Wait. Can we please talk about this please? The entire end battle of this movie. For most of the movie, Mulan has felt out of place. She doesn’t know where she fits in. Covering herself in femininity doesn’t work, like, at all. The scene of the matchmaker…I don’t even have to explain to show you how much that is not her. But then she runs away and poses as a man. She tries her hardest to blend in and be a guy, but at the same time, covering herself in the masculine just doesn’t work. She’s still awkward and out of place. The men eventually embrace her as one of their own, see her as a guy, but they see her as a strange guy, a very effeminate man. But this scene, this final part of the movie, she has finally found her place. She is short haired (masculine) and wearing a woman’s outfit. She has found her place as a tomboy, somewhere in the middle of extremes.

But to continue on and dissect this final battle, Mulan is facing Shan Yu. Shan Yu is huge and muscled, where Mulan is smaller, slimmer, but no doubt she is toned from all the training she’s done. Still, Shan Yu has his big ass sword and all she finds she is equipped with is the fan she and the other men used to sneak into the castle. She is equipped with a traditionally feminine object and Shan Yu is equipped with a traditionally masculine object. She uses that fan to disarm him, then uses the sword to trap him. Not only is this badass and clever, she uses an object she was uncomfortable with in the beginning to take a weapon she was also uncomfortable with earlier on in the movie and uses both of them to defeat a man twice as big as her with a much longer and much more extensive history of fighting and battles than she has. She, at this point, has learned to embrace both of the aspects of herself and use this to her advantage. She finally realizes by this time that she is not the traditional, overly feminine daughter her society wants her to be, but she isn’t the other extreme, either, the man’s man, lets-scratch-our-butts-and-fight-for-no-reason type seen when she first comes into the camp. She is a little bit of both, and realizing this and embracing it allows her to be more sure of herself and fully embrace who she is, making her happier, but also more confident (do I even need to point out how she stepped up as leader and showed the men a way to sneak into the palace? Oops, I already did), and a better fighter. She’s just all around awesome and this move she does when she disarms Shan Yu always makes me feel enormously proud of her and how far she’s come.


So a few days ago, I talked about part one of the Bradley vs. Scar fight…

And after a slight misfire with the photoset (goddamn queue), let’s get to part two— the revelation of Scar’s creation arm and the enormous leap in his character that this represents. I am just disgustingly in love with that top picture in the set as well because of the direct parallel Arakawa is drawing between Scar and Alphonse. 

Both are the younger of two brothers where the elder sacrificed his right arm to save his little brother’s life and in both scenes, they’re both moving toward their opponent (two of the most terrifying characters in the series), armed with the tool that will let them win, something they never imagined they’d use because of the moral implications that go directly against their personal beliefs (Scar and alchemy, Alphonse and the Philosopher’s Stone). In both cases, it’s symbolic of their willingness to move forward and do what must be done to survive, that there is so much more at stake than their own beliefs, that everyone’s lives are on the line and when that happens, you have to be willing to adapt to save the people that matter to you. There’s even a visual similarity between the panels, with Arakawa drawing both Al and Scar straight on, shoulders rolled forward, head down, and eyes not completely visible.

That said! The funny thing about all of this is that it’s Al fighting Kimblee (well, and Pride) for the final time, not Scar. For a while, I really wanted for Scar and Kimblee to throw down one final time, for Scar to be the one who took Kimblee out. (Part of me still wants it because it would just be cool as fuck) But that would defeat the point of what Arakawa’s been trying to say throughout the entire series. It’s not about revenge or giving what your enemy is due, it’s about overcoming your own failings to become the person you’re supposed to be.

Scar fights Wrath. That’s not a coincidence. He is literally against his greatest sin, the walking embodiment of fury and revenge. This is the final trial that he has to overcome for the sake of everyone. There is no failing here. Letting Wrath overtake him is not an option because everyone he knows will suffer for it. All the while, Bradley is trying to goad him into becoming the wrathful person he once was.

“There is no god!”  

Despite all of that, despite coming face to face with his greatest failing, the sin that destroyed and consumed his life for so many years, he succeeds marvelously. He defeats Bradley, but never lays a “final blow,” instead letting the person who gave the order to murder his entire people die with a smile on his face. It’s a victory in every sense of the word and with that final trial overcome, he can finish what he was always meant to do— complete his brother’s work. He is the starting point for the nationwide counter-circle that removes Father’s influence over alchemy in Amestris, in essence giving strength to the people he once hated. His new goal is to change Amestris into something better and he literally does so with his own two hands.

It’s an enormous leap from the person he was at the beginning of the manga, probably one of the most intense character arcs in the entire series, and it is so fucking SATISFYING.