Vato Falman (ヴァトー・ファルマン, Vatō Faruman) is an Amestrian soldier initially stationed at the East Area Headquarters in East City and one of Colonel Roy Mustang's most trusted subordinates, handpicked by the Flame Alchemist for his outstanding abilities and qualities.
Falman is an intelligence expert with a remarkable memory capable of recalling even the most minute details of any location, situation or person. In addition to being an honest and hardworking soldier, Mustang recruited him as a sort of walking recording device, able to store information without leaving any physical evidence. Because his intellect is his area of expertise, he does not have much experience in the field, causing him to make rookie mistakes when in a combat situation. He is overly formal and responds to simple or offhand questions with an encyclopedic response, causing some of his comrades to wish he would lighten up.
In the 2003 anime series, Falman plays little more than a supporting role, providing comic relief and backup alongside his comrades Jean Havoc, Heymans Breda and Kain Fuery. He first appears during the Bald hostage incident aboard General Hakuro's train in Episode 5 and acts as backup while Edward and Alphonse Elric retake the engine room from Bald and his fellow hijackers. It seems that Falman is not quite as trusted by Mustang, as he has to request to be included in the group transfer to Central City while Havoc, Hawkeye, Breda and Fuery were chosen without their input. Once there, he is charged with keeping tabs on Mustang's doings by the Central Command.
In the manga, Falman plays a much more significant role beginning with the covert interrogation of Barry the Chopper. In order to confirm whether or not the mysterious armored prowler is indeed who he claims to be, Colonel Mustang and Lt. Hawkeye summon Warrant Officer Falman to ask him questions regarding the infamous Chopper case. With his impeccable knowledge of the victims' identities, locations and times of death, Falman barrages Number 66 with questions, even throwing in some trick questions intended to trip up a fake, but reports to the Colonel that #66 got them all correct, indicating that their captive is the real deal. Falman stands by as Roy continues his own interrogation of Barry and mentally stores the information gleaned therefrom regarding the Homunculi, Laboratory 5 and the Philosopher's Stone. Under the pretense of worrying about his subordinate's safety, Mustang asks Falman to forget everything he had heard, but when Falman responds with a smile that his memory is far too good for that, he falls into his boss' trap and is tasked with keeping an eye on Barry to keep him out of the public eye and from killing civilians for fun. Falman spends his next several days on official leave, holed up with Barry in an apartment safe house with no outside contact save for a couple visits from 2nd Lt. Havoc and nothing to keep his sanity besides the daily paper and beating the Chopper at chess.
When the daily paper arrives with the front-page headline announcing the conviction of Second Lieutenant Maria Ross in the murder of Brigadier General Maes Hughes, Falman makes an emergency call to Colonel Mustang. However, Barry also sees the headline and, recognizing Ross from a previous encounter at Lab 5, asks to talk to Roy instead. Barry and Roy concoct a plan to get Ross out of jail and to safety before her execution, but Falman, who is not in on the plan, is knocked unconscious by the Chopper, who considers explaining the situation too troublesome. When he comes to some time later, he calls Mustang's office to inform the Colonel that Barry has disappeared, but the Flame Alchemist is unable to receive the call, since he has also left to fulfill his part of the mission. Barry returns to the safe house shortly afterwards with Ling Yao in tow, much to Falman's displeasure. As Falman berates Barry for leaving and for bringing a stranger back to their hideout, Ling's retainers, Lan Fan and Fu appear at their master's behest, furthering Vato's frustration. As Barry and Ling converse and the Xingese prince issues orders to his subordinates with no regard to the Warrant Officer, Falman begins to realize that he has lost control of the situation and fallen out of the loop.
Falman barely has time to come to grips with this realization, as the enemy begins their own counteroffensive. Recognizing Number 66 from the reports of Maria Ross' breakout, the Homunculi have sent out Barry the Chopper's human body - animated by the insertion of a lab animal's soul - to locate him, as the body is inexorably drawn to its own soul and vice-versa. Falman is confused when Barry - who lacks the sense of touch - feels a sudden chill, but is himself alerted to the intruder's presence by way of the terrible odor of its rotting flesh. Falman opens fire as the human shell attacks through the window, but is told by Number 66 (who recognizes that this is all part of Roy's plan to fish out the Homunculi) not to kill it. As the two Barrys combat furiously, Falman asks Lan Fan to back him up, only to be informed by her that the crazed human puppet is not the only enemy; there are more strange souls nearby numbering in the dozens. Falman defies Barry's orders and opens fire on the intruder again, hoping to at least lessen the number of attackers by one, but is unable to land a hit. Just as Lan Fan assures him that the other presences are holed up somewhere else and not moving, a masked, black-clad figure bursts into the apartment wielding firearms. Falman is quickly subdued by the newcomer, who then provides cover fire for the Chopper. As Lan Fan confirms that the stranger is an ally and then leaves to engage the other enemy, Warrant Officer Falman recognizes the scent of cigarette smoke on the masked gunman's person and asks aloud whether it is 2nd Lt. Havoc come to help them. Havoc becomes furious and berates Falman for blowing his cover when he was clearly wearing a mask to conceal his identity from the enemy, blaming the Warrant Officer's lack of combat experience. Havoc informs Falman that he, Hawkeye and Fuery had set up a surveillance center in the adjacent apartment at the time of Barry's jailbreak and apologizes for having to keep Vato in the dark so as to keep the enemy from sensing their trap. The 2nd Lt. orders Falman and Barry outside where Hawkeye can provide proper cover fire from a nearby sniping position.
