Trigger Warning- Some people hate to see these, but to be sensitive to my readers, I wanted to put one out there. Some stuff in here that might trigger individuals
I have been watching Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood for the first time whenever there is a moment for rest the last two weeks or so. As many readers know, I usually don’t venture out past the 24 episode kind of shows unless there is a really good reason. Anyone who has been on the Internet this decade is aware of the popularity that FMA:B has had and how dedicated its fanbase is. In a trade with a dear friend back home, we decided to watch one another’s anime picks that we knew that the other would love. This well known practice is perfect for those who want to venture outside of their usual comfort zone in just about anything. For her, she loves beautiful art mixed in with action and voice acting, so I had to recommend her the Fate series (people who are bearish on the series are rolling their eyes, I just know it). Needless to say, we are both about 25 episodes into our respective watches and are both crazy over the picks.
Call it a luxury of having so much time to work characters in or just really good source material, but one of the most appealing parts of the series has been how there is a character for everyone to connect to in some facet. Maybe they really get an itch scratched by seeing a character the brothers meet that has similar motifs to their own, or they just downright like them. For me, I consistently find myself drawn to one character in particular: Colonel Roy Mustang. I’m sure with a show so popular, there are dozens of people who have written the same thing, but very rarely is there a character that embodies a lot of the darker feelings I have for the world in such accurate fashion.
There are a few moments in the series when things slow down and there isn’t slapstick humor breaking up serious moments (when the show is most effective for me personally) that usher very revealing moments of character development. By far the best so far have been when Mustang is reflecting on his will or caught in an unexpected moment of emotion. It is incredible too because the series does an outstanding job of keeping the hand pretty close to the chest until there needs to be a well timed moment of drama- something that usually doesn’t play out well as shows telecast the next move blatantly.
The “Flame Alchemist” does an excellent job of putting up a careless guise that makes everyone he works with think that there isn’t much going on up there in his noggin. He laughs and carries on about silly things while others watch on with perplexed faces. Deep down, however, there is an inextinguishable fire (no pun intended) driving his every move. Everything he does straight down to those laughs is deliberate and methodical. While he isn’t outward about it, the man has seen the evil of the world and has developed the resolve and desire to be the one who pulls people out of it.
This year has been really hard- there has been a lot that I’ve seen and experienced the last few years that has finally caught up to my mental stamina. I’ve written about my roots a long time ago, so I won’t reiterate that I was thrown out of the skillet from a pretty vulnerable age. What I will mention, however, is that I can find myself relating to Roy Mustang a lot more than I’m sure most would believe. There are plenty of angles to work with (AniTAY writers probably already know what I mean), but the best way I can put it is that I’ve had an eerily similar “call to arms” moment from the archetype of The Hero’s Journey classic literature classes teach that Roy had around a year or two ago.
I know this breaks my flow of writing that a lot of people love to come around and read my stuff for, but I felt compelled to tell this story. This whole year, I’ve been utterly crippled by a wave of depression that would flare with moments of intense anger. There is only so much a person can see and lose before they can’t handle the toll it takes on the mind and body. My best talent at work was my ability to take massive hits (figuratively) and get right back up and run through the wall again. Before I knew it, tears would randomly roll down my face and I wouldn’t know why. My apartment that, at one point, didn’t have a spot in it was littered with trash and dirty sports clothing. I tried asking for some space from friends I had for years and the second I stopped providing help for them, the bridges I cherished burned straight to the ground.
My writing suffered as I had to pull what little energy I had left after twelve to fourteen hour days into writing reviews or dub analysis. My running times dipped by minutes at a time. The night terrors would leave me sitting in the corner of my bed while I wiped sweat from my brow with my knees. My girlfriend wanted to say something that would help me, but it made things worse to see her face when she would start to realize there wasn’t anything she could do.
It was a cruel joke- the person who wanted to dedicate his life to helping people from the darkness of the world was drowning in it himself.
I spent a lot of time searching for answers that I couldn’t risk asking questions about. If I spoke up, I would certainly jeopardize my chances of ever holding a position where I could make the difference I wanted to. It was actually my mother who gave me the push I needed to get help. The soft spoken woman who was always with an easy going smile on her face knew all too well what I was going through. She was the master of it, in fact, because she had the same fire in her belly. She wanted to make a change in the world and she didn’t know how to do it, so it drove her to find answers. Finally, maybe even accidentally, she passed on her strong personality and ideologies to her son. I know it is odd that I have to bring anime back into this dark of discussion, but it is clear why I love Mustang’s character so much: he is broken by the evil of the world but wants to give his all to lead a change.
I didn’t think I needed to see a counselor, but I anonymously went and found one that I wouldn’t have to document the matter with. She patiently worked the truth out of me, and when I finished, stared at me wide eyed and stunned. She couldn’t believe that I sold myself so short for feeling the way I did after having the miles I had. She asked me why for the longest time I didn’t address the issue, to which I answered that I figured that other people needed the help more than me and that my depression wasn’t as real as someone else’s. I think that even if I didn’t necessarily cure anything from those sessions I had, I realized where I was at and that the emotions I had swollen up throughout the years were completely normal. My counselor told me if I ever was going to move on and strengthen my resolve, I would need to allow myself to cry and grieve over my loss. I never could.
AniTAY-ers love to give me crap about how I cry watching anime a bunch because I’m an emotional guy, but it usually comes from an artsy place.
When I was watching the scene with Mustang and Hawkeye talking at a funeral, I cried a different kind of way. It was a quiet, consistent cry.
The scene itself spoke for how it was and what it was for me.