|“||The one thing worse than death is to avert your eyes from it. Look straight at the people you kill. Don't take your eyes off them for a second. And don't ever forget them, because I promise that they won't forget you.||„|
|~ Solf J. Kimblee|
|“||Ah... what a beautiful sound. It doesn't get any better than that. I can feel it deep in my bones, like a part of me I never noticed before. That sound is an extension of my being. And this land - this land that's governed by death - I will paint it red with this shard of destruction.||„|
|~ Solf J. Kimblee.|
Kimblee is the most disturbed and disturbing character of the story. He is a mix between a cynical, nihilistic philosopher who observes the world around him, and a demented murderer who never thinks twice before committing high-scale slaughters.
He presents the facade of a dapper and well-mannered gentleman to the outside world, but this is only the (very small) visible part of the Iceberg. He is fully conscious that he does not think and behave like most people would, and with that in mind he is fully able to pretend that there is nothing wrong with him, to the point of passing the psychological examinations to get his State Alchemist licence without problems. He is a skilled rhetorician able to defend his twisted point of view full well and he likes to explain it to others, as if he was involved in a gloomy philosophical debate.
Kimblee is a war lover, without the slightest regard for human life, including his own. He considers that killing is his duty as a soldier (although he makes a point in remembering all his victims, in a twisted form of respect). He thoroughly enjoys the tensed atmosphere of a battlefield, reveling in the prospect that he himself could die at any moment.
Basically, he regards every warring day as a bet with one's life, and those who survive as not only those who did their job the best but those who are more apt to survive in a hostile environment. Kimblee does not even consider the notions of morality, right or wrong, but his politeness is genuine and he deeply respects people with strong convictions who stand for their beliefs to the very end, should they be friends or foes. It is also worth nothing to note that he demonstrates a genuine interest for others conception of how the world works, even though he only takes them into consideration when he sees said conceptions being proven right.
More importantly, he displays psychopathic liking for destruction and suffering, and the sounds of explosions and cries of agony are what he loves the most. He takes great pride in causing as much destruction as possible in a way he considers "artful" and always seeks to create the most "perfect" of these "artworks," both in terms of "beauty", sound and efficiency.
Kimblee's primary motivation is to observe how the world evolves, believing that the greatest changes go with the greatest troubles and determining someone's value on survival. Following his nihilistic point of view, one population getting slaughtered merely means that they were not fit enough to survive, while the winner takes all. He wants to witness the outcome of Father's plan to sacrifice everyone in Amestris to become an all-powerful God, and wants to know what his place would be in this new world order; constantly wondering whether he himself is fit to survive.
Powers and AbilitiesKimblee is a very powerful and skilled alchemist, as well as a dangerous warrior, adept in both short-range and long-range fighting. He is rarely seen performing classical Alchemy (which consists in transforming matter and objects into something else of similar size and atomic constitution) but his skills and knowledge meet the State Alchemists' high standards.
Kimblee mostly uses his signature brand of Alchemy, which corresponding to his character is based on pure destruction. By clasping his hands, he assembles the symbols tattooed on his palms into a transmutation circle, causing an explosion of variable magnitude within a determined perimeter. He is also able to "merely" destroy anything that comes in contact with said transmutation circle on a lesser scale. When he uses a Philosopher's Stone, Kimblee vastly increases the magnitude of his destructive Alchemy, and becomes able to obliterate an entire town district in a matter of seconds.
Kimblee also possesses other special traits, namely his photographic memory which enables him to always remember any face he has seen; a vastly enhanced perception of his surroundings resulting from his days on the battlefield, enabling him to feel the tension in the atmosphere and notice when he his heading to a trap or targeted by snipers; and finally his strange ability to control his regurgitation, as he can swallow small objects and expels them from his mouth at will, as if his mouth was an additional pocket.
Solf J. Kimblee was a State Alchemist, which means an alchemist under the command of the military of the nation of Amestris, where the story takes place, under the codename of the "Crimson Alchemist."
Around twelve years before the start of the story, a civil war broke between Amestris and Ishval, a small eastern nation, which culminated in the infamous Ishval Genocide. After seven years of battles, King Bradley the ruler of Amestris (who is in fact the homunculus Wrath) sent all the available State Alchemists into the fray, with the mission to slaughter the entire Ishvalan population to the last child. All the survivors of the conflict agree that it was something absolutely appalling and traumatic, and consider themselves as war criminals. Indeed the very few Ishvalan prisoners were used as guinea pigs in awful scientific experiments or as material for the Philosopher's Stone (which in the story is created from human souls).
Among all the Amestrian soldiers, the only one who enjoyed what they were doing was Kimblee, who frequently asked others why they bothered about all those they had killed and why they were not feeling the satisfaction of the accomplished duty, much to others' disgust.
