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Full Version: Ep. 51: Was Ed Selfish?
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fullmetal_gradstudent
Hope it's ok for a newbie to start a new topic; I've looked through the forums and this issue doesn't seem to have been addressed.

I devoured the entire series last week and I think it's some of the best writing/character development I've ever seen in an anime, but the more I think about the ending, the more I believe that Ed betrayed all of the growing up and learning that he did throughout the series when he made his final transmutation. Let me explain...

In episode 48 Ed tells Izumi that he plans on destroying the philosopher's stone. This action would be the culmination of Ed's learning to be an adult and clean up his own mistakes (in the same vein as destroying the homunculus). It can be argued that one of these mistakes was binding Al's soul to the armor in the first place, the selfish act of a child too afraid to face life alone. Al pretty much comes to the conclusion that he should have died as he makes the choice to resurrect his brother. Al's sacrifice was beautiful, but more importantly, it put Ed in the position to be a true hero, to act with maturity and responsibility, making sure that no one ever searched for the philosopher's stone again. We're even led to believe this is what Ed will do when he tells Rose he plans on destroying the underground city. However, instead of facing the lonliness of surviving, ensuring the downfall of research on the philosopher's stone, and gracefully releasing his brother's spirit, Ed takes what I consider to be the selfish act of using alchemy again, leaving Al to take the hard and lonely road of survival without his brother. Worse, Al is perfectly positioned to continue the search for the stone, the very quest Ed wisely realized was nothing but trouble!

So, sorry for the long post, but I'm dying for someone to discuss this with. Any thoughts are much appreciated!
Otoki Tomoe
First of all, I don’t know how to do the spoiler thingy yet, so I’ll give everyone fair warning now:

Spoilers ahead! Beware! tongue.gif

Ok, I thought about this too, actually. At first, I thought Ed was selfish to basically refute his brother’s sacrifice and ‘kill’ himself after his brother had ‘died’ to bring him back (I use these terms of ‘death’ loosely here). But after some thought, I realized what it was that so strongly made up his character. It was his love for his brother, and the guilt he carried. I was always obvious to me that Ed blamed himself for every action leading them to episode 51—the decision to bring their mother back, the failed resurrection, his brother’s 'death', his decision to bind Al’s soul, and everything they went through in the series up until that moment. They were all things that Ed couldn’t repair no matter how hard he tried. And he tried so hard to make things easy on his brother—who was an innocent in his eyes. sad.gif Remember how protective he was? For example, when he went to dig up their mother’s remains to defeat the homunculus, he didn’t tell Alphonse until after she was destroyed because he didn’t want to hurt him and cause him undue stress.

I think that, initially, transmuting Al’s soul into the suit of armor wasn’t the act of a scared child… I think Ed realized (I would imagine even moreso after seeing “the gate”) that what he’d done was wrong and he didn’t want his brother to have to pay the price for a mistake that he felt was his alone. I think the actual mistake was throwing away the Law of Alchemy and everything their Sensei had taught them. Choosing to bind Al’s soul was an unfortunate repercussion. We’re also forgetting that Ed was only ten years old (or was it eleven?) at the time, and didn’t have the same sort of reasoning an adult would have in that situation. He did the first thing he could think of to mend a situation that gotten way out of his control. (And if you’ve read the manga, you may or may not agree that what Edward did was probably the best, given the situation… I’ll say no more though! Go read the manga! wink.gif )

Anyway, Edward made a promise to Al that he'd restore him to his former self no matter what the cost and I thought it was kind of sweet and befitting of him to make that final transmutation, despite that it twisted around what his brother had done. I hope what I’m going to say next makes sense, because I’m not sure how to explain it:

Through Al’s sacrifice, Ed was able to fulfill his promise. I saw it as Edward’s way of making amends for his mistakes and sins, even if that meant he had to sacrifice the one thing he refused to give up throughout the series. I mean, those two went through so much and put so much hard work into trying to find the Philosopher’s Stone, and Ed very nearly created it at the cost of other humans’ lives. But he didn’t. He wasn’t willing to sacrifice the lives of other people, just like he wasn’t willing to sacrifice the life of his brother. So I thought it was ironic and sad that in order to restore Al to his own body, Edward had to give up that one thing he’d been fighting so hard to hold onto—his relationship with his brother. By offering himself as equivalent exchange, he was finally able to make amends for all the mistakes he’d made.

And that, my friends, is what made me cry my friggin eyes out!

