Author Topic: An especially disturbing kind of death – FMA  (Read 4706 times)

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Offline pieisexactlythree

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An especially disturbing kind of death – FMA
« on: September 21, 2006, 01:28:38 pm »
Pretty much the entirety of this post will be spoilers, so read at your own risk!










Last night I watched episode 40 of FMA. I found the death of Marta at the end of the episode particularly disturbing, and couldn’t get it out of my head all of today. I’d like to put forward a few ideas about the symbolic power of this particular death and why it seemed to stand out from the others in the series thus far and see what others think, and if anyone had a similar reaction.

First, the viewer does not see Marta die. For a moment, after Fuhrer Bradley withdraws his sword, she is like Schrödinger’s cat, neither alive nor dead, because we don’t really know what has happened. This uncertainty is disturbing and frightening. By contrast, the death of Hughes was clear and unambiguous.

Second, and perhaps most important, is the cluster of symbols surrounding the relationship between Alphonse and Marta at the time of her death. It is critical that Marta is physically inside Al at the time. The only normal situation in which one human being is completely within the body of another is during pregnancy, but here we see all the basic facts of such a situation inverted.

The primary binaries which are inverted here are age and gender. Marta is an adult woman, who is being physically carried within an ostensibly adolescent male. Yet, when we see Marta’s blood seeping from Al’s abdomen – the part of the body where a fetus would be – the image is very reminiscent of a forced abortion or induced miscarriage. Thus it evokes a whole slew of powerful emotions in the viewer. Moreover, Al’s response evokes that of a grieving mother. I don’t mean that this is what the show’s creators meant us to understand about Al’s mental state, but rather they treated his reaction in this way because they wanted the viewer to react to the symbolism of the mother who has lost a child, as it is typically shown in the vocabulary of modern cinema.

The confusing inversions conventional roles extends further to the bodies of those involved. As I said above, Marta is an adult woman, not a child, and the young male Al, is actually not a flesh-and-blood being at all, but rather a barren metal shell, an inversion of the symbol of the fertile mother.

The confusion and tension, as well as emotional turmoil stirred up by these symbolic inversions, and the inherent drama of the situation accomplish two things. They profoundly affect the viewer emotionally, and they brutally reinforce the series’ overall emphasis on the moral ambiguity of its characters. The ability of the supporting characters to confound the viewers’ expectations is one of the distinguishing features of this series, and it is events like this that make them credible.

Your thoughts?

[note: cross-posted to A.N.N. forums]
« Last Edit: January 25, 2010, 03:05:31 am by JeffT »

Offline kylite

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An especially disturbing kind of death – FMA Episode 40
« Reply #1 on: September 21, 2006, 01:43:47 pm »
All I can say in response is, keep watching thru 51 and then see how you feel.
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Offline MEDIC!!!

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An especially disturbing kind of death – FMA Episode 40
« Reply #2 on: September 21, 2006, 02:27:27 pm »
i didnt realize we had a psy major w/ us

but the other issue that is brought up in that sittuation
is the fact that the creator distastfully hates and is against
the very idea of abortion

the reason this was brought up in the series was b/c
a close friend couldnt handle the stress of
motherhood and aborted her pregnancy

there was a web site w/ the article somewhere on the net
dont know where it is now but i think some of his
fansites still have links to anti-abortion site on their websites

now being as an artist this famous can make political nuances
b/c one cant go right out and say that you hate
so my guess is that he brought some psy guys to help w/
this matter


now being as ive forgotten where the hell i was going w/ this
ill have to stop so i dont sound like im talk out the side of my ***

but i hope this sheds some light on the emtional turmoil that you
are going through

but seriously like kylite said keep wtaching till ep 51
then pray to god (or whoever your religous icon is)
that somebody you know has the movie or
you are going to be rightly ticked off at where this
all auspicious series decides to end

not to spoil too much but i found it
maddeningly funny and ironic
how both the series and the movie end

well you have fun sorting out the rest of the emtions
that you will feel w/ the rest of the series
but remember its anime so have fun watching it

thank you for listening to me BS
(b/c i have no idea as to why i posted to this)
and remember anime equals fun emtionalization  lol


thank you for the rant
-Sean- aka MEDIC!!!

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Offline Sasu-kitty

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An especially disturbing kind of death – FMA Episode 40
« Reply #3 on: September 21, 2006, 02:56:17 pm »
That's actually a really good point, pie.

