There’s no such thing as an absolute and final ending for a series as glorious as this. Even the faintest attempt at conceiving an ending seems futile as it leaves the audience inevitably wanting more. However, I believe the ending that this show produces should suffice enough to satiate my hunger for wanting to know the truth.
This series is tiring to get through at times, the speed at which it moves is incredibly slow, you could say the pacing of it is scatter-brained. I believe though that it’s conclusion does it justice. A lot of lives are lost in the series finale of the show. Loved ones die, future husbands, and bloodlines lost in the ravages of war. Some soldiers choose a noble path and refuse to take life for the sake of saving their countrymen from the pain it will cause their families. Other soldiers from the north take a darker path and kill anyone they see opposing them, quite possibly leading to their own demise as well. It’s ironic when you still see the Elric brothers fighting so hard and swearing on their dying breath that they’re “Not letting anyone else die.”
I wish I could say that the series end with all the loose ends tied up but unfortunately it does not. There are still many questions left unanswered much to my chagrin. There’s a much higher focus on the aspect of religion in the finale of this series. Who is God? What is Truth? I find it rather inspirational such an insignificant Japanese cartoon show would tackle subjects that deal with such immense cultural beliefs in our society. There might be some that would find this series offensive to their beliefs as it naturally collides and challenges that with which we believe as truth in our own world. I honestly expect no less from a show that tries so hard to reimage 19th century Germany in such a light-hearted manner.
We get a firsthand look at this season of what the homunculi truly want, what the deepest desires are of such vile creatures. I wish I could say that all of the homunculi make it out alive. Though, such a thing seems foolish to say given their reputation throughout the entire series. But I assure you, your mind about what you think of the homunculi might change if you show them a little mercy for their actions. It might feel wasteful to you what Ed’s actions are to dispose of the homunculi. I’m not sure every viewer would agree with how the homunculi die in this story.
For the ones that keep living though it is a very happy ending after so much turmoil and I feel the opening theme of season 5 covers that very well. Though it might come across as annoying to hear the opening theme is played at the major end and opening points during the episode. It really messes up the moment when the theme starts playing during moments of dread or triumph. I think the final season would have benefited from not overusing the opening theme so much.
When some truly unbeatable enemies emerge from the depths of the Central city our heroes find it almost impossible to stop them. Frankly, it’s almost a loophole in the story how they eventually stop attacking and causing havoc. And on the other hand, it seems like cheesy writing when the characters have such ceaseless motivations to not give into madness. I can only guess that their efforts to atone for their sins can only be accomplished by winning peacefully. This ideal is often mocked by the homunculi and our main antagonist Father. So then I find it so satisfying when the whole thing is turned on its head and revealed to Father what the real truth is for the ones that try to play God.
This series is agonizing to watch a second time. In particular, because it is so long to get to one simple conclusion. I suppose the only thing the series finale carries for the viewer is that it takes place all in one day. That’s right. The final season, 13 episodes all take place within 24 hours. It’s almost a reflection of TV shows like 24 how every episode ends on a cliffhanger pushing the viewer to keep watching and keep going. It really ruins the feeling when it’s your second time viewing the show. But recalling my first viewing of season 5 of Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood I can tell you I was never further from falling off my chair staring at the screen. There’s a lot to say when a show like this can make you instinctively sit in a chair for up to 5 hours with no end. An anime series like this can’t be all fighting and honor and glory. But what it does try to do is tell the viewer what the real price of ultimate knowledge is, and how it would be of your best benefit to staying as you are. A simple human living out their lives with their family and friends forever bound to the great gifts bestowed upon you.