In the 2003 series, we see on different occasions that the red stones are used as an unstable alternative to the philosopher's stone despite the fact that they do not have any souls entrapped in them. They're just artificially synthesised.

If so, why was prophet Cornello able to apparently bypass equivalent exchange using the red stones? More controversial is the revival of birds by alchemy using a red stone. Why are homunculi fed with red stones as a source of souls? It all just doesn't add up.

2 Answers 2


In this story line, a Red Stone does indeed have the power to bypass the natural laws of alchemy such as1:

  • The requirement for transmutation circles
  • The Law of Equivalent Exchange
  • The required alchemical knowledge to perform alchemy

The goal of alchemists was to find a way around the known laws of alchemy, which is why they had the goal of creating the Philosopher's Stone in the first place. Red Stones are a result of their efforts at such research and thus have similar capabilities as a true Philosopher's Stone. However, while they do not require human sacrifice, they are not as powerful and can cause adverse effects to the user in the form of rebound. An example of these rebounds is the effect on Cornello's arm when the Red Stone crumbled.

Picture from Episode 2 2003: Alchemical rebound

As far as your question about the birds, there has been a similar question already asked here on stack exchange.

It's important to note that the information I've provided is only relevant to the 2003 production. In the original manga, Red Stone is simply another name for a Philosopher's Stone, and the stone Cornello used crumbled because it had run out of souls. Ed believed it to be a fake because he was still under the impression that the Philosopher's Stone was a source of unlimited power1.

  • How were the birds revived in the first place as they were already dead? Their souls couldn't have been brought back, so how were they moving? Such alchemy is also seen in episode 35. Besides, what about the homunculi being fed with red stones while they needed souls to shape like humans?
    – J. Doe
    Feb 23, 2016 at 14:04
  • As you can see in the other question, there isn't an answer about the birds that we've found yet. If you find an answer, feel free to add it to the question by Memor-X.
    – giraffesyo
    Feb 23, 2016 at 17:59

The Red Stones are created by solidifying what is known as Red Water. Red Water is comprised of a collection of other chemicals that can then be used in one's alchemy.

So, in essence, the users of Red Stones are not bypassing the law of equivalent exchange, they are merely incorporating the chemicals that comprise the stone into their alchemy as additional materials.

  • In that case how is the possession is red stone makes even non-alchemists perform even better alchemy than the real alchemists?
    – J. Doe
    Feb 23, 2016 at 19:57
  • @J.Doe Because the alchemists are using what they have around them and the non-alchemists have those same resources alongside the concentrated materials found within the stone.
    – Cyberson
    Feb 24, 2016 at 17:08

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