Also, I think (and by all means I could be way off…) that he realized that Alphonse would probably not pursue the Philosopher’s Stone if left to his own reasoning. Al isn’t nearly as impulsive a character as Ed is, and I think Ed understood this and had confidence enough in his brother to trust his judgment (even if Al didn’t remember all that had happened… which personally, I think is a pile of crap. I would be surprised if Al didn’t remember at least something of their time together). Oh… and did Edward really destroy the city when he made that final transmutation? I know that’s what he told Roze he was going to do, but I don’t recall the ending ever saying either way.

Like I said, I could be way off base here, but these are all just my opinions and by no means "the truth behind truths".

I agree with you totally that this an amazing series. Hands down, it’s the best series I’ve ever seen or read. I can’t say anything else even comes close. Hagaren is so unique and thought-provoking. The storyline is intelligent and the characters are deep and likeable. They’re also very human. Even the ones that aren’t human. I really felt a connection with the characters—especially the Elric brothers—and that’s something I really can’t say for anything else.

So hey, great topic! Maybe we’re both full of crap in our views, but it’s so nice to be able to discuss it with someone else! happy.gif
fullmetal_gradstudent
Great points all. I agree completely with your interpretation of Ed's initial decision to bind Al's soul; I just think it serves as a great demonstration of the acts of a desperate child.

I think to some extent my feelings about Ed's last transmutation being selfish have to do with my views on what alchemy (and the philosopher's stone in particular) symbolize in the series. Alchemy serves as a stand-in for science/technology/progress, which is revered by the Western civilization inhabited by alchemists and is feared/reviled by other societies. (The science vs. religion themes throughout the series really touch a nerve with me.) While I think you can argue that alchemy serves some good purposes in the show, I feel like the primary stance is that its destructive potential outweighs its benefits. The most clear example of this is the philosopher's stone, which I think is a metaphor for nuclear weapons. If you don't see the connection, think back on the episode where the Ishbal massacre is first described, very reminiscent of the US attacks on Japan in WWII, eh? We even see Ed's awareness of the nuclear attacks to come on "our" side of the gate when he's speaking with his father in London; Ed knows alchemy costs lives. To use alchemy upon returning to his world, even if it is to save his brother, is an act of selfishness. Even worse, because of Ed's actions, Al is going to continue to pursue alchemy and quite possibly go after the stone. I agree that Al is less impulsive than Ed and may make better decisions, but isn't Al the one who first got excited about going after the stone?

Anyway, thanks for reading. I'm glad to have a place to air my wacky ideas biggrin.gif
utsukushii
I think that what Ed did in the last episode was not selfish at all, he said he wanted to return his little brother to his body NO MATTER WHAT THE COST. Sacrificing basically everything he had was the most unselfish thing, in my opinion. He lost his family (except for dad, who he doesn't like), his friends, and alchemy (which he worked so hard to master his whole life). That's my take.
This is a great series! I can't wait for the movie.
Ryo the Enigmatic Alchemist
It realy wasnt selfish at all, Ed wanted to bring his brother back no matter what. He didnt know if he would die or not but he was planing on sacrificing his own life to bring Al back
Wise_Alchemist
Ed's actions in my opinion were SELFLESS

He spent all his time looking for the solution to fix his and Al's body. All the hardships he went through, even becoming a dog of the military, to write the wrong of destroying his and Al's body! And then in the end after Al sacraficed himself for Ed, Ed finally returned Al to his body and brought him back to life! My opinion is Ed is very SELFLESS.
clothalchemist
First, great topic and discussion. I think both of the main arguements stand.

Ed is both selfish and selfless. He was selfish to want to conclude his own mission of bringing back Al and thereby negating Al's wonderful gift of life for his brother (though maybe Ed doesn't realise fully what Al did for him as he was dead at the time). But he was also selfless to bring back Al and fulfill his mission knowing that he could not remain in this world.

As for Al's new mission, one hopes that Sensei will this time talk to him about the Philosopher's stone and the consequences of its uses.
AA battery
I think, we can't really say whether or not Ed was selfish or selfless at that time because he was desperate... of course, to him, his goal was to bring Al back to life so trying to transmute Al back is what was ideal, however, what if- (I think Ed never realized that Al's memory was also the price of the the transmutation until Hohenheim mentions it later) Al actually has his memories? Since Al has already tried the transmutation once, he might do the same again- because the two brother's promise was, to regain their original body TOGETHER. So... if just so happens that both of them did the human transmutation perfectly (one life -> another's life), this may go on in a never ending cycle (till one of them fails the transmutation)... ok, life is not perfect so that probably won't happen...

