Fullmetal Alchemist Primer
In order to prepare yourself for the new Fullmetal Alchemist series, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, I've taken a number of characters, key plot elements and such to provide you with a neat little guide to understand the basics of the FMA world, in case you aren't already, or it's been a while since you've experienced it. Here we go!
The process of transforming one mass of one type of material into another equal mass of a similar material, also known as transmutation. In our world, alchemists were both the scientists and shaman of their time, but of course with science's evolution, alchemy was relegated to the footnotes of history. In the world of FMA, alchemy is different. While still using the law of Conservation of Mass (or as it's put in the manga, Equivalent Exchange), alchemy makes use of "alchemy circles", making alchemy a sort of magic in some ways, though it's approached like a science in that world.
The story takes place mostly in the country of Amestris, which dedicates a lot of its brainpower to the research of alchemy, which even its military makes use of. Those certified as State Alchemists are a part of the State Military, and are provided a starting rank equal to Major, a representative pocket watch, and a nickname suiting their talents by the Fuhrer. State Alchemists were used years prior to the beginning of the story in the Ishbalan war to exterminate the Ishbalan people, earning the wrath of Scar.
A jewel of legend which is said to have the power to provide an alchemist the ability to transmute without the need of Equivalent Exchange. The Elric brothers learn the horrible secret behind the use and ingredience for making this fabled item. Smaller, lesser versions of the stone are used in the creation of homunuculi.
An artificial being created through alchemy with the use of the Philosopher's Stone. These beings are in the shape of humans, and can even originally be human but with alchemic enhancement by the stone. They each seem to represent part of their creator's personality, as well as exhibit unique capabilities, such as shape-shifting or super-strength.
A forbiddy alchemic ritual, the attempt to turn materials into human beings often results in tragedy for those who dare try. This is how the Elric brothers came upon their current forms.
An alchemic mix of various living organisms, usually animals. Later, chimeras that are made of both people and animals appear, with mixed results.
Automail are artificial metal limbs constructed and attached to the nerves of people in need of them. Automail engineers can make a decent profit, especially in a society with a military constantly in conflicts, like Amestris. Many of the automail engineers live in a place called Rush Valley.
Edward Elric - titular "Fullmetal Alchemist"; child prodigy alchemist with an automail arm and leg; very sensitive about height
Alphonse Elric - Edward's younger brother; his soul is attached to a suit of armor after an incident with human transmutation; the more calm of the two, constantly apologizing for his brother's behavior
Roy Mustang - "Flame Alchemist"; a man whose ambitions are to lead the military government by working his way up the ladder, Mustang also is capable of using special alchemy circle gloves to produced flames with the snap of his fingers
Riza Hawkeye - Roy Mustang's chief subordinate, Riza's past involves her father tutoring Roy in flame alchemy; severely loyal to Roy and perhaps more
Scar - an Isbalan warrior-priest whose family was slaughtered by State Alchemists in the Ishbalan war, Scar uses the alchemy forbidden by his people to kill State Alchemists, avenging his people
Winry Rockbell - the Elric brothers' childhood friend and confidant, Winry is also an accomplished automail engineer
Lust - "Ultimate Spear"; Lust is a beautiful homonuculus with the ability to extend her fingers/nails into long spears that can pierce nearly anything
Gluttony - a large, child-like homunuclus with the ability to eat anything (or anyone), and the desire to do so, too
Envy - a brutal shape-shifting homonuculus who was instrumental to the start of the war in Ishbal, Envy enjoys watching humans inflict pain on each other and enjoys even more to do so himself
Alex Louis Armstrong - "Strong-Arm Alchemist"; he uses a combination of his brute strength and a special "artistic" alchemy passed along the Armstrong line through generations, according to him; actually very sensitive and sentimental, despite his tough demeanor and love of strength
Olivia Mila Armstrong - the commander of the Briggs Mountains fortress and Alex Louis Armstrong's older sister; a strict, powerful woman who has the full support of her subordinates
Ling Yao - the twelfth prince of the country of Xing, Ling is in martial arts what Edward is in alchemy; tends to dine and dash; is looking for the secret to immortality
Mei Chan - seventeenth princess of Xing; is able to use Xing's unique form of alchemy called Rentanjutsu (as opposed to Amestris Renkinjutsu); also in Amestris to seek out the secret to immortality; has a very small panda as a pet named Xaio Mei.
Father - the mysterious force behind the homunuculi and many other happenings in the world of FMA
Fuhrer King Bradley - the leader of the state government and military in Amestris; strangely amiable and fond of handing out melon as a gift, but hiding a dangerous secret
Zolf J. Kimbley - "Crimson Alchemist"; a State Alchemist who was imprisoned for killing his own comrades in the Ishbalan war
This is the country that FMA takes place in. The state is run by the military, headed up by Fuhrer King Bradley. The capital is Central. There are HQ in the East, West, North (Briggs), and South. It's bordered by Creta (in the west), Drachma (the north), Aerugo (to the south), and (formally) Ishbal (to the east).
An Asian-like country seperated from the other countries by a large desert. Here, a unique form of alchemy is used for medical purposes.
The Great Desert
A place where a once great country called Xerxes once existed by mysteriously disappeared.
Anyway, you can watch this new Fullmetal Alchemist series on April 9, streaming on Funimation's website! I'm sure, though, that many of you will see it before then, but don't forget the version streamed there will be professionally subtitled.
Fullmetal Alchemist week was fun! I'll be commenting on each individual episode of the new series here in the future. See you then!