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Monday, January 2, 2012

4062. Alphonse Elric

Alphonse Elric (アルフォンス・エルリック Arufonsu Erurikku?), commonly called Al (アル Aru?), is a fictional character in the Fullmetal Alchemist manga series created by Hiromu Arakawa its respective adaptations. Alphonse is a child who lost his body during an alchemic experiment to bring his deceased mother back to life, and had his soul "attached" to a suit of armor by his brother, Edward Elric. As a result, Alphonse is almost invulnerable as long as the seal from the armor is not erased, but is unable to feel anything. In order to recover their bodies, the Elrics travel around their country, Amestris, to obtain the Philosopher's Stone, an alchemical object that would be able to restore them. In the animated adaptations from Fullmetal Alchemist, Alphonse has been voiced by Rie Kugimiya in Japanese. In the English adaptations, he is voiced by Aaron Dismuke in the first series, and by Maxey Whitehead in the second one.
Alphonse has also appeared in materials related to the manga including video games and light novels that follow his journey. His character has been well-received by readers from the series, having consistently appeared in the top ten from series' popularity polls. Criticism to his character has been positive, with some commenting his design and his relation with Edward, at some points being compared with his brother.

Alphonse is one of the protagonists from the series alongside his older brother, Edward. Losing his entire body in an attempt to revive his mother Trisha Elric using alchemy alongside Edward, Edward sacrificed his right arm in order to seal Alphonse's soul into an enormous armor. Edward later became an alchemist from their country's state military and started travelling alongside Alphonse to search for a method to recover it. The two seek the Philosopher's Stone whose material would allow them to restore their forms. Besides being a powerful alchemist, Alphonse is also a skilled hand-to-hand fighter as a result of being trained by Izumi Curtis. While Alphonse is unable to feel anything because of lacking a body, he is nearly invincible as long as the blood mark made by Edward in his armor to contain his soul is not defaced.
Believing that the immortal creatures known as the homunculi will lead them to more clues to recover their bodies, the Elrics try to use them. However, after meeting their creator, "Father," the Elrics are forced to keep working with the military by high-ranking officials who are secretly using their friends from their town of Resembool as hostages. Seeking to protect their friends, the Elrics travel to the northern area of the country in order to request help from General Olivier Mira Armstrong. As the two are successful in their plan, Alphonse' armor starts rejecting his soul, causing him to lose consciousness several times. Separated from Edward to assist his friends' escape from the military men serving father, Alphonse is captured by the homunculus Pride to use him against Edward. Joining forces with his father Van Hohenheim, Alphonse traps Pride and himself within a cave where the homunculus remains powerless. State Alchemist Solf J. Kimblee later comes to Pride's aid, and Alphonse is rescued by some of his comrades.
Seeking to transmutate the whole country, Father transports the Elrics to his base to use them as two of the five sacrifices so that he could achieve his goal. At the same moment, Alphonse finds his original body, but refuses to recover it as its weakened state would not help them to fight the homunculi. In the final fight against Father, Alphonse requests help from the alchemist May Chang to return Edward's right arm in exchange of his soul. As Edward is able to fight Father recovering his arm, Alphonse's soul disappears from the armor. Following Father's defeat, Edwards sacrifices his ability to use alchemy to restore Alphonse's soul and original body. The two return to live to Resembool until deciding to separate to study alchemy. Alphonse joins with two chimera comrades to travel to the country of Xing to learn more alchemy with May's help.

In a prototype from the series, Alphonse's soul was sealed in a flying squirrel instead of an armor as a result of human transmutation. He appeared as the other protagonist's father searching for a way to recover their bodies. In order to fit with the readers from the manga magazine Monthly Shonen Gangan, the two characters were redesigned. Alphonse was given a huge armor in order to contrast Edward's low height. Since Alphonse appears most of the time with his armor, Arakawa tends to make various sketches of his human form so that she would not forget how to draw him. Various events from the Elrics brothers' lives are social problems she integrated into the plot. Their journey across the country to help people is meant to gain an understanding of the meaning of family. As Alphonse is mostly seen with his armor, during various chapters from the manga Arakawa was unable to draw him crying. During chapter 40, Arakawa saw his conversation with Edward as a way to let him express his feeling and to make him appear as he was crying. When comparing the two brothers during the time Alphonse obtained the ability to use alchemy without a circle like Edward, Arakawa stated nobody was better at alchemy as the two had different preferences in the same way as other alchemist appearing in the series. When making omakes, Arakawa tends to draw to Alphonse doing something comical to contrast the other appearing characters. She states that she does it as Alphonse may enjoy making fun of other people.
In the Japanese animated adaptations of Fullmetal Alchemist, Alphonse has been voiced by Rie Kugimiya. For the English version, Aaron Dismuke took the role for the first anime, Conqueror of Shamballa and the OVAs. He has found Alphonse to be his favorite character he has voiced, liking how he "sticks up for people". He also comments that he also "tries to be" like Alphonse when voicing him though he then added "I don't really see a lot of myself in him". In 'Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood he was replaced by Maxey Whitehead who was excited for the role owing the character's popularity.

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