HAGANE NO RENKINJUTSUSHI
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Lust A Wasted Character., Lust was the epitome of Alchemy!
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Sparklight
post Dec 19 2006, 09:53 PM
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I had my hopes up while watching this series, and I even clung on during the final seconds, still hoping, but it was all a waste. Ugh. What a disappointment.

Lust was killed for no good reason and her character's potential was completely overlooked by the series creators.

Okay. To explain why I think this, I have to start off by saying that Alchemy as I see it has nothing to do with turning lead into gold. Nothing to do with mortars & pestles, and especially not circles with glowing funky glyphs, (though they were certainly a lot of fun in the series!).

Alchemy or, "the Work", as it is sometimes called, is mixed up with several concepts. It's part medieval chemistry and medicine, part astrology, and part spiritual philosophy which somehow got mixed up with the "Super-Secret" about Life the Universe and Everything. It's a big old mess of ideas, and some believe that the ancient masters of the "Work" had unlocked that Super-Secret; the transmuting of Lead into Gold. --And some of those people seem to think that this is meant literally. Ugh. While I have no doubt you can turn lead into gold if you really want to, (if you build a big enough high-tech reactor which wouldn't pay for itself), I think the physical Lead-Gold thing is just a red herring chased by greedy people who are missing the point.

The short version, (as I see it), when you drop the medieval chemistry angle, is that you are left with a lot of bearded old men waving their hands and talking cryptically about a very simple idea; That Alchemy is a metaphor for Life. --And that going through the difficulties of living Life is the crucible within which a person's soul is purified. You burn away the junk and put energy into the pure stuff. You grow your soul. Simple as that.

All the elements in Alchemy have metaphoric counterparts. Lead = Impurity and sin, etc. while Gold = the Purified Soul and Enlightenment.

The whole approach of Alchemy is entirely too secret-society for me. When you look at the websites for alchemy, you find tons of latin translations, long lists of which real-world chemicals relate to the old text descriptions, as well as an endless supply of high-brow posters arguing obscure meanings with each other.

I find mystery-school approaches to spiritualism be tiresome in the EXTREME; it's all masks and secret handshakes and nonsense which I think is largely designed to look cool and confusing when the truth the practitioners are circling around is actually amazingly simple and should be shared openly. To not share it openly, and worse, to try to gain respect through appearing mysterious is an attempt to gain power over people, and this seems entirely ego-related and thus counter-productive. How can you think you are working towards enlightenment if you want to delude people and hold power over them through being secretive and alluring?

Sooo, (again), to make a long story short. . .

I thought the character of Lust was a wonderful one! I liked her a lot.

Souls can't be granted or created with a Philosopher's Stone. --Souls must be grown and developed by one's own efforts at being alive. Lust certainly had a soul; to be self-aware is to have a soul. Hers was just very, very young and it didn't have all the working bits a more developed soul can have. --The Homunculi all seemed to have the kinds of souls snakes or other reptiles have; No compassion or feelings other than fear and hunger. Simple mechanisms which need to live many lives on that level before graduating to more complex soul lessons, such as those lived by cats and dogs.

Lust was amazing, in that she had made the choice to seek a human soul, which is the first and most important step toward enlightenment. --She was, I think, going in entirely the wrong direction; she was mis-interpreting the whole concept of Alchemy as being something outside of the self when the "Work" must all take place within, but she seemed to be learning that this was the case. All of the Homunculi seemed to be growing fundamental emotions.

I was really hoping that the people making the show really did know this and would reveal their understanding as the show progressed. --All the various plot developments seemed to indicate this direction, and so I kept watching with real interest. But then they killed Lust for no good reason, and didn't discuss her journey at all, or even seem to recognize that she was easily one of the most important characters in the series. This was really disappointing!

