- This article is about the artificial humans named for the seven sins or created by the military. For the manga storyline villain who sometimes goes by this name, see Father.
alchemy. Though a common concept, well known and understood by alchemists in Amestris, the idea of homunculi is regarded as no more than a farce or faraway fantasy as no individual or group of alchemists has come anywhere close to successfully creating such a being in officially recorded history. Even so, alchemists have been forbidden by the Amestrian government to attempt or research in the transmutation of humans and State Alchemists have such a restriction as part of their creed.
However, off the official record, not only one, but several of these creatures have been created in arcane, sinister secrecy. In the most relevant sense of the word, "Homunculus" refers to the eight individuals who make up the main antagonistic group of the Fullmetal Alchemist series. These created humans, named for the seven deadly sins (Pride, Lust, Greed, Envy, Sloth, Gluttony and Wrath), along with their Father, are beings with incredible longevity, astonishing regenerative properties and a host of varied superhuman abilities. The Homunculi usually carry the mark of the Ouroboros upon their bodies and are identified as such by said mark.
Manga and 2009 anime
In the manga and 2009 anime, the seven Homunculi are the spawn of Father (who himself was the earliest known Homunculus, birthed inside a flask in the ancient country of Xerxes). After having used half the population of Xerxes in the creation of his body, Father himself became a Philosopher's Stone of sorts and became able to siphon off smaller stones from his body to create minions he calls his children. Each Homunculus, as a former part of Father's body and consciousness, is said to have been made up of a different emotional vice - corresponding to their name - and carries that vice as a part of their personality or identity (with Greed being avaricious, Pride being arrogant, Wrath being irascible, and so on).
These Homunculi have physical compositions similar to those of humans but consider themselves superior due to their heightened strengths and abilities. They boast human intelligence and emotions, taking pride in their existence as higher beings, but feeling humility and gratitude toward Father for having given them life. As a result, these Homunculi are largely devoted to the completion of their Father's grand plan (with the exception of Greed, as he defects twice). Each of the seven Homunculi has a Philosopher's Stone as its core, fuelling its life, regenerative ability and other abilities with a multitude of souls. Each Homunculus can be damaged to the point of death, even to the point of having his or her entire body disintegrated, but can only truly be killed when the Philosopher's Stone heart is either destroyed or runs out of lives to use as power. Envy and Pride have proven capable of absorbing the lives from other Homunculi into themselves to lengthen their lifespans, but it is unknown whether or not this is a trait shared between all seven.
Though the original six Homunculi have bodies that were built around the Philosopher's Stone, for the sake of his machinations, Father began experimenting with a new method of Homunculus creation. A new set is created by injecting one of Father's stones into the body of a living human being. The souls in the stone and the soul in the body clash for supremacy, often destroying the body entirely, until one consciousness takes control. Homunculi created in this manner are able to age - a property of which their Stone-based brethren are incapable.
In Chapter 80, it is revealed that the Amestrian government, presumably under the supervision of Father, has created an army of lesser Homunculi whose soulless bodies are stored beneath Central Command. They are then injected with Philosopher's Stones, giving them life. These "Mannequin Soldier" Homunculi are white and red, skeletally thin, hairless humanoids with one eye in their foreheads and green "blood". They lack intelligence and appear only to follow base instincts toward feeding and destruction, similar to the souls within the Philosopher's Stones who have long since forgotten their true identities. Envy at one point describes them as mere puppets injected with Philosopher's Stones. Their main attack is to try to eat their victim, since they lack the thought processes to do anything else. Envy also uses their bodies and their souls to recreate its original body after being reduced to a small parasite from having its own Philosopher's Stone drained. They do not regenerate as Father's children do, but are able to keep functioning even if their heads are grievously damaged, making them similar to zombies in a way. They seem to make similar vocalizations to the souls of the people of Xerxes trapped in Envy (crying out for help or relations and complaining that they are in pain), but they seem to want to get rid of their 'pain' by eating everything except each other.
