In the anime series Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, the relationship between Father and Van Hohenheim is both complex and integral to the overarching narrative.
Their intertwined pasts and shared experiences form the foundation for the series’ major themes and conflicts. Understanding their connection is crucial for appreciating the depth of the series’ plot and character development.
Origin in Xerxes
Father and Van Hohenheim were both originally a single being—a small, sentient black blob known as “Homunculus.”
Born in the ancient and long-lost civilization of Xerxes, this creature was discovered by a young slave named Slave 23, who would later be named Van Hohenheim by his alchemist master.
Under the guidance of this master, the Homunculus imparted its knowledge of alchemy, teaching the then-ignorant humans of Xerxes. Over time, a bond formed between Slave 23 (Hohenheim) and the Homunculus.
They dreamt of escaping their respective confinements—Hohenheim from his slavery and the Homunculus from its flask. The Homunculus, however, had more sinister aspirations: to use the people of Xerxes as sacrifices to gain a physical form and power.
Betrayal and Birth
Using the lure of immortality, the Homunculus persuaded the king of Xerxes and its court alchemists to perform a massive transmutation ritual. Unbeknownst to the king and everyone else, the true intent of the ritual was to sacrifice the entire population of Xerxes.
This devastating act split the being of the Homunculus into two: the newly formed creature that called itself “Father” and the former Slave 23, Hohenheim, who found himself imbued with the souls of Xerxes’ people.
The act was both a beginning and an end. While Father emerged from his flask as a near-perfect copy of Hohenheim, the two were now fundamentally different.
Father sought freedom and power, considering humanity as mere tools for his designs. In contrast, Hohenheim became tormented by the souls within him, striving over time to communicate and find peace with them, turning their collective power into a force for good.
As centuries passed, Father went into hiding and laid the foundation for Amestris, manipulating its wars and conflicts to prepare for another grand transmutation.
He created lesser homunculi—artificial humans named after the seven deadly sins—each embodying an aspect of his character which he expelled to achieve a state of “perfection.”
Hohenheim, however, wandered the earth. The weight of the souls within him drove him to seek understanding, solace, and eventually redemption.
His travels took him to various lands, and he learned much about alchemy’s true nature and the dangers of Father’s plans.
The Final Confrontation
By the time the events of “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” begin, the paths of Father and Hohenheim cross once again. This time, it’s not just their personal history that binds them but also the fate of an entire nation.
Hohenheim’s children, Edward and Alphonse Elric, become central figures in the struggle against Father’s ambitions. The shared history of Father and Hohenheim shapes the decisions, struggles, and sacrifices made throughout the series.
In their final confrontation, the two represent opposing philosophies. Father, with his obsession with perfection and divinity, and Hohenheim, with his deep understanding of human connection, compassion, and the weight of individual souls. Their duel is more than just a battle of alchemic prowess; it’s a clash of ideals.
Father and Van Hohenheim’s intricate relationship in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood epitomizes the series’ exploration of themes like the nature of humanity, the costs of ambition, and the redemptive power of connection.
Their shared origin, divergent paths, and eventual confrontation provide not just a gripping narrative but also a profound commentary on the human condition.
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