Saturday, March 6, 2010

Featured Pipe Smoker (Fictional): Pinako Rockbell

Pinako Rockbell

Pinako Rockbell is a character from the anime series Fullmetal Alchemist. The series (which also a manga) tells the story of two teenage boys (Edward and Alphonse Elric) with alchemical skills in a world where alchemy works, and is a sort of parallel to our own reality set in the early 1900s.

Pinako raised her own grand-daughter Winry after Pinako's son and daughter-in-law (both physicians) were killed in a war. Ed and Al's father abandoned them and their mother when they were children, and Pinako, who lived nearby, also served as something of a surrogate grandmother for them.

Pinako Rockbell is a no-nonsense kind of person who also has strong nurturing instincts and is wise in the ways of the world. She is also a highly skilled automail engineer. In a world that has been torn by war, there are a great many amputees. Automail is her world's version of prosthetics--prosthetics which are made of metal and which are connected to the remaining nerve endings to give the wearer almost full recovery of functional limbs. Although automail limbs are highly articulated, they still do not grant the wearer the sense of touch.

(also pictured: Winry Rockbell)

Ed Elric was severely injured during a forbidden alchemical experiment, losing an arm and a leg. Pinako and her grand-daughter Winry built new automail limbs to replace his missing arm and leg. Winry is also a very skilled automail engineer, having been taught the craft from childhood by Pinako. Whenever Ed's automail becomes damaged (which happens fairly often), he always travels back home to have Winry repair it for him rather than seek out a more conveniently located engineer in whatever area he happens to be in. Pinako's home remains a sort of second home and anchoring point for him and his brother Al. Although Pinako often offers her rough and direct, even blunt advice, it is obvious that she cares for them deeply and sees them as part of her family.

Pinako's pipe appears to have a wooden stem with a clay or metal bowl. As you can see from these pictures, she is always depicted as holding it by the stem, which is correct for that type of pipe. If she held it by the bowl, it would certainly burn her fingers.

UPDATE: Thanks to commenter BrSpiritus, we have the information that Pinako's pipe is likely the Japanese style known as the Kiseru.
Kiseru is an old style Japanese smoking pipe. Kiseru have been used for smoking a very fine, shredded tobacco, as well as cannabis. It is typically made out of metal on the ends (the mouth piece and bowl), with a shaft typically made out of bamboo. Another distinct trait of a kiseru is that the bowl is much smaller than that of many western-style pipes, and if fitted with a fine-mesh metal screen, permits small servings of any sifted herb at a low burning temperature.
Click the link for more details and history.


  1. cool stuff I never knew alchemy could be so dangerous!

  2. Her pipe appears to be a Kiseru, a Japanese type with a small metal bowl and bamboo stem. They are getting rare these days and nigh on impossible to find the correct tobacco in the US.

  3. all hail pinako rockbell.