It was later revealed that the Ishval war and the genocide were staged by the Seven Homunculi, who needed a gigantic bloodshed in several points of the borders to accomplish Father's goal. As such, they watched over the battlefield and during one of these surveys, Envy witnessed Kimblee "in action" with a pleased grin. At some point, Kimblee was entrusted with a Philosopher's Stone and tasked to test its power in the slaughter. During these "experiments" Kimblee stumbled upon an Ishvalan warrior-monk and his family. He killed them all and grievously wounded the warrior-monk, who only survived thanks to his brother, an alchemist student who used the last of his strength to replace the warrior's missing arm with his own.
After a while, Kimblee's very pleased superiors ordered him to hand back the Philosopher's Stone, but he instead killed them all to keep the stone, which he later swallowed, for himself. No one else knew that he had a stone, but the murders and mutiny "earned" him him a life-sentence in jail.
Role in the Story
Kimblee is first seen in his cell, when Lust and Envy blow up the Fifth Laboratory. He is represented in the shadows, with his face only half seen. He is seen taking his Philosopher's Stone out of his mouth and playing with it, while marvelling about the "beautiful" sound of the explosion.
The Hunt for Scar
Much later in the story, Kimblee is released from jail upon orders from Wrath, much to his warder's disgust. By shaking hands with him, he transmutes the warder's watch into what seems to be a time bomb but is in fact a toy, to pull a gloomy prank. He is then greeted by Envy, who gives him a new Philosopher's Stone and orders him to track down both Tim Marcoh (the former State Alchemist involved in experiments on the Philosopher's Stone, who fled out of guilt) and Scar (the warrior-monk he met during the Ishval War, who has become an enemy of the Homunculi).
It now becomes clear that Kimblee and Envy have known each other since long and that Kimblee is fully aware of the Homunculi's plans and goals. Scar and Marcoh are cooperating to decipher the alchemic researches left by Scar's late brother, and while the Homunculi know nothing of these researches, they want both fugitives dead. Kimblee then heads towards the north, where he has all the soldiers presents look for his targets. He finds and battles Scar, but only to get pierced by a metallic pole launched by his enemy and he scarcely escapes, severely wounded.
Kimblee is rescued by civilians and sent to a hospital, where he is visited by General Raven, one of the highest-ranking military leaders of Amestris, and an Alchemist Doctor at the command of the Homunculi who heals him entirely. Raven and Kimblee then go to the impregnable fortress of Briggs in the northern mountains, which separates Amestris from the hostile neighbor nation of Drachma. There, Raven orders the soldiers to free Sloth (a Homunculus the soldiers previously captured) and to send him back in the tunnel he is digging.
Meanwhile, Kimblee meets the primary protagonists, the brothers Edward and Alphonse Elric, and spends long hours on the phone, taking orders from Wrath. Kimblee reminds the Elrics that their childhood friend Winry Rockbell is under survey, going as far as bringing Winry herself to Briggs as an unknowing hostage. Kimblee then forcefully enlists the Elrics in his search for Scar, after a short discussion about their goals and ideals, in which Kimblee makes fun of their refusal to kill anyone and shows them his Philosopher's Stone, stating that it would be theirs if they obey him.
Carving a Blood Crest in Briggs
Kimblee then goes to the abandoned mining town of Baschool where Scar has been spotted, alongside the Elrics, Winry and four soldiers under his command, who are later revealed to be Chimeras able to transform into a beast-man state: Jelso (frog who can spit mucus), Zampano (boar who can fire darts), Darius (gorilla), and Heinkel (lion). The Elric brothers eventually manage to knock-out Jelso and Zampano and to capture Scar, but upon learning that Scar's brother's researches are vital to thwart Father's plans, they come to an uneasy cooperation with him. Scar then pretends to have captured Winry, in fact taking her out of Kimblee's clutches. The protagonists also manage to recruit Jelso and Zampano to their cause and to enlist their help.
Meanwhile, Edward and the soldiers from Briggs plan to kill Kimblee, and a reluctant Edward goes to talk to him while snipers are getting ready. Unfortunately, Kimblee senses the snipers and causes a cloud of dust to escape them, leaving Edward to deal with Darius and Heinkel. Edward manages to knock the chimeras out and engages a fight against Kimblee. He knocks the Philosopher's Stone away and wounds Kimblee on the palm of his hand to prevent him from using his Alchemy, but as he is about to capture him, Kimblee mocks his naive beliefs and unveils his second Philosopher's Stone to cause a tremendous explosion.
