|“||When you notice an insect on the ground, do you stop to consider it a fool? The life of an insect is so beneath you that it would be a waste of your time to even consider judging it. That would be an accurate summation on my feelings towards these humans.||„|
Father is the primary antagonist in the Fullmetal Alchemist manga and second anime series. He is both the original homunculus and a living Philosopher's Stone, created from Van Hohenheim the father of the series' primary protagonists Edward and Alphonse Elric. Father remains unseen during the first part of the story. He spent the last four centuries building and controlling the country of Amestris from behind the scenes, intending to sacrifice everyone living here to pry open the Gate of Truth and absorb all the alchemic power it contains, in order to become the new God of the world.
Father was the first homunculus ever created, or at least the first that history remembers. He was created around four hundred years before the start of the events, during the fifteenth or sixteenth century of the Fullmetal Alchemist world.
He was born directly from the Truth, the source of all the alchemic power and knowledge of the universe, and was created in the highly developed kingdom of Xerxes, mostly from the blood of one of his creator's slaves, a young man called "number 23." This makes him the young slave's "son" of some sort. (Or offspring at the very least.)Some time later, the Homunculus recognised "Slave number 23" as the one from whom he was born and attempted to talk to him. (Believing at first that the young slave was not very smart, given his lack of interest for anything else than his work.) The Homunculus offered to name the slave Van Hohenheim, (he initially offered Theophrastus Bombastus Van Hohenheim, but the slave refused as it would be too long to remember) and taught him reading, writing and mathematics, as well as basic Alchemy.
With his newfound knowledge, Hohenheim caught his master's attention and was appointed as his personal assistant. Over the years, Hohenheim perfected his mastery of Alchemy, still under the tutelage of the Homunculus with whom he had long conversations about their respective goals and ideals.
The Fall of Xerxes
The elderly king of Xerxes eventually heard of the Homunculus' vast knowledge and had it brought before him to learn the secret of immortality. Upon the Homunculus' advices, the King ordered his soldiers to dig a gigantic alchemic transmutation circle all around the country, and later sent them disguised as bandits to slaughter the population of several villages located at certain points of the circle, (following the circle's pentagram-like pattern) as the slaughters were necessary to activate the alchemic ritual to create a gigantic Philosopher's Stone, which would make the King immortal. Or so he thought...
In fact, the Homunculus had no intention of making the King immortal and the friendliness and helpfulness he had displayed until now was just a facade to enact his own agenda. When the King activated the ritual, little did he know that it was in fact Hohenheim, carrying the Homunculus' flask, who was located at the centre of the transmutation circle. The ritual killed the more than 1 000 000 inhabitants of the country, whose souls were absorbed into Hohenheim's and the Homunculus' bodies, turning them into living Philosopher's Stones and granting them immense alchemic powers. (In the Fullmetal Alchemist universe creating a Philosopher's Stone requires to sacrifice human souls. The more souls are sacrificed, the bigger and more powerful the stone will be.)
Horrified by what he had helped to do, Hohenheim fled in the desert and was brought by travellers to the empire of Xing. There, he taught Alchemy to the population and led to the creation of Alkahestry, the Xinese form of Alchemy which uses the flow of ki running all over the world. This earned him an important place in the Xinese legends as the "Philosopher of the West".
The Founding of AmestrisAfter the destruction of Xerxes, Father headed towards a small settlement, that would become under his impulse the powerful nation of Amestris, and began to teach Alchemy to its population. This earned him a messiah-like status in the Amestrian legends as the "Philosopher of the East". (The same as what Hohenheim did in Xing but with more selfish purposes.)
However, Father taught a form of Alchemy of which he is the source of power, in order to control it. At some point, before even coming to Amestris according the Characters Guide Books, Father gave birth to Pride the first-born of the Seven Homunculi.
Father quickly gained control of the entire nation of Amestris and had it attack its neighbour countries and expand its borders in a huge politic of expansion, turning it into a military dictatorship. At some point, he stepped back into the shadows to secretly manipulate the events, in order to prepare his real goal. Amestris appears to have a proper government, composed of the head of the military and his highest-ranking subordinates, but in fact Father pulls the strings from behind the scenes and all the countries' rulers are nothing but puppet-kings obeying his every command. Father had a subterranean lair constructed under Central City, the capital of Amestris, with a throne room built at the exact center of the country, below the Central Military Headquarters.
