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.