5 Things You Never Knew About Fullmetal Alchemist
1. THE MILITARY OFFICERS ARE NAMED AFTER MILITARY VEHICLES
Since the story’s aesthetics are based on the European Industrial Revolution, most of the characters are given Western names and surnames.
In volume 15, Arakawa explained that she keeps a dictionary of European names for her characters. The military personnel’s last names, on the other hand, are from military vehicles.
Colonel Roy Mustang, for example, is named after North America’s P-51 Mustang, a popular fighter bomber used in WWII and in the Korean War.
Grumman’s name is derived from Grumman E-2 Hawkeye carrier, which was part of the Grumman company’s line of planes issued for the US military. Another example is Olivier’s last name, Armstrong, which is from the British Bomber plane Armstrong Whitworth Whitley that was used in WWII.
Non-State Alchemists names are named after historical alchemists. Von Hohenheim, Edward’s father, is named after the real alchemist Paracelsus. (His full name is Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim).
2. TRUTH IS A MIRRORED VERSION OF WHOEVER ENTERS THE GATE
The Japanese VA’s voiced the entity of the character who enters the realm. Truth– or God– is depicted as a metaphysical entity who punishes anyone who attempts the human transmutation.
Truth is the character’s internal God, a negative of the alchemist. Once a character enters the realm, the entity directs them to The Gate, where God resides.
Those who see the knowledge of God are forced to pay the toll. Ed lost his leg because he entered the gate, as well as his arm in order to retrieve Al’s soul back from the realm.
Truth weighs the character’s hubris and often takes the thing that defined their identity. While the characters perceive its actions antagonistic, Truth follows the natural order, and its judgement is more or less a reflection of the character’s growth.
In the earlier versions, the fans thought Truth was one entity, but when other characters enter the realm, we see that it can morph into the shell of the character.
In Brotherhood‘s dub version, Luci Christian lends her voice as Truth, with the exception of one episode where Vic Mignogna and Maxey Whitehead voice Truth.
3. THE 4KOMA PANELS WERE INCLUDED TO BALANCE OUT THE SAD SCENES IN THE MANGA
The 4koma panels in the manga are one of the many reasons why readers should read the manga series. In every book, Arakawa includse 4 panel comic strips and funny drawings in order to balance out the sad scenes in each volume.
Sometimes, the panels are re-enactments of a particular scene injected with humor. One fan even admitted that the extras were more interesting than the actual plotline, much to Arakawa’s glee with Fullmetal Alchemist vol. 15.
It’s no coincidence that Arakawa is talented in drawing 4koma panels. Before Fullmetal, she worked on doujinshis and comic extras for a horse racing magazine, which would explain the level of slapstick humor in Fullmetal.
As mentioned before, the Cowshed Diaries frequently talk about the creative process, and sometimes Arakawa’s assistants and editors make an appearance in the extras.
The extras were so popular that the 2009 series added a 4koma theater segment on their DVD bonus features section.
4. MOBUO MOBUTA IS FMA’S PERSONAL WHERE’S WALDO
Aside from the 4komas and Cowshed Diaries, the series also has a personal Easter egg character named Mobuo Mobuta.
He’s the author’s designated background character, drawn to fill up the extras in the panel. Apparently, Arakawa loved drawing him so much that he appeared a number of times throughout the manga.
Mobuo is a middle-aged man with a thin mustache who dresses in a white suit. He also made several appearances in Brotherhood, which many fans immediately noticed. He doesn’t play a major role in the story, aside from filling the panels, but fans fans often go crazy when they spot him– he’s a new Waldo.
Dedicated fans noticed this character, and thus began the long string of conspiracy theories, with many fans writing essays in forums about the man in the white suit.
Arakawa later clarified in Perfect Profiles Data Book that he was just a background character whom she named Mobuo Mobuta. Mobu is Japanese for “minor character.”
5. THERE IS ONLY ONE KNOWN PHOTO OF HIROMU ARAKAWA
Not a lot of readers know what Arakawa looks like; in fact, there is no known official photo of the mangaka.
If readers were to search Hiromu Arakawa on Google, they would find either a cartoonish bespectacled cow or Romi Park posing as Arakawa. (The photo on the right is Romi Park, who represents the mangaka for public events.) Fans also often mistake her for Thermae Romae‘s mangaka, Mari Yamazaki.
The only known public photo of Arakawa is a group photo from the 2004 Shogakukan Award Ceremony, Japan’s prestigious award for manga. To this day, no one knows what she looks like.
Although she’s incognito from the public sphere, she responds to fan mail and sometimes features fans’ questions in the extra panels. We may never know her identity, but her work provides us with a great understanding of who Arakawa is as a person.