Pinako Rockbell is a surgeon and weapon smith living and working in the town of Resembool the founder of Rockbell Automail, a family-run automail atelier within the town. Pinako also happens to be the grandmother of Winry Rockbell as well as the neighbor and close family friend of the Elrics - Van Hohenheim, Trisha, Edward and Alphonse.
Pinako is an elderly woman with gray hair and dwarf stature. As a young woman, she was tall and very attractive with a curvaceous figure with long brown hair and brown eyes.
Pinako is a very skilled doctor, surgeon and automail engineer known throughout Amestris as "The Leopardess of Resembool" as told by Dominic LeCoulte who has a past with her.
Van Hohenheim - She made a drinking partner of the ancient Alchemist, appearing together as far back as the 1860's when she was young, and as such she was his oldest and closest friend. She never treated him with fear or suspicion even though she would comment that he still looked the same after half a century of her knowing him. She is the first to discover his body after his final return to Resembool, remarking that he looked happy in death with tears in her eyes.
Edward and Alphonse Elric - Having helped with the delivery of both of the Elric brothers, and subsequently becoming their legal guardian following their mother's passing, Pinako developed a grandmotherly relationship with the Elrics. While Alphonse was well-mannered, Edward proved to be rambunctious, often bickering with the old automail engineer, a trait which continued well into Edward's teen years, both of them exchanging insults regarding their respective small statures.
Pinako's relationship with the Elric brothers was further strengthened following their failed attempt at human transmutation. Although distraught by their actions, Pinako never scolded them for her actions, and even defended them from other authority figures in their lives, namely their father Hohenheim and also Colonel Roy Mustang. When Edward began blaming himself for his brother's condition, Pinako consoled him, ensuring Edward that his brother could never blame him over what happened and encouraged Edward to ask Alphonse personally rather than keeping the thoughts bottled up. Ultimately, Pinako and Winry became Edward's personal automail engineers, the elderly engineer having built his limbs and oversaw the boy's mechanical leg's maintenance, while Winry took over fixing the right arm. Unlike her granddaughter who regularly complains about Edward wrecking his automail, Pinako jokingly remarks that Edward became their best paying customer, charging him extra for rush jobs.
HistoryPinako is likely a native resident of Resembool, as she appears in pictures in the town as far back as 1866, by which time the youthful woman had made a jovial drinking companion of the man called Hohenheim. She seems to have had a rather lively past as multiple photographs depict her partying jovially with several of the town's inhabitants and, according to Dominic Lecoulte of Rush Valley, had gained notoriety (or perhaps infamy) as an engineer known by the moniker "Leopardess of Resembool". It is unknown by whom she married into the Rockbell family, but she appears with her late husband in photographs soon after having befriended Hohenheim and gave birth to her son Yuriy in 1873. At some point in the 1890s, Pinako was instrumental in introducing Hohenheim to Trisha Elric, another of Resembool's young women, culminating in the two's union. Pinako herself would help deliver their two young boys, Edward and Alphonse.
During the Ishval Civil War, Yuriy and his wife Sarah left their hometown to practice emergency medicine on the outskirts of the battlefield in Ishval's Kanda region. When they were killed in action, Pinako became the sole caregiver of their only child and her granddaughter Winry. Tragedy would further mar Pinako's immediate circle when Trisha Elric grew ill shortly after Hohenheim's latest disappearance and - despite Pinako's close care - died in the spring of 1904, leaving her two young sons behind. From this point, though Edward and Alphonse continued to live alone in their family's home, Pinako took on the role of adult in their lives, raising them along with Winry. However, when the skilled alchemist Izumi Curtis arrived in Resembool roughly six years later, she accepts the Elric brothers' request to train under her after Pinako reveals that they have no parents. When the Elrics return after half a year, their apprenticeship finished, and fail tragically in their attempt to alchemically resurrect their mother, Pinako once again finds herself as the only one to whom the young boys can turn for help. Alphonse, his body gone and his soul bound to an empty suit of armor, arrives pleading on Pinako's doorstep, clutching his horrifically maimed brother in his hollow metal arms and Pinako rushes the young boy into emergency surgery in her own home to stop the bleeding and save his life. When the procedure is finished and Edward's condition stabilized, Pinako ventures over to the Elric home to find the monstrosity that they had created in attempting to resurrect Trisha and buries it behind the house.
Soon afterward (the same day, according to the 2003 anime series, but a few days or weeks later, according to the manga) the Rockbell house is visited by Lieutenant Colonel Roy Mustang, who expresses his interest in recruiting young Edward for the State Alchemist Program. Though Pinako expresses her concerns (in the anime citing her distaste for the military and in the manga suggesting that hiring Edward to perform as a profession the same art that lost him his limbs, destroyed his brother's body and turned their mother into an abomination would be crazy and foolish), Edward personally consents and requests that Pinako craft him automail replacements for his missing right arm and left leg so that he may apply for his state license. Pinako warns Edward that the surgery will be excruciating and that the recovery period for such a procedure would be at least three years, but Ed promises (much to Pinako's admiration) that he can handle the pain and that his recovery will require only one year. After looking after him for the promised year, Pinako gladly sees Edward - now with four working limbs - and Alphonse off as they leave for East City to begin the first leg of their long journey and, upon their successful return, bears witness to Edward's incineration of the Elric home as a symbol of his determination never to turn back.
In the Manga
Pinako Rockbell is first introduced to the story in Chapter 9, when the Elric brothers (having taken significant damage from their altercation with Scar in East City) are escorted back to Resembool by Major Alex Louis Armstrong for repairs. Pinako appears glad to see the boys again and immediately begins her old ritual of arguing with Edward over which of them is punier. After learning that Edward's right arm will need to be rebuilt from scratch, Pinako also determines that the young man has grown a bit taller and will need to have his left leg readjusted to fit properly. Though Ed bemoans the time it will take to have all this work done, Pinako promises that she will have both ready in three days. While Edward goes off visiting his mother's grave to pass the time, Pinako asks Major Armstrong to tell her what the boys have been up to in East City, as Edward never writes them and city news doesn't reach rural Resembool very often. Armstrong explains to her that Edward is very famous in East City and that fame gets him in trouble some times, but that he is able to get by well enough due to his remarkable inner strength. Pinako reflects on that strength and remarks that she has seen it on many occasions when Edward was younger. She wonders from where in that small body such strength springs and worries aloud that any future obstacle large enough to cause such a strong boy to stumble might prove fatal to his spirit. Three days later, Ed's automail limbs are fitted and activated, allowing him to perform the alchemy necessary to repair Alphonse's armor body without damaging the Blood Rune that keeps his soul bound to it, and the following morning Pinako sees the boys off, reminding them to come back for a visit any time they feel like having a good, home-cooked meal.
Pinako next appears after Edward's battle in Laboratory 5 prompts him to call Winry to Central City for a new set of repairs on his arm. While Pinako does not comment on this in the manga, the 2009 anime has her advising Winry to fix it properly this time, suggesting that she had known of Winry's careless omission of an important bolt when rebuilding Edward's arm before. After Winry leaves for Central and departs for Rush Valley with the Elrics, Pinako receives a call from her granddaughter explaining that the young lady had found a job at an atelier in Rush Valley working as an automail engineer in her own right. Pinako wishes her good luck and urges her to work hard, but notes as she hangs up that she is now all alone in the large family house. Den attempts to cheer her up, but Pinako shoos her away, remarking that she is too old and mature to feel lonely anymore. Pinako remarks that she had always thought of Ed, Al and Winry as children, but now those "children" are beginning to walk their own paths in life.
Pinako appears again in Chapter 40, casually looking through an old photo album when Den becomes violently alarmed by a mysterious presence at the front door. Much to Pinako's surprise, into the house walks Van Hohenheim, remarking to his old friend that he cannot seem to find his house. Van apologizes for startling Pinako and she comments that, in all the decades she has known him, Hohenheim has not changed even a bit. Shortly afterward, Pinako receives a call from Alphonse, asking if Edward - whom Major Armstrong had dragged off to Resembool - has arrived. She explains that Edward has not yet come to the house, but that their father has returned at long last. Both Van and Edward return to the Rockbell house and while Ed isolates himself from his hated father, Pinako and Hohenheim talk over dinner. Van asks Pinako why no one scolded them or gave them guidance during the Human Transmutation incident, to which Pinako responds that it was Van's job to do so and that if he had been around for them, the boys would never have tried to bring Trisha back and would not have had to watch their mother die twice. Van, perceiving that Edward is listening in on their conversation, asks Pinako poignantly if the creature she had buried was really Trisha Elric. Pinako is confused, but Van asks if the hair color, eye color or any other characteristics even came close to matching those of hers. Getting the hint, Pinako states in horror that the very idea of Edward and Alphonse sacrificing so much to bring back something that couldn't possibly have even been their mother is unbelievably cruel.
The next morning, Van prepares to take the train out of town. Pinako offers to wake Ed, but Van declines and instead asks if he can take from the Rockbell house a particular picture of himself, Trisha and the boys from when they were all together. She consents and Van thanks her and calls her a good friend, citing the fact that she has never treated him with fear or suspicion despite the fact that his appearance has remained exactly the same for the half century since she's known him. As such, he informs her that something terrible will be happening in Amestris very soon and advises her to escape to another country while she still can. Pinako refuses, saying that terrible things happen all the time and that there are people in her home country who rely on her presence. Van departs and Pinako tells him to come back whenever he feels like having a good, home-cooked meal, to which he responds gloomily under his breath that it will never happen.
