Fullmetal Alchemist explores themes of imperialism and racism

In Fullmetal Alchemist, the anime fearlessly tackles controversial themes like imperialism and racism that are often avoided by other anime series. It delves into the dark side of its worldbuilding, which revolves around these concepts. One of the notable events in the series is the Ishvalan Civil War, which highlights the imperialistic tendencies and racist undertones of the Amestrian government.

Although the main focus of Fullmetal Alchemist is the journey of the protagonists, Edward and Alphonse Elric, to reverse the damage to their bodies through alchemy, the series gradually delves into the militaristic nature of Amestris. The Ishvalan Civil War becomes a pivotal point where the true nature of Amestris is exposed, revealing its hunger for power and expansion, even resorting to genocide against the minority Ishvalan race. These events serve as a platform for the series to offer social commentary on racism and imperialism.

The Ishvalan Civil War is particularly significant in portraying the consequences of imperialism and the racial tensions it creates. Amestris, driven by its expansionist policies, forcefully annexes Ishval and subjects its people to oppression. The clash of beliefs and cultures leads to ongoing conflicts, and the Ishvalans are confined to southeastern parts of Amestris. An accidental act of aggression against an Ishvalan child triggers violent protests, prompting Amestris to launch a campaign to suppress the Ishvalans, resulting in the Ishvalan Civil War.

Fullmetal Alchemist earnestly depicts the impact of imperialism and racism. It sheds light on the Ishvalans who survive as war refugees, living in slums and ghettos on the outskirts of major cities. These scenes draw parallels to real-world events, reminiscent of the aftermath of imperialistic actions in nations like Iraq and Afghanistan. The series emphasizes the forgotten horrors faced by the oppressed side and the displacement and suffering endured by the Ishvalan population.

The character Scar exemplifies the effects of imperialism, as he seeks revenge against those who destroyed his family and homeland. Scar’s transformation into a terrorist, targeting State Alchemists and causing collateral damage, reflects the consequences of imperialism. While his methods may be questionable, they are a direct response to the trauma inflicted by imperialism. This mirrors real-life instances where terrorist organizations emerge as a result of war and imperialism, although their ideologies and actions are unjustifiable.

Fullmetal Alchemist also portrays the repercussions of racism and imperialism through the existence of Ishvalan slums and ghettos throughout Amestris. The Ishvalans, deprived of essential resources and opportunities, endure poverty and misery. This portrayal highlights the cycle of suffering perpetuated by militarism, where governments rise and fall while the people bear the brunt of the consequences, fueling a desire for vengeance and retribution.

In summary, Fullmetal Alchemist fearlessly explores themes of imperialism and racism that are often avoided in anime. Through the Ishvalan Civil War and its aftermath, the series provides a platform for social commentary on the devastating effects of imperialism, the racial tensions it creates, and the lasting consequences for the oppressed. It sheds light on the forgotten stories and hardships faced by marginalized communities, urging viewers to contemplate the impact of power, prejudice, and the pursuit of dominance.

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Edward, Alphonse, Mustang, Winry, Bradley, Nina

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