They are awakened in Chapter 90 by one of the Generals of Central Command in an attempt to quell the insurrection going on in the city. For this foolish act, he is devoured by the monsters, who have no sense of loyalty or authority. From there, these Mannequin Soldiers begin to spread about the Central Command grounds, devouring anyone they come across. Major General Armstrong manages to remove several of them as a threat by severing their heads, at least at the upper jaw, leaving them mobile, but unable to eat anyone. Colonel Roy Mustang devises his own method of incapacitating them by burning off their legs with Flame Alchemy (in the 2009 anime version, he instead incinerates them completely to ash).
Because of the divergence in plot line in the 2003 anime, the origins, identities and secrets of Homunculi differ between the manga and the first television series.
In the 2003 anime, Homunculi are said to be created each time an alchemist attempts a Human Transmutation. While the transmutation itself will result in a failure in that the person intended to be revived does not return as expected, a new existence is brought about. The result of failed Human Transmutation will be a grotesque, vaguely humanoid monstrosity retaining the genetic material, as well as some of the memory, of the resurrected. The "failed" Homunculus generally remains in this agonizing state until it dies soon after. However, newly created Homunculi who come into contact with Red Stones—much weaker versions of the Philosopher's Stone created by condensing human souls—and consume large amounts of them have their bodies reshaped into their intended forms and become exact replicas of the entities they were meant to replace.
The English dub of the anime goes so far as to state that Homunculi aren't failed human transmutations, rather they are simply incomplete.
Homunculi all carry the form of human beings, albeit some of them with exaggerated features.
Some of them have cat-like slits for pupils, pointed teeth, pale skin, and each are marked with an Ouroboros tattoo somewhere on their body. The placement of their tattoo is often in accordance with the sin they represent (Greed's is on his hand, Gluttony's on his tongue, and Lust's right above her cleavage).
Although they are shown to eat, drink and sleep, it is not necessary that they do so in order to survive; they need only the energy provided them by the red stones they have consumed.
Despite being replicate humans, however, homunculi are still aberrations of nature created by violating the flow of the natural universe, and as such, have no souls. This property gives them many physical dissimilarities to ensouled humans:
- Super-Human Abilities: Homunculi are physically superior to humans in every way. Their bodies are faster, stronger, and far more resilient than normal human bodies. They do not age (in most cases), are immune to all sicknesses and poisons, and can heal from any injury—even those resulting in death—as long as the energy from the red stones they consume is not depleted.
- Molecular Mutability: Because their bodies do not have souls, the constituent molecules that constitute the Homunculi's bodies can be rearranged to form other substances or to grant shape-changing abilities. The homunculus Greed is able to rearrange the carbon bonds in his skin to turn it into diamond-hard armor; Gluttony's saliva is acidic enough for him to bite, chew through and digest substances of any hardness; Lust is able to change the shape of her fingers and form them into long-reaching lance-like weapons; and Envy can change the shape of his body into the form of any person or animal, or even into simple weaponry. For some reason, this ability gives all of the homunculi the ability to create their own clothing. It is black and can either cover or remain beneath the red circle patterns that decorate their limbs.
However, soullessness also acts as a disadvantage for the homunculi.
- Non-Alchemists: Because homunculi do not have souls, they are incapable of opening the Gate inside them and are thus unable to perform alchemy. The sole exception to this is Wrath, who is only able to perform alchemy because he possesses Edward Elric's lost limbs. However, Wrath eventually loses Edward's limbs, along with the ability to perform alchemy.
- Artificiality: Because the homunculi are creatures created to replace certain persons who have died, coming into proximity with that person's remains results in the homunculus becoming weakened to the point of immobility. Lust is shown to even faint when brought close to a lock of hair belonging to her original identity. Wrath is the only exception to this rule because he was actually transmuted from his own remains.
- Depleted Life Energy: If a homunculus is depleted of the energy of the red stones they consume, they are reduced to having a single life, making them as vulnerable as any other creature. This can be done by killing them repeatedly or by utilizing the Flamel transmutation, which causes the red stones in the homunculus to be regurgitated and then disintegrate, leaving the homunculus with only its original life intact. Homunculi reduced to this vulnerable state are no less dangerous than usual, however, but can be killed with one lethal blow, the same way as any human.
