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In one of the episodes of Fullmetal Alchemist (the original 2003 anime), Hohenheim of Light is sent to a parallel universe of some sort smaller than the world he once knew by Dante, using a baby as she did some research on The Gate. He says something along the lines off:

Even when we fix a radio with alchemy . . . it takes a life or energy from this world to do it

I know it's not exactly what he told his son Ed (although I do not remember why), but why does this other world exist? Does it just exist to serve the purpose of alchemy?

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Even when we fix a radio with alchemy . . . it takes a life or energy from this world to do it

The explanation, as it is given to the viewer, isn't so much that this world exists for the purpose of alchemy. Rather, the other world is being "tapped into". Alchemists think they are following the principle of Equivalent Exchange; but there is a hidden cost that they are not aware of. This hidden cost is "stolen" from the other world.

Imagine running a cable from your neighbour's house to your house, so you can steal their electricity. Every time you use an electrical device, you steal some of your neighbour's electricity. That's basically what it is for alchemy too.

You put two slices of bread in your toaster. Two pieces of toast come out. That's equivalent exchange, right? To you, living in your house, it may seem that way. But you're simply not aware of the additional cost (the electricity bill) because you're not the one paying for it (your neighbor is paying the cost)

This does not mean that I forced my neighbour to come live next to me so that I could steal his electricity (which is what your question boils down to). Alchemy was simply constructed in a way that it takes the additional cost from another (pre-existing) world.

As far as I'm aware, why the other world exists is never discussed, because then you must also ask yourself why the original (alchemist) world exists, and ponder what existence truly means.

  • +1: this is roughly the sort of answer I had in mind. (I didn't write one, since I'm not as familiar with the 2003 series and haven't had ready access to it lately to check my ideas.) – Maroon Sep 2 '17 at 3:14
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From what I can tell, it's because the series is based heavily on The Divine Comedy by real-world Dante who the show comments on through its antagonist. In The Divine Comedy, there is a pathway which goes through the Earth and comes out the other end (Inferno and Purgatorio).

The reason the show focuses on this is that in 2003, the main theme is about the dangers of blind belief. In real life, Dante's works pretty much make up the foundation of modern-day Christianity as the church used his depictions of hell for the control of people. The same way FMA Dante manipulates the people of Liore through religion.

This YouTube video is where I got the information and expanded upon it:

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The answer to this is hard to give, as the anime you are referring to did not follow the source material. However, I believe based on the fact that it was a "parallel" world that one cannot exist without the other.

If no one transmutated in the alchemy world, then no one would die in the other world, if no one died in that world then the people would eventually starve and suffer.

This is just speculation though.

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