Fullmetal Alchemist is a story for the ages, but it's best defined by its core cast of characters– some of which even align with the Chinese Zodiac.
The story of Fullmetal Alchemist is one for the ages — it has everything from emotional drama to political intrigue. However, the alchemical fireworks, so to speak, emerge from the beauty with which the characters have been materialized in this series.
One would assume Edward Elric to be the singular protagonist, which makes sense given that the predominant narrative revolves around him (not to mention the dedicated screen time.) His development does not come at the cost of any other character, as they are as richly storied as he is, having their own hopes, desires and ambitions. Here, one can have a look at some crucial members of the story organized as per their Chinese Zodiac sign.
12. Rat - Alphonse Elric
Alphonse is the merciful one of the Elric brothers, a testament to his goodness given his anatomical condition. His Rat nature ensures that he never takes anything for granted, keeping the future in its place and just accepting the present. The younger sibling shows that he isn't as empty as his body suggests (not that Ed ever thinks that.)
11. Ox - Olivier Mira Armstrong
The Ox is the emblem of indomitable strength, matched by an equal amount of determination. Of all the characters in the series, it is Olivier Armstrong who possesses infinite reserves of resolve.
Her intelligence and responsibility shine brightly in the form of her squad, a bunch of hardcore disciplined men who would follow the woman into hell itself. Olivier has no time for rambling theory: she finds practical actions far more suitable for someone who wants to control Amestris one day.
10. Tiger - Col. Roy Mustang
Roy Mustang might be charming, intelligent, and manipulative, but the characteristic that defines him is blind courage, shown in his feat against Lust.
As a Tiger, he learns how to think apart from the crowd, seeking his own way to the top of the ladder rather than currying favors from the brass. Mustang rarely acts without thinking, but when he does, Riza, Ed, and Al are there to stop him from taking his revenge against Envy.
9. Rabbit - Father
Is Father even a real person? Or is it the idea of how humans should be, crafted in the feverish brain of the Dwarf-in-the-Flask? Both versions of them, nevertheless, exhibit a strong Rabbit aura — in the overall goal of surpassing God, he aims to be the only entity in possession of all knowledge.
This ironic greed is the reason he constructs his plans in his own mind, revealing only vague paths for his "children" to follow while doing his bidding.
8. Dragon - Lust
The stubborn spirit of the Dragon is embodied in Lust, clearly seen in the final moments of her life. Right before she is about to destroy Al and kill Riza, Mustang kill her.
That's not exactly accurate: he begins to kill her, layer by layer, but she will not die as long her Philosopher's Stone exists. Regardless of the fact that Lust starts turning into dust, she mocks the Colonel, saying "I look forward to the day when those eyes will be wide with agony."
7. Snake - Pride
The arrogant Pride is unknown for a large part of the story (except not really, because he is little Selim Bradley all along.) The shock of this twist is proof that there are people whose innocence offers others a facade of security.
Selim wait for the right time to expose the malevolence of his true nature, after which he does not hold back against Ed and Al. The dark side of the Snake is the perfect example of this type of duplicity, further indicating that Selim resembles Father more than any of the other Sins.
6. Horse - Edward Elric
Edward's Horse personality is evident in his sense of fairness and justice, given the trouble he takes (and the sacrifice he makes) in order to reunite his brother with his real body.
He is a cheery character, rushing towards risks with the confidence of a champion, showing time and again why he's the youngest State Alchemist in history. Ed places his life in danger on a number of intentional occasions, especially if his loved ones are threatened.
5. Goat - Winry Rockbell
Winry is a fantastic automail mechanic, but she isn't much help in a fight. This is not because she doesn't have the inner strength required to kill someone, but because she has enough to resist.
Like many Goats, Winry doesn't like the idea of conflict at all, largely due to her parents being killed in action during the Ishvalan Genocide. She shows herself to be a highly empathetic person, even crying on behalf of Ed and Al (because they seem to keep their emotions tightly locked up.)
4. Monkey - Ling Yao
Ling displays the playful persona of the Monkey, for instance in his tendency to behave like a clown, and eating poor Ed out of his salary (because he forgets to get money for his own food.)
His comical charisma, however, is meant to be a distraction — his actual goal is locating the Philosopher's Stone for the benefit of his country, Xing. Ling's improvisatory genius, as well as extreme will-power, is shown when he succeeds in getting partial control of his body even after Greed takes over.
3. Rooster - Hohenheim
Being the oldest human to ever live (at over 500 years old), Van Hohenheim understands only one thing: that humility and patience are the most important traits available to humanity.
The Rooster in him is a harsh guide, but he does his duty without complaining, that is, befriending the half a million souls living within him and obtaining their help in order to negate the Amestrian alchemy circle created by Father.
2. Dog - Mei Chang
Mei Chang is another royal visitor from Xing, but her clan status is far lower than that of her half-brother. Her employment of Alkahestry, a healing alternative to the ruthlessness of Alchemy, shows her humanitarian qualities (and classifying her as a Dog.)
Mei manages to become close friends with Scar, easily bypassing the emotional blocks he had put up after his people were massacred by the Amestrian army. Her actions show Scar that fighting a battle alone is fighting a losing one.
1. Pig - Izumi Curtis
Izumi Curtis has her moments of unstoppable violence, but in her own words, she is truly "just a housewife." She learns her lessons well: the disastrous outcome of her alchemical audacity helps her comprehend the importance of the circle of life, and the inevitable losses that incur from trying to alter it.
Izumi has the rare ability to let people be who they are, however they are, as shown when she trains Ed and Al to think for themselves rather than obey orders without question.