Fandom: Fullmetal Alchemist (Manga)
Pairing: Alphonse Elric/Mei Chan
Spoilers: Up to Chapter 64 of the manga.
Disclaimer: I have NO intention of bashing the Ed/Mei pairing beyond what is already in canon. ^^; I don't mean to bash Ed either- he's my favorite character, after all. ♥
Alphonse is the younger brother of Edward Elric, and like his elder brother, was a genius at alchemy since he was very young. After their mother died, Ed and Al decided to bring her back with alchemy, committing the ultimate taboo of human transmutation. They failed, and in the resulting rebound, Ed lost his left leg, while Al had his entire body taken away. In desperation, Ed traded his right arm to transmute Al's soul to a nearby suit of armor.
In his current armor body, Al cannot feel anything. He cannot cry, he cannot eat, he cannot feel pain. Wracked by guilt and burning with determination, Ed gets his lost limbs replaced with automail, and the Elric brothers set out on a quest to find a way to restore their bodies to normal.
Mei is one of the emperor's daughters from the country of Xing (roughly equivalent to China in the Fullmetal Alchemist world). This means she is a princess, but her clan is also one of the poorest out of the 50 clans of Xing. She sets out on a quest with her miniature panda, Xiao Mei, because the emperor's health is failing. She has a chance of getting her clan back in favor with him if she brings back the Way of Immortality.
Mei is now competing with her 49 half-siblings, crossing the Great Desert to search in the country of Amestris. There, she learns of the alchemical prodigy known as Edward Elric, and travels to Central City in hopes of having him teach her Amestrian alchemy. However, she leaves just before learning that the real Edward Elric is actually a short boy, and thus radically different from the Edward Elric in her bizarre imagination.
Ever since the 2nd Volume, there's been a running joke in the omake that Al wants to be popular with girls, but finds it difficult in his armor body. He asks Winry for advice in the Vol. 6 omake; in the omake for one of the anime DVDs, he wishes on a star for a cute girlfriend (and actually gets one!); in a Vol. 15 omake he informs Ed that he's decided he will only let women and cats inside his armor.
Of course, the omake aren't meant to be taken seriously. However, together with Al's statement in Chapter 16 that he "wanted to get a girlfriend at least," I think we can conclude that ARMOR BOY WANTS SOME LOVIN'!
But- and this is mostly personal interpretation of his character -I think Al would go more for the kind of girl who is cute, someone Al could cuddle with, like a cat. Also, while not exactly manga canon but approved by Arakawa, Al has a bit of a fling with a girl named Ruby in the third novel- he doesn't seem to be opposed to the fiesty type either.
Cute like a cat but fiesty? Mei fits that description perfectly.
Now, what about Mei's expectations? Shortly after she is introduced in the manga, Mei quickly becomes enamored with Ed. However, this crush is based only on word-of-mouth. The Sir Edward of her fantasies is very tall, sophisticated, charming, chivalrous, and basically everything that is opposite of the real Edward Elric.
So what about Al? Being Ed's little brother, he is (presumably) closer to Mei's age, and in his real body, has the same golden hair and eyes that Mei is dreaming of, only taller. He is also a prodigy himself, and since part of Mei's search for Ed involves learning the alchemy of Amestris, he is just as able to teach her about it.
But most importantly, Al's personality better fits Mei's ideal boyfriend. Is he mature? Yes. Is he chivalrous? Yes. Does he have a more refined taste than his brother? Yes. Now answer me this: who would be more willing to fix Mei's sandal strap- Ed or Al?
Their first meeting is amusing, to say the least.
In Chapter 48, Ed and Al are ready to finally take down Scar, the serial killer who has been trying to kill them. Mei, who had just recently allied herself with Scar, comes flying to his rescue.
She kicks Al first, then proceeds to kick Ed in the face and call him a bean boy, not even recognizing him. After pwning them with her kung fu, Mei uses Rentanjutsu (the Xingese version of alchemy), to cover the area with smoke and make her getaway with Scar. The Elric brothers are shocked and surprised- this is the first time they've ever seen Rentanjutsu in action.
Shortly after, Mei discovers that she has left her pet panda behind. We find out that Xiao Mei has found herself in the clutches of one Alphonse Elric, who we all know has a tendency to pick up stray cats. Al (as well as everyone else in Amestris) is under the impression that Xiao Mei actually is a cat.
Mei, meanwhile, is under the impression that Xiao Mei has been kidnapped.
Al sticks out more clearly in Mei's memory (as a horrible monster!) while Ed is remembered only as "some small thing that was there." XD Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this is surely the start of a beautiful relationship.
While Mei sets out to save Xiao Mei with Scar, Al has almost immediately succeeded in 'taming' the small panda.
The significance of this is that if there's one way to earn Mei's approval, it's through Xiao Mei. The girl and her panda are extremely close, to the point where Xiao Mei mimics her movements and expressions. They grew up together like sisters. Judging from how Xiao Mei has the tendency to BITE people, the fact that she gets along with Al is very indicative that he could someday get along with Mei.
