Edward Elric

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Edward Elric
Fullmetal Alchemist character
Edward85as.JPG
Edward Elric by Hiromu Arakawa
First appearance Fullmetal Alchemist manga chapter 1
Voiced by Japanese
Romi Park[1]
English
Vic Mignogna[2]
Profile
Aliases Fullmetal Alchemist
Relatives Alphonse Elric (brother)
Van Hohenheim (father)
Trisha Elric (mother)

Edward Elric (エドワード・エルリック Edowādo Erurikku?), commonly nicknamed Ed (エド Edo?), is a fictional character and the protagonist of the Fullmetal Alchemist manga series and its adaptations created by Hiromu Arakawa. Edward, titled "Fullmetal Alchemist" (鋼の錬金術師 Hagane no Renkinjutsushi?, lit. "Alchemist of Steel"), is the youngest State Alchemist in the history of the fictional country of Amestris. His left leg was mystically severed in a failed attempt to resurrect his dead mother, and then his right arm was taken in exchange for his brother's soul. His missing limbs have been replaced with sophisticated prosthetics called automail (機械鎧(オートメイル) ōtomeiru?). He and his younger brother, Alphonse Elric, scour the world in search of the Philosopher's Stone in the hopes of restoring their bodies. Ed has appeared in other media from the series, including video games, original video animations (OVAs) and light novels.

Numerous publications in various media have been written on the subject of Edward's character. Reviewers praised Edward as a balance between the typical clever kid and the stubborn kid persona. Additionally, his comedic moments have been celebrated as the best moments in the series. His Japanese and English voice actors, Romi Park and Vic Mignogna, have both been praised for their performances as Edward Elric and have won several awards for their work. Numerous pieces of merchandise have been released bearing Edward's likeness, including key chains and action figures.

Appearances[edit]

Edward Elric is the youngest State Alchemist to be selected by the State Military of the country, receiving the title of "Fullmetal Alchemist" shortly thereafter from military head, King Bradley. He and his younger brother, Alphonse, seek to obtain the legendary Philosopher's Stone in order to restore their bodies after a disastrous failed attempt to bring their mother back to life through alchemy.[3] Edward was born in a small town named Resembool, where he lived with Alphonse and his parents, Trisha Elric and Van Hohenheim. After Hohenheim left the family on a journey early in his sons' lives, and Trisha died of an illness years later, the two young boys concentrated on studying alchemy in the hopes of bringing their mother back to life, and trained with a skilled alchemist named Izumi Curtis.[4] The two's attempt to revive their mother failed, costing Edward his left leg, and Alphonse his entire body. Edward then performed a second transmutation, sacrificing his own right arm to bind Alphonse's soul to a nearby suit of armor.[5] In order to move without his lost limbs, Edward has had prosthetic "automail" limbs designed and implemented by his childhood friend, Winry Rockbell. Winry is often kept busy repairing Edward's automail, as he regularly breaks and damages the machines during heavy bouts. As the series continues, the two progressively develop a romantic relationship, eventually confessing their feelings to each other by the series' end.[6]

Edward's motivation stems from a love for his brother, Alphonse, whom he is desperately seeking to restore to human form after their mistake.[7] He is extremely idealistic, and strongly believes in the alchemical concept of "Equivalent Exchange," which states that every outcome requires an equal payment.[8] Edward also behaves in a childish manner when confronted about his short height, tending to overreact to any negative comment regarding the subject, usually attacking people in a fit of rage.[9][10] Unlike regular alchemists who use transmutation circles, Edward has the ability to create alchemical currents in his body simply by connecting his hands as a result of his failed human transmutation which gave him such trait.[11] In addition to this, Edward is a formidable fighter as a result of his training with Izumi, who had extensively trained both brothers in martial arts.[5]

During their search for the Stone, they become the targets of Scar, a vengeful Ishbalan, and the immortal creatures known as the homunculi.[12] When Edward and Alphonse discover that the homunculi and the Philosopher's Stone are related, they work together with their comrades in order to find them.[13] However, after the Elric brothers meet the homunculi's creator, "Father," they are forced to keep working with the military by high-ranking officials who are secretly using their friends from Resembool as hostages.[14] Unable to protect their friends, the Elrics travel to the northern area of the country in order to request help from General Olivier Mira Armstrong.[15] Shortly after their arrival, the State Alchemist Solf J. Kimblee takes Winry to the north as a hostage, unknown to Winry, in order to force Edward to continue his work.[16] When the brothers are ordered to capture Scar, they end up using his help to move Winry to a safe place.[17] Upon their success, Edward learns when Father plans to make a human transmutation circle out of the entire country. Edward, Alphonse, and their allies thus unite in an effort to bring down Father.[18] They make their way into the underground complex where Edward is to be used as a sacrifice for Father's transmutation.[19] While battling Father, Edward loses his automail arm, rendering him unable to perform alchemy. Alphonse transmutes his soul in order to restore Edward's original flesh-and-blood arm.[20] After defeating Father, Edward manages to restore Alphonse to his original body by sacrificing his own ability to use alchemy. Giving up on alchemy forever, they return to their hometown to live normal lives. Two years later, Edward decides to research alchemy by heading out west.[21]