Father's goal is to make Amestris prosperous and populated, so that he would one day be able to sacrifice its entire population in the exact same fashion as he did in Xerxes but to a much higher scale. He is no longer interested in turning himself into a Philosopher's Stone, and now aims to use the souls of the population as a power source to absorb the Truth itself, so that he would become the new God of the Fullmetal Alchemist world.
Preparation of Father's goalOver the centuries, Father created five other "children." After Pride came Lust, Greed, Envy, Sloth, and Gluttony. Sloth was created in order to dig an underground transmutation circle that followed the border of Amestris. Father needed to cause huge bloodsheds at several points of the border (and the circle) in the exact same fashion as it was done back in Xerxes.
To do so, he ordered the Amestrian army to orchestrate violent wars with neighbour countries, making sure that Amestris would remain in a state of permanent war against at least one nation, both to cover things up and to have the bloodsheds spilled where he needs them.
The most infamous slaughter caused by the Amestrian army was the Genocide of Ishval, which began around twelve years before the start of the story when Envy impersonated a pacifist soldier to shoot an Ishvalan child and cause an insurrection. After several years of fighting, the State Alchemists (alchemists working for the military) were sent on the battlefield and tasked to wipe out the entire ethnic. One of the few survivors would later use the alchemic powers inherited from his late brother to kill many State Alchemists and would earn a gloomy reputation under the nickname of Scar, unknowingly putting a thorn to Father's side.
60 years before the start of the series, Father gathered many nameless orphans in a secret centre and had them raised in swordsmanship, politic and military arts, with the intent of fusing one of them with a Philosopher's Stone to create a homunculus born from a human. Several of them died in the process but one survived the metamorphosis and became Wrath, the seventh homunculus. Father then gave him the alias "King Bradley" and made sure that he rose in rank to become the ruler of Amestris.
Contrary to the sacrifice of Xerxes, Father also needs five alchemists who had seen the Truth, (which happen when performing or being involved in a human transmutation) to be used as catalysts when he would sacrifice Amestris. Because of this, few years before the start of the story, he had Wrath create the function of State Alchemist, so that they would be able to spot the most talented ones and ensure that they would see the Truth. He also needed to perform the ritual during a solar eclipse, to use the crown of light around the sun as a second transmutation circle that would enable him to absorb the Truth itself.
At the very beginning when he was only named "Homunculus," Father looked like an orb of dark matter, (which is apparently pure, physical knowledge) who could form an eye, a grinning mouth and some small tendrils. He had to remain in the flask in which he had been created, otherwise he would have died.
When he became a living Philosopher's Stone, he used the DNA he received from Van Hohenheim to create a body with which he could interact with the world, a body which looked exactly like Hohenheim, like a clone or a "twin" of some sort. This body however physically aged much more than Hohenheim over the centuries. By the time the story takes place, Father looks like a tall, elderly man with long, white blond hair (contrary to Hohenheim's golden blond hair colour) and a beard, golden eyes that are rarely seen fully open, and a wrinkled face with a third eye that opens from time to time on his forehead. Father is dressed in white royal garments which he picked up on the King of Xerxes' corpse.Near the end of the story, it is revealed that the Hohenheim-like body is in fact an organic shell, inside which Father's original body evolved during four hundred years. Under this new form, Father is able to survive outside a container and assumes the shape of a tall humanoid entirely black and covered with eyes, with a grinning mouth on his head.
After successfully absorbing the Truth, Father undergoes a final transformation. Since he was created from Van Hohenheim's blood, he once again obtains a humanoid body exactly similar to that of Hoheneim, but this time resembling his teenage self. Under this form, he has long, blond hair, golden eyes and a muscular body. He wears casual Xerxes-like clothing and goes shirtless. (In spite of his youthful aspect, he retains his old man's voice in the second anime.)
|“||I only wanted to obtain perfection. I wanted this world's knowledge for my own! Why should I be punished for that? What's wrong with craving knowledge? What's wrong with seeking perfection?||„|
|~ Father's justifications only serve to highlight his selfishness|
Back when he was the Homunculus in the flask, Father was observant, witty and sharp-tongued. Even under his friendly facade, he never hesitated to voice his opinion out-loud, rarely showing respect that was not sarcastic and frequently poking fun at both Hohenheim and at the general human way of life, demonstrating that even in this hapless form, he considered himself superior.
