Fullmetal Alchemist Transmutation Circle: The Interesting Alchemy in FMA Explained

Fullmetal Alchemist Alchemy

In Fullmetal Alchemist, transmutation circles are used for alchemy. Alchemy is the main science used in Fullmetal Alchemist. It is the science of manipulating and altering matter through the usage of natural energy. Most of the major characters, including Alphonse, Edward, and Roy are practicing Alchemists, also known as people who use Alchemy. 

If we are to leave the fictional world and enter our own world. Alchemy is a pseudo-science from the medieval era of history. Alchemy was practiced in China, India, Europe, and Medieval Islamic nations. Alchemy, shares many similarities with Chemistry, which makes sense since it is what Chemistry was known as back then. 

This similarity can be seen in the Fullmetal Alchemist universe. Edward often uses multiple elements on the periodic table and creates compounds to fight the homunculus as he tries to find the philosopher’s stone. 

Fullmetal Alchemist Transmutation Circle

The Fullmetal Alchemist transmutation circle is the main way to properly channel the energy of the “world.” This energy exists within the earth and is then conducted throughout the circle. This energy is what is used in all transmutations. The circle is a vessel for controlling all that power. Most Alchemists draw the circle before they begin their transmutations. It can be drawn with chalk, dirt, or really anything else. As long as the transmutation circle is drawn, the transmutation can be done. 

There are different transmutation circles for different transmutations. For example, when Edward and Alphonse were trying to resurrect their dead mother, they created a circle that had a different design from when say, Alphonse, was fixing the radio back in the early episodes of Fullmetal Alchemist and Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood, and the first chapter of the Fullmetal Alchemist manga.

The inside of the Fullmetal Alchemist transmutation circles corresponds to the activity at hand, and also the difficulty of the transmutation. Bringing the dead back to life is much harder than fixing something, hence the more complex circle. The human transmutation circle has multiple sophisticated runes on it, while the radio-fixing transmutation circle used in anime and manga uses simple runes in the form of basic geometric shapes. 

Runes. Alchemic Runes are commonly used for transmutations. They are conduits of different types of energy. They can be as simple as triangles and hexagons, or as complex as little scribbles that look like it could be a letter in a foreign or ancient language. These runes can be used in different patterns and designs (used with other runes) to create the transmutation an Alchemist would want.  

 The following are some examples of when and where the Fullmetal Alchemist transmutation circle was used. 


Trisha Elric Transmute

The mother of Edward Elric and Alphonse Elric suddenly dies of a disease. Leaving the two young boys devastated and all alone. Due to their sorrow blinding them, they decide to commit alchemy’s greatest taboo… try to resurrect the dead. They study and research for years until they finally believe they have the capability to complete such a transmutation. They think they can transmute Trisha Elric back to life. 

When they finally begin the transmutation, things go horribly wrong. They draw the transmutation circle, have part of their mother’s body, and all the elements and compounds found in the body. Yet, it fails. The transmutation circle starts releasing odd streaks of black magic-looking things. Before an eye suddenly appears in the middle of the circle. The brothers are transported into the Gate. Where they converse with truth before they are sent back to their world. Edward without his leg and arm, Alphonse without his body. 

Fullmetal Alchemist Mustang

Roy Mustang is a colonel of the Amestris military, who dreams of being Fuhrer one day. He is known as the Flame Alchemist, being the only person who knows the flame alchemy trade. With a snap of his fingers, he is able to create a flame that can burst into a fiery explosion.

He does not rewrite the alchemic circles whenever he needs to fight an adversary, instead, he has one already drawn on his glove. This glove is worn at all times and is able to properly conduct the energy he needs to complete his transmutations. One snap and the transmutation circle is activated. 


Fullmetal Alchemist Father

We are introduced to “Father” at the very end of the Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood anime and the manga. This is where we learn of his nefarious plans for the country of Amestris. He has created a transmutation circle using the nation of Amestris.

He plans on sacrificing the entire population of Amestris (approximately 50 million) for himself. He wants to become the perfect being, the closest thing to god possible in this world. He sacrifices millions for his goal.

He creates the circle itself by having sloth dig tunnels between each major checkpoint. At each checkpoint had a major battle that had occurred at some point in the past 400 years. Battles where people died. This would become the basis for the transmutations.


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