First anime series[edit]

Although Edward has the same background and characteristics in the manga and anime, Edward meets different people and fights against variable enemies. In the first anime, Edward learns the secret to destroying a homunculus during his encounter with Greed, whom he kills in an effort to save Alphonse.[22] When he learns of Scar's creation of a Philosopher's Stone, Edward saves the people of Lior from being sacrificed for its creation.[23] During his battle against the homunculi, Edward is killed by Envy, but Alphonse trades his soul for Edward's. In doing so, however, Alphonse's armor is used up and he disappears. After being revived, Edward sacrifices his own life to bring back his brother in exchange. As a result, Edward finds himself on the other side of the Gate, a parallel world, while Alphonse recovers his original body. Determined to return to Alphonse, Edward becomes involved in rocketry research in Germany, with the intention of using that technology to return to his home world.[24] In the feature film, Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa, set two years after the end of the anime, Edward has been living in Germany and looks for a way to return to his world. At the film's end, he decides to stay in the parallel world along with Alphonse so that they may try to protect both worlds.[25]

In other media[edit]

Edward also appears in almost all the Fullmetal Alchemist original video animations (OVAs). In the first OVA he appears as a super deformed version of himself at the movie's wrap-up party; in the second, he appears shortly as an old man living in modern-day Tokyo; and in the third OVA, he plays a part in the battle against the first anime's homunculi.[26] As the series' titular character, Edward is playable in all Fullmetal Alchemist video games. The three games for the PlayStation 2Fullmetal Alchemist and the Broken Angel, Curse of the Crimson Elixir and Kami o Tsugu Shōjo – feature exclusive stories in which the Elrics keep searching for the Philosopher's Stone.[27][28][29] In the Nintendo DS game, Fullmetal Alchemist Dual Sympathy, he and Alphonse replay the first anime series. He is also featured in the Fullmetal Alchemist Trading Card Game.[30] There are two character CDs featuring tracks based on Edward's character. The first is named Hagaren Song File – Edward Elric (Hagaren Song File – エドワード・エルリック?) and the second Theme of Edward Elric. Both albums were performed by Ed's Japanese voice actress, Romi Park.[31][32] He also appears in each light novel written by Makoto Inoue which continue Ed and Al's search for the Philosopher's Stone and at the same time feature different stories from the ones appearing the manga and the anime.[33][34]

Creation and conception[edit]

Author Hiromu Arakawa integrated several social problems into the plot, such as the way Edward and Alphonse live as brothers after the death of their mother, Trisha. She also looks at how the brothers help people all over the country to gain an understanding of the meaning of family.[35] When describing the character's personality, Arakawa comments that after his father's departure from home and his mother's death, Edward tried to replace the role of the man for the Elric family. As a result, Van Hohenheim's reappearance caused a shocking and terrified reaction in the character.[36] Arakawa has noted that Edward is one of her favorite characters from the series, although she denied having the same personality as him when one of her assistants mentioned it.[37]

When comparing the two brothers during the time Alphonse obtained the ability to use alchemy without a circle like Edward, Arakawa stated nobody was better at alchemy as the two had different preferences in the same way as other alchemist appearing in the series.[38] Although she claims she has not thought of the characters' birthdates, Arakawa noted that she decided Edward's birthdate during the series' serialization. During a chapter in which it was mentioned that Edward was about to be 16, winter was about to begin in Hokkaido, Arakawa's birthplace, so it was decided Edward's birthdate would be in winter.[39] In a common slapstick gag from the series, Edward is often struck by Winry Rockbell's wrench. While commenting that Edward has an ability easily dodge her, Arakawa comments that he gets hit on purpose as a result of his personality.[40] The director of the first anime series, Seiji Mizushima, says that in the development of the story Edward "evolves and devolves"; Mizushima comments that Edward is continuously overcoming inner struggles in order to determine how to grow up. The appearance of his automail in the anime is used to symbolize the intangibles of his character, making viewers note that Edward lost something important.[41]