I guess I just wanted to say that seeing how desperated and... stressed out, strained out Ed was at that point, we can't really say whether he was selfish or selfless to the extreme there... I like how both side interpretrated this part up there biggrin.gif
Guest
I don't think Ed is selfish at all, he's very selfless. He wants nothing but for his bro to be back to normal and always blames himself for all that happens to Aru. He would take on any pain, suffering and misery to restore his Aru, like work for the military, die under Scar's hands for Al and in the end sacrifice everything he has and everything he worked for to restore his brother. For the whole series, I had never seen him demanding unreasonable things, although he did demanded for people to stop calling him short, it is not a selfish thought. And he probably thinks that Aru don't deserve to die in the beggining, episode 1, and in the end, episode 51, so he felt guilty and had to bring him back from the gate no matter what, he would sacrifice his heart, body and soul...He is the most selfless.
AA battery
I still can't agree that he is completely selfless... probably true that he is more selfless than selfish or maybe, selfish isn't the right word for it... probably the lack of consideration (is bringing Al back and leaving him the best choice? Al may end up worse off than death... *not gonna say all the possible scenerios that she has in mind*) and maybe over-confidence...
xyzknight
You know what they say, everything someone does is for himself. Here's an example-similar to Ed's:
Let's say god have told you that you have the choice-who will die: You or the rest of your family. In this case, both answers are selfish, because if your family dies, you will continue living, and if you die, you would not have to suffer the life without a family.

Even if it looks like someone does something for other people and not himself (like giving everything he has to poor people, donating all his money for a good cause, etc..) he,in the end, gets the feeling he helped some people, and that is what he wanted since he decided on doing those things.

So, Ed was selfish, like everyone in the series and everyone in the normal world (like you and me). That dosen't mean this is bad, though.
Duo Himura
Yeah, but if you take that outlook doesn't selfish lose its definition since, according to what you just said, everything is a selfish act? Kinda eliminates the point... Not that its necessarily wrong, just that it makes it impossible to debate this, really.

Frankly, regardless of Ed's particular inner motives at the time, whether he wanted Al to live for his own sense of accomplishment on some level, or to fulfil his promise, or whatever, he didn't think that he would survive the attempt at transmutation, since what he intended to offer was his own life, so you can't really accuse him of being selfish, if you ask me. I suppose you could do so if he wasn't sacrificing himself, but if he was truly being selfish, what would he gain from it? He thought he was going to die at the time, so I really doubt he was doing it for himself in any way, whether consciously or subconsciously. Though I can definately see the reasoning for the other side here.

Great idea for a topic Fullmetal Gradstudent.
fullmetal_gradstudent
Hmm, after reading some of these posts, I think I want to rephrase my question a little. I realize Ed wasn't only thinking of himself when he performed his final transmutation (obviously!), but I still feel like it was a rash decision that didn't do justice to the trajectory Ed's character development took throughout the show. So, my new question is, did Ed make the most mature/best decision?
Guest
I must say- very interesting...

--- I was sort of annoyed, but using alchemy (in FM) uses human lives too (just ones on the other side of the gate). The fact that Ed. continued to use alchemy even though he knew this, showed that he could use the philosopher's stone too. When his brother gives himself for ed., ed realizes that his brother never grew up, or have the experiences he (ed) did. That is why he sacrifices himself for his brother's benifit.

--- & one thing that really annoyed me (being in AP Physics) was that there was NO equivilent exchange in the movie. You need energy to create a reaction where you go from a state of high energy to low energy. (Ex. is it easier to break glass, or fuse it back to the state it was before it was broken.) At the end, or near end, we find out there is a price for everything, but it is never what one assumes. Ed however, does not learn this lesson. He THINKS he will sacrifice himself, but only sends himself to the other side of the gate, and does not think he paid a price until his father told him he lost the years he (ed) and his brother (al) spent togeather. I believe this means Ed is still a child, and this continues on all ideas left off after ep. 51

ed & al grow up, fight baddies, nothing is as they assume, ed->al, al wants ed, etc.




... &
How do you like my sig? Only if you know 日本語...
The General P.
Sry, I forgot to sign in...
~FMAgurl~
Wow, you people write really long posts(I don't write posts more than 10 lines long) biggrin.gif Anyways, you guys(or girls) made really good points! I never even thought of Ed being selfish, but I could see why you would think so now. I still think Ed was completely selfless because he sacraficed his completed human budy just to get Al's back.