Because of her ability, wouldn't Marta, had she seen the sword coming, been able to avoid being stabbed?  Or was she not that able to change her shape?

That's been on my mind since I saw the episode months ago.  

From what I remember, didn't Marta see Fuhrer Bradley, realize who he was, and warn Alphonse to run?  If so, What kept him from doing so?  

This is what I loved about Fullmetal Alchemist, is that it was so psychologically broad, that a lot of it left the viewer thinking about what exactly the creators were trying to say with certain events in the series and movie.


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Offline pieisexactlythree

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An especially disturbing kind of death – FMA Episode 40
« Reply #4 on: September 21, 2006, 03:26:56 pm »
Quote
i didnt realize we had a psy major w/ us


Actually, my undergrad degree was in Cultural Anthropology, and I currently work in real estate development.

Offline corpsic beauty

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An especially disturbing kind of death – FMA Episode 40
« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2006, 07:41:59 pm »
ok, i've seen the whole series and since it was last on cartoon network, i kidna forgot the details....heh heh......so now i'm gonna have to go rent it and look for this stuff! when i first watched it the storyplot was way too mutch to handle and alot of it i couldn't really take in......ya know what i mean? so it probably would help me understand it more if i rented it again and watched it a few more times. lol

Offline superjaz

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An especially disturbing kind of death – FMA Episode 40
« Reply #6 on: September 26, 2006, 11:37:11 pm »
it was really sad and marta despite being though hell was still a good person  (yes i know she killed peeps but she was under orders)
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Offline princessfrodo

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An especially disturbing kind of death – FMA Episode 40
« Reply #7 on: September 26, 2006, 11:53:26 pm »
Ugg, I ended up skimming through the entire series tonight because I was bored (sometimes I don't understand my mind), and I actually re-watched ep 40 in whole because I remember this thread.

Meaning behind everything or not, the entire series still just makes me curl up in a ball and sob by the end.  Yeesh, there should be massive "Frodo shouldn't watch this because it's sad and depressing, and it'll make her cry" warnings on some of these anime!  :x

I'm more depressed by the entire beginning of the anime than the end more because of the loss of my own mother as a child, and, when I was a child, I had a deeply rooted belief that she WOULD come back some day, and that everyone was lying when they said she was gone.

I think most young children see the death of a parental figure in such a way.  No one ever expects to loose a parent until they are much, much older.  And, to show it in the series, I always wondered if the creator lost one of his own parents as a child.  Or if he was just morbidly angsty and just researched it to see how it would cause his characters react, and how to jump start a story line.

FMA just sorta smacked that old issue back into my face, and, if I had been in Ed and Al's shoes, I would have tried rezzing my mother in an instant.  Heck, I would have gladly been Al, and be stuck in armor for the rest of my life if it WOULD work to this day.  A mother is the person who raises you, cares for you, and sees you through life the most.  Or, at least, it was for me, as my parents divorce left my younger brother and I being raised by my mother alone.

Oh, I need a tissue.  Stupid angsty anime.  :cry:
No, I'm not insane.  I'm just... happy.

Offline pieisexactlythree

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An especially disturbing kind of death – FMA Episode 40
« Reply #8 on: September 27, 2006, 03:16:25 pm »
Quote
"Frodo shouldn't watch this because it's sad and depressing, and it'll make her cry" warnings on some of these anime!

And you picked Asuka for your avatar?  !!!

Seriously though, thank you for sharing your story.  This only confirms what I'm saying about what makes for a good, compelling narrative.

Offline princessfrodo

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An especially disturbing kind of death – FMA Episode 40
« Reply #9 on: September 27, 2006, 03:45:40 pm »
Eva didn't make me cry, and Asuka makes me happy.  ^.^

Eva lacks that entire breadth of plot line that FMA has, instead choosing to go more for the WTF!? effect than the  :cry: emotions.  It's just a difference in writing style, and the effect that was desired in the end.
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Offline kylite

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An especially disturbing kind of death – FMA Episode 40
« Reply #10 on: September 27, 2006, 03:56:26 pm »
I dare ya BOTh to watch GANTZ
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Offline princessfrodo

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An especially disturbing kind of death – FMA Episode 40
« Reply #11 on: September 27, 2006, 04:07:31 pm »
I take that dare!