Homunculi in the 2003 series are depicted as amoral, sadistic, sociopathic, and harboring superiority complexes. They derive pleasure from seeing and inflicting human suffering and death, and see themselves as better than humans—in some cases as the next step in human evolution. Throughout the majority of the series, the homunculi are portrayed as clearly evil characters, but toward the end of the series' run, they are each revealed to be very layered, complex individuals capable of love, grief, guilt and despair.
It seems the homunculi's superiority-complexes may also mask complementing inferiority-complexes, because despite their mockery of the human race, several of them desire to become fully human. When pressed by Edward as to why she would want to be human, Lust reveals that homunculi feel incomplete, and that their desire to become human comes from a feeling of lacking any real identity.
Whereas Lust desires to ultimately become the person she was meant to replace, Sloth and Wrath both despise their makers for their creation, and seek to disconnect from their imposed identities and establish themselves as different from the people they were supposed to become. Sloth is tormented by her memories as Edward and Alphonse's mother and desires to murder them to prove to herself that she is not connected to the people who made her into an abomination. Wrath, on the other hand, merely wants to have a mother and be accepted and loved as a person instead of being cast aside as a monster.
Although he doesn't want to be human, Envy is similar to Wrath in that he feels rejected and cast aside by Hohenheim, who is both the father of the person Envy was meant to be and the alchemist who created him. In Laboratory 5, Envy assaults Edward for saying that homunculi were "made" instead of "born", offering evidence he may harbor resentment for his own nature. In the end, Envy finally gets his opportunity for revenge against his maker, and even knowing that he would be transmuting himself in the process, he exacts it with a grunt of satisfaction.
Pride is interesting in that he does not seem to care that he is a homunculus. His compensation seems to come from being the most powerful person in the country, even if it is a façade. He derives pleasure in instigating war after war, and even though he is shown to have an interest in creating the stone, it seems simply to be because it is what Dante wants. Although the personality he presents to his citizens is one of a benevolent, charming family-man who values human life, he actually has no respect for humans and even murders his own ten-year-old adopted son in annoyance of his "human foolishness".
All in all, the mental states of the homunculi whose characters are explored are very much centered around the fact that they are not accepted as human by one or more groups, which is probably why Greed bonds so strongly with the chimera. It is also worth noting that despite being the scourge of the homunculi, Greed is probably the most psychologically stable of them all. He knows what he is and has no desire to change. If anything, he wants to become less human, proven by scheme he concocts to bond his spirit to an inanimate object to escape further persecution from Dante and the others. He fully embraces his greed, and lives life on his own terms, having no goals apart from hedonistic desire and true immortality. He also dies on his own terms, at the hands of someone he respects while at the same time giving that person what he needs—information on executing homunculi and the resolve to do it—to get his revenge against his persecutors.
As the homunculi all retain partial identities of their past human selves, as well as their current homunculus "selves" they all suffer from some degree of multiple personality disorder, often resulting in psychotic behavior. This "hidden weakness" leads to Dante's faction almost completely imploding by the series' end, contributing greatly to her defeat. When all is said and done, of the seven homunculi only Pride and Sloth fight to the death, remaining loyal to Dante. Greed was never controllable, while Lust eventually defected to the Elrics; driven by the onset of memories of the Ishbalan woman she once was. Wrath and Gluttony are so codependant upon Sloth and Lust respectively that when the former two are killed the later two suffer total psychological collapse, causing them to become liabilities rather than assets. Even Envy, whom appears relatively mentally stable, abandons Dante and throws himself through the Gate in a desperate final attempt at exacting his revenge on Hoenheim, again a product of his past human identity militating against his new nature.
Killing homunculi in the 2003 series can be done in a variety of different ways, but the task is still a challenge due to the difficulty in dealing with such deadly and unpredictable creatures. Furthermore, the fact they are "mythical" creatures shrouds the means in mystery until Greed reveals all before dying himself. Once the means are discovered, it is often necessary to take advantage of more than one of their weaknesses in order to kill them, the most important of which is the remains of the person they were meant to be, which are not always available. (Again, Wrath is not susceptible to this weakness because his remains no longer exist. He does have other weaknesses however; he is terrified of the Gate and paralysed by the sound of a baby's cries.)
