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Warning: this article is full of homunculi and spoilers. Proceed with caution or choose another article to read instead.
Wonder if there is any otaku who has not heard at least the name of Fullmetal Alchemist. However, what is less known is that its original creator, Hiromu Arakawa, is a girl who grew up in a dairy farm in Hokkaido. That's something you would not expect from a story full of action-oriented male protagonists, right? So, in Fullmetal Alchemist, Miss Arakawa introduces us to a world inspired by the Europe of the Industrial Revolution era (roughly 1850 to 1910). We get to know the country of Amestris, where authorized practitioners of alchemy act like the hand of justice for normal civilians. Thus, Fullmetal Alchemist combines nostalgia for a classy and technologically advanced era with the most intriguing detective/policeman tales and the action of fighting oriented magic.
Nevertheless, Fullmetal Alchemist would not have become this famous without its premise about family. The main plot follows the Elric brothers, Edward and Alphonse, on their quest to find a way to restore their bodies, which were damaged after a failed alchemic transmutation. They will meet friends and foes along the way, but perhaps none of them is as memorable as Roy Mustang. Roy has an interesting personality, which makes his interactions with Ed full some of the best moments in the world of anime. And by some of the best moments, we mean they have shared the good times, the bad times, the difficult times and the hilarious ones. So, without further ado, let's check out 5 reasons why Roy and Ed are our favorite pair of arrogant alchemists!
Why Roy x Ed are our favorite pair of arrogant alchemists
1. Because Ed is a precocious alchemist.
Kids, if we can get just one simple lesson from Fullmetal Alchemist, it should be: never try dangerous things at home without adult supervision. Or in other words, look what happened to Ed and Al. Here, we have to make a short story lesson: remember that alchemy is a protoscience that is aimed to transmute (transform) metals, create an elixir of immortality, cure diseases and create new useful substances. All of these topics were touched on Fullmetal Alchemist. In this world, alchemists can transmute almost anything they want through the power of their souls. However, we also have the Law of Equivalent Exchange, which states that in order to change something, a person has to give up something physically personal. Another important rule is to NEVER perform human transmutation. Guess who attempted just that to resurrect their deceased mother? Yes, the Elric brothers. While Al lost all of his body, Ed lost one leg and gave up his arm to bind his brother's soul to a suit of armour.
Should we remember that Ed was eleven years old at that time? He didn't only attempt advanced transmutation, but was able to save his brother. Those are pretty precocious credentials, if you ask me. It is not surprising that a few years later, Ed is working as an Authorized Alchemist for the Amestris government. He is also known and feared as the Fullmetal Alchemist.
Yet, we can notice the effect of fame and orphanhood combined, as Ed is arrogant, petty and vindictive. He uses his authority in a selfish way and sometimes even for the sake of his own ego. Of course Ed does not like to follow orders, especially if he does not agree with them. If all of these was not enough, even the slightest comment on his short height will make him release all his fury on the offender. In short, Ed sports huge talents with an immature personality, making of him a difficult subordinate. This is precisely why Roy Mustang is vital for Ed. As Roy is arrogant, precocious and talented himself, he is on a better position to understand Ed, as we will see soon.
2. Because Roy is the authority figure Ed needs.
Let's salute Colonel Roy, who has some pretty cool alias, like the Flame Alchemist and Hero of Ishval. He was orphaned at a young age and raised by a familiar. Roy is arrogant, fiery tempered and selfish to the point of making his subordinates deal with his paperwork while he is passing his time freely at his office. Looks like he shares a lot in common with Ed, right? Plus, Roy Mustang is an expert manipulator, calculating with plenty of advance how people will act. Thus, it is rumored Roy was promoted at an unusually young age through not so clean means. Roy has a collection of female stolen hearts, even from women that were involved with his subordinates. Needless to say Roy is not precisely liked among the military.
Yet, Roy would not have been able to keep his position if he lacked real talent. The Colonel is well versed on experimental and physical alchemy, besides being a masterful tactician. Roy also has had a whole bunch of experience on intelligence services and covert operations. So CIA, move aside and let Colonel Mustang teach you how it is done! We can only assume that Roy has a good eye to select what we could call his inner circle people. That is, the people who know him much better and that are entrusted with the most difficult missions. It was Roy who read a letter from Ed when he was seeking contacts within the military when his mother was ill, and traveled to meet the Elrics personally (no one else replied to those letters). It was Roy who invited Ed to become a State Alchemist, so that he could have better means to research a way to restore his and Al's bodies.