Worse, Edward didn't have enough compassion to grant her wish when she asked for his help, even though it was a noble desire of the highest order. This was, I thought, rather typical thinking in a lot of anime; the basic principals behind compassion are poorly developed and poorly understood by many creators. --People who also have a lot more lives to live before they learn enough to graduate, (or tell a satisfying story).

Sooo. . .

This that was my main observation about the series. --That Lust was perhaps the most poignant character because she illustrated the real meaning of Alchemy; the on-going work to grow and develop the soul, and that the search is something which must take place on the inside, not the outside. The series creators came close, but didn't seem to understand what was really going on in their own story. Not enough insight.

Though, the series itself, as is all art, was just another step toward understanding the soul; another step towards enlightenment, which of course, makes it entirely valid.

I just finished watching the series, and these thoughts were burning in me and I really wanted to share them. Since I am the only one who watches anime that I know of, I figured I'd share my thoughts on-line. Thanks for listening! I'd be curious to know other people's reactions to my thoughts.
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koohii_fiend
post Dec 19 2006, 10:25 PM
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Wow. NICE first post. Hi smile.gif

Have you seen the Newcomers thread? People are very nice here; it's a neat place.

As far as Lust goes, and the whole issue specifically with Homunculi character-death in the series...They're "Sins", the archetypes of what was wrong about the way their makers handled some situation(s).

That's about the only real *logic* I can see to it, beyond "it was there for the plot".

I'm with you, though; I don't think it was really necessary for her story to finish that way. Maybe it has more to do with the hard fact that they were contracted only to do a certain number of episodes and had to wrap it up? Lust's life would be too interesting and grab away time and attention from the main characters. Which would be cool! wink.gif

But you put out a lot of deeper things for pplz to mull over, too...Thanks for that! happy.gif It's really neat to see some Alchemy reasoning to go with/in the character talk.


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strong_arm1
post Dec 20 2006, 12:31 AM
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What an incredibly observant post, it is obvious you have given quite a bit of thought into this, far more than I have into the deeper meaning of the series I'm afraid.
However, having said this, and understanding (I think) your own viewpoints, I can give my own counter to some of your own arguments.
First, of course, lets just take your own opinions or feelings on the idea of the deeper meaning of alchemy and agree with them. Really, I think they can be debated as others will certainly have come up with their own interpretations based on their own past life experiences as to the true nature of alchemy. It will make for a richer discussion if I agree with your assertions, and so I, for the purpose of this post, will agree with you in principal.
So, after that facet of your post has been addressed we can move onto the real discussion, i.e. that lust was a wasted character. In this I must fundamentally and emphatically disagree with you. There were no "wasted" characters in the FMA series, especially concerning the "sin" characters. Lust had served a valuable service to the overall plot development, and I agree that she had morphed into a very sympathetic, intriguing character leading up to her demise. This very fact made her death more necessary, as it stayed in-line with the shows tone thus far-meaning that life is not fair, and that people don't always get what they deserve in a world shrouded in gray rather than simply black and white.
It is beacuase of her evolving character that her death was so poignant, and the suddeness of her demise made it far more dramatic than it would have been otherwise (there was no need to go further into her back story, I believe anyone who had watched the series faithfully up to that point could reasonably ascertain the "lust" story arch and her journey.
Lastly, you state in your post the belief that though she (lust) was traveling in the right direction she was going about it in the wrong way -She was, I think, going in entirely the wrong direction; she was mis-interpreting the whole concept of Alchemy as being something outside of the self when the "Work" must all take place within, but she seemed to be learning that this was the case. All of the Homunculi seemed to be growing fundamental emotions.
If it is the case that she was not going about this transformation internally,as you say, then in my mind the only other motivation for her character to have changed as it had would be to do what homunculi had done throughout the bulk of the series. That is, they simply mimic human beings (as Ed explains to Scar in their last face to face meeting I believe)because they were incaplable of being truly human. If that is the case, than no true transformation took place at all.
I think that Lust wasn't just beginning to understand, but did understand (at least, as much as she was capable of understanding) before her death.
Those are my feelingon the matter. Anyways, sorry about the ramblings AND I'm not entirely sure whether you'll find my ideas enlightening, entertaning, relevant...or uninformed, stupid, etc.
However, it IS 2:30 in the morning here, so you'll have to excuse me if I miss the meaning of your post partially or entirely.
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Amol
post Dec 20 2006, 03:01 AM
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I dont agree to that .... lust did absolutely everything and was present in whole series until the last episodes. She was not the main character too, so it really doesn't matter all that.
I think she played a bigger role than many other characters. I think her death was also quite significant in terms of the role she played. It was done for her... at the end i think part was over, what more could she be used for.