This superiority complex increased into a god complex when Father became a living Philosopher's Stone. His immortality, his immense powers and his control over Amestris comforted him in his belief that he was superior to any life form. As such he regards mankind as insignificant and treats people with extreme indifference. He states that his level of conscience is too different (and much higher) for humans to grasp, demonstrating huge levels of egomania. He caused countless gory slaughters, killed hundreds of thousands and would have killed millions without so much as a qualm, but cannot bear the idea of not being in control of a conversation or a situation.
Ironically, Father who craved for freedom, chose to willingly confine himself underground for most of his life. It must be noted that when confronted to Truth (a higher being he could not subjugate in any manner) after his defeat, Father lost all composure and began yelling frantic pleas for mercy and self-serving attempts to justify his unspeakable crimes; highlighting the petty, disgusting selfishness hidden behind the high and mighty facade.
Father is serious, merciless, deeply selfish and extremely overconfident, looking bored nearly all the time. As a result of separating himself from seven major emotions (the seven Deadly Sins) to create the homunculi, he became cold and nearly emotionless. However, when close to accomplish his goals or especially pleased, Father loses his calm and demonstrates a gleeful, wicked excitation. Given his immense knowledge about almost everything in existence, he is rarely taken aback. As such he often acts as if he knew everything and gives lectures to people, even when they disagree with him or can prove him wrong. Yet, he knows that he is unfamiliar with the way people think and relies on his subordinate's advice to deal with it. (Though said advice never really surprise him.)
Father is also highly intelligent, noted by the author as one of the smartest characters of the series. He is able to orchestrate the entire story to the last event, by planting his agents where he needs and deceiving unsuspecting parties into doing his bidding; (though he left most of it to his homunculi). He is no less adept in gaining the trust of people he needs, mostly by promises and inspiring declarations, playing on their desires and telling them what they want to hear. The very high regards in which the corrupt leaders of Amestris hold him are sufficient proof of it, (though their devotion may stem from his "promise" to make them immortals).
The only beings for whom Father seem to really care are his seven "children". Hohenheim even states that he has his homunculi call him "Father" because he desires a family like everyone else, something that irks him but which he does not deny. Father also cares for Hohenheim to a certain extent, as he was very pleased to learn that he was still alive and that the Elric brothers were his children. Upon meeting the Elrics for the first time, he demonstrated a light-hearted enthusiasm and an almost comical side for a brief instant.
Yet, he only cares about Hohenheim and the Elrics because they are useful for his goals. Even his "children" are nothing but tools to his eyes, as evidenced when he did not pay the slightest bit of attention to Pride's highly weakened state, which he could have fixed in a matter of seconds, at the time of the final battle.
Powers and Abilities
Father's primary power is his seemingly limitless knowledge. He came to the world knowing already every existing concept. When he was first confronted to something, he demonstrated said knowledge by giving a dictionary-like definition of it. Since he comes from the Truth itself and was created through Alchemy, he knows everything about it and can put in practice alchemic rituals of which mankind has never heard of. However, despite knowing almost everything, he needs to experience something in order to recognise it, or at least he needed it when he was discovering the world from within his flask.
As a living Philosopher's Stone
Father is an extremely powerful being, whose mastery of Alchemy dwarves that of the best practitioners to a huge extent (with the exception of the equally powerful Van Hohenheim). He does not need to bother with alchemic rules and limitations and he can transmute matter without even having to move. He can perform virtually any brand of Alchemy and his transmutation power toys with the laws of physics. Indeed, he is able to transform anything to anything else, to transmute back projectiles, to increase the size of any object thousand fold, to create matter from nothing and objects out of nowhere. He is also able to change the atomic structure of matter to the point of turning solid into liquid, among other things.