When homunculi die, their bodies liquefy into a red ooze which quickly dissolves into the ground, leaving no trace that they ever existed.
Role in the Story
The homunculi are very versatile, capable beings, a fact that Dante takes every advantage of. She initially creates Gluttony in an attempt to discover a way to create the Philosopher's Stone without using alchemy. He ends up failure in that respect, but her experimentations do seem to convince her that homunculi can still be of use. She makes at least two more—Greed and Pride—and Envy implies to Lust that if necessary, Dante can very easily create another to serve the cause. She also keeps her eye out for other alchemists who might resort to human transmutation in the hopes that if they do, she might reap the benefits of their folly. Those homunculi she does recruit are tricked into helping her with the promise that she will make them human once she obtains a stone. Whether it is even possible to turn a homunculus human with the stone is unclear, but from what Envy insinuates, Dante has no intention of even trying, and may very well be planning on killing them once she has what she wants.
From behind the scenes, Dante sends her homunculi to scour the countryside for alchemists with talent enough to create the stone. The homunculi spread diseases, commit assassinations, tempt the wealthy and the greedy, and use countless other means to push people to the brink of desperation. Those who come close but fail are erased from the world along with the evidence, and rumors are mongered of the dangers of creating the stone, rumors which keep the talentless at bay but draw in the curious and the capable.
After she creates Pride, Dante maneuvers him into the position of Führer-King, and through him, begins numerous war campaigns to wreak havoc and destruction across Amestris and beyond, and to oppress the human spirit into a state of desperation and despair. She does this hoping that those driven to extremes will create her stone, which the homunculi will then happily collect and bring to her.
By the time the series begins, the country is slowly recovering from a civil war instigated by Dante and her subordinates. The primary mission of the homunculi at this point is to continue the relentless search for talented alchemists, which is aided by the military's new State Alchemist program, which recruits only the best and the brightest. This gives Dante and the homunculi the chance to add further flames to the defeated Ishbalans, who, as legend tells it, have the means to create a stone of their own. Through dozens and dozens of manipulations over the years—with several false starts and planted clues to lure in the foolish and further inflame the furious—the homunculi finally succeed in driving Scar to create the stone at the cost of his own and several thousand Amestrian soldiers' lives. The situation spins quickly out of control, with Dante's deceptions reaching light in her frantic attempts to secure the new stone. Learning her true nature, several of the homunculi revolt or change allegiances, allowing for their previously unseen human natures to be made apparent. As the end of the series approaches, the creatures who had been portrayed as unforgivably malicious are shown to be more human than several of their true human counterparts, even becoming more sympathetic than some of them.
All in all, the homunculi serve to lay down philosophical questions as to the value of human life, while at the same time challenge the definition of humanity and the limits of tolerance and forgiveness.
- The seven Homunculi are named after the Seven Deadly Sins. Interestingly enough, these sins are part of the evils in the Greek myth of Pandora's Box, just as Alchemy has Greek influence.
- The bodysuits that most of the Homunculi wear have a slight brownish-red tint in the 2009 anime. In the 2003 anime, they had a dark green hue to them. Occasionally, though, in both series, they will look more black, akin to their color in the manga.
Manga and 2009 Series
- The permanent deaths of the Homunculi occur in almost the exact opposite order as the levels of the mountain of Purgatory in Dante's Purgatorio, the only exceptions being that Pride didn't die and Envy and Greed's places were switched (Envy dying after Gluttony and Greed dying after Wrath).
- While a Homunculus' memories can be 'wiped' in transferring their Philosopher's Stone to a new body or host, they can never be completely erased. Rather, the memories will be pushed down in the mind of the Homunculus, often only resurfacing during a powerful emotional event. This is seen in the case of the Second Greed, who remembers his friends after killing Bido.
