Fullmetal Alchemist is a manga by Hiromu Arakawa. It was published between 2001 and 2010 in Square Enix’s monthly magazine Shōnen Gangan and was compiled into 27 bound volumes. The manga was adapted into an anime series under the same title released in Japan between 2003 and 2004. A second anime series, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, adapting the manga more faithfully, aired in Japan between 2009 and 2010.
The story of Fullmetal Alchemist features a lot of symbolism, which makes sense considering that it is based on alchemy and the mystical arts. Now, some of these symbols are related to alchemy itself, while others are related to some other elements of the lore. In this article, we are going to give you a list of the 10 most important Fullmetal Alchemist symbols, along with their meanings and their role in the lore of the Fullmetal Alchemist series.
The Ouroboros is a symbol found in Fullmetal Alchemist as a tattoo on the body of Homunculi. But its origin dates back to antiquity. In the Fullmetal Alchemist manga, this symbol is worn by the Homunculi as a mark of their non-human condition and their immortality. The Ouroboros is opposed in the anime to the Cross of Flamel, represented by the winged serpent on a cross, an allegory of the fixity of life.
Alkahestry, often referred to as “Rentan-jutsu,” “Rendanshu,” or “Purification Arts,” is the name for a slightly distinct type of alchemy that is performed in the nation of Xing. The techniques that led to this kind of alchemy in Xing four hundred years ago could not even be called “alchemy,” but rather a succession of attempts at mystical healing through the consumption of diverse substances. In fact, it’s stated that three generations of the imperial family died from consuming mercury because they thought it increased longevity. Alkahestry, a synthesis of the new teachings and the old metaphysics of healing techniques common to the nation, was not born until a mystery figure they call “The Sage of the West,” who had purportedly come from Xerxes, appeared on Xing with his alchemical teachings.
Alkahestry differs from alchemy in both its practice and its goal. Whereas alchemy claims to be rooted in the energy of tectonic movements and the practical manipulation of alchemy towards scientifically practical ends, Alkahestry focuses on a concept called “Dragon’s Pulse”, which speaks of the Earth itself, having a constant flow of ki (life energy) metaphorically flowing from the mountain tops to the ground, fueling everything that happens with that energy just like blood flowing through the veins.
3. The Sun & Moon
Xerxes was an ancient country that existed in the great desert to the east of Amestris four hundred years before the start of the series. Despite having a very advanced society for its time, the entire population of Xerxes was mysteriously wiped out in a single night, leaving only ruins. The country had a lot to offer in terms of arcane knowledge and symbolism, which is why it makes sense that it ended up on this list.
The symbol we are actually referring to here is the Sun & Moon symbol, which was actually quite important for understanding some of the basic mechanisms of the whole lore. Namely, the stone on which these symbols were present was seen in both Xerxes and Gluttony’s stomachs. Edward deduced that the Sun represented the human soul and that the Moon represented the human mind, with the stone itself being the human body. He then deduced that it was actually a human transmutation circle. The lion eating the sun seems to symbolize the Philosopher’s Stone, i.e., immortality.
4. Blood Seal (or Blood Rune)
A blood rune, often referred to as a blood seal, is an alchemical process used to attach a person’s soul to a metal object that is inanimate. The metal will react with the iron in the blood, creating a symbiotic relationship between the object and the blood rune. A blood rune must be painted on an inanimate metal object (often armor) so that the iron in the blood can connect with the thing. In order to pass through the Gate of Truth, recover the person whose soul is to be bound, and bind to the primary item, the alchemist must accomplish the transmutation by offering a portion of their body as payment.
A person’s soul can be bonded to an inanimate object, which gives them the ability to achieve amazing physical feats because they don’t experience hunger, thirst, or fatigue. Additionally, because the individual lacks a physical body, they are more resistant to injury than other people, giving them a near invulnerable status. The rune itself serves as his or her weak spot. The rune will start to lose the person’s soul if it is broken in any way. As a result, the duty of the person bound is to defend the blood rune above all others.
5. The Gate
The Gate of Alchemy is a metaphysical structure that appears in and acts as the center of the Fullmetal Alchemist manga and anime series. It is also known as The Gate of Truth, The Portal, and most frequently The Gate. It is the location of the alchemical knowledge and the entrance to God’s realm for mortals, who must pay a charge. In the Fullmetal Alchemist manga and anime from 2009, they take the form of a pair of doors with mural-etched stone tablets floating in an endless white space.