Father can create Philosopher's Stones by gathering several of the souls contained within him, producing them from the third eye that sporadically opens on his forehead. He created the Seven Homunculi by concentrating a defined emotion into a Philosopher's Stone, which he used as the homunculus' core. He can also absorb Philosopher's Stones and alchemic energy into himself. He uses it to absorb back a homunculus, which he can then restore or recreate after a certain period of time. (During which said homunculus is seen developing within him.)
Father is also able to control Alchemic energy, as seen when he attacks with electric-like discharges or energy blasts of variable size. More importantly, Father can infuse his alchemic energy into the ground by connecting himself to pipes, which he does to provide Amestris with the energy that the local alchemists need to transmute. Father can disrupt this energy flow, which renders Alchemy useless all around Amestris for as long as he wants.
- Father's evolved form has no defined shape, enabling him to manipulate his size and his figure at will. He can absorb objects and even people into himself, (which renders him fatter when he absorbs big objects or well-built people.) He can also shift his body like a fluid, phase through physical attacks; reshape his body to form tendrils, additional arms or even objects (like a gun and its bullets) and to elongate his limbs. Moreover, his body expands outside his humanoid shape, as the whole throne room gets plunged into a black void with a gigantic eye, which he describes as "inside his belly" and which appears as a huge dark cloud from the outside. He was also seen growing to gigantic proportions, but it is fair to assume that this was due to the transmutation during which he absorbed the Truth instead of his regular abilities.
As the new God
After successfully becoming a God, Father gains the entire power of the Truth and becomes virtually all-powerful. His already incredible power over Alchemy skyrockets to absolute levels, rendering him able to perform several high-scale transmutations at once and to do whatever he pleases with any type of matter. His control over alchemic energy skyrockets as well, and he becomes able to fire tremendous energy blasts from every direction, to make them last as long as he wants and even to increase their already immense magnitude tenfold, and to absorb human souls without rituals. Under his divine form, he is constantly surrounded by a barrier of electricity-like energy that cancels every type of attack.Father's newfound powers do not stop at Alchemy and grant him total control over creation. He demonstrates mastery of the elements, when he conjures a tornado and a tidal wave, and high-level telekinesis.
He is even able to control nuclear fusion and solar energy, as seen when he creates a miniature sun in the palm of his hand. Should he obliterate a place, he would be able to fully recreate everything he destroyed from nothing. Furthermore, he was seen giving "life" when he extracted the souls of many of his Xerxesian victims from within himself, into newly created, fully human bodies.
Having absorbed the souls of the entire population of Amestris, Father gains limitless energy supplies that enable him to fully control his divine power without restriction, rendering him invincible. Fortunately this does not last long, as Hohenheim performs an alchemic ritual that sends all the Amestrian souls back into their bodies. After that, Father's unlimited power becomes too much for him to handle, putting a considerable strain on his body, making him vulnerable again.
Faceless leader of the homunculi
Father remains unseen for most of the first part of the events. Whenever he interacts with his "children" he remains hidden in the shadows and his face is only partially seen. Yet, what is seen of is face looks strikingly similar to what is seen of Van Hohenheim's face in old pictures, leading the reader to believe that the father of the homunculi and the father of Edward and Alphonse Elric are one and the same. An assumption rendered even more plausible knowing thart Hohenheim left his family ten years before the start of the story, never to be seen again. (In fact, Father can somehow be considered as the Elrics' "kin" of some sort, given that he his Hohenheim's alchemic offspring/clone.)
Father first appears when King Bradley is revealed to be the homunculus Wrath, as Wrath has captured the renegade homunculus Greed and brought him to Father. Father asks Greed if he wants to work for him once again, and upon his refusal he plunges him in a pool of acid to dissolve his body, before absorbing back his Philosopher's Stone.
Father is next seen talking with Lust, shortly before the latter's death by the hand of Colonel Roy Mustang, one of the main protagonists. After Lust's death, Father asks Wrath why he spared Mustang who was at his mercy and is told that Mustang would be a suitable candidate for the sacrifice, should he see the Truth. Pleased with this answer, Father smiles and walks away, ordering his "children" to let Wrath handle Mustang.
At the same time, Van Hohenheim returns to his village and meets both his old friend Pinako Rockbell, who took care of his sons in his absence, and Edward himself. Hohenheim appears as someone gentle and somehow clumsy, but he forces his son to face his own mistakes and ominously warns Pinako to flee the country to escape an impending disaster. He later describes himself as a "monster" after having been shot several times by mountain bandits without flinching. All this further leads the reader to believe that he is the villain of the story.