@The General P.:
-your sig is umm....unique! No one else in this forum has one like it lol
-you said there was no equivalent exchange in the movie...have you seen the movie?!?!? Or were you just talking about the series?
xyzknight
Umm...Perhaps he was talking about the trailers out for the movie? I really don't have any idea sleep.gif

And for the other question...I think what Ed did was mature because he just wanted to make his promise come true and make Al live like he normally would. It was selfish,though, because (I think) he wanted to prove to himself he was a good big brother to Al and he did the right things for him.

I'm just sorry Al forgot all of what happened in the last five (or was it four?) years,that would've been great if he remembered.
Fullmetal Fangirl
I reckon he was really selfish in the first eps.

In Lior, i think it was Lior anyway, he was talking to the priest. He was telling him to hand over the (fake) pholosiphers [cant spell XD] stone. He was willing to take it away from all the people of Lior and take away their happyness just for himself...thats when Rose comes in right? But i think he was really selfish, thinking of himeself and not the people of Lior
Edo-mame
*Will be chalked full of spoilers so proceed with caution*





From the second that Edo decided to transmute his mother he was selfish. He thought, no assumed, that his mother would be happy to come back and live together with him and Al but really, he just couldn't accept the concept of death and being without his mother whom he loved very much. He even proposed human transmutation when he learned that Winry's parents had died in the Ishbal war. What's more is that Al was dragged into the whole thing because of his trusting and obedient nature and Edo never really asked how Al felt about the whole thing. So naturally, after the human transmutation disaster Edo is overcome with guilt and blames himself entirely for what happened to Al. However, I think that transmuting Al's soul was NOT an act of selfishness, but was more like an act of impulse. Even though Al was Edo's only living family and he feels immense guilt for the incident (making him very selfish if he were to try to correct his mistake out of guilt) those were not the reasons why he transmuted his soul but because of the bond he shared with Al. At the time he probably didn't have the time (or reasoning for his age) to decided if the transmutation would be a good thing since he just thought to get Al back before it was too late, not to mention the shock of failure and loss of his leg most likely made him very desparate and clouded any judgement. As long as he saw the possibility of protecting or saving Al from being trapped in the gate, he instinctly thought that it would be a good thing. And then with the jouney to seek out the Philospher's stone and obtain it even through force it is clear that Edo is making some very selfish decisions. Also, the sole purpose that Edo seeks the stone is to make Al normal again because he blames himself for everything. I wouldn't say that trying to make Al normal again is exactly that selfish but it still is to an extent.

Even so, despite all the selfishness Edo has shown from the very first episode to the last, I believe that Edo sacrificing himself to get Al back was not a selfish act, though he wasn't being that selfless either. Edo and Al have been journeying together for about 4 years; depending on each other, living for each other, eduring hardships for each other and are always by each other's side. How do you think their relationship is? They say that love is blind(brotherly love too) and I believe that Edo demonstrates this when he transmuted Al. Just like the first time, Edo does this thinking that it's in the best interest of Al except now, the bond between the two is way stronger and I think Edo would probably still have sacrificed himself if he had been given more time to think about it or even if he was told by someone that what he is doing is selfish and for him only. Thats what I love about FMA though, and I have to admit its really moving to see their relationship with each other. Now I understand why Armstrong is always crying during the scenes with the brothers. I love you Edo and Al!

One last thing, Edo is selfish/thinks selfishly (a little bit or a lot) but he is only human so you can't really blame him for it.
Fullmetal Fangirl
Edo...I hate him...thast my opinion anyway...selfish little shrimp thing...
Ravashi
**spoilers**




It is really nice if you look at it...I mean they made a promise and Ed and Al both fullfilled it...
I mean Al got Ed his body back and Ed got Al back...
Leaving the little side affects aside...

In a way they both gained a lot though...I mean they both are alive right...and in human bodies...

I don't think Ed his act was selffish, because at the moment (at least that what I thought) the only thing he thought about was his brother to be happy...
After reading I now think it was also partly selffish...but all in all very sad...
Especially when Winry? I thought it was her anyway....said "Also, is Edward really gone?" That really made me cry...I thought he was dead...*almost starts crying again* I do that almost every day since I watched it...and now I watched for like 4 times...in 4 days...The first time it was almost midnight when it ended...I was sick the next day...really...my stomage felt funny all day long...I even almost cried during the exam I had that day, which didn't go well because of me feeling sick...

