"You asked what I am? ...A HOUSEWIFE!!!"
Izumi Curtis (イズミ・カーティス, Izumi Kātisu) is a master alchemist and skilled martial artist living in the southern Amestrian town of Dublith where she runs a butcher shop with her husband Sig. Though she doesn't usually take on students, Izumi accepted Edward and Alphonse Elric's plea to take them on as her apprentices and instructed them in alchemical theory and martial arts for six months. In that time, she grew to love them as deeply as she would her own children, becoming a long-term source of guidance and support for the Elrics' future endeavor.
Izumi is a rather attractive and deceptively young-looking woman despite being in her mid-thirties. She is fairly tall and fair-skinned with dark-eyes, a slender frame with a curvaceous yet well-toned and well-endowed figure, and she appears to be Asian. She has upperback-length black hair worn in box braids, usually tied in a ponytail. Above her left breast is a Flamel tattoo. She normally wears a long white collared-blouse that reveals her cleavage, that has flowing backside, form-fitting grey pants reaching her ankles, and opened-toed sandals that have the letters "W.C." on them.
Although Izumi takes apparent pride in being a simple housewife and introduces herself as such to anyone who asks, her attractive and humble exterior belies a fearsome disposition such that Ed and Al become terrified at the mere thought of aggravating her. She is prone to swift acts of violence and is often seen dealing out physical harm, but despite her frequently aggressive nature, Izumi is a remarkably caring, wise and perceptive individual always willing to help those in need, especially children. That being said, she is also a great advocate of helping people to make their own way and will usually only intervene on behalf of those with the will—but not the means—to help themselves.
Though she has a great deal of alchemical skill and faith in her alchemical power, Izumi frequently values the idea of working hard and only using alchemy for things that cannot be done by hand, stressing to others that alchemists are still only human and have human limits. Additionally, Izumi appears to greatly enjoy travel (a trait she may have passed on to Edward), as many of her appearances in the series find her journeying outside her hometown.
Izumi is among the physically strongest characters in the series. An extremely powerful martial artist, both in terms of armed and hand-to-hand combat, she boasts shocking physical strength and proves herself capable of easily subduing multiple enemies in a flash and overpowering larger opponents such as mountain grizzly bears, and even the Homunculus Sloth.
Though Izumi appears as an unbeatable paragon of fearsome power, even she has her limits as most acts of overexertion on her part are followed by a crippling regurgitation of blood linked to an internal injury from a failed Human Transmutation several years before. As a result of this, she is one of the few characters able to perform alchemy without the aid of a Transmutation Circle. By merely touching her palms together, she creates an energy circulation with her arms and transmutes by using her own will as a substitute for the necessary runes. This remarkable talent makes Izumi's transmutations both instantaneous and incredibly versatile, allowing her to use alchemy to its fullest potential in direct combat. Later in the manga storyline, her internal organs are rearranged by Hohenheim to improve her health, relieving her issues with physical overexertion.
Her specific alchemy-style seems to focus more on her immediate surroundings and how best to use them to her advantage. She also shares with Edward the same preference for creating spears to wield with deadly proficiency.
Manga and 2009 Anime
In the year 1897, when Izumi Harnet was 18 years old, she ventured from her home in the west to the northern region of Briggs in order to learn alchemy as an apprentice to the famed alchemist Silver Steiner. She was told that she would not be accepted as Steiner's apprentice unless she survived for one month alone on the fearsome Briggs mountain range with nothing but a machete. She braved the elements, nearly dying several times from the extreme cold, wild animal attacks, and assaults from Briggs Mountain Patrol who assumed that she was a Drachma Spy, because she stole food from the Briggs.
In her time there, Izumi would eventually come to forge her own belief in "One is All, All is One", an alchemical concept of life she would follow as well as pass on to her two students. Though she was never captured, the rumor of a mysterious "mountain woman" raiding Fort Briggs for supplies would continue to circulate in the region for nearly twenty years.
After the month was up, she ventured back into town and declared to Steiner that she was now fit to be his alchemy apprentice. It was at this point that the man told her that he was, in fact, Gold Steiner—the older brother of the alchemist Silver Steiner (who had died several years before)—and that he was known for hand-to-hand combat techniques, knowing nothing of alchemy. Izumi, in fury, assaulted him and knocked him unconscious, setting out to continue her alchemy training on her own. It may be inferred from this that Izumi is a self-taught alchemist. After meeting a young Sig Curtis (whom she immediately fell in love with after bumping into him and dropping a bear she was carrying, which he picked up), the two married and moved to the southern town of Dublith.
Once settled into her new life there, Izumi and Sig finally became pregnant after numerous attempts. However, during the pregnancy she became ill and the baby died during childbirth, rendering her deeply depressed. In a desperate attempt, she tried to revive her stillborn child through Human Transmutation. Due to the cruel teachings of the Truth, the "toll" she was required to pay for opening the Gate resulted in some of her internal organs being removed, rendering her to be both constantly ill, and completely incapable of ever becoming pregnant again.
In 1908, on a trip through the Eastern region of Amestris, Izumi and Sig stopped in the small town of Resembool where torrential rains had caused the river to overflow and threaten to flood the village. Izumi intervened on behalf of the frantic villagers, transmuting a large earthen dam to corral the overflow. The people of Resembool, grateful for her help, offered Izumi a place to rest when her illness began acting up and while there, she was approached by two small boys named Edward and Alphonse Elric, who asked to be taken on as her alchemy apprentices.
At first, Izumi refused, but upon learning that the two boys were orphaned, she acquiesced a bit, offering them a trial period in which to prove their worth as apprentices before making her final decision. With the boys in tow, Izumi and Sig returned to Dublith and made arrangements for their test. Izumi took the Elric brothers to Yock Island, where she gave them a large knife and informed them that they were to survive on the island alone for one month without the use of alchemy, all the while trying to decipher the meaning to her creed "All is One, One is All" before the month was up. Then, secretly leaving Sig's assistant Mason on the island to both watch over the boys and make sure they honed their physical combat skills (it was also to make sure that the boys didn't die), she departed for Dublith without them.
When she returned in a month, Izumi was pleasantly surprised to find the boys not only in great shape, but having properly understood the riddle. Fulfilling her promise, she accepted them into her tutelage and instructed them in both alchemy and martial arts for six months before deeming them knowledgeable enough to return home and continue practicing on their own.
Meeting the Master
Izumi is introduced to the story in Chapter 19 when Edward and Alphonse make a long overdue visit to her home in Dublith to ask her what she knows of the Philosopher's Stone. After reprimanding the boys for becoming lapdogs of the State Military and letting their training slacken, she explains that the Stone never interested her and therefore did not become a focus of her study, but also states that she had met an alchemist in Central City recently who had known a great deal about it—an alchemist by the name of Van Hohenheim. When Alphonse reveals that Hohenheim is the boys' long-lost father, Izumi perceives it as a great chance for them in more ways than one, but Edward angrily refuses to accept help from Hohenheim, the subject is dropped save for Izumi's addition that Hohenheim had mentioned something about his lifelong dream soon coming true.The boys stay for supper and regale Izumi, Sig and Mason with tales of their travels—including their experience in Rush Valley helping to deliver a baby, which Izumi says softly is a good experience to have. But when Ed and Al show off their improved transmutation skills, Izumi is shocked to see Edward perform alchemy without a circle. She demands immediately to know by what means Edward saw the Gate of Truth, revealing to the boys her own experience with Human Transmutation and that she had known all along merely by observing them that their bodies had been mysteriously maimed.
After they explain how they used her instruction in an attempt to resurrect their dead mother which rebounded, taking Ed's left leg and right arm, as well as Alphonse's body as toll, and then joined forces with the State Military so as to receive access to restricted alchemical documents which may someday lead to their own restoration. After comforting them and lamenting that they made the same mistake that she did, Izumi expels them both from her tutelage for directly disobeying her prohibition of Human Transmutation. Of course, the expulsion renders the Elric brothers her colleagues rather than students, opening a new relationship for the three alchemists. Realizing this, the boys consult Izumi openly about ways to restore their bodies and she posits that Alphonse may have learned a great deal more from his sojourn into the Gate than either Edward or herself because Al gave his entire physical form as a toll rather than just a body part. But when Alphonse reveals that he has absolutely no recollection of seeing the Gate or the Truth, Izumi suggests that trauma-induced amnesia may be to blame and consults a doctor acquaintance while the boys make themselves at home in the Curtis household.
Soon afterward, Edward departs suddenly and temporarily to renew his State Alchemist license while Alphonse remains in Dublith to help around the shop. But when Al mysteriously vanishes, Izumi, Sig and Mason investigate around town to find the armor boy's whereabouts, only to learn that he has been kidnapped and taken to a shady nearby bar called the Devil's Nest, where a new local gang has been holding court. Izumi storms the gang's basement stronghold, deftly trouncing just about all of the members (and scolding Al for letting his guard own so easily) before coming across the gang's boss—a stylish man by the name of Greed. However, when she attacks Greed, she discovers—at the cost of her finger bones—that his body is rather strange, covering itself with a thin coating of nigh unbreakable armor when attacked. Alphonse explains that Greed is a Homunculus—much to Izumi's incredulity—and that the man wants to make a deal with the Elrics to help them fashion a body in exchange for information about Al's Soul Binding. He urges Izumi to forgo her urge to fight and bring Ed to the Devil's Nest for negotiations upon his return. Izumi leaves reluctantly, threatening to personally annihilate Greed and his men if Alphonse is harmed in any way. Ed arrives soon afterward and Izumi delivers Al and Greed's message, staying behind while Ed goes alone to "negotiate". (In the 2009 anime, the scenes are moved around and Izumi arrives to back Edward up, her initial encounter with Greed having been removed.)
That night, when the Elrics return from battling Greed and his men with the help of a Southern military platoon led by Major Armstrong and the Führer, King Bradley himself, Bradley compliments Izumi's skills as an alchemist and teacher and offers her a place in the State Alchemist program, which she politely refuses. He departs, leaving the offer on the table and causing Izumi to wonder concernedly why the Commander-in Chief would come to personally deal with such a trivial matter.
Requiring automail repairs in Rush Valley and further information in Central City, Ed and Al leave Dublith the next morning.
The Truth of Human Transmutation
Izumi is seen later when she receives a call from Edward, who spoke to her, at first vaguely regarding how what he's about to ask will hurt her, and if she didn't want to answer, she can hang up the phone, and even sever their teacher-student relationship (though Edward corrected himself in saying that she already did that before). When Izumi told him to just say it, Edward asked if she remembered about her failed attempt to transmute her child, which she said that she did and that she wouldn't ever forget it, recalling the event. When she asked what this was about, Edward revealed to her how their 'mom' that Edward and Alphonse had transmuted was not truly their mother. Confused by this, Izumi questioned him further, to which Edward finally asked if the child that Izumi transmuted truly her own child. At first she didn't seem to understand, but in an instant after, she understood Edward's meaning, and hung up the phone immediately.
Izumi later called the hotel that Edward was staying in, having called Pinako earlier to get the number. When Edward answered her after being called by him earlier, Izumi explained that she researched her's and her husband's lineage, and further explained that when she transmuted her child, she had used her blood, her husband's hair, and her deceased child's bones. Izumi then states that the transmuted child had skin and hair color that was impossible for her or her husband, thus confirming further what Edward had been wanting to know.
When she stated that Edward found something out, Edward answered that he confirmed that a dead person could never be returned no matter what, which made Izumi understand that Alphonse was alive somewhere, which meant that he could be restored.