Father is first fully seen when Alphonse Elric is led into his throne room by Gluttony, who accidentally swallowed Edward, the Xinese prince Ling Yao and Envy. (Hohenheim is seen miles away at the same moment.) Seconds later, they escape from the dimensional void inside Gluttony's belly and the Elrics meet Father, whom they mistake for Van Hohenheim. Upon learning that the intruders are the Elric brothers, valuable candidates for the sacrifice, and Hohenheim's sons, Father laughs enthusiastically and heals their wounds.
Despite this warm (albeit disturbing) first contact, Father shows his true colours when he notices Ling Yao, whom he calls a "useless trash" before ordering Gluttony to dispose of him. Infuriated, Edward (who heard about Father and began to deduce his plan to become a god) engages a fight against Father, backed up by Alphonse and Ling. Unfortunately, they are absolutely no match for him and they end up subdued by Envy and Gluttony after he cancels Alchemy. Noticing Ling's vitality, Father decides to use him as a vessel and resurrects Greed in his body.
As things seem lost, Scar and the Xinese princess Mei Chang, who spotted and followed Alphonse and Gluttony, storm into the throne room. Edward tells Scar that Father and the homunculi are responsible for the Ishval Genocide, prompting Scar to attack Father. As Mei uses Alkahestry and Scar uses a mix between Amestrian and Xinese Alchemy, they can still use their powers but they end up defeated nonetheless and Scar is forced to escape while Mei hides inside Alphonse's armour.
Father then orders Envy to bring the Elrics to Wrath before absorbing back Gluttony's Philosopher's Stone to recreate him, as Gluttony died too many times and can no longer regenerate.
Preparing the plan
While escaping, Scar enters the cell where Father is keeping the State Alchemist Tim Marcoh prisoner. They fake Marcoh's murder and escape from Father's subterranean lair, but Father later notices that one of the chimeras who guarded the prisoner was transformed via Alchemy to resemble Marcoh's corpse. Suspecting that Scar and Marcoh escaped together, he orders the homunculi to track them down and Wrath has Solf J. Kimblee, a psychotic State Alchemist who sides with the homunculi, released from jail to do the work.
Later, Greed and Pride notice that Father is asleep, dreaming of his creation and his rise in power back in Xerxes. (Miles away, Hohenheim is having the exact same dream.) Father plans to use the Elric brothers, their master Izumi Curtis and Van Hohenheim for the sacrifice, as they have all seen the Truth, and is wondering who could be the fifth (Roy Mustang and Tim Marcoh being the primary choices).
When Hohenheim enters the nation-wide Transmutation Circle and tells Pride that "Slave number 23" will soon come to see Father, the villain is pleased to hear this and states that he is eager to see the one from whom he was born again.
After Wrath has gone missing, Father appears before the corrupt officials who form Amestris' government and takes direct control of the country, stating that Amestris is under his protection. Shortly after, they learn that Mustang and his most trusted subordinates have defected. Father asks them what they think Mustang would do, as they know him better. Upon learning that they took Wrath's human wife hostage, he appears unimpressed, as he considers it a waste of time.
As the solar eclipse that Father needs to enact his plan is drawing near, Pride is defeated and trapped under a huge dome of earth by the protagonists. However, Pride manages to send a Morse code that Father receives. The villain then orders Kimblee to go and free him. A while later, Roy Mustang starts an insurrection and Brigadier General Olivia Armstrong, another ally of the Elrics, takes one of the corrupt officials hostage. Father then orders Sloth to go and kill her but the giant homunculus is destroyed in the ensuing fight.
Gaining GodhoodAs the protagonists invade Father's lair to kill him, Hohenheim is the first to reach his "little friend from the flask." After launching several attacks, Father turns the ground liquid and plunges into it, striking Hohenheim from behind to absorb his alchemic power, but instead his entire body gets destroyed from the inside. Hohenheim explains that he managed to communicate with the more than 500 000 souls that make him a Philosopher's Stone, allowing them to retain their self-awareness, and gained them to his cause. The reaction triggered by Hohenheim's souls destroys Father's humanoid body, but the villain has evolved and no longer needs it. He exits his container and devours it, before quickly defeating Hohenheim and absorbing him within his body.