When Edward awakens, Pinako repairs the light damage that had been done to his automail before his most recent departure from Central City and Edward asks her to help him with a difficult but necessary task - digging up the body that Pinako had buried five years ago. Pinako takes Edward to the spot where she had entombed the atrocity and the two begin digging. As the rain begins to fall, the traumatic nature of the task begins to tell on Ed. Pinako recommends that they stop, saying that she doesn't want this to be the obstacle that breaks him. However, Ed pushes forward and eventually uncovers several strands of hair and bones. Washing the hair, Edward declares that it is black, as opposed to Trisha's chestnut brown. Pinako uses her medical knowledge to measure the bones and determines that the corpse had none of Trisha's characteristics; the femurs were too long and the pelvis belonged to a male - it was not their mother. Pinako bemoans the tragedy of it all and is surprised when Edward laughs, thinking that he has finally snapped. But Edward informs her that in this harsh truth is the key he needs to return Alphonse to his body. Edward tells Pinako that he wishes to make a proper grave for the creature, even though it isn't his mother. He remarks that it looked at him the night he created it and that, as a human being it deserves a resting place. Pinako notes to herself that Edward uses the term "human" too loosely, but that he wouldn't be able to call Alphonse human if he didn't. Ed asks Pinako to confirm that Trisha was his real mother and she confirms that she delivered both Ed and Al herself. Ed takes comfort in this, though Pinako is unsure where this new information will lead him.
The next morning, Ed and Pinako visit Yuriy and Sarah's graves and Edward tells Pinako that he had met some Ishvalans who had been saved on the battlefield, but balks at explaining to her how her son and daughter-in-law died. Just before Edward leaves for the train, Pinako asks Edward to deliver a message to Hohenheim if he sees him again. She describes to him Trisha's last moments in which she asked Pinako to apologize to him for dying first.
Pinako once again finds her life in a bit of chaos when Edward returns, with Greed, Heinkel and Darius in tow, looking for a place to hide out until the time comes to begin preparations for The Promised Day. She complies, keeping them reluctantly in the upstairs of her home. When Winry suddenly returns in search of sanctuary - complete with a pair of bodyguards from Fort Briggs, Pinako at first only sees more unfamiliar men and thinks more people are taxing her courtesy, only to then see her much-missed granddaughter. Glad to have Winry safe and sound at home, Pinako sees Ed's group off in the middle of the night and wishes them luck.
In Chapter 104, Pinako is shown to have fallen victim to the activation of the Nationwide Transmutation Circle along with Winry. As she loses consciousness, Pinako vows to clobber Hohenheim when he returns, implying that she retains her faith that Van and the boys will set things right.
In Chapter 108, she is the first to discover Hohenheim's body in front of Trisha's grave, and in the 2009 anime and the picture montage at the end of the manga, Pinako is standing beside the graves of both Van Hohenheim and Trisha Elric. She is the sole parental figure of the younger generation to see the arrival of Ed and Winry's children.
In the 2003 anime series, Pinako plays a much less significant role in the story after her initial appearance. Late in the anime's storyline, however, she offers her home as a hiding place for Winry and Sheska after the two girls stumble upon the existence of the Homunculus Sloth in Central City and flee. It is at this point that Hohenheim, too, returns to Resembool after his long absence and takes up residence at the Rockbell house for a short while. Soon afterward, Pinako and company are visited by Edward and Alphonse who have unofficially defected from the State Military and need a place to hide while AWOL.
- It is scientifically proven that smoking and drinking habits are two of the major causes of shrinkage with age after the 40s, which are the usual habits of Pinako. Because of that women can lose up to 7 cm when they reach the age of 80. So this could be one of the reasons why she is so short as an old woman, besides the comical motive.
- In an omake strip, Hiromu Arakawa revealed that Pinako's unique, rigid ponytail is so shaped because she hides nattō beans therein. While this is obviously meant to be a joke on Arakawa's part and not to be counted as canon, the author does reveal that she had designed Pinako's hair specifically with that joke in mind.
- In another omake, while Edward is trying to make telepathic contact with Alphonse from inside Gluttony's stomach, Pinako suddenly stops what she is doing and says, "Ed?"
- In the 2003 anime series, Pinako appears well aware that Yuriy and Sarah were killed by Roy Mustang by order of his superiors and this knowledge (which she keeps secret from Winry) has left her with a distaste for the State Military, the State Alchemist program and Mustang in particular, causing her to use rather disparaging remarks when speaking of any of the three and actively discourage Edward and Alphonse from attempting to achieve their state licenses. In the manga, however, Pinako seems to understand that her son and his wife were merely casualties in a war that claimed many lives unfairly and does not seem to blame the State Military or State Alchemists in particular, having already finished her grieving long ago.