The entire mine collapses and Edward gets impaled by a metallic pole, while Kimblee escapes leaving Darius and Heinkel to their fate. In spite of his wound, Edward protects the two chimeras from the collapse and asks for their help. They both gladly defects from Kimblee's service, as they couldn't stand him and he left them to die. They then rescue Edward and take him to safety, after picking up the Philosopher's Stone that Kimblee just lost in the skirmish.
Kimblee then finds the tunnel that Sloth is digging all around Amestris and encounters Pride's shadow, who orders him to leave Scar for the moment and to cause a huge bloodshed in Briggs, in order to complete the nation-wide transmutation circle necessary to enact Father's goal. He then goes to Drachma posing as a defector and makes the country leaders believe that some traitors in Briggs would open them the way, prompting them to launch a high-scale attack on the fortress. Needless to say, there are no traitors and the entire Drachman army is obliterated in a matter of minutes, completing Kimblee's gloomy mission.
The Promised Day Drawing Near
After Pride gets captured by Alphonse Elric and trapped alongside him in a huge dome of earth, he uses Alphonse's helmet to send a Morse code to Father, who then orders Kimblee to rescue him.
Kimblee storms into the scene and causes an explosion, blasting the dome open to free Pride and severely wounding Heinkel, who was watching over it. As Alphonse is trying to bring him to safety, Heinkel gives him the Philosopher's Stone that he and Darius picked up in Baschool, urging the young armor-bound alchemist to use it against Pride and Kimblee.In the ensuing battle, Alphonse manages to hold his ground against his two dangerous enemies by using both Stone-powered Alchemy and clever tactics. When Kimblee asks him what he and Edward chose between saving the country and getting their bodies back, Alphonse answers that they chose both. Kimblee then reveals his second Philosopher's Stone, stating that even though they want both they will attain neither and causes a huge blast.
Alphonse escapes and gives the Philosopher's Stone to Marcoh, who uses it to heal Heinkel. Alphonse then lets Pride capture him, allowing Heinkel to land a surprise attack and bite Kimblee in the neck. The group escapes using Kimblee as a shield. Pride later devours the dying Kimblee to absorb his alchemic abilities and his Philosopher's Stone, mockingly stating that he finally lost his bet with his life, but that he would continue to "live" as a part of him.Later during the final battle, when Pride attempts to steal Edward's body to replace his child-like container which is crumbling apart, Kimblee manifests himself in the vortex of souls contained within Pride's core. It is revealed that Kimblee's psychotic liking for tormented cries enabled him to retain his self-awareness among the other tormented souls.
He then taunts Pride, mocking his attempt to take over the body of someone he so strongly despises just to save his own life, enabling Edward to reverse the process and invade Pride's soul. As a frightened Pride is begging for his life, Kimblee taunts him once again for not understanding that Edward would never kill anyone, enemies included. When Edward shatters Pride's core, Kimblee willingly vanishes, content with what he witnessed of the battle's outcome.Oddly enough, Kimblee is represented in the cover artwork of the chapter 107, alongside all the series' protagonists in spite of his villainous role. (Only his arm is seen, waving his hat.) This may be due to the fact that he acknowledged Edward's beliefs at the very end.
In the 2003 anime
In the 2003 anime, whose storyline radically differs from the manga, Kimblee is depicted as even more insane and psychotic than his manga counterpart, without even his gentleman-like outfit and demeanor. Besides, in the anime Kimblee's Alchemy focuses on turning objects and people alike into bombs which will detonate after a certain amount of time, instead of causing explosions.Similarly to the manga storyline, Kimblee was noted for his ruthless efficiency during the Ishval Genocide and still caused the death of Scar's family. Yet the feud between the two characters is even stauncher, as Kimblee refuses to let one of his targets to live and Scar remains bent on revenge. He was still sent to jail after the Ishval War, but he broke out before being used as a sacrifice to create a Philosopher's Stone. Having no other choice, he joins Greed's gang of chimeras. However, he later betrays them and allows Lust and Gluttony to storm into their hideout and to slaughter the gang, in exchange for being recruited back in the military along with Shou Tucker under Frank Archer.
Kimblee is then tasked to track down Scar in the city of Lior. There, Alphonse Elric breaks his arm (by having Kimblee injured with his own alchemy) to allow a survivor of Greed's gang whom he was about to kill to flee, prompting Kimblee to swear revenge. King Bradley (the leader of the country and a Homunculus who obeys Dante, the main villain) later orders him to start an uprising in Lior and make it pass as a terrorist attack, in order to get rid of the uprising that the Homunculi caused in the country but no longer need so the military would not be blamed for their main attack that would destroy Lior. Kimblee ultimately gets killed in a battle against Scar. In his dying breath, Kimblee uses his Alchemy to turn Alphonse's armor into a time bomb, prompting Scar to turn Alphonse into the Philosopher's Stone to save his life.