Needless to say that Ed's boss has a lot of screen time, as they have to discuss missions’ details and outcomes like… everyday. It is only natural for two people working together to grow closer, right? Plus, Roy’s stubborn and astute character is just what our precocious hero needs. For example, the Colonel does not hesitate to get his hands dirty whenever there is serious work involved (as shown in his battle against lust in episode 19). In short… military discipline is discipline!
3. Because Roy is a teaser.
What would be of the Fullmetal Alchemist story without humor? It would be too boring if the show was only action and crime oriented, so a few good laughs add to the plot flow. The characters are also much better fleshed that way. Anyway, if there is a remarkable characteristic on Colonel Roy, is how he teases people who he really cares about, like his subaltern Riza. Thus, he is shown to have a great deal of pleasure when he teases Ed. And what does Ed do? Follow the teasing battle, of course, like when he assured Roy was a good for nothing in Episode 21.
Ed has also thrown tantrums, like when he was not allowed by Roy to join the search for a serial killer loose in Central City on episode 8. In sum, we can notice there is more to Colonel Roy that it is evident. Roy might be known as a womanizer, but he is too intelligent to put too much attention on such petty entertainments. Nah, what Roy really likes is to play mental games with people who are close to him. Right, Ed? 🙂
4. Because Ed shows off in front of Roy.
Although he swears a lot, protests and tries to resist his authority, Ed likes to succeed in front of his commander. We are talking of the guy who offered the Elrics help when no one else did, besides being a highly skilled individual. Roy’s approval is not given just to everyone, so of course Ed craves the Colonel’s acknowledgement!
Ed succeeds spectacularly on his Alchemy exams (shown in episode 6). It is known that only around a dozen candidates can take up the exams. From this bunch, only two will be chosen to become State Alchemists. On the case of Ed, he reverts a transmutation and saves some people at the same time, so of course Roy is pleased with the turn of the events. On episode 4 Roy congratulates Ed for defeating a priest who was using a false Philosophers stone. Ed is pleased, but he states a little bit too quickly that he didn't do that for the Commander. Also, when Winry is put in danger during the Elric’s unofficial mission in episode 8, the very first thing that Ed thinks is that the Colonel is going to kill him. :p Finally, although Ed didn't take it well when he was forbidden to find the serial killer of episode 8… he simply went on and did it, winning Roy's respect and being called Fullmetal Alchemist by him.
5. Because they are the typical "I hate you in public" pair.
We can see that in Episode 13, when there is a showdown between Roy x Ed. They are in the best disposition to blow each other away! It is true that they show dislike to each other in public, but Roy has done a great deal for Ed since their first encounter. The Colonel has kept Ed's failed human transmutation attempt in secret and granted him enough freedom to roam the country. Roy is not extremely strict when the Elrics work on resolving cases either, regardless of being officially assigned to them or not. Plus, he also provides emotional support when needed, as shown after Shou Tucker's encounter with Ed. This was a particularly touchy showdown, as Tucker experimented in unethical ways with his own family members and toyed with the idea that Ed was exactly as him. But then, Roy told Ed that he had to get used to such tough situations if he wanted to be a proper State Alchemist.
On the other side, Ed is a key contributor in the battle against the Homunculi. These missions have to be kept as secret as possible, so his participation shows Colonel Roy trusts him enough to perform such important governmental tasks. Ed also supports Roy's ambitions of becoming the Furer and improve the country, something the Colonel has been preparing for a long time and using the best of his brains to cover his intentions. So, we can notice that Roy x Ed give support to each other on their individual life goals despite their publicly displayed attitudes.
Fullmetal Alchemist has offered us one of the best Commander-Subordinated pairs of the anime world. Through their interaction, we can see how Ed and Roy pursue their dreams despite that they look impossible sometimes. These dreams also come with a high price, in accordance to the Law of Equivalent Exchange. As highly skilled Alchemists, this is something Ed and Roy understand only too well, but they persist and usually succeed at everything they attempt. They also pretend to be shallow, but truly care for the people who are close to them. In the end, Ed and Roy work together for the sake of their nation. They definitely are our favorite pair of arrogant Alchemists!
Which are your favorite moments with Roy x Ed? Which other characters of Fullmetal Alchemist would you like us to revise? We are open to all your comments and suggestions.