Kat (auragirl) wrote in fm_alchemist,

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Human Alphonse Elric: Character design and analysis

I'm a costume/character designer at heart. It's my number one joy in life. Therefore, the upcoming FMA movie has been giving me aneurysms over Al's restored design >_x So I've been trying to fix it. This one is my favorite so far:
Alphonse Elric, as designed by Kat.

I've been thinking about armor!Al vs. restored!Al lately, and how the visuals we receive about him affect our response to him in the series and movie. Armor Al is just so freaking ADORABLE. He has all these aspects to his design that make him very, very cute even if he's a 6 ft. tall suit of armor with spikey bits.

At first, when I saw the restored Al design in the movie, I really freaked out. It just wasn't right for Al to look so much like his brother. The hair bothered me the most, it wasn't at all representative of Al's personality. At least, not of the Al *we* know and love.

After awhile I got used to the new look, and realized that it wasn't the ponytail itself that was bothering me, it was the BANGS. They're far too long, and look too much like Ed's, even if they're off-center like Al's bangs are. So in this design I've kept the short bangs, and also moved Al's rat-tail so that it comes from the top of his head, rather than the middle of the back, or the nape. Why? Because his armor has a tassel that resembles a high ponytail on it's helmet. I think that's why Studio Bones gave him the rat-tail in the first place..they just neglected to place it in the *exact* right spot, which would make us viewers see the connection between armor and flesh forms.

The colors, oh god, the colors. My initial design for a restored Al (before the movie even came out), had him in light tans, grays and browns (maybe with hints of red and black for accent, but never as primary colors). Very down-to-earth, humble colors (note that even as children, Al's hair is a more 'humble' shade of gold than Ed's. It's a more muted, soft color). Those suit Al's personality. He's shy and quiet and doesn't really want to be noticed too much. He finds the spotlight to be a very embarrassing place to be.
But then Studio Bones gave Alphonse Heiderich all the light tans and browns. XD
I guess that just proves that my initial instinct was dead on? Frankly I love Al Heiderich's design. It's more or less exactly how I would have designed Alphonse Elric's restored self. I don't think he'd tramp around in libraries in the same clothes that he'd go out and fight chimera in, not like Ed. He'd want something a little more muted, a little more respectable - again, because he really doesn't like being stared at (especially not after being in that armor for so long..!)..but he also wouldn't go out on big dangerous journeys in a suit (even a casual one like Al Heiderich's). He knows the values of being utilitarian.
My first restored Al design. Ignore the pants, they're supposed to be tweed, not plaid, regardless of how they look here.
(Also ignore the text on it and the stuff about automail. X3)
I've since realized that too much black and red are really anthetical to who Al is. When I made myself consider the problem for awhile, it dawned on me. A large part of who Al is for us, the viewers, is the armor. That's the subconscious design impulse that made me add the gloves in the first design (they were supposed to be the leather gauntlets from the armor)...but now that I started to really think about it, I started to consider ways to connect Alphonse in-the-flesh to his armor self.

So, in the end, I arrived at this conclusion. The turtleneck's shape recalls the thick 'neck' of the armor (the guard plates on the back and sides). Putting Al in pale blue-grays (gunmetal gray, really) is appropriate. A dark blue or green are not (as I've seen both of these colors used in cosplay) - blue is the color of the military and not something Al would wear, despite the fact that Ed wears red so it creates a 'cute duality' between them (personally I'd just say it makes them look like swapped palette sprites in a video game but u_u;). Green is actually the color Fletcher Tringham should have, not Al. Al is down to earth but he's not the vibrant, lively aspect that Fletcher is - he's more like the rock-steady basis of life. He's an immovable object when he sets his mind to it, he's the tortoise in the 'tortoise and the hare' metaphor (Ed's the hare XD). Slow and steady wins the race, every time.
The flamel on the arm, of course, is in the same position that it was on the armor.

The gray-brown-black of the pants and gauntlets is the only other color that was really present on Al when he was the armor. It's the color of the material that filled in the gaps between metal plates, and made up his hands. I've always assumed it was probably a fairly tough leather, it has to be, in order to keep it's shape the way it does.
So, I had Al salvage the leather and some of the metal from the armor (I know that it probably disappeared for good at the end of the series; work with me here XD). Maybe he would wear them because they remind him of his past, maybe because they work well as brass knuckles. Maybe keeping the metal on hand to transmute (since he doesn't have an automail himself) is useful in a fight. Maybe he likes the heavy weight on his arms (he's self-punishing like Ed at times, too). Maybe they can serve as weight-training devices.
The pants are just the same color to match, made a little loose and baggy - Al would never wear skin-tight clothes, as I've said that he really doesn't like attention, nor the feeling of being exposed. I mean, as an armor he wears a loincloth even though there's nothing in the crotch of his armor that's offensive or gives away that he's bodiless...Al just feels embarrassed without clothes.
The over-coat is the same principle. His is longer than Ed's, but lacks a hood. It buttons up the front (although I imagine he'd wear it loose a lot) to show his introverted nature. I repreated the flamel on the jacket sleeve to make sure that, despite Al's mousey appearance, there is a fire to him, he just doesn't let everyone see it.

And finally, we have the accessories. I just had to include Al's little mystery pouch on his thigh, and of course make sure the color of it matches his turtleneck. Does anyone know what Al keeps in there? I like to think that it's chalk (for transmutation circles) and maybe a small oil can, for emergencies. Might also keep some money in there, in case he needs to make a phone call, you know?
The belt and the boots are both black, utilitarian leather, most likely - the two spots of black on the outfit give Al a hint of maturity and heaviness. Also, if it were just the boots or just the belt that were black, it would look uneven. Repeating the color twice makes it meld in with the rest of the design better.

And finally his satchel.
I just like the idea of Al having a satchel like that because you know Ed would tease him, and call it a purse XD

SO. Studio Bones, why did YOU just put Al in an almost-copy of his brother's clothing? XD
I wrote all that up in about 30 minutes. What is your character designer doing, sleeping? Sheesh.

And in conclusion, I think it would be cute if his eyes glowed when he got mad, the same way the armor's eyes would glow when he got mad XD
Thank you all for your time. Comments? :3 Hope my analysis wasn't boring!

[x-posted to my personal journal with less coherence and more ranting, and to the Elricest community]
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