When Colonel Mustang arrives on the scene and chases the two Barrys with Havoc, Hawkeye and the newly arrived Alphonse Elric in tow, he orders Falman to stay behind, clean up any evidence and tell anyone who questions him that he was being held captive by the criminal who had broken the fugitive Maria Ross out of jail.
When Führer King Bradley disbands Colonel Mustang's unit, Warrant Officer Falman is reassigned to North Area Headquarters in North City. True to his nature, he accepts this harsh news with dignity and prepares to leave immediately. Just before departing Central City, Falman drops by Mustang's office to bid farewell to the Colonel and Sgt. Fuery as well as return Roy's chess set, the king piece of which contains a communique to Lt. General Grumman in East City. Falman reappears in Chapter 65, revealing that, upon arriving at North Area HQ, he was once again transferred to Fort Briggs and, in addition, was officially promoted to the rank of Second Lieutenant. However, despite his promotion, his tasks at Briggs consist primarily of clearing fresh icicles off of overhead pipes. The Elric Brothers recognize and heartily greet him when they themselves arrive at Briggs, but note that the discrepancy between his rank and his job suggests that Vato Falman has missed the train to success, much to the 2nd Lt's dismay.
When the Homunculus Sloth accidentally breaks into Fort Briggs' factory level and the Elrics, who attempt to communicate with him, are called under suspicion by the Briggs soldiers and workers. 2nd Lt Falman edges away from the Elrics in an attempt to distance himself from trouble, but is pulled into the situation regardless when Captain Buccaneer corrals the Elrics into helping to defeat the mammoth monster and Edward sells Vato out in return for his endeavored desertion.
2d Lt. Falman assists in dumping tank fuel over Sloth's body and then, when the Elrics, Major General Olivier Armstrong and Captain Buccaneer are unable to push the Homunculus outside the fortress, Falman shoots a large icicle so that it falls on Sloth's head, dizzying him enough for Ed and Al to knock him over a balcony and out into the raging cold. After Sloth freezes into inactivity, the Elrics are tied up and held captive by Maj. General Armstrong both due to the suspicious activity they displayed in communicating with Sloth and refusing to tell Briggs soldiers anything about it as well as to acknowledge the fact that they had been blackmailed into silence and give any potential spies the impression that Edward and Alphonse were forced to help defeat the Homunculus. However, because Edward identified him as their friend, Falman, too, is tied up. The 2nd Lt. is the first to enter the hole beneath the fort in which Sloth was digging and notices that it appears to be a gigantic tunnel. He explores it with an impromptu search party and reports to Major General Armstrong the next morning that the tunnel was massive and seemed to go on forever, so they returned. Falman is sent into the tunnel again, this time only with Armstrong, Buccaneer and the Elric Brothers. After a while, Armstrong has the party stop and demands that the Elrics and Falman tell her everything about the Homunculus and why it has to be kept a secret, as they will not be overheard this far from the fort.
After they tell the whole tale, Armstrong expresses some sympathy, remembering Lt. Hawkeye and 2nd Lt. Havoc from old training exercises between North and East Headquarters. However, when Falman asks about her connection to Colonel Mustang, the Ice Queen states that she doesn't care at all about Roy and that his downfall would mean one less rival for the role of Führer. When Armstrong asks Edward to assess the tunnel, he asks Falman for a map of the Amestris and a compass, with which he deduces that the tunnel originated not from Drachma, the enemy country to the north, but from within the country. He further deduces that the tunnel was dug in a circular pattern around Amestris, in keeping with the circle being the central theme of alchemy, and asks the remarkably memoried Falman to list every incident in Amestrian history which resulted in major bloodshed. Falman begins to understand the Fullmetal Alchemist's reasoning and complies, listing the dates and locations of eight major historical skirmishes beginning with the Riviere incident of 1558 (just after the formation of Amestris over three centuries ago) and ending with the recent Reole riots. Edward becomes upset at this last point, remarking that he thought his exposure of the false prophet Cornello would quell the violence in Reole, but Falman responds that just before the East Area troops had gotten the situation under control, Central City troops took over and the bloodshed escalated markedly. Edward marks each location on the map, which (including Ishval) makes a circle that Falman recognizes as identical to the Philosopher's Stone transmutation circle in Laboratory 5. He then notes that each of the incidents was begun by some sort of military action, prompting Edward to realize that the nation of Amestris was created by the Homunculi so as to gain enough land and lives for a Nationwide Transmutation Circle. When the discussion is interrupted by the arrival of Lt. General Raven at the fort, Edward and General Armstrong conspire to con the corrupt Raven into giving them information regarding The Promised Day. 2nd Lt. Falman, along with the Elrics and Buccaneer, listens on a closed circuit radio from the factory floor as Armstrong pulls government secrets out of the self-centered Lt. General and then helps stage the Elrics' captivity by tying Edward up in rope (making sure to tie Fullmetal's knots painfully tight as payback for dragging him into this mess).
