(Originally published August 31, 2013 on scenesandstitches.blogspot.com by Elise Dukart)
“Humankind cannot gain anything without first giving something in return. To obtain, something of equal value must be lost. This is alchemy’s first law of equivalent exchange. In those days, we really believed that to be the world’s one and only truth.”
Sorry I’ve not updated for a while, what with school and graduating and general forgetfulness. However, since I have been home taking the summer off, I’ve seen some wonderful things and done plenty of crocheting while doing so, including the Marx brothers classic Duck Soup, some amazing Kurosawa flicks, various incarnations of StarTrek, and all but tying my mother to a chair to get her to watch Doctor Who. Despite this, the only media-related crochet project I documented in pictures is something a little different, and requires a bit of backstory.
There has been a veritable baby-palooza among those I know in the past few months. Just… Babies everywhere. Thus, I got it in my head to make some baby booties. Then I realized that booties are stupidly easy to make, and a good use for all of my extra bits of fingering/sport weight yarn, so I made a crapton of the buggers.
While all of this was happening, I discovered Fullmetal Alchemist.
I imagine that a large portion of my readers (for some reason mainly consisting of former teachers… but I love you all!) are unfamiliar with Fullmetal Alchemist, but the few that are familiar are rolling their eyes. “Just discovered it?” these people are muttering to themselves before a glowing screen, “It’s only the biggest anime ever to infiltrate America! How could you have missed it, dopey?”
And to that I say – well, I really have no defense. Other than the fact that I was about 12 when it came out and more preoccupied with Hey Arnold! and Harry Potter and the like. I also haven’t watched a whole lot of anime, so it wasn’t exactly part of my normal repertoire. And no, FMA people, I haven’t watched any of the movies orBrotherhood. Honestly, I don’t know if they will spoil the original series for me, so watching them is up in the air for now.
But I’m getting off track. There’s plenty of time to talk about such things in future posts. And this post has the potential to be very long indeed, so there’s no time for tangents (she wrote, as she dedicated an entire paragraph to said tangent).
Using Haley Missingham’s (super well-written) pattern for newborn baby booties, I made a wicked metric ton of wee shoes both using her design and variations I made up myself. Here’s a sole of one of ’em:
I started watching Full Metal Alchemist on a whim. I had heard the name before, having grown up on Cartoon Network and seeing it advertised, but had never paid much attention to it. That’s because it would have scarred me for life in the best possible way.
FMA is about two brothers who are very skilled in alchemy, a science that causes something to be created from something else, similar to how transfiguration is used in Harry Potter, but more often used with inanimate objects. When they are still quite young, the boys’ mother dies, and they attempt to bring her back with alchemy – a great taboo. The transmutation goes horribly wrong, and the older brother, Edward, loses an arm and a leg while Alphonse loses his entire body. They barely survive, and decide to join the military to get access to files that will help them find a Philosopher’s Stone – a legendary item that would increase their alchemic power, and the only chance they have of rebuilding their bodies.
Ed and Al: posing dramatically in front of arches since 2003.
All of this information is introduced in the first few episodes, but it sounds like a premise that would be stretched over an entire season in American TV… and that was the briefest non-spoiler summary I could give. So here’s some more in-depth (still non-spoilery) stuff. And baby booties.
|Or perhaps baby mukluks.|
Firstly, the plot. The series spans 51 twenty-minute episodes, a pretty standard length for an anime, and a good amount of time to develop everything and throw in some great twists. As with many shows, it does have a few filler episodes as well as the tendency to meander a bit. However, these instances do not detract much from the story itself. Nearly everything that is brought up over the course of the show has some bearing on the story, and makes a return in a big way. More on that later.
Some ideas tend to repeat themselves a bit, but the English dub at least seems fully aware of this, as do the characters. An example of this is how several of the enemies that Ed and Al face justify their actions by comparing themselves to the way that the brothers operate, saying that they aren’t so different in their goals or beliefs. “Why do all of the bad guys keep comparing themselves to ME?” yells Ed at one point, following by a well-timed punch to one of the philosophizing bad guys’ faces.
But these comparisons are often completely legitimate. The characters in this show develop in such a way that no one is completely black or white, save the occasional one-off villain. The main and supporting characters themselves are extremely well-developed, causing even the goofy episode focusing on these yahoos to have emotional impact:
In fact, the storytelling is so complex that at a few points it seems like they’ve introduced a character or a premise out of nowhere, and only after really thinking about it do you realize that they’ve been sprinkling hints and allusions to these things long before their proper introduction. Take Izumi, for an example that I’ll try really hard not to spoil.
|She shows up around pair #684… ish.|
Izumi was Ed and Al’s alchemy teacher immediately after their mom died, but before they tried to resurrect her. After the failed attempt, they joined the military and work with (and against) it for several years until Izumi (the boys simply call her Teacher) abruptly comes back into their lives. She is harsh but fair, kicks all kinds of butt, and to the casual viewer it would seems as if Teacher just suddenly appeared, simply as a plot device. But she had been foreshadowed (quite literally in one case) long before that, and once she arrives, her actions drive the plot forward and add some more fascinating, dreadlock-infused backstory.
|There she is, kickin’ ass in a lab coat.|
In all honesty, I would love to do a review of each episode of Fullmetal Alchemist if I knew anyone would read it. The music, the animation, the setting, the philosophical musings, the sophomoric humor, all of it – the weak points and the great – make up a truly memorable series. Even that weird ending has grown on me after some musing.
By this point, you’re probably tired of me raving about this show. Heaven knows my family is. But it really is that good. Even if you’re not an anime person, Fullmetal Alchemist has something for everyone (like The Twilight Zone!) – from juvenile humor to action to dark themes of grief and uplifting ones of familial love. I couldn’t think of a better series to have watched while crocheting a ridiculous amount of booties. With every bootie, I remember a certain part of the show and how it touched me or made me laugh or made me examine my philosophies a little closer. If thoughts like that were woven into something made for an infant, I hope that something will pass on and that their lives will be as rich. Or at least they won’t vomit on all over them or something.
|Maybe I should Scotch Guard ’em all. (Thanks to my foot model, Evan.)|