What's GANTZ?  :?
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Offline pieisexactlythree

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An especially disturbing kind of death – FMA Episode 40
« Reply #12 on: September 27, 2006, 04:11:04 pm »
Quote from: "kylite"
I dare ya BOTh to watch GANTZ


It's on my list.  Meanwhile, I hear Now and Then, Here and There is the most depressing anime yet.

Offline kylite

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An especially disturbing kind of death – FMA Episode 40
« Reply #13 on: September 27, 2006, 04:11:33 pm »
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0434685/

Hint: easily obtainable on bit torrent sites IF your into that kinda thing
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Offline princessfrodo

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An especially disturbing kind of death – FMA Episode 40
« Reply #14 on: September 27, 2006, 04:13:19 pm »
Quote from: "pieisexactlythree"
Quote from: "kylite"
I dare ya BOTh to watch GANTZ


It's on my list.  Meanwhile, I hear Now and Then, Here and There is the most depressing anime yet.


It's a good series, and it is deffinitly depressing, but Grave of the Fireflies outweighs it by a ton.  But wow, does Now and Then, Here and There have more than a few angst warnings on it though. O.o

Saikano is on the same depressing level as it.
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Offline pieisexactlythree

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An especially disturbing kind of death – FMA Episode 40
« Reply #15 on: September 27, 2006, 04:14:06 pm »
Quote from: "princessfrodo"
I take that dare!

What's GANTZ?  :?


A.N.N. Encyclopedia entry on Gantz

Offline princessfrodo

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An especially disturbing kind of death – FMA Episode 40
« Reply #16 on: September 27, 2006, 04:27:39 pm »
I saw an episode or two of that a while back.  It was really, really weird.  :shock:
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Offline EcchiSpice

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« Reply #17 on: September 28, 2006, 07:30:54 am »
Quote
Actually, my undergrad degree was in Cultural Anthropology, and I currently work in real estate development.


*blink blink* Me, too! I have an anthro degree from OSU. So does cstrife (Relations Director 2006)

He works for the airline, and I work for a construction company.
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Offline Pie Row Maniac

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An especially disturbing kind of death – FMA Episode 40
« Reply #18 on: September 28, 2006, 09:54:43 am »
Quote from: "princessfrodo"
It's a good series, and it is deffinitly depressing, but Grave of the Fireflies outweighs it by a ton.

Indeed. GotF takes a huge dump on your soul, leaving you staring at the wall in a lifeless state.

Offline princessfrodo

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An especially disturbing kind of death – FMA Episode 40
« Reply #19 on: September 28, 2006, 10:05:36 am »
Watch My Neighbor Totoro directly after watching Grave of the Fireflies.  By the point where they find a shoe floating on the pond, you just want to kill yourself because, by that point, you're sure that Mei must be dead.

My Neighbor Totoro, when it originally debued in Japan, was stuck on the end of Grave of the Fireflies as a double feature.  Hence why Totoro also makes me cry, I can't think of either movie without thinking of the other.  :cry:
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Offline pieisexactlythree

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An especially disturbing kind of death – FMA Episode 40
« Reply #20 on: September 28, 2006, 11:04:28 am »
Quote
*blink blink* Me, too! I have an anthro degree from OSU. So does cstrife (Relations Director 2006)

He works for the airline, and I work for a construction company.


w00t!  Totally sweet!  I got my anthro degree seven years ago from Reed.  As I recall, quite a few of the books I used for researching my undergrad thesis, which was on Northwest Coast Native American art, were published by the OSU press.  Don't they have a collection of tribal art?  

Quote
My Neighbor Totoro, when it originally debued in Japan, was stuck on the end of Grave of the Fireflies as a double feature. Hence why Totoro also makes me cry, I can't think of either movie without thinking of the other. Crying or Very sad

Grave of the Fireflies is a very well known story in Japan, one read by almost all school children.  It was therefore easy to get investors to fund Ghibli's production of Grave, which in turn funded Miyazaki's more esoteric and personal Totoro project.  Hence the dual release.

