“I’m Greed,” he says. “I’m greedy.”
In a way similar to (and yet removed from) homunculus Gluttony’s all-encompassing appetite, homunculus Greed knows only want. Created by Father (or “the dwarf in the flask”) from one of said villain’s basest parts, Greed very quickly becomes his own man in that he—you guessed it—wants more than to be a pawn in another creature’s scheme.
In his pursuit of supremacy (a greedy ambition indeed), Father isolates those most sinful, human parts of himself and turns them into individual homunculi; these personifications, designed to be his “children” of sorts, assist in his ambitions, existing for little other purpose than furthering their creator’s aims. In this respect, however, Greed is different. Greed, whose very self is an outside existence of Father’s own ambition, wants more than to be an accomplice. In fact, Greed wants everything.
Greed’s desires lead him astray of the path Father chose for him, and he begins to amass his own underground band of followers sometime before the series begins. While their backstory remains incomplete, it is clear that this odd, motley gang genuinely care for each other and their leader; Greed voices no such attachment. He claims them possessions; sex, status, glory: he wants it all, and this disjointed crew is his first step to attaining fresh abet ill-gotten fruits. Or are they ill-gained? Given no glimpse into Greed’s supposed nefarious activities, an audience is left to wonder about his purported purposes, even if Greed’s explanations satisfy himself. In fact, it is long after homunculus Greed ends up in the body of our young emperor candidate, Ling, that FMAB begins to dissect the nature of this deadly sin (and homunculus Greed by extension).
To begin, it’s important to recognize that greed is not a singular trait, but rather the manifestation of wants gleaned from personality or circumstantial derivatives. As stated in the clip below:
You want to bring back someone that you’ve lost. You might want money. Maybe you want women, or you might want to protect the world. These are all common things people want, things that their hearts desire. Greed may not be good, but it’s not so bad, either. You humans think greed is just for money and power; everyone wants something they don’t have.
FMAB argues that greed is not a sin, but rather a defining human trait. The second coming of Greed is facilitated by Ling’s own overwhelming want to be emperor; even altruistic, his single-minded desire is greedy. He knows that it puts his clan in a position of power and thus safety. He is a good man striving to accomplish his goals for the right reasons, but he wants them achieved no matter who or what he must sacrifice in their attainment. By the standards of FMAB, this is truly greed.
Homunculus Greed leaves Father’s fold a second time upon regaining his first incarnation’s memories; it is at this moment that he realizes those things he most wanted have been taken from him, even though he only gained self-awareness in their loss. He joins up with Edward and the gang after a potentially lethal confrontation with homunculus Wrath. At first we’re left wondering, why does Greed go along with our heroes? It isn’t long before we reach an answer; adventuring with the Fullmetal Alchemist and crew allows Greed to glean that thing once lost, that thing which—to him—is worth more than anything else. In discovering that homunculi are not so different than humans, it can be ascertained that what Greed wants most…
(Skip to 1:00–the video looks dead, but it isn’t)
I wanted the chance… to have friends like these.
Well, why not? “Everyone wants something they don’t have.” Greed lost his friends once, only then becoming self aware. This is his second chance to gain what his heart truly desires. This process is arduous, and it takes some time for Greed to accept certain truths about himself, but sharing a body with Ling helps Greed to learn what it means to be human and to embrace what one truly needs to be happy. Our heroes go through a great deal together.
At the end of our journey, Greed is willing to sacrifice himself, to die alone; he breaks his aesthetic and lies to save Ling. He cares about the man who has, within him, become his closest friend, and cherishes the lives of his companions. He cares about their goals, their wants and desires. Greed, in coming into himself, sums it up best:
(Skip to 2:00)
Looks like this is the end…. Heh, I could do without that pitiful look right now, ya piss ant. Heh. [lost in memories] Heh. I can’t believe I let Ling and the little runt talk to me that way.
Well, I’ve had enough. That’s all I really need. They gave me everything I could want. Thank you… and goodbye, my friends.
Knowing the nature of greed, we understand that its humunculus stands a perfect illustration of the irony behind Father’s actions; in attempting to transcend humanity, the dwarf in the flask threw away the most human parts of himself for both better and worse.
Goodbye, Greed. </3
Until next time,