In Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, a critically acclaimed anime series based on Hiromu Arakawa’s manga, alchemy circles are a fundamental aspect of the alchemy process.
These intricate designs are not only aesthetically fascinating but are also imbued with deep symbolism and meaning.
This article delves into the symbolism behind the alchemy circles in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, exploring their significance and the meanings they convey in the series.
The Basics of Alchemy Circles
Alchemy circles in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood serve as the foundation for performing alchemy. They are complex symbols drawn or inscribed onto surfaces, acting as a conduit for alchemists to manipulate matter.
Each circle contains specific patterns and symbols that dictate the type and nature of the alchemy being performed.
Symbolism of the Transmutation Circle
The most commonly seen alchemy circle is the Transmutation Circle. This circle symbolizes the process of changing or transmuting one form of matter into another.
The intricate designs within the Transmutation Circle are indicative of the meticulous and calculated nature of alchemy, reflecting the series’ theme of Equivalent Exchange – the fundamental law of giving something to gain something of equal value.
The Flamel: A Symbol of Wisdom and Immortality
The Flamel, a symbol seen on the back of Edward Elric’s coat and on Alphonse Elric’s armor, is one of the series’ most recognizable alchemy circles.
This symbol, depicting a snake entwined with a cross and crowned with angel wings, is a historical alchemical symbol for immortality and the philosopher’s stone. In the series, it represents the brothers’ quest for knowledge and their journey to regain what they lost.
The Human Transmutation Circle: Forbidden Knowledge
The Human Transmutation Circle, used in attempts to bring back the dead, is a symbol of forbidden knowledge and the hubris of challenging natural laws.
Its use in the series leads to dire consequences, reinforcing the theme that some knowledge comes at too high a price and that there are boundaries that should not be crossed.
The Nationwide Transmutation Circle: Power and Sacrifice
The Nationwide Transmutation Circle plays a pivotal role in the series’ climax. This massive circle, spanning the entire country of Amestris, symbolizes the grandiose ambitions of those seeking ultimate power, as well as the immense sacrifices required for such power.
It embodies the themes of ambition, sacrifice, and the moral dilemmas inherent in the pursuit of power.
The Five-Point Circle: The Elements and Balance
Some alchemy circles in the series feature a five-point design, symbolizing the five elements of alchemy: water, fire, earth, air, and aether (spirit).
This design highlights the importance of balance and harmony in the natural world, a key concept in the series’ portrayal of alchemy.
The alchemy circles in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood are rich in symbolism, adding a layer of depth to the series’ storytelling. These circles not only serve a practical function within the series’ narrative but also symbolize key themes such as the pursuit of knowledge, the balance of nature, the consequences of human ambition, and the complexities of moral choices.
The intricate designs and meanings of the alchemy circles contribute to the series’ intricate world-building, making them an integral and fascinating element of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood.