I saw someone on the internet wonder if Ed and Al are capable of doing flame alchemy because they have seen Truth. This bothered me, since this would negate the idea that flame alchemy was difficult to learn and that via destroying Hawkeye's tattoo, it would be possible to avert the existence of another flame alchemist (vol. 14).

Someone suggested that it's possible from an omake where Ed finds Roy's lost gloves, puts them on, and creates an explosion. (Click to see images.)

However, this is an omake so I doubt it can be taken completely seriously, and moreover, Ed does not seem to have any of the technique Roy has honed. Yet at least with flame alchemy, where manipulation of gas concentrations is necessary (vol. 1), technique and precision seem to be crucial. Given this, I would normally expect to be what Ed describes as a "rebound".

Does seeing truth indeed allow alchemists to circumvent the normal learning process, provided that they at least have a rough idea of what materials are involved and the arrays needed, if they are lacking in the specific techniques that would normally be indicated by the ability to use an array? (The latter bit is necessary; otherwise, there's no reason why Ed and Al don't learn for three years how the philosopher's stone is created.)

Of the four alchemists who have seen Truth in FMA, all of them seem to only have gained the ability to perform alchemy without an array, and if I'm not mistaken, we only ever see them perform transmutations that they can be presumed to have already known beforehand. We do see Ed use Scar's deconstruction technique once, but unlike with flame alchemy, there's no question of needing the correct combination of materials or precise "technique" here.

I am looking for answers based on the manga.

  • The post I was referring to is here. The OP's comments in the post tags hit on my reservations about their conclusion, to some extent, but it still bothers me.
    – Maroon
    May 27, 2015 at 20:02
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    It seems to me that there isn't a single range of knowledge the alchemists who have seen Truth gain. Most get the generic "alchemy without drawing circles" but it appears Roy was different. His gloves have the circle drawn on them but he has knowledge of how to control fire instead.
    – Hakase
    May 27, 2015 at 20:04
  • @Hakase: true, but Roy also gains that: he is reliant on having an array in the final battle and using knowledge he already had except for the moment when he transmutes a wall to protect against Father without an array.
    – Maroon
    May 27, 2015 at 21:13

2 Answers 2


From my understanding, all that seeing Truth does is allow one to create an Alchemy Array with their own body (as opposed to drawing it). it should be noted that in the 2003 Anime1 that even though Ed could have been doing circle free Alchemy from the moment after he and Al tried to being their mother back he still used circles. his first discovery that he didn't need them was when Gracia was giving birth and his second attempt was during the State Alchemist Exams

Mustang knows all the finer details of his alchemy because he had to learn it all from himself just from the Tattoo Riza has on her back which was placed there by her father, and further simplified it to be a smaller circle

Flame Alchemy is the brainchild of the master alchemist Berthold Hawkeye, who had spent several years perfecting it before his death from illness in 1905. Believing it to be the greatest and most powerful form of alchemy possible, Hawkeye refused to pass on the knowledge to Roy, who was his apprentice at the time, and instead entrusted the secrets of his search for knowledge to his young daughter Riza - tattooing the perfected array onto her back as the only physical record of its existence. The full array appears to consist of a circle corralling an inverted hexagram made up of a large air triangle and a large earth triangle, both splitting into identical pairs as they intersect, with a fire triangle at the center, pointing upward toward a flame. Below the hexagram is an image of a salamander. Outside the circle is a pair of entwined basilisks and the text of the "Libera Me" responsory repeated multiple times. After Roy gains Riza's trust and takes the Flame Alchemy knowledge for himself, he modifies the symbol somewhat for his gloves (removing the text and the basilisks in favor of a simplified circle).

Source: Roy Mustang - Flame Alchemy (4th Paragraph)

while the Omake being canon can be questioned, logically Ed could just as well do the exact same with Mustang's gloves as they are a simplified form but he wont have the finer control that Mustang has and will most like just cause very big explosions...or blow himself up.

Outside from using the gloves, Ed would still need to know the kind of Array to use to subconsciously alter his internal array and the procedure needed to utilize it. as for understanding the Array Ed has demonstrated in Lab 5 that he is quite knowledgeable (understanding the one to create the philosophers stone and altering it to be more efficient) which one can assume the ability to understand array's he's never seen before comes from the knowledge he gained from The Gate and Truth (as knowledge on Homunculi would have came from books he already read, after learning about Winry's parents Ed says he read about them in a book), as such looking at Berthold Hawkeye's array he may in fact be able to understand it quicker than Mustang. though at it's current state with the important aspects for it having been destroyed by Riza's request Ed would probably need to study in order to figure out what is needed to complete it

1: Brotherhood skips a lot of Ed's early years but i do remember events from the 2003 anime being the same as the manga (ie, Bald, Nina being chimeratized and killed by Scar, Barry the Chopper) so it stand to reason that up until Yuswel it is more or less the same

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    Keep in mind that Ed describes the process of being thrown through the gate as something like, "All alchemical knowledge in the world being forced into my mind."
    – Cattua
    May 27, 2015 at 23:54
  • @キルア but it's not all of it, according to the wikia it's proportionate to what they give up as the toll, Ed may have seen everything but what he takes isn't as much as what Al has
    – Memor-X
    May 27, 2015 at 23:56
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    That's correct, but my point is simply that I don't think it's shown or told anywhere that the only knowledge they get is how to do alchemy without a circle.
    – Cattua
    May 27, 2015 at 23:57
  • @キルア true, that part is more of an assumption on my part because most people who see Truth must already know a fair bit before they try Human Transmutation and the only thing i remember that would indicate extra knowledge from The Gate and Truth is Ed understanding of arrays he's never seen before (as explained above the one in Lab 5). i can't remember if Ed says weather he's seen the array before but i do remember Tucker being impressed by Ed's altering of the original array
    – Memor-X
    May 28, 2015 at 0:10
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    @Memor-X: for what it's worth, the toll is so symbolic in nature that I'm not sure if it's possible to extrapolate from that. As for the rest, it seems mostly in line with my memory, but I'll see if I come up with anything more substantial.
    – Maroon
    May 28, 2015 at 19:40

Pretty much just the formation of a physical array or circle in the preforming of alchemy. For an alchemist unfortunate enough to meet Truth, they can use their body as the circle by placing their hands together, forming a ring from their heart through their arms and back. Otherwise nothing else. Edward and Izumi did seem to imply - during the time they were discussing Al's memory of meeting the truth - that meeting Truth, is literally seeing the "truth" or the knowledge of the entire universe, i.e. the supreme truth or all knowledge. And that depending on the toll paid - body part lost - the violator alchemist sees differing amounts of the "truth". They suggested that because Al paid his entire body he must have seen nearly all of the "truth" or at least far more that his brother or Izumi did. But I don't think they go into that any further or even mention it again. (This is just an opinion but it might even be a dropped plot line or something the author cut out later). But As far as I know the only thing that is bypassed is the need to draw or make a physical circle.

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