In a prototype from the series, Edward was an eighteen-year-old teenager travelling alongside his father whose soul sealed in a flying squirrel. Edward's prototype had an average height, but retained his automail. In order to fit with the readers from the manga magazine Monthly Shonen Gangan, Edward's traits were further modified, leaving his current one. His height was reduced in order to contrast with Alphonse' huge armor.[42] In the design of the character, Arakawa is often worried about not making his automail too bulky to avoid balancing it by increasing Edward's muscles, making his appearance unsuitable for his age.[43] She has also often drawn the character in full body length, but at one point noticed she made it too tall.[44][45] As the manga continued serialization, Arakawa found that she drew Edward half naked several times even more than Alex Louis Armstrong who tends to show his torso. While stating that this was because she wanted to draw Edward's automail, she commented that it was common for men to walk in underwear at their homes.[46]

In the Japanese version of Fullmetal Alchemist's anime adaptations, Edward has been voiced by Romi Park. In the English version, the role has been played by Vic Mignogna.[2] Mignogna has stated that performing Edward may be his biggest voice acting achievement since fans do not compare him with Park, noting that their voices are not similar and that he did not plan to sound like her.[47]

Reception[edit]

Edward's character is well received by manga readers; in each of the popularity polls made by Monthly Shōnen Gangan he has ranked first.[48][49] Edward also won the Twenty-sixth Annual Animage Readers' Poll, Anime Grand Prix, in the "Favorite Male Character"; Romi Park, who voices Edward in Japanese, won in the "Favorite Seiyu" category.[50] Edward maintained a high place in the next year's poll in the same category.[51] In the July 2009 issue of Newtype, Edward ranked at the top of the survey Male Character Rankings.[52] In the August 2009 issue his rank changed to fourth.[53] In a Newtype poll from March 2010, Edward was voted as the fourth most popular male anime character from the 2000s.[54] In the Anime Awards 2006 from About.com, Edward won in the category "Best Lead Character – Male".[55] He was also seventh in IGN's 2009 Top 25 Anime Characters of All Time with writer Chris Mackenzie saying, "[Edward] and his kid brother Al make one of the best action-comedy teams in recent memory".[56] In 2014, IGN ranked him as the eightht greatest anime character of all time, saying that "In Edward we had a character who was truly multidimensional. He could be comedic and pull off wild takes and sight gags. He could be placed in the most tragic circumstances and portray the deepest kind of sadness. He could be a complete badass, but he could also be the nicest guy on the planet."[57] Several pieces of merchandise have been released in Edward's likeness, including plush toys,[58] action figures,[59] and key-chains.[60] Vic Mignogna, who performs the voice of Edward in the English dub, was the winner in American Anime Awards in the category "Best Actor" for voicing Edward.[61]

Several publications for manga, anime, and other pop culture media have provided both praise and criticism on Edward's character. IGN writer Hilary Goldstein praises Edward as the perfect balance between the typical clever kid and the stubborn kid persona, explaining that this allows the character to "float between comical moments and underlying drama without seeming false."[62] Additionally, Melissa Harper from Anime News Network praises Edward's facial expressions as some of the most humorous highlights of the series, including also the moments in which he reacts quite violently to comments about his small stature. They also praise him for not being a stereotypical shōnen character as it is noted that he has "very real skills, relationships, and personality".[63] Samuel Arbogast from T.H.E.M. Anime Reviews also comments that the interaction between the Elric brothers as they travel is interesting, and praises their humor scenes as they help to balance the dark parts of the series.[64] Similarly, Mania Entertainment's Jarred Pine liked the dynamic between the Elrics brothers as while Edward is often faced with following "dark paths" in the same way as villains with the series, he is always supported by Alphonse who makes sure he is okay.[65] Judge Joel Pearce from DVD Verdict commented on Edward's journey, considering it very complex morally because he is trying to do good within a morally questionable organization.[66] Lydia Hojnacki listed Ed as one of the reasons she likes Fullmetal Alchemist, noting the progression of the character's personality throughout the series, from simple maturity to a deeper sensitivity.[67] The character was noted to go through a notable development in the manga after meeting his father by Holly Ellingwood from Active Anime as it made him decide to see the investigate from the human he and Alphonse created as children which led him to find a clue about how to recover his brother's body.[68] On the other hand, Maria Lin from Animefringe criticized Edward's development in the first animated adaptation of Fullmetal Alchemist as in the series' finale he once again attempted to resurrect a human.[69]

References[edit]

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