Falman reappears in Chapter 78, when he communicates with 2nd Lt. Breda regarding the goings-on within the Nationwide Transmutation Circle. Breda informs him that Pendleton and Fotset, two points in the circle where he and Sergeant Fuery are respectively stationed, are racking up unreasonable amounts of battle casualties, just as Falman had warned. Falman informs Breda that he had sent a surreptitious message to Colonel Mustang through the Armstrong family channels, but worries that all their knowledge and communication may be for naught if Sloth's tunnel is completed. He appears again in Chapter 83 as part of the contact chain, relaying Izumi Curtis' message about the coming of the Promised Day to Lt. General Grumman.
As the Promised Day approaches, 2nd Lt. Falman and many other Briggs soldiers travel to Central City and hole up inside the Armstrong Family Manor, waiting for their chance to strike. During the commotion of Mustang's attacks on Central Troops, the Briggs forces move toward Central Command in separate groups, one trying to enter by way of a tunnel dug alchemically by Izumi Curtis and the other attacking with tanks that were also hidden within the cavernous mansion. In Chapter 95, when Briggs troops finally make it into the heart of Central Command and take Brigadier General Klemin hostage, it is revealed to the flabbergasted General that Falman, having worked in Central HQ before, led them right to the ground command room with his impeccable memory.
In Chapter 97, Falman is ordered as part of the group securing the main gate of Central Command against intrusion from Central Forces. Unfortunately, King Bradley, whom everyone thought was dead, appears at the main gate with a cadre of soldiers and quickly battles his way to the front door, even taking down Captain Buccaneer with ease. Bradley confronts Falman, coldly ordering him to open the front gate at sword-point. Through cold sweat and terrified tears, Second Lieutenant Falman apologizes to Colonel Mustang, saying that he fears he will never meet the Flame Alchemist again, and raises his sidearm in opposition to the Homunculus Führer. At that moment, the severely wounded Captain Buccaneer struggles to his feet and challenges Bradley to combat in an attempt to spare Falman's life. Wrath scoffs at the two soldiers' actions, mocking their "courage in the face of death", but fortunately, Greed appears on the scene. Falman recognizes Ling Yao's body and the Xingese prince responds, taking temporary control over his body to greet Falman kindly and thank him for the food and shelter he enjoyed while holding up in the safe house with him and Barry, favors he intends to pay back by fighting off Wrath. Falman spots more Central soldiers entering the compound and attempt to hold them off with a cannon and sidearms while Greed is busy with Wrath, but is helped out of his hopeless situation when Fu arrives and dispatches the platoon. When Fu is killed and Ling covers himself with Greed's carbon armor and goes on a rampage against the Central troops, Falman remarks that he cannot tell whether the prince or the Homunculus is controlling the body anymore.
In Chapter 104, Falman is shown to fall victim to Father's Nationwide Transmutation Circle along with his fellow soldiers. He is later revived by Hohenheim's fail-safe, and immediately checks if everyone is still accounted for. Only at the end of anime do we see a picture of Falman with two children who look remarkably similar to him, implying he must have had kids of his own. His uniform also implies that he has been promoted to Captain, much to his glee.
- Falman's military identification code, as shown in Episode 17 of the 2009 series, is IGO4649.
- It is possible that, in keeping with the series' trend of naming members of the military after military hardware, Falman was named for the Farman series of French fighter planes.
- Mustang's subordinates are named after chess pieces; Falman's is the "Bishop". The Bishop moves diagonally on one square as far as it wishes in chess, appropriate considering Falman's diagonal way of thinking and calm, almost religious, zeal toward gathering information.
- Falman's children are not present in the manga, and his ending photo is anime-only, but still considered canon.
- The second half of the manga has a running gag about Falman's rank; characters unaware of his promotion (or who are aware but have forgotten) address him as Warrant Officer, which he angrily replies to every time with "I'm a Second Lieutenant now!" similar to the Edward "short" joke.
- While his amazing photographic memory is used in exactly the same scenes as the manga, the 2009 anime never explicitly states his role as a "walking encyclopedia of knowledge", whereas the manga makes many mentions of it.
- His characteristically narrowed eyes appear to be a trait that runs in his family, due to his children also having similarly narrowed eyes.