I felt the same for greed , but in the end his characters work was done !
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The random alche...
post Dec 20 2006, 08:49 PM
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I tend to not agree. Like Amol, the only homunculus I feel in the anime series that didn't get enough time to shine was Greed.

But then again Lust and Greed and even less roles in the manga Oo
Lust is one of the few character I highly prefered in the anime (she was rather pointless in the manga, her death was more of a ploy to reveal 'Father' and Envy/Gluttony's real forms than anything else).

Though you make an excellent view. Good analysing smile.gif


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Edamame
post Dec 21 2006, 10:47 AM
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Sparklight, you have definetly took the time to do some thorough research for your posts and you do pose a great deal of good points that I am sure could be angered to no end. I was rather interested to read your personal views on alchemy and agree that alchemy seems like one giant cloistered world of cryptic texts and symbolism. As you have pointed out, too many people become bogged down trying to discern these vast chemical equations and overlook the greater meaning behind the practice. I could not agree more with you that alchemy has become a metaphor for the Life. A number of alchemic texts from "Thrice Greatest Hermes" extol not the transmutation of lead into gold, but rather the transmutation of the human soul. The transmutation of base metals stood more something much deeper: Enlightment. I view alchemy as being Spiritual in nature where the alchemist's ultimate goal is to reach a inner transformation and a deeper understanding of himself and the world. (Why does this sound vaguely like some of the Asian philosophies?)
With regards to Lust, I believe that she epitomizes this inner-transformation. I found Lust to be the most human out of all the homunculi. She showed true human emotion, which was believed to be impossible for somebody devoid of a human soul. Whereas Envy extoled the homunculi as superior to the human race, Lust secretly yearned to possess a human soul. Sparklight, you made an incredibly interesting point when you said that Lust already possesed a human soul because she was self-aware. Although the homunculi are seen as monsters, I believe that they did display moments of self-awareness and human behaviour. (For instance, take Wrath as his personal bond that he made with Sloth. He was driven into that relationship by sheer anger, but by the basic human need to be loved.)
In my opinion the homunculi symbolism raw human emotion taken to the extreme, whereas alchemy at its deepest level represents a balance of these emotions in order to purify the soul. I believe that Lust was just beggining to comprehend and internalize this, but her life was cut short. Lust played an important role in that she makes us think what it constitues to be a human being.

**Side note to discuss: Enlightment seems to play a huge role in alchemy, but are any of the characters really enlightened?




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Sydney
post Jan 8 2007, 03:45 PM
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Intereesting, very interesting....

I remember having the nitpick of wanting Lust to be in the very last episode, at least, since I'm all into the lit concept of "coming full circle"--but she was in most of the series, she was a major player, and her death was pretty damn poignant in its suddeness, and unfairness--something that, as someone said above, ends up emphasizing a theme in FMA: life's not fair.

That, and Lust was way better off than Greed in the anime--not that Greed's parts weren't any good--they were excellent, some of my favorites...but he needed, deserved more screen time (though Greed's my #1 fav.... ^^wink.gif.

I very much like the idea of alchemy=metaphor for life, the cultivation of the soul, and how Lust symbolized/embodied that.


