.  While rummaging through notes I’ve developed, I noticed that I found a post about Christian symbolism from that blog.  It’s a good one, making the strong connections between the faith and the first Fullmetal Alchemist series, particularly focusing on Ed as a Christ figure.  Though many anime heroes can be posited as such, his connection is stronger than almost any.  Please have a read (note that the post is full of spoilers):

Christian Symbolism and Fullmetal Alchemist « GAR GAR Stegosaurus

Fullmetal Alchemist Edward and Alphonse Elric
Artist: Pixiv Member 14188696

I would only take this a bit further (and doing so, make a bit of a stretch).  Perhaps Ed can also represent Adam.  After all, the Bible describes Christ as the second Adam.  Ed, as the first Adam, along with his brother, Alphonse, commit the “original” sin by trying to be like God.  In the Bible, after all, Eve is tempted by the serpent whe he says her eyes will be opened like God’s.  The experience they go through, in which parts (or wholes) of their bodies are taken, can be seen as a death.  Ed is then reborn – now, he is the second Adam, on the road to bringing salvation for mankind.

He also brings salvation for his brother. 

In Christianity, familial analogies are often used.  Christians are sons of the Father, adopted by the Father, daughters and mothers of Christ, and brothers of Christ.  As Jesus died for us, his brothers (and sisters), Ed dies for his blood brother, so that he might be saved.  The beauty of Jesus’ sacrifice is alive and well, even in non-Christian anime.

TWWK

Husband. Dad. Occasionally Korean. Enjoys Star Wars, ASOIAF, and Meg Ryan movies. Tweets before proofreading. Ghibli. Oregairuuuuu. Jesus is King.

15 thoughts on “Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere: Christian Symbolism and Fullmetal Alchemist

  1. I never really paid much attention to the religious symbolism in the first FMA anime, at least not until very near the end, but I do have to acknowledge that it was most definitely there. And I completely agree with your Ed-Adam comparison.

    It’s always so interesting to look at things like this 🙂

    1. Thanks for the kind words! I’m glad I stumbled upon that post, because I’d hadn’t seen most of the first series and certainly wasn’t familiar with the part where it departed from the manga. I’ve read much of the manga and watched a large portion of the second series, which doesn’t seem to fit the symbolism quite as well.

  2. And here I thought the only relation is the alchemy in the series! The Adam comparison coupled with your explanation was kind of fitting (despite my absolute lack of christian knowledge) and I think I’ve learned sometime new from reading this post xD.

    Need to keep a lookout for more of such connections everywhere!

    P.S: I just noticed that you’ve got white floating pixels around your theme! Getting ready for Christmas huh? xD

    1. Haha, yeah, one hope of mine is that my blog will help some who don’t know much about Christianity to gain some knowledge about it. I’m glad you learned something!

      Haha, yes, I love the snow on these wordpress blogs. I pretty much get ready for Christmas as soon as the previous Christmas ends. 😛

  3. Awesome Comparison! I’ve acctually thought f Ed being like Adam before. Though in the second series, the part about trying to bring their mother back stood out to me a bit more because…well…I can’t say, because from what I understand, they haven’t finished dubbing the series and I really don’t want to ruin it for all those people who have a weak point for spoilers

  4. I hope blog etiquette isn’t like forum etiquette, otherwise this would be like thread necromancy and I’d be getting the Ban Hammer soon…. 😮

    In any event, I’ve just started watching “FMA: Brotherhood” at the recommendation of those on this blog and elsewhere, and am finding it not altogether to my liking, but am determined to persevere because I feel it’s an important show. The comments here and linked elsewhere have been somewhat of a spoiler for me, but I actually don’t mind at all. It sounds like a very satisfying (if bittersweet) ending may be awaiting me if I persevere.

