So, I just finished the original Fullmetal Alchemist two weeks ago. From what I've heard, the show was pretty popular in its youth, but slowly became infamous upon the completion of the remake: Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood. I haven’t yet seen Brotherhood, as watching both side-by-side would be a little much, but I loved the original series from what I've seen thus far.
One major aspect I hear people came to hate of the original series, was it's ending. I've been hinted that the ending of the remake is far more streamlined – with a sunset included (not really, I think). That isn't the point though. The point relates to the sequel movie of the original series: The Conqueror of Shamballa and how, by following what it puts forth, we can see what some of the characters of Fullmetal Alchemist would look like in real life.
Before I go further, there will be spoilers for the original series – and obviously the movie.
Before going into details, I need to put forth the rules of the universe to be able explain my points. Assuming you at least know of the place alchemy takes in the series, at the end of the original series Edward goes through the gate of equivalent exchange. He is brought to a place called London, his father by his side, and realizes that he is in a world on the other side of the gate. Edward witnesses planes and zeppelins bombing the city he was dropped in and realizes that he's been placed in someone else's body, while it looks almost exactly like his own.
His father then goes on to say that alchemy itself is the diverging point between these two worlds, on either side of the gate. The basic history before their time is more or less the same, making there duplicate personas in either world. His father states there is an Edward on each side, which is proven within the original show, and most likely an Alphonse on either side (which is later proven in the movie). That rule becomes more apparent in the movie, so it's very much confirmed.
So, on either side of the gate there are individuals that look almost identical to each-other, with only minor physical differences. That is the rule to follow while making my next points. Another rule, that you can keep in mind, is that the people on either side of the gate don't have to act inherently the same. In the original series, Fuhrer Bradley is very much evil as he is willing to take many lives for personal gain. Fuhrer Bradley's alter ego, on the other side, is very different than that with no evil aspects to him.
Frank Archer on the left, Carnival Owner on the right.
With all of that in mind: the movie begins with Edward and Alphonse's alter ego coming upon a carriage carrying gypsies towards a nearby carnival. That is where the first real-life counterpart comes into play. In the following scene, a few of the gypsies get off to go to the office of the owner of the carnival. This is actually the hardest character to identify from the looks of the alter ego, but I see very big resemblances with the character Frank Archer in the original series. There is never a name spoken to what the owner of this carnival is, and he never appears in the movie following this scene. If we go back a little bit, however, we see the name of this carnival is “Hanussens Welt”.
Robert Hutchins Goddard on left, Hermann Oberth on right.
Now, if we go back to the last episode of the original series, it tells us that Edward has traveled to Munic, Bavaria - Germany – and that the year is 1921. Edward is seen shortly after siting down, his father holding a book on liquid fuel rockets – by Robert Hutchins Goddard – he was the first to build a liquid fuel rocket. There is no portrayal of him in the movie or show, but he is involved nonetheless. Just after that Edward says that he plans to go meet up with a man by the name of Hermann Oberth, who is also another in the works of rockets and astronautics. There is no portrayal of him either, in the show or movie, but he is also involved nonetheless. Oberth is involved more, actually, from how he is mentioned again in the movie for being the reason why Edward and Alfons' alter ego met - both becoming students of Oberth.
That's getting a little off topic, but that leads to the beginning of the movie where Edward and Alfons' alter ego have already become good friends. It shows the date, then, as 1923. So we now know some details on what the world was like at the time-line this story takes place.
Young 'Erik Jan Hanussen' on left, Old 'Erik Jan Hanussen' on right.
Returning to the carnival by the name of “Hanussens Welt”, I looked up the name on Google and discovered that a somewhat famous individual with the name Erik Jan Hanussen lived in Germany. In the real history of Germany, during the time of the Third Reich, Erik Jan Hanussen apparently had instructed Adolf Hitler on how to achieve a dramatic effect while giving speech. I also found that Hanussen had staged mind reading, muscle reading, and hypnosis acts that made him very successful in his personal life. That is what dotted the line that this individual must be the owner of the carnival in the movie.
Character "Noah" from Fullmetal Alchemist: Conqueror of Shamballa.
Firstly, Adolf Hitler makes a cameo in the film, during the beginning uprising he staged at the Beer Hall Putsch – where he attempted to seize power of Munich with the other members of his Nazi Party. It has already been made clear that Edward is located in Munich, as this carnival is also nearby. The major point that makes me certain that the owner must be Hanussen is the main character he's affiliated with, which is Noah – a performing gypsy that has the ability to read minds through touch – relating to the actual Hanussen's mind reading and muscle reading acts.
Frank Archer should greatly resemble Erik Jan Hanussen.
So, from that information, I have deduced that the owner the carnival is Erik Jan Hanussen, and that he is the alter ego of Frank Archer, through their physical similarities in the film. Now, going back to the rule of identical personas that has already been set in the series, Frank Archer must look like this man. The only physical differences I noticed, from their animated characters in the film, is that Archer has less wrinkles and black hair. So, I would assume that the alter ego of Archer must be older. So this real picture would be an older version of him.
Fuhrer Bradley on Top/Left, Alter Ego on Bottom/Right.
That isn't the only character we can see in reality, however. Around the beginning of the movie, Edward notices a familiar face, in a passing car, that immediately stops him from what he's doing. He looks so certain that who he sees is familiar, that he believes that the character must have found a way to get to this world. This character is Fuher/King Bradley. Edward stops the man in his place, knocking out his driver. He forces the man to show his left eye, to prove that he isn't indeed Fuher/King Bradley. The man does as told, and Edward apologizes - the man asking if Edward could drive him to his destination in place of his knocked out driver. At this point, the man names himself “Mabuse”. Mabuse makes an offer for Edward of rewarding him if he helps Mabuse search for a dragon in an abandoned castle. Edward discovers that the dragon is real, as it's Envy stuck in the form he crossed the gate in.
Karl Haushofer from anime on Top/Left, Karl Haushofer from history on Bottom/Right.
Anyways, Mabuse is at the scene while this all goes down. He approaches the man and calls him as Haushofer, also referring to him as “general”. Edward is also familiar with this name, as he heard it from his father. Indeed, in the original series, at the end Haushofer also made an appearance – with a very different voice actor. So, with the time-frame in mind, the candidate is Karl Haushofer, a German general who served at the time of World War 1 – retiring at 1919 from great disappointment of Germany's loss. He would also have influence in the Nazi Regime. He would not be general at the time of this fictitious event in the movie, as it is placed 4 years after his retirement.
King Bradley should greatly resemble Fritz Lang.
Scenes from Fullmetal Alchemist movie fit with that of Fritz Lang's.
Returning to Mabuse, sometime after the event with the dragon, Edward goes to meet him – entering a movie set containing a large, robotic lizard. Here, Edward pulls out a newspaper he must have boughten off screen and states that he found out Fuher/King Bradley's alter ego isn't Mabuse at all – and that he is a director of a recently released movie known as: Dr. Mabuse the Gambler. There, Fuher/King Bradley's alter ego admits that his name is actually Fritz Lang. With that information, there is no doubt that Fuher/King Bradley's alter ego is the famous, German-Austrian filmmaker, Fritz Lang. Looking up his works, in reality he did release the movie Dr. Mabuse the Gambler in the year 1922. Show scenes from movie. That matches perfectly with the Fullmetal Alchemist, current year of 1923. Also, the sets Fritz Lang speaks to Edward on – during and after that confession – are very likely for the next movie he would make called: “Die Nibelungen”. In real-life, it was a silent fantasy film released in year 1924. That would make perfect sense, again, with the year of the movie – and from the types of sets that are shown in the movie. Fullmetal's Fritz Lang also says, while searching the abandoned castle for the dragon earlier, “The idea of finding a living breathing dragon is quite appealing to me”. In the movie “Die Nibelungen”, a dragon does make an appearance.
Japan Und Die Japaner in Fullmetal Alchemist movie, then in a real-life photo.
So, we settled before who Haushofer likely is, but if you feel we haven't – then now is the time to iron out more details. While Edward is speaking of more serious matters with Fritz Lang, Fritz Lang pulls out a book written by “Karl Haushofer” about research on the Japanese people. Earlier, at the time of the event with the dragon, Fritz Lang speaks to that very Haushofer about his time in Japan. That solidifies for fact that this “Karl Haushofer” is the one I've brought up from history. The book Fritz places forth, “Japan Und Die Japaner”, is also a book from reality that was written by the real Karl Haushofer. It seems to be very rare, as I could only find this picture of the cover. It doesn't look the same, but hey – they did their research, as I did mine.
Ancient picture of Shambahla.
Fritz Lang then goes on to talk about Haushofer's writings on a mythical temple known as “Shambahla”. Fritz Lang continues and makes note of Haushofer's secret society known as the “Thule Society” which makes attempts on finding this place. Fritz then mentions that the Thule Society helped form the Nazi Party and their, planned large-scale uprising that would take place in “November”. The Beer Hall Putsch did take place at that time, during November 8th and 9th in year 1923, and what was said about the Thule Society also happened in history.
Rudolf Hess and Haushofer in anime, movie, and real-life.
Earlier in the movie, during the time of the carnival, the alter ego of Alphonse successfully launches a rocket. A man then approaches them, Alfons calling him, “Mister Hess”. Just before that scene, during the time the mind reading gypsy is with the carnival owner Hanussen, Hanussen asks the men that come in to take the gypsy where “Lieutenant Hess” is. From both of those early comments, I came to “Rudolf Hess” as the identity of the man. The Rudolf Hess, of history, won an Iron Cross and become the rank of “Leutnant der Reserve”, when he left the armed forces in 1918. He also joined the Thule Society, and became good friends with now-retired General Haushofer. And that becomes the prime evidence for his identity in this film, as the two (Haushofer and Hess) continually chat side-by-side. The Hess of the film is also a big participator in the fictional Thule Society in the movie. Another interesting thing I noticed is that Hess makes an unannounced appearance during the end of the original series, as you can see from the physical resemblance and by the fact that he's walking among his friend from the Thule Society – Haushofer.
Real-life Dietrich Eckart, and Fullmetal Alchemist version.
“Shambahla”, in actual history, is said to be a mythical, underground kingdom hidden somewhere in Inner Asia. It was the “Pure Land” of the Buddha, a place that was as spiritual as it was physical. One interesting relation, during the film, is that the location where the real Alphonse Elric opens the gate – the city was buried underground. Also, while Alphonse descends the staircase to the underground city, ancient Buddhist symbols flash as the steps seem to descend to some spiritual realm. In the Conqueror on Shambahla, Fritz Lang states that those who rule Shambahla can rule the world. Being a likely motivator for the fictitious Thule Society, and the growing Nazi Party, a women by the name of Dietrich Eckart leads the groups on a path to attaining Shambahla. Looking up her name, an odd truth was found. In reality, Dietrich Eckart was a journalist and politician of Adolf Hitler... but also a male. Immediately, I assumed that this individual must be someone else, but then I looked further. The real, Dietrich Eckart was a participator in the Beer Hall Putsch while also involved with the Thule Society – both which the female version in the film was also involved in.
Back to the movie set with Fritz Lang and Edward, Fritz Lang discusses the idea of a parallel world. Fritz Lang discusses the possible differences each world might attain, while having many major similarities. One example he says is, “Maybe it's a realm where magic and dragons do exist or, I don't know, maybe where alchemy triumphed over physics and paved the whole world in gold. And maybe, given those rules, Fritz Lang isn't a director. Maybe he's a criminal, walking around with the same face as mine or, for that matter, maybe he's a woman.” From this seemingly unintentional quote, I believe the movie is intentionally hinting towards the gender-swapped Dietrich Eckart. The quote also browses over the relations to Fuhrer/King Bradley, and seems to have been written carefully. Even if the quote was not speaking of Dietrich Eckart, the reality is that he was still gender-swapped.
In our world, real-life, Dietrich Eckart was a man, and he was arrested during the Beer Hall Putsch. In the Conqueror of Shambahla's universe, that was not the case at all. That fact leads me to believe that the universe of the Conqueror of Shambahla might be a third parallel world to a normal Earth. A clip that makes me question this is an OVA of the original series, entitled “Kids”. In this OVA, Edward has been on his version of earth for while and is now 100 years old. An interesting thing it says at the end is that Edward is, “Somewhere in this world.” I would assume that means Edward is on our Earth, yet that conflicts with the idea that history was altered. The gate never shows a possibility of more worlds than two, but it never denies the possibility. There isn't enough to go off of to pick which might be the actual case.
So, that's all I came up with from looking into the Conqueror of Shambahla's plot-line. I don't see how someone could have possibly hated such a complex and well-organized ending as this. Even though it doesn't follow the source material, there are no flaws in their translation. They didn't miss a single factor to take into consideration, and I think everything turned out perfectly. It'd be wonderful to get a sequel movie to this, but that will very likely never happen from the original's, infamous popularity. Hope you found this interesting, because I did and I learned quite a few things about that time.
You've made it to the end.