Accepting that her 'perfect' theory was also a failure, as she had still believed that she had just been missing something for the transmutation back then, Izumi somewhat humorously stated that she as the master lost face to her student for that. When Edward attempted to apologize, she declined it, saying that it was a punishment for stepping into a territory she shouldn't have been in. After that, she thanked Edward before hanging up the phone, confusing the former student.
Just as Alphonse was thankful to Edward to finding out that they weren't forced to kill their mother a second time, Izumi was overcome with relief that she hadn't put her child through so much suffering a second time, crying from having been saved from the guilt that had been weighing on her all this time, once again recalling how the child she transmuted had died, and how she receieved the punishment that she deserved. She also mentioned the irony behind the punishment she receieved along with Edward and Alphonse's, stating that the Truth was cruel, but just.
When Curtis said that Edward stood up again, despite having lost the leg he stood on, Izumi believed that Edward might defeat even the Truth one day, foreshadowing Edward's eventual victory over Truth and getting Alphonse back.
The Human Philosopher's Stone
Izumi isn't again seen until mid-way through the story, when she and Sig are on a train and once again encounter her students' father, Van Hohenheim. After leaving the train, they talk about Hohenheim's sons and what they have been doing when Izumi's internal injuries cause her to cough up blood. Concerned, Hohenheim then proceeds to reach inside Izumi's body, rearranging her organs. Thinking that he stabbed Izumi, Sig furiously punches Hohenheim, knocking him a few meters. Asking his wife if she is alright, Izumi maintains that she is fine, and that she can actually breathe better. Finding out that the wound where Hohenheim stabbed her is gone, he states that he cannot bring back her organs because Truth took them, but he did manage to rearrange her damaged internal cavity in the most favorable arrangement possible. Izumi then fearfully asks Hohenheim what he is, to which he replies he's just a person named Van Hohenheim -- the Human Philosopher's Stone. After this, Hohenheim presumably informs them both of everything that has been happening in the country, including the Promised Day as well as the Nationwide Transmutation Circle, and the Curtises head north. Once there, Izumi intentionally lets herself be captured by northern troops to inform a "trusted Ishvalan man" and a "large man with a Mohawk" of the Promised Day. This message runs through a trusted network of informants all across the country to reach Roy Mustang himself.
The Promised Day and The Fourth Human SacrificeTrusting the Briggs Troops for the coming events, Izumi and Sig are taken by them to the Armstrong mansion, where they are to hide under orders of Olivier Mira Armstrong until Mustang's uprising in Central City. When the Promised Day arrives, and the battle begins, Izumi along with Briggs' forces storm through the city wreaking havoc. Arriving at Central Command, she encounters the Armstrong siblings, who have been struggling in their battle against Sloth. Along with Sig, Alex and Olivier, the four face off against the Homunculus, who is eventually impaled and killed. Soon after this, Izumi is spontaneously teleported away from her husband and allies to an underground lair -- a move on Father's part to gather the five Human Sacrifices (humans who have survived opening The Gate) for his final task.
Reunited with Edward, Alphonse, Hohenheim and a newly-captured Mustang, the five humans are forced into once again opening The Gate of Truth under Father's behest. After the massive transmutation, the Homunculus returns in a body which "harnesses the power of God", and Izumi (along with the remaining rest) unleash their combined efforts in taking him down. She is seen transmuting alchemic spikes to shoot and even collapsing a full column on him, both to little avail. Eventually, Father is forced to retreat, and Izumi is quick to follow. She watches in horror as Father creates humans from the souls of the long dead Xerxesians, becoming sick at the sight of a baby crawling towards her. She is caught in the blast unleashed afterwards.
In Chapter 107, she is shown to have survived the blast thanks to Hohenheim shielding her and Edward from the bulk of it. She then helps deplete Father's Philosopher's Stone with an onslaught of attacks, and watches as Edward finishes him at the end in Chapter 108. She and Sig greet Alphonse after he gets his body back from The Gate soon afterwards. She is last seen in a photo during the epilogue with Sig and Mason.