Still don't know my grade...it was last thuesday I saw them...Watching 30 though 51 on one day...I'm really weird...
Edo-mame
Fullmetal Fangirl: You hate Edo but he's in your avatar?

Yea, episode 51 was really sad, even till the end when we find out [spoiler] Edo didn't die but went to "our world"[/spoiler]. And it was actually Pinako who asked "Ed is really gone isn't he". When she said that I began to form tears and then she just had to go and say that Al is reading alchemy books again as if to not forget Edo. The thought of Edo gone and Al trying to not forget about him is too sad. But the part I thought was most sad was when Hohenheim told Edo [spoiler] that the time the two spent together; the people they've met, the experiences and pain the two shared was what was sacrificed to transmute Al[/spoiler]. Four years time that they spent together wiped away just like that(for Al anyway). And now they both live each day trying to find one another. If they really don't (in the movie) then that would suck so bad and I would start raining like Roy.
Ravashi
No I meant before that...Winry litarly says "Also, is Edward really gone?" well she says it narrorating (sp?) and then Pinako and other walk to them and asks it to Izumi and Sig

And that what Honenheim said...I didn't really realise what he meant the first time I watched...
~FMAgurl~
QUOTE(Fullmetal Fangirl @ Apr 2 2005, 04:55 AM)
Edo...I hate him...thast my opinion anyway...selfish little shrimp thing...
[snapback]145060[/snapback]


*Stares at screen* Did I read properly?You hate Ed?! mellow.gif Blasphemy!!
ScarredSweetheart
What Ed did could be thought of as selfish. But, remember, he was just a kid. And Al losing his body isn't entirely Eds fault. Al knew that it was wrong, but he did it anyway. If Al had had a little more backbone back then, things would have turned out way differently.
Edo-mame
QUOTE(ScarredSweetheart @ Apr 3 2005, 07:48 PM)
What Ed did could be thought of as selfish. But, remember, he was just a kid.  And Al losing his body isn't entirely Eds fault. Al knew that it was wrong, but he did it anyway. If Al had had a little more backbone back then, things would have turned out way differently.
[snapback]146436[/snapback]




That's also what Al says to Edo when he blames himself. Other than not refusing to go along with the transmutation, I think a small part of him really wanted to go through with it and really hoped that it would work.
Duo Himura
QUOTE(fullmetal_gradstudent @ Apr 1 2005, 10:44 PM)
Hmm, after reading some of these posts, I think I want to rephrase my question a little.  I realize Ed wasn't only thinking of himself when he performed his final transmutation (obviously!), but I still feel like it was a rash decision that didn't do justice to the trajectory Ed's character development took throughout the show.  So, my new question is, did Ed make the most mature/best decision?
[snapback]144850[/snapback]



While I agree that you're correct in saying that he rushed into the descision, I also think he wasn't sure how much time he had before Al was "gone." Seeing as the other side of the gate opens to our world, its kinda weird to think about crossing the gate (as in with Al's body and Ed's limbs) as I did before knowing that, I was thinking prior to that that the gate opened to the afterlife or something. Anyway, since Ed himself didn't know what would happen to Al since Al consumed all of the Philosopher's Stone ressurecting Ed and restoring his limbs, Ed also didn't know how long he had before his brother would be beyond revival, if it was possible for that to occur. Its kinda weird because this was the only time there's been a soul bound to the Philosopher's stone as far as we know, so it'd probably be beyond even what Dante and Hohenheim knew necessarily, though they could probably guess.

So, my thought is that Ed just didn't want to risk being too late to help Al, and that's why he kind of rushed into trying to revive him.

... Uh... seems I kinda missed the second page of this, and I don't see a delete post button... Please disregard this if it's already been stated. Sorry about that.
angelchan
I think when Ed was ten, binding Al to the armor followed along the same reasoning as reviving thier mother; a quick solution for a frightened child.

In the final episode though, it seems in restoring Al, Ed was thinking like a brother. That he needed to fix things, because he didn't think Al should've died because of him. He knows there will be consequences this time, but he's willing to risk it; you can tell because of how calm he looks when he performs that last transmutation.

