Mercy in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

As many Christians will tell you, mercy and grace are some of the dearest and most beautiful qualities of God. Not only does he show us mercy every day by guiding us through problems that we often bring on ourselves, but he gave everyone on earth mercy by dying on the cross so we wouldn’t have to take the consequence for our mistakes. Yet when the idea of showing such great mercy is presented to most people on earth, Christians and non-Christians alike balk at the idea. We make all sorts of excuses to avoid giving anything less than whatever we perceive as justice to those around us when they’re in the wrong, especially if it comes at a cost, despite the fact that there are few people who have never received a kindness they didn’t earn.

Mercy is also one of the main qualities of Edward Elric, the protagonist of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. Unlike the majority of the characters, he actually avoids killing his enemies, for no other reason than that they are human, his definition of which is quite broad. His judgement on this is called into question several times, especially when he has to deal with Kimblee, the Crimson Alchemist.

FMA: BrotherhoodKimblee is both a fascinating and disgusting villain. Unlike Ed, he is a sociopath who places no value on human life and delights in pain and chaos. Even though Ed knows this, when the soldiers at Briggs decide to kill Kimblee and his chimera henchmen, Ed protests, and argues that they should try to capture them instead. His request is denied, and the soldiers of Briggs think his idea foolhardy and soft.

When they inevitably fight, there is a split second where Ed thinks he has successfully disarmed Kimblee without having to kill him and rejoices…only to find that Kimblee has a second philosopher’s stone, which allows him to win the fight by causing an explosion that pins down his own men and impales Ed with a pole. From this, it appears that the unfortunate moral of the incident is that showing mercy to the undeserving is folly and Ed was being a naive idealist. If the story had ended there, maybe that would be the case, but instead, Ed decides to use some of his quickly fading strength to help the chimeras that the Briggs soldiers were going to kill, and asks them to help him in return. Although he was their enemy only minutes before, they not only help him get the pole out of his gut, but they also take him to a doctor and become his allies.

Later, Kimblee gets chomped on by one of the chimeras and then absorbed into Pride, and it appears that he had finally met his deserved end. But when Pride tries to take over Ed’s body as his own comes apart, Kimblee appears from within his philosopher’s stone and prevents him from doing so. Although it was out of disgust for Pride rather than remorse, he effectively saves Ed’s life, and it is not impossible that if Ed had killed him when he had the chance, Ed would have died. Ed goes on to let Pride live, albeit in a different manner, reinforcing the idea that showing mercy, despite its risks, can be very worthwhile.

This situation is entirely fictional, and of course, no one know what will happen as a result of their choices in real life. Most people will hopefully never have to make life or death decisions, but doesn’t that mean we have all the more reason to show a bit more grace and mercy ourselves? It is easy to forget the many small acts of compassion given to us by the people around us, not to mention God, so why shouldn’t we make the effort to help people who are in need of a little kindness, and forgive some of the mistakes people make against us, because hopefully, when we need them, as we inevitably will, they will remember.

Murasaki Lynna

Stories have always fascinated Lynna, whether they are told in books, anime, music, or doodles in the margins of her accounting homework. She hails from Canada, and when she isn’t busy with life or obsessing over some anime or webcomic, she is working on writing her own stories, so that she might one day unleash them upon the world.

4 thoughts on “Mercy in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

  1. Hmm….I wouldn’t help others to hopefully get something back in return, though it does happen often. Christ taught us to be servants to others, even if they reject us or don’t help at all. If someone hits one cheek, give them the other to hit, if they take your tunic (clothes), give them more, if they ask you to walk a mile, walk 2 miles. God is teaching us to give onto others of what we have, and that is just what Ed was doing here. That’s mercy in my experience, though I’m not going against what your saying.

    great article, good insight 🙂

    1. I don’t really have much to say to this except that you’re absolutely right. I didn’t really mean to say that you should be merciful only to get something in return, but I suppose I did? I was a bit overwhelmed when writing this post because there I knew there were so many aspects of the situation I could focus on, but I didn’t want to write a big mammoth post that I felt would be even farther beyond my current writing abilities than it already was. But at the same time, it was a subject that I’d had in the back of my mind for years, and so I wrote it anyways. I’m glad you found it insightful in spite of its flaws, though 🙂 Thanks!

  2. The weirdest thing about Kimblee by far is that despite being sociopathic and amoral, he clearly (In much the same fashion as the Dark Knight’s Joker) does have some kind of worldview or philosophy backing most of what he does. In fact, he blocks Pride partially because Ed saved him once, but also because he feels that Pride is less prideful than him. True pride, in Kimblee’s view, would go down as his own damn self rather than attempt to escape into a human.

    This is one of the more seductive things about diabolical people and demons: We like to paint them as cowards, but they are often “morally consistent” with themselves. And what they say sounds seductive to the ear: That there is no God to judge us and nothing stopping us from becoming our most Noble selves but our own weakness and cowardice.

    ” It is easy to forget the many small acts of compassion given to us by the people around us, not to mention God, so why shouldn’t we make the effort to help people who are in need of a little kindness, and forgive some of the mistakes people make against us, because hopefully, when we need them, as we inevitably will, they will remember.”

    I haven’t been alive for very long at all. But I have determined this: When you speak to everyone you meet without contempt and without prejudice, and with sympathy for their circumstances…The most interesting interactions and situations can happen to you. When you give mercy to the merciless, or let go of your prejudices….you do not regret your choice— Even if it seems like you gained nothing from doing so. You end up seeing the common humanity, and the brokenness, and the nobility in us all.

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