When the doors are closed, nothing appears to be there, but when they are opened, a whole world of new information is revealed that appears as a dark emptiness with multiple ethereal-shaped hands sticking out of it and a giant solitary eye that is colored various colors of gray both on the outside and within. In reality, the formless emptiness and its limbs mirror Father and Pride’s initial forms extremely closely. The eye is comparable to that of the homunculi Father made.
6. The Flamel
The alchemical and mystical symbol known as the Flamel is portrayed as a cross with a serpent wrapped around it, attached wings, and a crown above it. It is similar to other ancient symbols. The “fixation of the volatile,” a crucial step in the alchemical process involved in creating the elixir of mercury and other medicinal agents, is represented by the Flamel in alchemy.
The Flamel emblem appears on the left shoulder of Alphonse Elric’s armored torso and the back of Edward Elric’s scarlet coat in the Fullmetal Alchemist series, along with wings and a crown above it. The Elric boys’ alchemy teacher, Izumi Curtis, also has that mark inked on her left clavicle. This suggests that the brothers share the same alchemical symbol as Izumi to signify who is under her care, even if the manga does not state how significant the mark is to the Elric brothers. Izumi asserts that the mark belongs to her alchemy teacher, Dante, in the 2003 anime series. There is a gold statue of this emblem in her home’s library, positioned above Dante’s wooden chair. Additionally, this skin is the focal point of the Transmutation Circle that is utilized to buff homunculi.
7. Grand Arcanum
The Grand Arcanum is a 2003 anime-exclusive method of creating a Philosopher’s Stone. It originates from the people of Ishval and requires at least 10,000 human souls. It was used by Scar to create the Philosopher’s Stone at the end of the series in Reole. It seems that the Exiled Ishvalan is either its creator or the only person aware of the Grand Arcanum.
He first taught Scar’s brother how to do it when he was studying alchemy, and later taught Scar himself. The Grand Arcanum is used to cast a very large transmutation matrix around an area (similar to the Nationwide Transmutation Circle in the manga). When activated, the Grand Arcanum will take the souls of everyone within the matrix and turn them into the Philosopher’s Stone. The user’s tattoo on his body is also required to contain special texts and designs, making him able to store all the souls in his own body.
8. Human Transmutation Circle
Human Transmutation is one of the uncommon yet severe alchemical restrictions. Human transmutation is not entirely impossible, but it does involve a great deal of expertise and cruel levels of sacrifice, and it corrupts the alchemist’s soul while producing a never-fully finished “product.” It is strictly prohibited because of this, however, some are known to have done so. There are several things you can do with Human Transmutation, all of which are quite bizarre and monstrous. They include human resurrection, the creation of Homunculi, soul bonding, and the creation of chimeras.
9. Transmutation Circle
In Fullmetal Alchemist, alchemy is a recognized science and has been elevated to the rank of state science. It is a very complex, yet elegant skill set that allows the skilled alchemist to perform almost anything, save for some limitations. While no machine or equipment is required to generate the energy for transmutation, it is not enough to just understand the process of transmutation and the limits of Equivalent Exchange.
To start an alchemical transmutation, a symbol called the Transmutation Circle (Japanese: Renseijin) is required. A Transmutation Circle can either be drawn in place if a transmutation is required (drawn in chalk, pencil, ink, paint, thread, blood, or even dirt, the material is irrelevant), engraved, or inscribed beforehand in a permanent matter. Without it, transmutation, is usually not possible, although there are examples of such skills.
10. Nationwide Transmutation Circle
The massive transmutation circle known as the Nationwide Transmutation Circle, which spans the entirety of Amestris, was created as an underground connecting tunnel. The huge matrix looks to be shaped like the enigmatic double pentagonal circle that Edward Elric initially spotted in Laboratory 5 (Transmutation Circle intended to produce a Philosopher’s Stone). The Nationwide Transmutation Circle, if set into motion, will kill every person in the nation and turn them into a massive stone that the enigmatic figure known as Father will use. Just as a normal-sized Circle of Transmutation is powered by a number of living humans placed at multiple intersection points, the Nationwide Transmutation Circle is primarily designed around ten cities near the outskirts of Amestris.