What makes for a good character arc? In the world of anime, and indeed any storytelling medium, a character needs to change over the course of the narrative and become their best selves by the end. A character will learn life lessons, gain new skills, become more prominent and accepted in society, and become more mature overall. Otherwise, the character may end up flat or stale.
Hiromu Arakawa’s hit manga series Fullmetal Alchemist has a very dynamic lead character in Edward Elric, the alchemy prodigy who helped save the entire world from Father on the bloodsoaked Promised Day. Over the course of 64 episodes in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Edward underwent many changes, but in other ways, he’s the same great person he always was. Let’s review.
10 Changed: Height
Let’s start with one of the most obvious (and funniest) changes that Edward underwent. He was often mocked as the shrimpy alchemist, and he’s quick to bite back at anyone who comments on his height.
But over the course of the anime, he actually does grow taller, and by the end, he is nearly Alphonse’s (human) height, a finely built young man. Now he can finally reach the top shelves of those bookcases.
9 Same: Humility
This is the result of a hard lesson that both Elric brothers learned when they were younger. In a moment of conceit against the will of the world, they tried to bring their dead mother back to life, and suffered a serious rebound.
The Elrics have been humbled ever since, and they fully understand the grim and cold nature of alchemy. No one can bring the dead back or cheat the system, and Edward will remind anyone else of this fact if he has to.
8 Changed: No More Alchemy
By the end of Fullmetal Alchemist, Edward has had his fill of fighting with alchemy and doing battle with deadly homunculi. At that point, he just wanted world peace, and he sacrificed his alchemy to the Truth to get Alphonse back.
Both brothers finally became free of their curse (so to speak), and Edward pummeled Father into submission with his bare hands. Some time later, Edward is an ordinary working man, and he is getting used to using a hammer without alchemy to fix a roof. It’s mundane but satisfying work.
7 Same: Heart Of Gold
Ed may be rather rude and annoying at times, but that’s just his temper talking. One of his best attributes is his steadfast faith in the power of humanity, and he firmly rejects any notion of creating a superior being or society.
He believes in the power of the people, and he will take all kinds of risks to protect the innocent and take the fight to villains like the homunculi and even Solf J. Kimblee. He’s a hero to the last, and that’s not going to change.
6 Changed: Circle Of Friends
In the beginning of Fullmetal Alchemist, Ed and Al are loners wandering Amestris, looking for any clues of the Philosopher’s Stone to fix their badly mangled bodies. They thought that with their mother dead and father missing, they were all alone.
That soon changed. Ed cultivated a better relationship with Roy Mustang and Riza Hawkeye, and he also made peace with Scar and became a sort of friend with May Chang and prince Ling. He learned a lot from them, and he can always visit them if he likes.
5 Same: Martial Arts
Edward and Alphonse are skilled alchemists, but that is not all that they are capable of. They learned both alchemy and martial arts from their teacher, Izumi Curtis, and they can now stand toe to to against almost anyone.
Izumi scares them, but she did teach them well, and Ed can outmaneuver most opponents in a fight and deliver a savage blow. He even got the upper hand against Kimblee until the latter used a Philosopher’s Stone, and as mentioned earlier, Ed beat up Father bare-handed.
4 Changed: Family Man
The epilogue of Fullmetal Alchemist was kind to most of the characters, and that definitely includes Edward, Alphonse, and Winry. By now, they are all older, and Edward and Winry have actually married.
They have a young son and daughter who both take after them, and everyone posed for a charming photo that’s like a happier version of the Hohenheim/Trisha family photo from years earlier. All these characters definitely deserved their happily-ever-after.
3 Same: Eccentric Humor
Edward tries to take himself seriously, and he’s been through a lot (just like his brother). But sometimes, he just can’t resist the temptation to goof off or annoy the people around him, especially Roy Mustang.
In fact, Edward is quite the joker sometimes, and he even made a funny face and threatened to kick Selim to another planet for being called short. He also used a noxious gas from wet dynamite to overwhelm two chimeras, and he and Al had some classic brother banter during one of the final scenes.
2 Changed: Better Dressed
What a well-dressed fellow Edward has become. His main outfit, the one with the red robe, black clothes, and boots is really cool and makes him stand out as a shonen protagonist, but he was bound to outgrow that look eventually.
And he did. As this screenshot shows, an older Edward starts dressing like a proper gentleman, like his father, and his wardrobe has really improved. As a whole, Ed starts to resemble Hohenheim more and more, and this is one example of that.
1 Same: Country Boy
Edward may not always seem like it, but he is a country boy at heart, and he, Alphonse, and Winry are all comfortable in their rural town of Resembool. It’s far away from the hustle and bustle of Central and Dublith, but it’s a home.
Edward, with his skills and knowledge and fame, could do anything by now. But instead of taking a high-paying job in Central, he went back home, where his heart belongs, and that’s all he really ever wanted. It’s retirement from the hectic action/adventure life.
Fullmetal Alchemist's beloved story wouldn't be the same without Edward Elric's personality, regardless of how it changed or stayed the same.