Which I think shows a level of maturity most 16 year olds don't have wink.gif

That's just how I've always thought of it anyways ^^; I do see where you're coming from questioning Ed's maturity though.
Inuyasha7271
QUOTE(Edo-mame @ Apr 2 2005, 10:37 PM)
Fullmetal Fangirl: You hate Edo but he's in your avatar?

Yea, episode 51 was really sad, even till the end when we find out [spoiler] Edo didn't die but went to "our world"[/spoiler]. And it was actually Pinako who asked "Ed is really gone isn't he". When she said that I began to form tears and then she just had to go and say that Al is reading alchemy books again as if to not forget Edo. The thought of Edo gone and Al trying to not forget about him is too sad. But the part I thought was most sad was when Hohenheim told Edo [spoiler] that the time the two spent together; the people they've met, the experiences and pain the two shared was what was sacrificed to transmute Al[/spoiler]. Four years time that they spent together wiped away just like that(for Al anyway). And now they both live each day trying to find one another. If they really don't (in the movie) then that would suck so bad and I would start raining like Roy.
[snapback]145896[/snapback]




So according to you Ed did not die, but wen to the other side of the gate to this alternate world where Dante banished his father.

Is that world on the other side of the gate also the world where the Monoculus where banished to.
Edo-mame
QUOTE(Inuyasha7271 @ Apr 9 2005, 11:26 PM)
So according to you Ed did not die, but wen to the other side of the gate to this alternate world where Dante banished his father.

Is that world on the other side of the gate also the world where the Monoculus where banished to.
[snapback]149738[/snapback]



Really, what are you trying to say? Why is it according to me? I didn't make it up... thats how it actually happened. Did you not finish the anime? And to answer your question, the Homunculus weren't banished. Others went to the gate, one through the gate and the rest just died/disappeared. The world on the other side of the gate that Hohenheim and Edo are at is actually supposed to be [spoiler] an alternate universe which the producers say is "our" world except for the year is 1921, post WWI time.[/spoiler] Whether or not any Homunculus went through to the alternate world is yet to be announced but will probably be in the movie(actually I'm pretty sure one of the Homunculus is there already).
AA battery
*quote from Edo-mame* From the second that Edo decided to transmute his mother he was selfish. He thought, no assumed, that his mother would be happy to come back and live together with him and Al but really, he just couldn't accept the concept of death and being without his mother whom he loved very much. He even proposed human transmutation when he learned that Winry's parents had died in the Ishbal war. What's more is that Al was dragged into the whole thing because of his trusting and obedient nature and Edo never really asked how Al felt about the whole thing. *done quoting xD*

well... what you said later on in your post kinda contradict what you said here...Ed was only 10 back then we have to consider that... really, do you think you can make the right decisions back when you are SUPPOSED to be immature and learn? I dunno about you, but back when I was 11 (ok, I didn't remember this, but my mom mentioned it later on) when I had a disease that I thought I would die from it, I told my mom that (my mom said I was quite semi-conscious at that time cuz I just had an surgery) "Mom, you should buy insurance for me... if I died, you can have a lot of money and buy things you like..." ... uh wow, o_O;; I actually said something like that... kids. xD

what I am getting at here is that... little kids loves their parents more than anything *seeing how Ed hates Hohenheim cuz he just ran off like that, indirectly causing Trisha's illness and death*

Also, as for... "transmuting Winry's parents" and "transmuting Trisha so that they can live happily together again"... really, from a kid's point of view... this really isn't that selfish (I don't think you can call Ed's over-confidence "selfish".) for the former one, he is doing it for Winry's sake because she is his best friend... for the later one, he is doing it for Al's sake because Al was crying for a long time and all, he doesn't want Al to be sad...

back to the rephrased question the poster said "was his decision mature?" There are too many POV we can view that decision... how about we view it as "if he did NOT perform the transmutation", then we can look at in in two ways (maybe more but this is all I can think of right now)

1) he is afraid of failure... what if he transmuted sth like that pile of "Trisha" he made back when he was 10? If he, really did transmute Al into that, that would be like... killing Al once again... in a... disgusting form too... that would be... sad...
2) he realizes that again, there is nothing equalvalent to Al's life... so he won't attempt the transmutation <--- which sounds mature somehow, right? but is it really mature?

