So a few days ago, I talked about part one of the Bradley vs. Scar fight…
And after a slight misfire with the photoset (goddamn queue), let’s get to part two— the revelation of Scar’s creation arm and the enormous leap in his character that this represents. I am just disgustingly in love with that top picture in the set as well because of the direct parallel Arakawa is drawing between Scar and Alphonse.
Both are the younger of two brothers where the elder sacrificed his right arm to save his little brother’s life and in both scenes, they’re both moving toward their opponent (two of the most terrifying characters in the series), armed with the tool that will let them win, something they never imagined they’d use because of the moral implications that go directly against their personal beliefs (Scar and alchemy, Alphonse and the Philosopher’s Stone). In both cases, it’s symbolic of their willingness to move forward and do what must be done to survive, that there is so much more at stake than their own beliefs, that everyone’s lives are on the line and when that happens, you have to be willing to adapt to save the people that matter to you. There’s even a visual similarity between the panels, with Arakawa drawing both Al and Scar straight on, shoulders rolled forward, head down, and eyes not completely visible.
That said! The funny thing about all of this is that it’s Al fighting Kimblee (well, and Pride) for the final time, not Scar. For a while, I really wanted for Scar and Kimblee to throw down one final time, for Scar to be the one who took Kimblee out. (Part of me still wants it because it would just be cool as fuck) But that would defeat the point of what Arakawa’s been trying to say throughout the entire series. It’s not about revenge or giving what your enemy is due, it’s about overcoming your own failings to become the person you’re supposed to be.
Scar fights Wrath. That’s not a coincidence. He is literally against his greatest sin, the walking embodiment of fury and revenge. This is the final trial that he has to overcome for the sake of everyone. There is no failing here. Letting Wrath overtake him is not an option because everyone he knows will suffer for it. All the while, Bradley is trying to goad him into becoming the wrathful person he once was.
“There is no god!”
Despite all of that, despite coming face to face with his greatest failing, the sin that destroyed and consumed his life for so many years, he succeeds marvelously. He defeats Bradley, but never lays a “final blow,” instead letting the person who gave the order to murder his entire people die with a smile on his face. It’s a victory in every sense of the word and with that final trial overcome, he can finish what he was always meant to do— complete his brother’s work. He is the starting point for the nationwide counter-circle that removes Father’s influence over alchemy in Amestris, in essence giving strength to the people he once hated. His new goal is to change Amestris into something better and he literally does so with his own two hands.
It’s an enormous leap from the person he was at the beginning of the manga, probably one of the most intense character arcs in the entire series, and it is so fucking SATISFYING.