    Having just watched episode 4, I can’t say too well yet whether Edward Elric more resembles Christ or Adam for me. But I will say that the way he recoiled from the actions of the chimera-creating alchemist, who would actually dare to sacrifice his own family members, has me very encouraged about him as a character. I saw a grief and a horror that maybe did remind me a bit of Christ. The events leading up to the shortest verse in the Bible came to mind (“Jesus wept”), or if not the events themselves, at least Christ’s reaction to the events. Edward’s passionate cry, with the rain beating down on him, made all the other sordid events of the episode worth my having watched: “NINGEN NANDA!”

    On the other hand, I am hoping not to have too many nightmares tonight from the daughter/dog chimera’s pathetic “aso…bou…” 😮

    1. Your comment is nowhere NEAR banworthy…not that I think I would ever, hopefully, have to delete anyone’s comments on my blog. 😛

      I do have to point out, however, that on GAR GAR, the blogger is referring to the first series, not FMA: Brotherhood, which sticks closer to the manga. I’m not sure if the FMA: Brotherhood series has the same ending as the manga, but the original series certainly departs from it. I remember reading much of the manga several years ago and then watching the show on Cartoon Network and thinking, “What? What the heck is going on here?”

      The symbolism may not be nearly as strong for FMA: Brotherhood, since some of the blogger’s comparison has to do with Ed’s sacrifice.

  5. Fifty episodes after my first comments, and echoes of the Edward line I referenced above are still ringing. It is just as well that space forces me to be brief, or I’d quote entire sections, thus spoiling rather more than necessary.

    For now, suffice it to say that while I thought these Homunculi would make wide targets for analysis — could the creators of this show have read their Dante, whose “Purgatorio” is based on the Seven Deadly Sins, the worst of which is Pride? — the defeat of Envy in episode 54 goes beyond anything I could have imagined. This scene alone makes me think my score of 8 at MyAnimeList, which before I thought was a little high, is actually a little low. (And I don’t give 10s, because to me this would have to mean a show is perfect.)

    As if this weren’t enough, just when Roy Mustang had Envy in his power, and was about to give him a well-deserved death, Mustang’s comrades (and at least one former enemy) convince him to stop at the last minute, as the destruction of his own heart would not be worth the revenge. It may not be exactly the same thing as repentance, but it is something like it, and it sure stands out.

    And best of all, there are still ten more episodes for me to watch as I type.

    I’ve said enough already, apart from this: Go. Watch. NOW. 🙂

    1. I kinda just skimmed your comments, because you know how I am about spoilers, but you remind me that I need to return to this show…

      1. Just finished “FMA: Brotherhood.” My GOODNESS. Why was I so stubborn as to put off seeing this show for so long?

        No spoilers from me in this post. I couldn’t do a single scene in the last four episodes justice anyway. Suffice it to say that I upped it to a “10” on MyAnimeList, in spite of all the dark disturbing bits.

        One of the shows on my “to do” list for guest-writing for this blog is the very first anime that seemed to me to have Christian themes hidden in it, “Saint Seiya.” An old-school show that flopped in the US, in spite of making it big in the Romance-language-speaking world, it will always have a special place in my memories in spite of its many flaws. But “FMA” takes all the best themes of “Saint Seiya,” expresses them with (mostly) believable characters, draws them out even further, and brings them to satisfying conclusions.

        I’ve even added the “non-Brotherhood” version of FMA to my Hulu list, and will go back and watch that sometime if it doesn’t expire first. For now, all I can do is repeat the same three words:

        Go. Watch. NOW! (As long as you don’t neglect “Oofuri!”) 🙂

        1. Now I have no choice but to go back to it! My goodness…that would be your only 10 then, right?

          I am neglecting Oofuri…gotta get back to that first…

          1. >…that would be your only 10 then, right?

            I *think* so. I’d have to go back and check. I might have given the manga version of “Fruits Basket” a 10 — if not, I probably should, as its ending left nothing to be desired that I could think of. I think I may have to make a few other adjustments in my list, as “FMA” is now my new standard to judge all other anime by, unless something better comes along.

            I remembered that it was because of the creepy little-boy voice emanating from Alphonse’s big armor suit that I at first gave up on this show. I’m glad I tried again, since that was narrow-minded and foolish of me. 🙂

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