so... really, whether it's selfish or mature, there is no real pointer in this... the numourous angles you can view this issue... argh *enough typing for now xD*
Edo-mame
Uh... what exactly did I say to contradict myself? I spent a long time proof reading it for things like that...
AA battery
I think back then I had this thought "uhh, what this guy said about older Ed kinda applies to younger Ed too..." like how you explained that Ed wasn't selfish when he was older... kinda applies to younger Ed too (lol, I already forgot why I said you contradict too xD)
Edo-mame
I see, I see. But I did say that he was selfish when he was older, just not when he did what he did for Al in the end. Taking (or wanting to take) the philosopher's stone away from people is selfish... even though he only thought about doing that before he found out that you could make it.
AA battery
no I mean even later... like, at the later part of the series... ahh whatever == doesn't matter
Ashirii-Chan
QUOTE(fullmetal_gradstudent @ Mar 28 2005, 11:37 PM)
Hope it's ok for a newbie to start a new topic; I've looked through the forums and this issue doesn't seem to have been addressed.

I devoured the entire series last week and I think it's some of the best writing/character development I've ever seen in an anime, but the more I think about the ending, the more I believe that Ed betrayed all of the growing up and learning that he did throughout the series when he made his final transmutation.  Let me explain...

In episode 48 Ed tells Izumi that he plans on destroying the philosopher's stone.  This action would be the culmination of Ed's learning to be an adult and clean up his own mistakes (in the same vein as destroying the homunculus).  It can be argued that one of these mistakes was binding Al's soul to the armor in the first place, the selfish act of a child too afraid to face life alone.  Al pretty much comes to the conclusion that he should have died as he makes the choice to resurrect his brother.  Al's sacrifice was beautiful, but more importantly, it put Ed in the position to be a true hero, to act with maturity and responsibility, making sure that no one ever searched for the philosopher's stone again.  We're even led to believe this is what Ed will do when he tells Rose he plans on destroying the underground city.  However, instead of facing the lonliness of surviving, ensuring the downfall of research on the philosopher's stone, and gracefully releasing his brother's spirit, Ed takes what I consider to be the selfish act of using alchemy again, leaving Al to take the hard and lonely road of survival without his brother.  Worse, Al is perfectly positioned to continue the search for the stone, the very quest Ed wisely realized was nothing but trouble!

So, sorry for the long post, but I'm dying for someone to discuss this with.  Any thoughts are much appreciated!
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I understand where you're coming from.

What Ed did could be considered selfish. But we DO have to consider that he was still a child. Sixteen year olds make mistakes too. And Al's sacrifice really was beautiful. But what I think is that Ed's true weakness and fear is of losing everything and being alone. He truely loves his brother and he would have rather had him alive and the hope of seeing him again, then having him dead and no hope of ever seeing him again. At the beginning the two of them said that they wouldn't try such alchemy again like they tried with there mother. But Al wasn't technically 'dead'. He had dissapeared because he was the Philosopher's Stone. So It was somewhat different. And another thing we have to consider. Ed went through alot. I truely think that the poor boy was going crazy.

And as I said, I understand where you're coming from. And then again...aren't we all selfish?
Edo-mame
I just noticed something today when I was watching episode 22 again. [spoiler]When Edo is at the 5th lab and preparing the arrays for making the Philospohers stone, he says to Tucker that after he makes the stone and gets Al's body back he will disappear and they(Tucker and whoever) can do whatever they want (with the stone and such).[/spoiler]

So Edo knew what would happen to him once he gets Al's body back way before he actually tried it in episode 51. And the whole time that the two were looking for the stone they promised each other they would get their bodies back together but Edo actually knew it would be impossible for him to return to normal once he restores Al's body and never mentions it once to Al. This is not the only instance where he keeps these things to himself either to protect Al from getting hurt. IMO I think that would make Edo selfish and selfless all at the same time. Selfless because he is protecting Al from the truth and getting hurt, but also selfish because he chose to endure all the pain and suffering by himself. So sad, but I think Edo has a really good reason for his selfishness. Brotherly love is a beautiful thing.
AA battery
... I don't think that's what his "disappear" mean (I would havce freaked out already if that's really what he said... I couldn't have missed that) ... I think he means that he and Al will just go somewhere else where people won't find them... I don't think he KNEW that he would disappear... cuz in episdoe 51, he doesn't have the stone so of cuz, it would make sense for him to disappear... but for 22, he "has" the stone so he shouldn't... >.> Let me check on that after finals (I mean, listen to what he said to be exact, not just look at the subtitles)
Kaiko
I don't think what Ed did in Ep. 51 was selfish. I mean, he cares for Al (dang why can't all siblings be like that? xD) and I suppose he wanted the best for his brother. smile.gif
Edo-mame
I guess I took it too literally... though to me it still makes sense. He didn't say "we would disappear" (the way he said it really made it seem like he won't be "disappearing" with Al since it would have made more sense to include Al) though so thats why I thought he knew that even the stone may not be enough of a sacrifice(at the time I don't think he was 100% sure that the stone he made would be complete unlike the others that were incomplete).

