Fullmetal Alchemist and Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood both have fantastic final villains. But to call Dante the “mother” version of dad is a disservice.
Both villains believe that they are superior to humans, create Homunculi, are immortal to some degree, and have a close bond with Hohenheim. Unfortunately, they too make stupid choices and stumble across the finish line.
Spoilers ahead! But before I get to them, let’s discuss the man they love so much to hate: Hohenheim.
Hohenheim of light
The Hohenheims married Trisha Elric and had two sons, whom they will leave behind for various reasons. What many fans agree on was the stupidest thing he did.
Hohenheim could have treated Trisha’s illness or been there for his children, giving them the support they needed while he let himself grieve with them. The Promised Day in Brotherhood may not have happened since Father required five human sacrifices, but Dante and Envy heard about the Elrics and visited them.
Fortunately for the brothers, Dante and Envy found a newborn Sloth and left without anyone knowing. I’ll talk more about that in Dante’s section, but Hohenheim of Light played the role of reformed villain.
According to Dante, Hohenheim was the one who created the first Philosopher’s Stone with people who died from a plague and victims of witch hunts. This experiment would have killed him, but Dante seized the Stone and attached Hohenheim’s soul to the body of an unnamed man.
This is Dante’s version of immortality, and Hohenheim would make two more Philosopher Stones. After that, the pair would keep switching bodies until Hohenheim left Dante and Envy.
2003 fans never got a good reason about what was the last straw for Hohenheim of Light. Instead, we only get a flashback from Dante’s point of view and a dialogue between her and Hohenheim.
Von Hohenheim is introduced to us as slave 23. His master created the dwarf in the flask or homonculus using the blood and essence of 23 from the eye, but it is never fully explained.
The dwarf thanks 23 for his blood and then gives him three things: a name, knowledge and the curse of immortality. Hohenheim is devastated when he hears the dwarf’s explanation and spends nearly 400 years talking to the souls within him.
He eventually meets Trisha and starts a family, but thanks to his friends, Hohenheim understands Father’s plan and leaves his family to find a way to stop him. There will be more details in the Vader section.
I prefer Von Hohenheim because he is more fleshed out and his origin story is more sympathetic. However, if 2003’s Fullmetal had taken the same care of their Hohenheim, things might have turned out differently.
Fullmetal Alchemist: Conqueror of Shamballa gave us a good ending, but I prefer the anime’s conclusion. It left fans with questions and the freedom to interpret the fate of the characters.
Dante claims she was an innocent girl when Hohenheim met her and that he swore she was his only love. They were married and had a son together, although the unnamed young man died of mercury poisoning and Hohenheim tried to bring him back to life.
This results in the birth of Envy, and some time after that Hohenheim left them. Dante spends the next 400 years switching bodies, finding Homonculi, creating three to serve her, and tricking talented alchemists into crafting a new stone.
Why does she need other alchemists to make a stone if she’s seen Hohenheim do it at least once? Because apparently she never learned to make one herself!
Dante also claims that she needs the Stone to save humanity from herself, and she wants to switch to Rose’s body so she can seduce Edward. Rose is a young Ishballen girl whom Ed meets in episode 1 of the 2003 version.
Dante is Izumi Curtis’ teacher and treats Envy like a pawn instead of a son. She promised to turn the Homunculi into humans, but Envy and Pride knew she was lying.
If Hohenheim had stayed with Dante, or had taken Envy with him, or had not left Dante a piece of the Stone to keep himself alive when he left, everything would have been better. But instead, Hohenheim of Light created the mess in Fullmetal Alchemist and got rid of it easily thanks to Dante.
His death in Shamballa is sad but fitting because he wanted to help Edward get back home and take responsibility for Envy. Hohenheim chose to die in the jaws of Envy so that Edward could be with Alphonse again.
As the dwarf in the bottle, Father was more lively and sympathetic. He wanted freedom, but couldn’t get out of his bottle or let it break because he was going to die.
Hohenheim was his parent, student, and perhaps the only human he cared about. We don’t know whether Father left Hohenheim to his misery or whether Hohenheim ran away from Father in fear and shame, but we do know that Father created Pride some time later.
Vader sees people as ants and tolerates those who can help his plans. But this is one of the things that leads to its downfall.
Vader’s grand scheme involves the use of five alchemists who performed human transmutation as a sacrifice. But Hohenheim did not commit this crime; he was forced to take in 536,329 human souls when The Dwarf tricked the king of Xerxes into creating a transmutation circle around the kingdom.
Thus, Hohenheim turned into a living Philosopher’s Stone and still met his sacrifice requirement, it’s worth noting that the Vader didn’t specifically target Edward and Alphonse Elric. He didn’t know that Hohenheim had children, but even if they hadn’t tried to bring their mother back to life, Father would have used them against Hohenheim somehow. Vader expects the Homunculi to obey and be loyal to him no matter what.
But he doesn’t have the same devotion to them and doesn’t worry much if the Homunculi get hurt or killed. He even leaves Pride without hesitation, but this was his mistake as Pride would have given his life for Vader.
But his biggest mistake was letting his human sacrifices roam free. We can forgive Father for losing sight of Hohenheim, but he had the Elric brothers in his lair!
He could have held them captive and used them as bait for Hohenheim. Izumi Curtis could have been lured the same way, and the fifth didn’t have to be a Mustang.
I would like to see these two universes interact. Of course, Dante and Father have different goals, but their similarities are intriguing despite the six-year gap between their animes.
And given their fixation on Hohenheim, my enemy’s enemy fits my friend perfectly. Bones has made both anime adaptations and Isekai Quartet proves that mash-ups can work.
It doesn’t have to be canon, and many fans agree it shouldn’t be, but many of us would love to see this happen!