Izumi first appears in Episode 23 as a cameo, when Winry Rockbell arrives in Central City, where she and Sig are seen looking at a "Welcome to Central City" paper. Izumi is properly introduced in Episode 26. In this Fullmetal Alchemist anime, Izumi's past is considerably different. At a young age, she became the apprentice of the illusive master alchemist Dante. Their distinctive views of alchemy and life lead them into an estranged relationship, with Izumi leaving her old teacher behind as soon as she could. In her attempt to bring back her still-born son, Izumi inadvertently created the Homunculus known as Wrath. Seeing that what came back is not human, Izumi gave Wrath to the gate only to greatly regret it after hearing its cries and as she try to reach him, the gate close its doors. Because of this, Izumi is constantly haunted by regret and spends the entire series trying to gain the Homunculus' forgiveness and love. She sees nothing short of her own death at his hands a fitting punishment for her foolish act to bring back the dead.
Later in the series, while in hiding from the State Military, Izumi stays at Dante's house after she was apparently murdered by Greed to investigate the mysteries behind her former teacher because of Izumi's questioning that she may have been hiding something which is why she had secluded herself to living away from civilization. Izumi uncovers a mysterious letter addressed to Ed's father Hohenheim that is dated back 400 years ago and showed Ed after he arrived and mentioned that the word Hohenheim was the only taboo word during her training. This information would help Ed discover Dante's true identity. Izumi later came to Ed's aid after the Homunculi kidnapped Al, and helped him raid Central Command in order to find Pride. Eventually when Colonel Frank Archer, the man who Izumi briefly met at the military headquarters in South City with half his body outfitted with automail, shows up to stop them, Izumi volunteers to remain behind to fight him. However, due to a combination of the firepower from Archer's automail and her failing health, Izumi is outmatched. After rejecting Archer's offer to becoming one of his subordinates, Izumi is nearly killed, until 2nd Lt. Maria Ross and Sergent Denny Brosh arrive with military backup in order to assist Izumi. In the series epilogue, Izumi agrees to train Alphonse (who had been reverted back to his ten-year old human body) in alchemy again so he can one day reunite with Ed. In Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa, it is revealed that in the two-year-gap, Izumi has finally succumbed to her illness and tragically passed away, but not before she sent Al away so he didn't have to watch her die. Wrath can be seen sleeping by her grave. Later, when Alphonse sacrifices a willing Wrath to once again open the gate of alchemy, Izumi is seen hugging her son. The two reunited in peace at last.
- Izumi and Olivier Mira Armstrong are the only people Ed and Al fear to the point of not wanting to anger them. Also, both women share many personality traits including being hostile, violent, and possessing strong life philosophies.
- It's notable that in any occurence when Izumi's head is shrouded by a shadow or is in the darkness, her eyes are depicted as a deep fiery red color regardless of her emotional state.
- Similar to Ed, who hates being called short, or Olivier being called feminine, Izumi hates being called old (which is somewhat ironic as despite being middle aged, she still looks rather youthful).
- While Izumi's Flamel tattoo is red in both the manga and the 2003 anime, in the 2009 series it is changed to a deep shade of blue.
- Hiromu Arakawa has stated that, while Izumi's hair appears to be in dreadlocks, each dread is actually a micro-braid.
- The name Izumi means "spring" or "fountain" in Japanese. 
- Despite being officially introduced in Chapter 19, Izumi and Sig make a cameo in the background of Chapter 14 (and Episode 9 of Brotherhood) at the train station behind Winry
- The Human Transmutation Circle that Izumi attempts to use to resurrect her child bears a striking resemblance to the one that the Elric Brothers try to resurrect their mother with. This is most likely a demonstration of how much Izumi's teachings influenced the boys' alchemy, as a number of vastly different circle configurations have been shown to be capable of opening the gate.
- In the Tale of Teacher short, she mentions she was still a virgin at the age of 18 and seems to have met her current husband while running to the Iron Tavern in the hopes of getting an apprenticeship with the master alchemist Mr. Silver Steiner (he was actually dead and Izumi met his brother) while holding a dead bear carcass.