But the rest of the stuff I said is still not flawed if you ignore my literal interpretation of "disappearing" laugh.gif
AA battery
nanah, that was good tho... cuz I really won't remember small details like that... That was good, really biggrin.gif You paid so much more attention than I did xD
Gr33D
lol, " Hope it's ok for a newbie to start a new topic"

Well, we all gotta start somewhere. wink.gif
Full Metal Elf
Wow...great topic. I'm getting all emotional just reading it...T_T. I too believe that Ed certianly wasn't acting seflish. Honestly though, I don't know what more to say that hasn't already been said. I was sad at the end when Al and Ed couldn't be together, but it just goes to show how hard it was for them to get what they wanted, and even when they're so close....ultimatly they weren't meant to have it. *sob*
The Great Asparagus
ah, how can our dear beloved edo be selfish?

when ed resurrected al that last time with alchemy, he didn't know what would happen cuz he thought that he would be paying with his life to bring his precious lil aru back, surprisingly (and thankfully) it was the whole 4 years of work or w/e. and ed didn't know whether he'd even be able to do it or not, so when al came back younger and without those memories, it's not like he could help it.

and plus, if ed was really gonna be selfish, he wouldn't bother to try to bring back al and risk his life, he's just leave the whole thing or blah.

its the pure love for his lil brother that led him to attempt to bring life back to al. or al back to life. or w/e.
blackrider76
QUOTE(Edo-mame @ Apr 14 2005, 08:30 PM) [snapback]153068[/snapback]

I see, I see. But I did say that he was selfish when he was older, just not when he did what he did for Al in the end. Taking (or wanting to take) the philosopher's stone away from people is selfish... even though he only thought about doing that before he found out that you could make it.

i dont think taking the Philosophers Stone away is selfish
look at what happens to him when he searches for it.
do you think that it would be selfish to take away such a terrible experience from hundreds of others?
look at the guy who cured fossil disease; he died. (forgot his name)
look at that guy who had the red water fountain; he died (forgot his name too ><)
look at scar; he died making the stone.
and finally, look at ed, who almolst died, if not for his brother.
almolst everyone who searched for the legendarstone has died or expierenced great suffering.
ed believes if he wipes the philosphers stone from the face of the earth, no one has to look for it anymore, thus preventing more corrupted minds to kill thousands just for the sake of thier own desires.

Young ed, as seid earlier, isnt mature.
he believes everything will be happy if he brings back the dead.
Red Shadow
It was Al who used the Philospher's Stone, even knowing what it was made of. Ed was just trying to bring about an equivalent exchange for his brother's sacrifice. I think that Ed has such an interesting guilt complex that acting selfish and selfless are the same things in his mind.
blackrider76
True, True, it is possible that they are the same thing to him
The Great Asparagus
Actually, when I start thinking about swirly things like that, it's easy to get them all mixed up (though they might not be selfish vs unselfishness) but like... with Ed, after all the strain/stress and especially in the last episodes when things are pretty hectic, I mean, I'd lose my mind!! @_@
Cozzer
I think Ed has some kind of "Survivor Syndrome"... he just thinks it's OK for him to suffer, as long as it's to protect his brother.

At the 5th Lab, he couldn't sacrifice other people to bring Al in his body, even if he knew that both of them would probably die, but he doesn't mind putting himself in danger to protect Al and, in the end, sacrifices himself (cause he thinks he'll die) for him.

Both Al's and Ed's sacrifice were brought by a feeling of guilt : Al felt guilty for all the people dead to create the PS, and Ed felt guilty for everuthing happened to his brother.

I guess that defining that "selfish" or "selfless" really depends only by one's personal morals...
IceAlchemistBabe
In my opinion Ed wasn't selfish, Either way it was brotherly love, Al helped his brother and Ed though that by helping his brother back he would be happy. I would do the same to my bro, in my point of view it wasn't wrong, just love.

Another thing was that they finally reached what they wanted no?, Ed was the one who took Al's body so Ed ULTIMATE goal was to take it back, and so he did. And Ed though about that when he transmuted his own body, ed knew the consecuences.
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