As the plot moves along, Xiao Mei is present when the brothers fight Gluttony, and then face off against Envy. Xiao Mei is there to see Al break down after Ed is swallowed, witnessing his humanity, his strength, and his devotion. And in Chapter 52, we see Xiao Mei clinging to Al in fear- clearly, Xiao Mei trusts him now, and Al shows that he is kind, worrying about the little panda and trying to comfort her as they descend to Father's lair.
The next time Mei and the Elric brothers meet is when she and Scar bust into Father's underground lair, still in search of Xiao Mei. Mei and her panda are finally reunited, but now they find themselves in the middle of enemy territory.
Even worse, she finally discovers what her 'Sir Edward' is really like. To put it lightly, she's devastated.
(It's amusing to note that Al immediately suspects Ed of doing something to her. XD)
Also noteworthy is that during this whole course of events, Al is the one shown reacting to her the most.
What happens next is the Al/Mei fan's dream come true.
He rescues her!
And at last, we see some actual interaction between the two.
However, he is unable to get her to safety on his own. He asks Scar for help. Scar, the only one around at the time who could fight, had killed the parents of Al's childhood friend Winry, on top of repeated attempts to kill Ed and killing Nina all the way back in Chapter 5.
So naturally, having to ask this man for help doesn't make him happy. After all, Alphonse only threatens bodily harm if he is really pissed off. This scene is not indicative of any feelings he has toward Mei (they're still strangers at this point), but it does show that Al is willing to put aside his differences with Scar to save her life. If that isn't chivalry, I don't know what is.
Change of Heart
Of course, Al does manage to save Mei.......by shoving her into his armor. Not really the most romantic way to rescue someone, but it was all he could do at the time. And it worked.
Mei now understands the kind of person Al really is. She thanks him, and they finally introduce themselves to each other.
Upon learning that Al is Ed's little brother, she ends up insulting him by comparing him to Ed.
Did I say the rescue scene was the Al/Mei dream come true? Sorry, I was wrong.
LADIES AND GENTLEMAN, IT IS NOW CANON. ONE-SIDED CANON!!!!
As you can see, it is entirely Al's own fault for putting this image in Mei's head. XD (Admittedly, he is telling the truth. At least Mei won't be disappointed with what Al really looks like.)
So all turns out well in the end. Without knowing it, Al has earned himself a girlfriend.
And then what? Well, that's left up to the fan's imagination, or Arakawa if she chooses to go in that direction.
Currently in the manga storyline, Ed and Al are searching for Mei to learn Rentanjutsu from her, for it seems to be the only way to fight back against Father and the Homunculi.
Mei, meanwhile, has gone north with Doctor Marcoh to decipher Scar's brother's old research notes. She will presumably meet up with Scar sometime in the next few chapters (unless Arakawa surprises us again, which is very possible).
As for Al's side of the relationship, he is very curious about Rentanjutsu. Ed is too, but Al is the only one shown recalling her using it with admiration. :) We can only hope that their relationship will develop more the next time they meet.
Until then, Arakawa is giving us plenty of fanservice.
I don't think this is a coincidence.
1) Al's body. Well, I don't expect them to start a serious relationship at this point of their lives anyway. And does anyone actually think Al won't get his body back by the end of the series?
2) Ed will object. Honestly? Ed will object to any Al pairing with the exception of Al/Winry. He's the overprotective older brother, this is to be expected.
3) Age difference. Alphonse is 14 years old right now- this we know. We don't know Mei's age yet. People have speculated that she's as young as 5 years old, but I find this very unlikely. She's highly skilled in both martial arts and alchemy, AND she crossed the Great Desert on her own. A 5-year-old cannot do that. Personally, I think she's around 10-14 years old. I wouldn't be surprised if, in a scene similar to how Ling's age was revealed, we learn that she is in fact 14 and merely short for her age.
4) Scar. He, I think, is the greatest obstacle in their relationship. I've already explained all the reasons why Al hates him, but Mei considers Scar her friend and ally. At the moment though, Scar and the Elric brothers are technically on the same side (the enemy of my enemy is my friend), and they are both looking for the same thing in terms of Amestrian alchemy and Rentanjutsu. It's possible that Scar might have given up killing them by now, since they have nothing to do with the cause of the Ishval War and the focus of his revenge has moved elsewhere. Couldn't this lead to another uneasy truce?
In conclusion, whether it happens or not, Al/Mei is one of the cutest, most comical, more plausible pairings in the Fullmetal Alchemist manga. And it is my personal hope that the Kick-Ass Princess will eventually find her Knight in Shining Armor...quite literally.
The Al/Mei fandom is still small, but it's growing!
alxmei Al/Mei LJ Community
sweetHEARTS Al/Mei Fanlisting
AruMei Doumei Al/Mei Alliance
Blue Moon Crystal She's drawn some of the best Al/Mei fanart and comics out there. Cute and sexy!