- In the manga, all of the named Homunculi die in a way related to the sin they 'embody':
- Lust is burned to death in a fire, by a man well known as a serial dater, who 'lusts' after the position of leader of Amestris
- Greed is boiled down for his most valuable part, and later killed again for the same part by Father
- Gluttony is eaten by Pride's shadows
- Envy kills itself out of jealousy and self-loathing (Defeated by Riza Hawkeye and Roy Mustang together)
- Sloth gets worn out by a long fight (destroyed by Alex and Olivier Mira Armstrong along with Sig and Izumi Curtis)
- Wrath is dismembered by one of the vengeful people he tried to exterminate
- Pride, while never actually killed, was stripped of his powers and reduced to the form of one of the creatures that he despised
- Father, while not named after a sin, he was however killed by the hands of Edward Elric, the son of Van Hohenheim who is Father's creator
- In an omake, Father scolds the Mannequin Soldiers for not having any underwear on.
- Animals seem to have the ability to recognize homunculi. In Chapter 40, Den barks angrily at Hohenheim, to which he replies, "Animals have never liked me much." This likely has something to do with the Philosopher's Stone and the numerous souls encompassing it, as animals, along with the chimera Heinkel, were shown to be frightened when the Central City transmutation circle was activated.
- The deaths of the Homunculi in the 2003 anime greatly differs from that of the manga versions. While the manga has them disintegrating into black dust, in the first anime, after death, their bodies seem to go into extreme rigor mortis before melting down into a puddle of Red Water (presumably the Red Stones that is their make-up).
- The exact reason why the Homunculi are named after the Seven Deadly sins is never fully explained in the 2003 anime. However, they still embody the sins they are called after; while Greed and Gluttony have similar roles and personalities to their manga counterparts, there are examples of others living up to their namesakes:
- Lust was born of Scar's brother's lover, and had affairs with other men, including Lujon.
- Envy despises Edward and Alphonse for being the "favored" children of Hohenheim and for being abandoned because of them. He also hates Hohenheim for being able to find a life of peace and happiness after abandoning him. Envy is not simply wanting other things, it is also the "hatred of others' good fortune".
- With Pride, the aspect manifests through the power he wields from precognition, and having political power at his beck-and-call. Pride refers to himself as "God's guardian angel".
- Wrath, is the desire for harm. He tried to kill Izumi, and tried to take Alphonse's body, as well as Edward's other arm and leg. Wrath can also be described as just "Hate" or "Anger".
- Sloth passes up numerous opportunities to kill the Elric Brothers and their friends. When she does harm someone, she often uses one arm, while the rest of her body is immobile. Her turmoil over her memories and feelings as Trisha could also be seen as embodiment of her sin, as the original definition of Sloth was "sadness to the point of despair".
- It is never explained what would happen if there were to be more than seven Homunculi at a time. Since they're created from Human Transmutation, more than seven could theoretically be possible.
- In the 2003 anime the alchemist Majhal claims to have failed a human transmutation, yet none of the Homunculi were credited as his creation. It's probable that he simply was not talented enough to open the Gate during his attempt, or that the Gate would not open because the person he wished to revive wasn't really dead.
- Most of the Homunculi have red nodes connected by lines, which seem to incapacitate them and/or cancel out their powers when pierced, e.g. Lust in the 2003 anime and Greed when he is captured by Wrath in the manga and 2009 anime.The only Homunculi who do not have apparent nodes are Pride (manga), Father (in his humanoid form), and possibly Wrath (manga). Wrath and Sloth in the 2003 anime also seem to possess the nodes and lines as well. However, because some of the lines and nodes are on the articles of 'clothing' that the Homunculi wear, the question stands whether there are identical lines beneath the clothes or if the clothes are connected to Homunculi physically. Some examples are Lust's 'gloves' and Greed's bodysuit.
- In the 2003 anime, Envy said that "It's been forever since the seven of us were united", implying that there were Homunculi before the current Sloth, Wrath, and Lust, minus Envy (who's the first one born), Greed, Gluttony, and Pride. A similar comment is present in the manga and 2009 anime storyline, but there it's a clear reference to Greed's having rebelled before King Bradley ever became Wrath.
- It's ironic the way the homunculi ridicule humans for being so easily manipulated when Dante is doing the exact same to them with even less effort.
- ↑ Fullmetal Alchemist Volume 10, Page 139; First Printing, November 2008; VIZ Media, San Francisco USA
|Father | Lust | Gluttony | Envy | Greed | Sloth | Pride | Wrath|
|Wrath | Sloth | Pride|