Anime Anatomy: 5 Weird Secrets About Edward Elric’s Body

Edward Elric is the protagonist of Fullmetal Alchemist and he is a real scene-stealer -- even if he can barely peek over the counter at a typical shop. He's the chibi-sized alchemist with a brilliant mind and a quirky body.

Shonen protagonists need to stand out somehow, but the whole "anime hair" trend of the 1990s and early 2000s is a bit conspicuous and shallow at times. Instead, Edward Elric is a unique and fascinating protagonist through meaningful quirks of his mind and flesh alike, even if some of that flesh is cold, hard metal. These are five unusual aspects of Ed's anatomy.

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Edward's Golden Ahoge (Hair) Stands Out

Just what is an ahoge? This is the term for a particular bit of visual flair in an anime character's hair -- usually a curvy lock that stands up in spite of gravity. An ahoge can vary in exactly how long or curly it can be, and some characters, such as Mediodas from The Seven Deadly Sins, actually have two or more. The typical ahoge is just visual flair, rarely being acknowledged by the characters in the story, but sometimes, that ahoge can perform a little body language.

Edward's is referred to as an antenna, and he was once seen rolling his hair right after a shower to create it. That's unusual for an ahoge, and it's fun to see a character make one on purpose. And there was also that time Major-General Olivier Armstrong threatened to yank it off Ed's head if he annoyed her...

Edward Grows Rapidly

One of the most distinctive traits of Edward Elric is his limited height -- something that he's rather defensive about. He's quick to lash out if anyone makes fun of him being short, even threatening to punt Selim Bradley to Neptune about it. At first, he was distinctly shorter than his childhood friend Winry Rockbell, but as the story (and months) went on, Ed actually started to grow taller as he matured in attitude and gained experience.

By the end of the show, he is much taller -- about an inch or two taller than Winry is. There was actually a time when they stood face to face, and Winry had to look up to meet Ed's eyes. Suddenly, he was no longer the "Chibi alchemist," and his increasing height reflects his developing maturity and sophistication. He went from a bratty kid on a mission to a worldy sage who has seen and done it all, like his father, and he was ready to integrate into regular society as a man, rather than run around on zany adventures. In many ways, Edward outgrew his initial self.

Edward Closely Resembles Hohenheim

Not only did Edward grow taller during the story, but he actually started to take after his father, the human Philosopher's Stone Van Hohenheim. It may be noted that Ed began to resemble his father not only in body but in mind, too, for a complete package. Mentally, Ed became a bit of a pacifist who favors science and peace over adventure and action, and physically, he grew taller (as previously mentioned), and started to dress and act more like Hohenheim as well.

Ed, at the end of the series, wore his hair in a simple, loose ponytail like Hohenheim's (as opposed to braiding it), and he wore coats and gentleman's clothes like Hohenheim -- right down to his shoes and even his suitcase. Someone seeing him from behind might think that they had just run into Hohenheim. And from the front, viewers might note that Ed's face became more like Hohenheim's, as opposed to the round and childlike face he had initially.

Edward's Weight Can Dramatically Change

Edward Elric is probably fairly lightweight, given his petite stature at first. His body was straining to support both itself and Alphonse's distant body, which limited his size and weight. He also has an artificial right arm and left leg, made of heavy automail, and he's gotten used to those mechanical limbs. But he can change his entire body's weight when he swaps out for lighter automail models, as he did up north. His regular automail malfunctioned in the cold, so he equipped lighter versions that could withstand the cold. He marveled at his much faster he could fight and maneuver, all from swapping out two limbs.

Not just any Fullmetal Alchemist character can do that, though Ed has to be cautious. A lighter model of automail doesn't hit as hard as the version that he is used to. In theory, he could go on his adventures swapping back and forth between his regular and light automail as needed, depending on the circumstances.

Edward's Body Has Important Symbolism

Edward Elric has some distinct visual flair with his braided gold ponytail, his funny ahoge, his cool red coat, his metal limbs and more. But overall, he is more symbolic than fashionable. In fact, he represents many of the major themes and ideas explored in Fullmetal Alchemist, beginning with his eyes and hair.

Ed and Al both have gold hair and eyes, setting them apart from the other major characters who tend to have brown, black or even red or blue eyes. Edward inherited these traits from Van Hohenheim, who came from the desert kingdom of Xerxes. Hohenheim became a wandering sage who spread alchemy to other lands, such as Xing (it was localized into alkahestry), and Xingese lore describes a great "being of gold" who brings wisdom and knowledge. That being was Van Hohenheim, and Edward also became a wandering sage of gold. He may be more bratty about it, but he too spreads the wisdom of ending the cycle of hate and violence, acting in a selfless manner, discovering and foiling Father's plot, etc..

In addition, Edward's coat has the Flamel symbol on it, a snake on a cross with a detached crown and a pair of angel wings over it. This is no accident. The symbol is associated with the real-life alchemist Nicholas Flamel, himself associated with the Philosopher's Stone (something Edward once sought). It is also related to ancient symbols for medicine or victory over the devil, standing for Ed's drive to bring peace and heal Winry's wounded heart, as well as Ed's mission to foil Father.

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