Chapter 108 of Fullmetal Alchemist really ends with a bang. I have been following both the second anime series (intermittently) and the manga run (continuously) so I was excited to see that the fan-translated finale was up. These last few chapters have been constant action accompanied by some amazing twists and turns. There were places where the action was a little hard to follow but the dramatic tension and sense of peril does a very good job of pulling you along.
In 108, we are continuing the battle against the Homunculus “Father.” (Actually, you could probably say we have been “continuing” the battle for at least ten chapters now.) Edward and friends continue to attack him in hopes of wearing him down so that he can no longer maintain his hold on the “God” he drew down. As Team Elric and friends begin to get the upper hand, Father gets a hold of Greed and begins to reabsorb him.
Ling attempts to keep Greed, but the pull from Father–who was created from Father–is much stronger than Gree’s connection to Ling. This doesn’t do anything to deter Ling from trying to maintain his grip on Greed. At first, Greed pretends to go along with Ling, then double crosses him, stating there is no reason for both of them to get absorbed by Father. Greed attempts a sneak attack against Father, converting himself into brittle charcoal–this attack is at first successful, but Father ends up destroying him anyway–but the effort of defeating Greed weakens Father enough that Edward is able to land the decisive blow. Father is sucked into the gate and is confronted by a blank obelisk and a very sarcastic representative of Truth who explains to the dwarf in the flask how very, very stupid he is, just before he gets dragged into the dark of the gate.
Outside of the Cosmic 2001 Void, everyone is stunned by the aftermath of the battle. Alphonse is down for the count, apparently permanently, and everyone is hurting. First Ling, and then von Hohenheim offer their Philosopher Stones. Ling is refused because Al and Ed had promised not to use the Philosopher’s Stone, Hohenheim is rejected because Ed doesn’t want his “shitty excuse for a father,” to die. (Awww.)
Ed thanks everyone for their help, and then creates a human transmutation circle, with himself as the power source. It’s his turn to confront the Cosmic Kabbalistic 2001 Gate, and the representative of Truth asks him what he’s going to sacrifice to get Al back. Ed walks right past him, and uses his Gate (which turns out to be the symbolic or literal source of his ability to use alchemy) as the sacrifice to return. Truth tells him he made the right choice, and Ed and Al are able to use Al’s gate to return from the great beyond.
The closing scenes have some great moments. Al is a little overwhelmed from years of sensory deprivation in the great beyond, and then more overwhelmed by a tearful hug from Mei, and being able to hold someone’s hand. Ling promises that he’ll protect Mei’s clan–and the clan of everyone else, which prompts Mei to burst into tears and accuse him of being greedy. (Ling states that some of Greed must have rubbed off on him.) Brigadier General Armstrong and members of the Brigg’s Contingent show up, and things gradually begin to unwind and resolve.
We begin to get a slow montage of how everything resolves, and what everyone ends up doing or being. Tearful reunions abound, and there’s a general sense of hopefulness and happiness as the epilog closes on a collection of “snapshots” of the various characters. This was a really satisfying ending of a great manga.