Sunday, February 18, 2007

Dante is Controlling the Airwaves

(I wrote this entry over a week ago and I finally got it to work.) So I am a dork... I am just going to put that out there first. I watch a show called Full Metal Alchemist (FMA) on the Cartoon Network. It came here from Japan, as so many cartoons do, and it only plays at about 3 in the morning, M-H, so I record it on my DVR, which I am now unfortunately addicted too. A long time ago I began to notice many intertwining themes that are at play in Dante's Devine Comedy that are also in play in FMA. The first of which that came to my attention a while ago was that there are characters on the show that embody the seven deadly sins. Each one of these characters, which are known as homunculus (a word in alchemy meaning “an artificially made dwarf, supposedly produced in a flask by an alchemist; a diminutive human being; or a human fetus” []) and on the show they are said to be soulless beings created by an alchemists’ acumination of sins. Each sin is represented by a person who embodies many of the traits that are described in the Devine Comedy.


Pride, in the show, is known as Fuhrer, who is the head of the state army, and so he is embodied in the Purgatorio (Canto XII, line 52-54) by Sennacherib, King of Assyria, who believed in a false God to deliver him to victory in battle, and was then killed by his own two sons (p. 388 of our book). The Fuhrer, much like Sennacherib, believed that through Alchemy he would be able to regain his soul, we find out this is not true through the discourse of the show, and in the end his own son unknowingly delivers to his destroyer, the one thing that is needed to kill him, which is the bones from his original body. His false God though was a woman named Dante, who I will talk about, possibly in another blog because this one is going to be quite long.


Envy is an extremely strong homunculus who is able to take on the appearance of anyone else and impersonate them. It is envious of all humans because they have souls unlike it does. Envy, who’s name in life (life being FMA) I don’t know, but I do know that it is most envious of the main characters who we later find out are step brothers. After reading the notes I saw a connection between Envy and “Sapìa of Siena” (Canto XIII, line 94, p. 349). Sapìa , according to the editor, is Provenzano Salvani’s (who is mentioned in Canto XI the level of the Proud) Aunt who watches him be beheaded reportedly saying “Now God, do what you will with me, and do me any harm you can, for after this I shall live happily and die content. (p. 399)” The only thing that Envy, in FMA, says will make her happy is the death of her brothers. The other things is that Envy is so easily swayed by peoples words that she never bothers to actually look and see if she can find the truth, only taking things at face value; just as the blind in the level of Envious in The Purgatorio would do if they could see.

I would continue to break down these characters one by one but then this blog would become extremely long winded and I wouldn’t be able to mention my main observation from FMA that relates to The Devine Comedy. At several points in The Devine Comedy Dante references Florence, is town of origin, as being hell, or like hell, or of sharing many attributes of. Almost as if, had he broken apart Florence into section, thrown in many historical figures, and mythological beings, and structured it in an orderly way so that there were three main levels each of which had their own divisions, it would be quite similar to the structure presented to us in his comedy. In FMA there is also a gate, and through this gate few people have passed to come out on the other side. One is a female character who name is Dante, and the other two are the main character and his father. Their aren’t many similarities between Dante the character from FMA and Dante the writer whatsoever besides a name. But the gate, that is a different story.

Throughout The Devine Comedy, Dante makes allegorical links between his location in the afterlife and to that of Florence leading the reader to the conclusion that they are only separated by a forest and a gate, but that they in someway mirror each other. The gate in FMA does the same thing, except it is the link to the world that we know and live in. When they go through their gate, them being those who live in the world of the FMA, they are taken to our Earth, which is the same, but different. On our Earth instead of pursuing Alchemy and trying to synchronize with the Earth through science, we chose to develop mechanical things with our science. As a result, when they arrive in our world we are on the brink of WW2 and they are thrown into the middle of it.

The links between the show and The Devine Comedy are very obvious and there are so many them it boggles the mind. I suggest, if you don’t mind a little violence in your cartoons, and aren’t afraid to nerd it up, that you tune in and see if you can find some similarities yourself.

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