Father (お父様 Otō-sama?) is the main antagonist of the Fullmetal Alchemist manga and second anime series. Father is the creator and leader of all the homunculi as depicted in the manga, and mastermind of the many atrocities that result from the countless wars and border disputes within the story. Father does not appear in the first anime series, effectively replaced by Dante who, likewise, does not appear in the manga.
Creation and conception
In the series, Father is depicted as a calculating and remorseless figure whose preference is to exploit "useful" people to further his own goals, while disregarding those who serve absolutely no purpose. When Edward and Alphonse Elric first meet Father, he was shown to have treated their wounds and even engage them in conversation. However, Father was quick to dismiss and order the death of Lin before he reconsidered the use of this "valuable human resource". Father is shown to be rather protective of the Homunculi; made of his own flesh, Father regards these creations as his own children. In fact, Father went so far as to reabsorb Gluttony and recreate him with all his original memories intact, after Gluttony's Stone was nearly depleted. This is believed by Hohenheim to be his attempt at creating a family. Not much is known about Father other than he manipulates the governing body of Amestris. In fact, the series' protagonist, Edward Elric, postulates that Father masterminded the creation of the State for the express purpose of bringing his plans to fruition.
In appearance, Father greatly resembles Hohenheim, Edward and Alphonse Elric's father. It is revealed in a series of flashbacks that Father used to be a mere black speck with one eye and a set of teeth confined within a scientific flask, created four centuries before the start of the main plotline. Hohenheim's blood (then slave 23) was used in the experiment that initially created Father (then simply Homunculus), thus Father holds Hohenheim in high regard as his "blood kin" for having genetically fathered him. During the transmutation that destroyed Xerxes, Father fashioned his body using Hohenheim's blood as data once more, thus resulting in their near-exact likeness. In his original form as Homunculus, he was able to deftly manipulate the King of Xerxes into crafting the massive transmutation array under the false promise of immortality, and had no sympathy for the thousands of lives that were sacrificed during the alchemical reaction. In this respect, very little has changed between the tiny Homunculus of 400 years before and Father as he is depicted in the present time; Father is planning a very similar transmutation with the whole of Amestris as an array, and just as before, cares not for the countless innocent people that would die in order for his goals to be reached.
The character Father was originally a "Homunculus" whose creation was commissioned by the king of Xerxes was to obtain knowledge from beyond the Gate of Truth in order to find a means to cheat death.. Confined within a flask, the Homunculus formed an attachment to the young slave boy whose blood had been used in his creation, naming him Hohenheim and teaching him alchemy, the knowledge of which was viewed by the boy as freedom. With the former raising in Xerxes' social hierarchy, Hohenheim and Homunculus had a friendly relationship and were together for awhile; Homunculus identified Hohenheim as being 'like his father,' since it was from Hohenheim's blood that he took life.
But things changed when the Homunculus told the King of Xerxes the secret to immortality would cost the lives of everyone within the empire and gained his blessing to create a Nationwide Transmutation Circle with an inner circle to keep whoever's in it safe while allowing them to absorb the countless lives made into a philosopher's stone. After the alchemical process occurred, it was revealed that Homunculus had deceived the king as it intended itself to receive it while sacrificing Hohenheim's body to the gate. Soon after, the Homunculus uses the stone within it to creates a new body for himself and another for Hohenheim, each new body holding half million souls. Parting ways, the Homunculus became the legendary Eastern Sage who taught the country of Amestris alchemy in for the sake of his master plan, engineering every war in the country's history, to bring it into the form of a perfect circle with sites of bloody carnage at all the cardinal points—the necessary configuration for the transmutation of another Philosopher's Stone.
Father's "goal" appears to be to create the perfect Philosopher's Stone and the Gate, by using all of the citizens of Amestris. This plan entails the use of 'human sacrifices' to open the gate, alchemists of notable skill, with those who have 'opened the gate' before (Elric Brothers, Van Hohenheim, Izumi Curtis, and Roy Mustang) as 'confirmed sacrifices.' Because 'opening the gate' requires a sacrifice or 'transferral fee,' it is implied that Father intends to sacrifice the physical bodies of those who have 'opened the gate' as the transferral fee, possibly to acquire all knowledge from it as the more that is sacrificed the more knowledge is received.
Father's plans are very near to fruition, because in chapter 78 Sloth eventually finishes building the tunnel underneath Amestris. As Father battles Hohenheim, he sends Bradley and Pride to make Mustang the final sacrifice. After being forced to assume the form of dark humanoid figure covered in eyes, Father absorbs Hohenheim to keep him from interfering as he then activates the Amestris transmutation circle once the other pawns are brought togther, with May and Greed joining the fray, repeating history for the sole purpose of forcing the Gate to appear into order to absorb the Truth. While he apparently succeeded, though Scar and Wrath seemed to have survived the process. Father now appears as a young Hohenheim with godly power as he attempts to kill May and the alchemists. However, while Hohenheim manages to restore some of the sacrificed souls back into their bodies, Scar's activation of the Alkahestry circle secretly made around Central provides the alchemists with an edge. Learning that he lacks the energy to keep the Truth inside himself, Father makes his way to the surface to take more lives to restore his power. Father effectively defeats Hohenheim, Izumi, Mustang, May, Al and Ed, but the intervetion of the rest of their friends allowed them to recover. Al sacrifices himself in order to give Ed's arm back, and Ed furiously attacks Father with a staggering amount of blows, since he was losing control. Father attempts to absorb Greed's stone but Greed uses his carbonization ability to cripple Father before being killed. Ed finally defeats Father by literally punching a hole in Father's chest. In so doing, the trapped souls from Xerxes reach out and turn Father inside out, dragging him before the gate. There Father, now reduced back to his original homunculus form, confronts the force that calls itself 'the truth'. Berating Father for selfishly stealing the power of others instead of trying to evolve using his own strength, the force 'rewards' the horrified Father by having the gate reabsorb him.
Father has the power to nullify all western (Amestrian) alchemic processes, rendering any western alchemic reaction to be impossible. However, this ability does not affect eastern (Xingese) alchemy. The reason for this is that the two types of alchemy use different power sources. Eastern alchemy uses the power "that flows from mountains into underground, nourishing land as it passes by", whereas Amestrian alchemy relies on tectonic energy from the Earth's crust (Xingese alchemist Mei was skeptical of this description of Alchemy's power source when told by Dr. Marcoh, describing the country as if there were people dying). That feeling came from Father's inserted philosopher's stone "cushion" inserted between the crust and the surface of the earth to dampen and/or nullify the power of western alchemy, by blocking Amestrian Alchemists' access to the tectonic energy. After Scar activated the reverse philosopher's stone transmutation circle, the cushion was rendered useless and Father could no longer dampen and/or nullify western alchemy.
He can perform alchemy purely through thought, with no movement whatsoever, and he can transmute with any part of his body, not merely his hands as with most other alchemists. A third eye can appear in his forehead, which secreted the Philosopher's Stone that was the Homunculus Greed's nucleus (this suggests that Wrath, who like the second Greed is a human-based Homunculus, was produced in a similar way - in the manga, Wrath was shown to have been one of many young men trained since childhood to take the role of Führer, and the only one to accept a Philosopher's Stone into his body and survive). Because he is essentially a living Philosopher's Stone, Father is capable of 'violating' the law of Equivalent Exchange, as demonstrated when he replaces Al's missing hand without having to rely on the material already present.