Fullmetal Alchemist is a fantasy manga set in the early 20th century in a country called Amestris in an alternate-historical Earth with technology dating from early 20th century Europe. In this alternate world, the exaggerated science of alchemy is heavily used in conjunction with acretian soul wanderers, but takes on a further fantastic element not seen in real-life alchemy. Real-world alchemists attempted to transmute gold and diamonds from lesser metals. In the fictional world of the series, alchemy becomes the science of transmuting matter into different matter through the use of transmutation circles—based on real-world science, yet also magical, with seemingly infinite uses. Talented alchemists may apply to take a State Alchemist test to join the Amestris military's State Alchemists.
Edward and Alphonse Elric were children living in the rural village of Resembool in the country of Amestris. Their father Hohenheim (Hohenheim of Light in the anime and Van Hohenhiem in the manga), a talented alchemist, had left home when Edward was very young and Alphonse was still an infant. Years later, their mother, Trisha Elric, died of a terminal illness. After their mother's death, they lived with Winry and her grandmother until finding a teacher to teach them alchemy. After completing training, they came home with the intent of reviving their mother with the transmutation circle they found in their father's notes and made the attempt soon after acquiring the circle. However, this attempt failed, resulting in a twisted mass of flesh and bone at the cost of Edward's left leg and Alphonse's entire body. In a desperate effort to save his brother, Edward sacrificed his right arm to affix his brother's soul to a suit of armor. After that, Edward's left leg and right arm are fitted with two sets of Automail, a type of advanced prosthetic limb. In the original Japanese, the term “Fullmetal” is used to describe a person who is stubborn. In the series it is often attributed by minor characters to Ed's automail arm and leg, or Al's armor body. In the sixth manga, as well as episode 8 of the anime, it is revealed that when an alchemist becomes a State Alchemist, they are given a special title. Edward's title was Fullmetal, making him Fullmetal Alchemist.
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