Creation and conception
Author Hiromu Arakawa integrated several social problems into the plot, such as the way Edward and Alphonse live as brothers after the death of their mother, Trisha. She also looks at how the brothers help people all over the country to gain an understanding of the meaning of family. Arakawa has noted that Edward is one of her favorite characters from the series. Director of the first anime series, Seiji Mizushima, says that in the development of the story Edward "evolves and devolves"; Mizushima comments Edward has a continuous struggle overcoming inner struggles in order to determinate how to grow up. His automail appearing in the anime is used to symbolize the intangibles on his character, making viewers able to note that Edward lost something important.
Edward Elric is the youngest State Alchemist to be selected by the State Military of the country, having achieved the rank of Major at age twelve, receiving the title of the Fullmetal Alchemist shortly after from military head, Fuehrer Bradley. His father's early disappearance, the death of his mother, and a failed human transmutation play pivotal roles in his story. Edward's motivation stems from a love for his brother Alphonse, whom he is desperately seeking to restore to a human form after their alchemy accident. Owing to this, he is also generally perceived to be very independent; he feels that he's the only one who can solve a problem. Often, he feels a heavy guilt that the problem is his fault to begin with and thus is his responsibility to solve. This gives him a selfless inclination.
His automail limbs are made by his childhood friend and neighbor Winry Rockbell. Edward often fights by transmuting his forearm of his automail into a blade. Winry is occasionally kept busy repairing Edward's automail, as Edward regularly breaks them during fights. She is constantly looking for new ways to improve them, whether it is an attempt at extending their durability, lightening the weight, or making them stronger. In both the anime and manga, Winry is an extremely important person to Edward. In the anime series, romantic feelings are hinted at but never explicitly stated. In the manga, Winry is in love with him, and Edward exhibits similar feelings though he constantly denies it.
Edward is extremely short for his age and is very sensitive about his height; he tends to humorously overreact to any comment about it (and often misinterprets the words) in a fit of rage. In the manga, he declares that he is 165cm (5'5") tall overall, including the height of his hair antenna and platform shoes. Despite all of the obstacles that Edward tackles in the story, he still displays a childish personality when it comes to things he despises, such as needles and milk. He is extremely idealistic and strongly believes in the concept of Equivalent Exchange, that every outcome requires an equal payment, using it as his personal philosophy. Despite his occasional bouts of immaturity, he is a selfless, strong, independent and a mature young adult that gains a reputation as a "hero of the people".
Unlike regular alchemists that normally use transmutation circles, Edward has the special ability to create alchemical currents in his body simply by connecting his hands. The arms and body themselves form the circle, and the power that circulates through the body when this is done is used for the transmutation. This is a direct result of seeing the Gate of Truth, the source of all alchemical knowledge, while attempting to resurrect his mother in the failed human transmutation. He is adept at changing substances from one thing to another quickly, such as changing water into ethanol, and can transmute the elements of an enemy's body to injure him or her in battle. In the manga, this knowledge is great enough to save his own life, as he heals a would-be fatal wound. In addition to his alchemical ability, Edward is a formidable fighter as result of his training with Izumi Curtis, who had extensively trained both brothers in martial arts when they were young, after their mother died.
Edward is born in a small town named Resembool, where he lives with his younger brother, Alphonse, and both of his parents, Trisha Elric and Hohenheim. When Hohenheim embarks on a journey and Trisha dies of an illness several years later, the two young boys are left as orphans. Their neighbor, Pinako Rockbell, then begins looking after them. During that time, the brothers concentrate on studying alchemy in hopes of bringing their mother back to life and are able to train with a skilled alchemist named Izumi Curtis. When they return home from their training, they proceed to try the taboo art of Human transmutation but fail, costing Edward his left leg and Alphonse his entire body. Edward then performs a second transmutation, sacrificing his own right arm to bind Alphonse's soul to a nearby suit of armor. Edward becomes a State Alchemist in order to find a way to recover their bodies through use of the legendary Philosopher's Stone. Winry Rockbell, his childhood friend, also outfits him with prosthetic automail limbs to replace those that he lost. It is because of these metal parts that Edward is given the title "Fullmetal Alchemist". During their search they become the target of an Ishvalan called Scar and of the Homunculi.
When Edward and Alphonse discover that the homunculi and the Philosopher's Stone are related, they work together with Lin Yao and Roy Mustang in order to find them. However, after the Elric brothers meet the first homunculus "Father", they are forced to keep working with the military by the higher ups secretly using their friends from Resembool as hostages. Being unable to protect them, Ed and Al go to the north of the country to request help from Olivier Mira Armstrong. Shortly after arriving there, the State Alchemist Zolf J. Kimblee takes Winry to the north along with him to keep forcing him to work. When they are ordered to capture the Ishvalan, Scar, they decide to ask him to help them to move Winry to a safe place. Once they succeed, Ed starts working with the rebelled homunculus Greed, who is in the body of Lin Yao, and finds out that "Father" plans to make a human transmutation out of the entire country. Ed, Al, and all of their allies thus unite in an effort to bring down Father.
First Anime Series
Although Edward has the same background and characteristics in the manga and anime, Edward meets different people and fights against variable enemies. The manga and anime begin to diverge during Edward's encounter with the homunculus Greed, who he kills in an effort to save Alphonse. By doing so, he is taught the secret to destroying a Homunculus. When he learns of Scar's creation of a Philosopher's Stone, Edward saves the people of Lior from being sacrificed for its creation. Alphonse is kidnapped by Dante and Edward seeks him out. During his fight against the Homunculi, Edward is killed by Envy and Alphonse uses the power of the Philosopher's Stone to successfully heal Edward's body and to re-attach his soul. However, in doing so, Alphonse's armor is used up and he disappears. After being revived, Edward risks his own life to bring back his brother in exchange. As a result, Edward ends up on the other side of the Gate, while Alphonse recovers his original body. Determined to return with Alphonse, Edward becomes involved in rocketry research in Germany, with the intention to use that technology to try to get back to his home world. In the featured film of the series, Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa, set two years after the end of the anime, Edward has been living in Germany and looks for a way to return to his world. At the film's end, he decides to stay in the world beyond the Gate along with Alphonse so that they may try to protect both worlds.
Appearances in other media
Edward also appears in almost all the Fullmetal Alchemist OVAs. In the first one as a super deformed version of himself at the movie's wrap-up party, in the second, he appears shortly as an old man living in modern-day Tokyo, and in the third OVA, he plays a part in the battle against the first anime's homunculi. As the series' titular character, Edward is playable in all Fullmetal Alchemist video games on all platforms. The three games for PlayStation 2 - Fullmetal Alchemist and the Broken Angel, Curse of the Crimson Elixir and Kami o Tsugu Shōjo show exclusive stories in which the Elrics keep searching for the Philosopher's Stone. In the Nintendo DS game, Fullmetal Alchemist Dual Sympathy, he and Alphonse replay the first anime series. He is also featured in several of the Fullmetal Alchemist Trading Card Game. On August 18, 2004 a character CD featuring tracks based on Edward's character was published. It was named Hagaren Song File - Edward Elric (Hagaren Song File). Its tracks are performed by Ed's Japanese voice actress, Romi Park. He also appears in each light novel written by Makoto Inoue which continues Ed and Al's search for the Philosopher's Stone and at the same time feature different stories from the ones appearing the manga and the anime.
Vic Mignogna, who does the voice acting for Edward in the English dub, was the winner in American Anime Awards in the category "Best Actor" for voicing Edward. He has stated that performing Edward may be his biggest voice acting achievement since fans do not compare him with Romi Park, the seiyū for the character. Due to his popularity, Edward won the Twenty-sixth Annual Animage Readers' Poll in the "Favorite Male Character" category as well as his seiyū, Romi Park, in the "Favorite Seiyu" category for her acting as Edward. In the July 2009 issue from Newtype, Edward ranked at the top of the survey Male Character Rankings. In the August 2009 issue his rank changed to #4. Edward's character was well received by manga readers; in each of the popularity polls made by Monthly Shōnen Gangan he has ranked 1st. Several pieces of merchandise have been released in Edward's likeness, including plush toys, action figures, and key-chains.
Several publications for manga, anime, and other pop culture media have provided both praise and criticism on Edward's character. IGN writer Hilary Goldstein praises Edward as the perfect balance between the typical clever kid and the stubborn kid persona, explaining that this allows the character to float between comical moments and underlying drama without seeming false, something they comment that most manga fail to do. Additionally, Melissa Harper from Anime News Network praises Edward's facial expressions to as one of the most humorous highlights of the series, including also the moments in which he reacts quite violently to comments about his small stature. They also praise him for not being a stereotypical shōnen character as it is noted that he has "very real skills, relationships, and personality". Samuel Arbogast from T.H.E.M. Anime Reviews also comments that the interaction between the Elric brothers as they travel is interesting, and praised their humor scenes as they help to balance the dark parts from the series.
Mitchelldyer.com praised how Ed and Al are "breaking the stereotypical" praising their personalities and style to fight. They also noted that Ed's reactions to any comment regarding his height were "annoying" and "hilarious" at the same time. Judge Joel Pearce from DVD Veredict Review commented on Edward's journey to be very complex morally because he is trying to do good, within a questionable organization, such as saying why will he use the Philosopher's Stone and what is he going to sacrifice. In the Anime Awards 2006 from About.com, Edward won in the category "Best Lead Character - Male". Lydia Hojnacki from mangalife.com listed Ed as one of the reasons why she likes, commenting on how his character is initially shown to be mature and then, as the series progresses, sensitive.
Informations source: Wikipedia