Father is next seen when an Alchemist Doctor under his command performs a ritual to teleport Edward, Alphonse and Izumi in his throne room. He is surprised that the fifth sacrifice has yet to see the Truth but confident that it will happen soon. Indeed Pride soon appears with Roy Mustang, whom he forced through the Gate of Truth. Shortly after, Mei Chang manages to barge into the throne room despite the fact that it has been engulfed within Father's body and should prevent all intrusion. Mei quickly attacks Father, demanding to be granted immortality, but he effortlessly blasts her away before pinning the sacrifices on a transmutation circle and performing the ritual. Greed then appears and attempts to hijack the ritual for his own gain, but to no avail.
The nation-wide circle rips the soul of the more that 50 million people all over Amestris (save from those who are near the throne room) which Father absorbs within himself, while the circle formed by the eclipse open the Gate of the World and allows Father to absorb the entire Truth. Father then re-emerges, having become a God and looking like a teenage Hohenheim, and sarcastically thanks the sacrifices for their help.
the Final Battle
Father nullifies the Amestrian Alchemy for good before sending a gigantic energy blast from the roof to dispose of the sacrifices, but Hohenheim manages to block it. Father then destroys the ground below them but Mei, who can still use Alkahestry, manages to use Father's own energy to cancel his attack.
As Father is preparing to obliterate the entire room, Hohenheim activates his backup plan and by using the umbra (the moon's shadow) and the Xerxesian souls that he spread in the ground at several points of the border, he performs his own ritual to send all the Amestrian souls that Father absorbed back into their unscathed bodies. By doing so, he deprives Father of the energy he needs to keep the Truth within him. Shortly after, Scar activates the Alkahestry ritual that the protagonists prepared, which restores Amestrian Alchemy and makes it work from the energy of the world instead of Father's, making it much more powerful than before. With their power back, the protagonists start a counterattack.
In spite of the strain caused by the Truth he can no longer contain, Father is still able to cancel all the protagonists' attacks. Knowing that his energy supplies won't last long, the villain heads towards the surface to absorb more souls, tailed by the protagonists. There, Father toys with Hohenheim by spawning several of the Xerxesian souls within him into new bodies, before unleashing a titanic energy blast that obliterates the Central Military Headquarters and the reborn Xerxesians, cripples Hohenheim and nearly destroys Alphonse's armour (as they protected the others).As Father is about to absorb them all, he gets attacked by all the soldiers around, upon Brigadier General Olivia Armstrong's and Commander Alex Louis Armstrong's orders. All the remaining protagonists then enter the fray and unleash an endless onslaught of attacks on Father, so that he would waste all his energy by cancelling it. They drive the villain into a corner but he lets Greed stab him, intending to absorb back his Philosopher's Stone to replenish his own strength. However, it appears that Greed let himself get caught to lower Father's guard, allowing Edward to strike him. Father is still able to counter it, destroying Ed's prosthetic arm, but this finally makes him reach his limit. Exhausted by all this attacks, Father uses his last strength to blasts all his foes away with a tremendous surge of energy. Alphonse then sacrifices his soul to restore Edward's arm, as he is the only one still able to stand, and a livid Ed pummels Father with a barrage of alchemic attacks and punches that he can no longer block.
Desperate to survive, Father strikes Greed and absorbs him back from Ling Yao's body, but Greed uses his carbon power to turn Father's body into the weakest form of charcoal. Infuriated, Father destroys Greed's soul, only for Edward to punch a hole through his chest and finish him off.With his body destroyed for good and all the power and souls he stole back where they belong, Father's soul is sent back to the Gate of Truth. He tries to justify his action stating that he was chasing his desire for knowledge. Despite his desperate and pathetic pleas, Father is dragged inside the Gate of Truth and gets dissolved back into the knowledge from which he was born. It is implied that he will remain conscious there to meet his ultimate defeat, and suffer for all eternity, with Truth stating that this is a fitting and ultimate punishment for those like him who trample on others to rise and believe themselves to be superior.