Offline princessfrodo

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An especially disturbing kind of death – FMA Episode 40
« Reply #21 on: September 28, 2006, 11:12:38 am »
If it's such a well known story, then how did they get away with messing up the live action version of Grave of the Fireflies so much?  Because it was very very ewww.   :x

Of course, we do let Disney get away with messing up so many other popular stories that I'm not really one to say anything. >.>
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Offline pieisexactlythree

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An especially disturbing kind of death – FMA Episode 40
« Reply #22 on: September 28, 2006, 11:20:50 am »
Quote from: "princessfrodo"
If it's such a well known story, then how did they get away with messing up the live action version of Grave of the Fireflies so much?  Because it was very very ewww.   :x

Of course, we do let Disney get away with messing up so many other popular stories that I'm not really one to say anything. >.>


There was a live-action version?  WTF?  I guess I didn't get that memo.  Who made it?  Definitely not Ghibli, right?  

It's too bad it was a failure.  Anime can make good live action if done right.  Maybe this isn't the best example, but lately I've been watching the live-action Sailor Moon (AKA Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, or PGSM) which is way better than the anime was.  It's cheezy crap, with low production values, but still, it's got no pretentions of being anything else, and therefore is a joy to watch.  I love it.

Offline princessfrodo

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An especially disturbing kind of death – FMA Episode 40
« Reply #23 on: September 28, 2006, 11:37:26 am »
A live action version came out earlier this year, but it was made by TV Tokyo, if I remember correctly.  It's told from the point of view of Seita and Setsuko's sister and grand niece at their mother's funeral, the funeral taking place earlier this year.

As I said, very eww.
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Offline superjaz

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An especially disturbing kind of death – FMA Episode 40
« Reply #24 on: September 28, 2006, 08:55:57 pm »
iknow what you mean princessfrodo,
after chritsmas of the very first k-con my best friend in the world died of child hood diabitese i only found out when his mom got the christmas card i sent him telling him about k-con
the week after my brothers were watching a tape of the episode of trigun where wolf wood dies , well it struch a nerve as i once described us as having a wolf wood and vash friendship i was kinda mad at my brothers
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Offline Yuki_Ze_Pwner

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An especially disturbing kind of death – FMA Episode 40
« Reply #25 on: September 30, 2006, 08:33:46 pm »
Quote from: "kylite"
I dare ya BOTh to watch GANTZ

That was one...  interesting anime.  I only saw a few eps, so I don't know much...  That little onion scared the hell out of me.  xD

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Offline Pie Row Maniac

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An especially disturbing kind of death – FMA Episode 40
« Reply #26 on: October 02, 2006, 09:13:49 am »
Quote from: "pieisexactlythree"
Anime can make good live action if done right.

Check out the live-action Cutey Honey if you haven't. ;)

Offline pieisexactlythree

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An especially disturbing kind of death – FMA Episode 40
« Reply #27 on: October 02, 2006, 10:46:42 am »
Quote from: "Pie Row Maniac"
Quote from: "pieisexactlythree"
Anime can make good live action if done right.

Check out the live-action Cutey Honey if you haven't. ;)


Sweet!  But how did the fanservice translate into live action?  I can imagine something that's funny when animated might end up being a bit creepy with real actors.  Meanwhile, there were some occasional panty shots in Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon live action, but they were, um, tasteful.  Besides, the actress who plays Rei/Saior Mars is 20.

Offline Sasu-kitty

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An especially disturbing kind of death – FMA Episode 40
« Reply #28 on: October 02, 2006, 11:16:49 am »
How did this go from a discussion about FMA episode 40 to a discussion about Live-action cutey-honey?


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Offline princessfrodo

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An especially disturbing kind of death – FMA Episode 40
« Reply #29 on: October 02, 2006, 11:28:05 am »
Late nights, good yaoi, and even better plum wine.  :wink:
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Offline pieisexactlythree

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An especially disturbing kind of death – FMA Episode 40
« Reply #30 on: October 02, 2006, 12:52:03 pm »
Quote from: "Sasu-kitty"
How did this go from a discussion about FMA episode 40 to a discussion about Live-action cutey-honey?


No yaoi for pi (not like I have anything against it, mind you) or really any booze (I usually post from work).  I just have a short attention span, and it seemed like everyone who wanted to throw in their two cents on FMA already did so.

Offline corpsic beauty

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An especially disturbing kind of death – FMA Episode 40
« Reply #31 on: October 06, 2006, 02:19:57 pm »
ya know, it's kinda sad cuz i havn't seen the live-action ANYTHING!  :cry: