Fullmetal Alchemist and Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood both have fantastic final villains. But to call Dante the “Mother” version of Father is a disservice.
Both villains believe they’re superior to humans, create Homunculi, are immortal to an extent, and close bond with Hohenheim. Unfortunately, they also make stupid choices and trip over the finish line.
Spoilers ahead! But before I get to them, let’s go over the man they love to hate: Hohenheim.
Hohenheim of Light
The Hohenheim’s married Trisha Elric and had two sons, who they will leave behind for various reasons. Which many fans agree was the dumbest thing he did.
Hohenheim could have treated Trisha’s illness or have been there for his children, giving them the support they needed while letting himself grieve with them. The Promised Day in Brotherhood might not have happened since Father needed five human sacrifices, but Dante and Envy found out about the Elrics and visited them.
Fortunately for the brothers, Dante and Envy found a newborn Sloth and left without anyone knowing about them. I’ll go over that more in Dante’s section, but Hohenheim of Light played the role of reformed villain.
According to Dante, Hohenheim was the one who made the first Philosopher’s Stone using people who were dying from a plague and victims of witchhunts. This experiment would have killed him, but Dante grabbed the Stone and attached Hohenheim’s soul to an unnamed man’s body.
This is Dante’s version of immortality, and Hohenheim would go on to make two more Philosofer Stones. After that, the pair would continue to switch bodies until Hohenheim abandoned Dante and Envy.
2003 fans have never received a proper reason as to what was the final straw for Hohenheim of Light. Instead, we only get a flashback from Dante’s point of view and some 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 23’s blood and essence from the Eye, but it’s never fully explained.
The Dwarf thanks 23 for his blood and proceeds to give him three things: a name, knowledge, and the curse of immortality. Hohenheim is devastated when he hears the Dwarf’s explanation and spends almost 400 years talking to the souls inside of him.
He eventually meets Trisha and starts a family, but thanks to his friends, Hohenheim figures out Father’s plan and leaves his family to find a way to stop him. There’ll be more details in Father’s section.
I prefer Von Hohenheim because he is more fleshed out, and his origin story is more sympathetic. However, if the 2003 Fullmetal had given the same care to their Hohenheim, then things might have turned out differently.
Fullmetal Alchemist: Conqueror of Shamballa gave us a decent ending, but I prefer the anime’s conclusion. It left fans with questions and the freedom to interpret characters’ fates.
Dante claims that she was an innocent girl when Hohenheim met her and that he swore that she was his only love. They were married and had a son together, though the unnamed young man died of mercury poisoning, and Hohenheim attempted to bring him back to life.
This results in Envy being born, and sometime after, Hohenheim left them. Dante spends the next 400 years switching bodies, finding Homonculi, creating three to serve her, and tricking talented alchemists into making a new Stone.
Why does she need other alchemists to make a stone when she saw Hohenheim do it at least once? Because she apparently never learned how to make one herself!
Dante also claims that she needs the Stone to save humanity from itself, and she wants to switch into Rose’s body so she can seduce Edward. Rose is a young Ishballen girl Ed meets in episode 1 of the 2003 version.
Dante is Izumi Curtis’s 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 taken Envy with him, or not left Dante a piece of the Stone to keep herself alive when he left, then things would have been better. But instead, Hohenheim of Light created the mess in Fullmetal Alchemist and got off easy 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 Envy’s jaws so Edward could be with Alphonse again.
As the Dwarf in the Flask, Father was more lively and likable. He wanted freedom but couldn’t get out of his flask or have it broken because he would die.
Hohenheim was his parent, student, and arguably the only human he cared about. We don’t know if Father left Hohenheim to his misery or if Hohenheim ran from Father in fear and shame, but we do know that Father created Pride sometime after.
Father sees humans as ants and tolerates those who can aid his plans. But this is one of the things that lead to his downfall.
Father’s grand plan involves using five alchemists that performed human transmutation as sacrifices. But Hohenheim didn’t perform 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 turning Hohenheim into a living Philosopher’s Stone and still meeting his sacrifice requirement, it’s worth noting the Father didn’t target Edward and Alphonse Elric specicfily. He didn’t know Hohenheim had children, but even if they hadn’t tried to bring their mother back to life Father would have used them against Hohenheim one way or another. Father expects the Homunculi to obey him and be loyal to him no matter what.
But he doesn’t have the same devotion to them and shows little to no concern when the Homunculi are injured or killed. He even abandons Pride without hesitation, but this was his mistake since Pride would have given his life for Father.
But his greatest mistake was in letting his human sacrifices roam free. We can forgive Father for losing track of Hohenheim, but he had the Elric brothers in his lair!
He could have kept them prisoner and used them as bait for Hohenheim. Izumi Curtis could have been lured the same way, and the fifth didn’t have to be Mustang.
I would love 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, the enemy of my enemy is my friend fits perfectly. Bones made both anime adaptations, and Isekai Quartet proves that mash-ups can work.
It doesn’t have to be canon, and many fans would agree that it shouldn’t be, but many of us would love to see this happen!