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Nepharski
post Jan 9 2007, 01:18 AM
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QUOTE(The random alchemist @ Dec 20 2006, 07:49 PM) [snapback]486646[/snapback]
I tend to not agree. Like Amol, the only homunculus I feel in the anime series that didn't get enough time to shine was Greed.

"Pride" gets backstaged pretty badly in the Anime. So shallow 11th hourish when compared to his Manga counterpart.

What I have found is that FullMetal Alchemist is a series that politely suggests you think for yourself on these points. Several questions are raised by the series and ultimately unanswered because you, the audience, are supposed to arrive at your own conclusions. Discussing Lust's death would've broken the fourth wall, something that might have cut back on its effectiveness. You need to decide it for yourselves.

Now, I'm not all that knowledgable on Alchemy, but I know another major springboard for the series was people's sins, and Biblically the price of sin is death. Lust would have eventually had to die, as would all the others. Even atoning for what has been done, all humans inevitable die as a part of life and sin.


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Attention Manga Lust fans:
Lust is dead. Finished. Kaput. Joined the Choir Invisible. Roy Mustang incinerated her repeatedly until her Philosopher's Stone dried up and dissolved into nothingness ("Mu" for you Japanese cultural enthusiasts). And she will remain killed off, written out of the plot. Greed was reincarnated because Father saved his Philosopher's Stone and had a guinea pig on hand. Lust is gone. Stop trying to play God with the plot line and bring her back at every possibly junction.
In the event that Hiromu Arakawa can skillfully maneuver around this narrative plot hole, I will eat my words with a pinch of salt.
Nepharski - Our first, last, and hopeful not only line of defense against bad Homunculi theories.

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Sydney
post Jan 9 2007, 08:53 AM
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How could I forget about "Pride"!? (I remember feeling cheated after I read his manga!equivalent--they took away practically all of his depth! dry.gif )


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Edamame
post Jan 9 2007, 10:09 AM
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Nepharski, I agree that human sin plays a vital role in the series. Fullmetal Alchemist demonstrates the Biblical belief that all human beings are inanetly sinful creatures. I just find it rather ironic that the Elric brothers are given second chances at life numerous times after having commited one of the greatest sins. (How many times has Edward died?) It seems to go against the whole Old Testament notion that human sin is punishable by death. It just seems that Lust was predestined to death and couldn't even atone for what she had done.


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Nepharski
post Jan 9 2007, 01:55 PM
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Sydney, I know. His Manga counterpart is possibly one of my favorite characters in the series, but in the Anime, he's just so dry and "Uh-oh, another sin. Oh gee, fetch the Holy water."
QUOTE(Edamame @ Jan 9 2007, 09:09 AM) [snapback]492828[/snapback]
Nepharski, I agree that human sin plays a vital role in the series. Fullmetal Alchemist demonstrates the Biblical belief that all human beings are inanetly sinful creatures. I just find it rather ironic that the Elric brothers are given second chances at life numerous times after having commited one of the greatest sins. (How many times has Edward died?) It seems to go against the whole Old Testament notion that human sin is punishable by death. It just seems that Lust was predestined to death and couldn't even atone for what she had done.

Then again, Edward could always been redemption. There's a phrase, "Love the sinner, hate the sin." People can aim for rebirth, but to do so their sins must be delt with.


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Attention Manga Lust fans:
Lust is dead. Finished. Kaput. Joined the Choir Invisible. Roy Mustang incinerated her repeatedly until her Philosopher's Stone dried up and dissolved into nothingness ("Mu" for you Japanese cultural enthusiasts). And she will remain killed off, written out of the plot. Greed was reincarnated because Father saved his Philosopher's Stone and had a guinea pig on hand. Lust is gone. Stop trying to play God with the plot line and bring her back at every possibly junction.
In the event that Hiromu Arakawa can skillfully maneuver around this narrative plot hole, I will eat my words with a pinch of salt.
Nepharski - Our first, last, and hopeful not only line of defense against bad Homunculi theories.

My LiveJournal, because I'm a closet conformist
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