Mon. Feb 26th, 2024

Background

In November 2023, the globally acclaimed anime series Attack on Titan concluded, marking a significant milestone in its narrative. The conclusion of this iconic series, akin to many others in its genre, elicited a diverse range of reactions from its audience. Some enthusiasts lauded it as a fitting and precise climax, appreciating the resolution provided to the narrative arc. Conversely, another faction of viewers deemed the ending rushed and marred by assumed shortcomings in the quality of the writing. These contrasting opinions highlight the subjective nature of artistic reception as fans grapple with different perspectives on the narrative’s resolution.

For those unfamiliar with its storyline, Attack on Titan is a manga series, a form of Japanese comic, meticulously crafted by the skilled writer and illustrator Hajime Isayama. The intricate tale revolves around the protagonist, Eren Yeager, a human inhabitant of a world sheltered within colossal walls built to protect humanity from formidable humanoid creatures known as Titans. Eren’s primary goal is propelled by an unwavering oath to cleanse the world of Titans, a commitment forged in the crucible of personal tragedy—his mother’s untimely death at the hands of a Titan during his formative years.

As the narrative unfolds, Eren embarks on a transformative journey, enlisting in the military alongside comrades and friends. Together, they earnestly strive to repel the ceaseless Titan attacks breaching the sturdy walls safeguarding humanity. The crux of their collective efforts extends beyond mere survival, delving into a genuine quest to uncover the actual hidden truths behind the mysterious masks of these giant adversaries. Throughout the series, personal vendettas, friendships, and the pursuit of revelations propel characters, especially Eren, into the realms of uncertainty and danger, forming the gripping narrative core of Attack on Titan.

The primary mystery enveloping the show’s narrative focuses on the Titans. Within this formidable class of creatures, nine individuals possess unique abilities to transform between human and titan forms, attaining unparalleled intelligence among their titan counterparts. Notably, Eren Yeager emerges as a critical figure in this group, endowed with the unique ability to transform into a Titan known as the “Attack Titan.”

Layers of Ignorance

During the early phases of the narrative, the intricacies of the fictional world of Attack on Titan were shrouded in mystery, making it challenging for readers to comprehend. Only well beyond the midpoint of the storyline did revelations about the origin of the menacing threat surrounding the walled city emerge: the inhabitants of this city, located on an island named Paradis, traced their lineage back to the Eldians, a prominent bloodline. This particular clan, known as Eldia, after centuries of dominion, chose to abdicate or surrender (depending on the narrative version) and seek refuge on Paradis. As a result, they allowed the Marleyans, a population they had previously conquered, to retain control. Crucial details emerged that the royal family of the Eldians, holding the Founding Titan—a titan granting absolute authority over individuals with Eldian lineage through mystical connections—used this extraordinary power to conceal this information from fellow Eldians for nearly a century when the chronicle began.

Following the discovery of Grisha Yeager’s diary, a revelation unfolded, exposing a perplexing reality within the Marleyan Empire. The excavation of these stories underscored the emergence of conditions resembling pre-Holocaust on the remaining Eldian population. Forced to reside in ghettos and subjected to ceaseless racial oppression, the Eldians found themselves trapped in a grim fate, compounded by the threat of transformation into Titans—a punitive act systematically carried out by the Marleyans.

This grim destiny unfolded as the Marleyans, in their Machiavellian endeavors, manipulated the transformative power of the Titans as a potent tool for conquest. The unsuspecting Eldians, with their collective memories erased by the royal family, remained unaware of the machinations of their oppressors. Meanwhile, on the continent of Paradis, the source of Titan attacks was revealed—a horrifying revelation exposing Eldian prisoners forcibly transformed into mindless Titans by Marleyan authorities. This peculiar transformation served as a psychological weapon against the Eldians in Paradis, retaliating for perceived atrocities committed by their society.

Ironically, a profound irony envelops this conflict as the Eldians in Paradis remain unaware of the plots orchestrated against them, thanks to selective memory erasure by the royal family. Simultaneously, the Marleyans remain oblivious to the indifference of the Elders, resulting in layers of ignorance and manipulation that further complicate the already intricate web of power and control.

Forced Indoctrination

The narrative depicts the people of Marley in a very villainous light in their treatment of Eldian refugees. A profoundly poignant illustration of this cruelty can be witnessed in the tragic death of Grisha’s younger sister, Faye, at the hands of a Marleyan military officer during his childhood. Eldian residents, including Faye, systematically became targets of forced indoctrination, compelling them to adopt a belief system that categorizes them as inherently monstrous, forcing them to dedicate their lives exclusively to serving the interests of their adoptive country, Marley.

The intensity of this indoctrination is evident in its ability to force even a young individual like Zeke Yeager to betray his parents and actively participate in planning the annihilation of his people. The prevailing prejudiced environment is further explained in the subsequent Marleyan plot, providing a comprehensive exploration of the intricate and systematic indoctrination unveiled by Marley’s “Warriors.” This indoctrination has strategic goals to meet the military requirements of Marley, emphasizing the systemic and embedded nature of various prejudices within the narrative.

The significance of these entities, commonly called “Titan Shifters,” becomes crucial in the overall storyline, serving as catalysts and significant influencers in the narrative. Their role goes beyond physical strength and encompasses strategic and pivotal impacts on unfolding events. An illustrative example of this influence is evident in the actions of the Colossal Titan, which, by breaching the initial defensive walls, triggers the entry of Titans into Eren’s hometown of Shiganshina, resulting in a tragic massacre of its inhabitants. This incident highlights the crucial role of Titan Shifters in directing the course of events in the storyline.

Subjects of Ymir

Furthermore, a revelation unfolds, explaining the origin of Titans as former human entities undergoing a complex transformation through the administration of chemical serum. This unique population, identified as “Subjects of Ymir,” instills widespread fear due to their inherent ability to metamorphose into giants. As a result, these individuals become targets of societal scorn, their value reduced to the strategic advantages they offer in conflicts, mainly exploited by the Marleyan nation during warfare.

Subjects of Ymir were relocated to designated internment zones, with the most extensive zone being the island of Paradis, commonly known as the Wall or Eldia. The narrative then takes a different direction, delving into previously undisclosed dimensions that have been carefully developed. In a series of painful and pivotal events, the former protagonist, Eren, assumes the role of the main antagonist. Motivated by a strong desire to protect his homeland, Eldia, he decides to commit an unprecedented genocide on an unparalleled scale, deploying colossal titans to eradicate every human inhabiting the planet.

The plot unfolds in a climactic confrontation, where former allies and enemies unite collectively to thwart his sinister intentions. Only through the combined efforts of these different factions does Eren meet his resounding defeat, marking a conclusion characterized by the intricate interplay of complex relationships and a solid determination to preserve humanity from the brink of destruction.

Criticisms

The contested narrative has a strong structure and storyline. However, controversies surrounding it have given rise to related questions. In particular, the story’s conclusion has sparked dissatisfaction from various perspectives. Some argue that the ending resembles Code Geass, claiming a lack of originality. Simultaneously, comparisons are made to Game of Thrones, a series known for its widely criticized conclusion. The crux of the issue lies in the consensus that it is ending, when compared to the earlier elements of the anime, can be considered somewhat ordinary. Sentiments like these are prevalent among those who have engaged with the material.

Numerous valid criticisms have been raised regarding the intricate narrative of this series. A prominent example is the portrayal of Ymir, the prime Titan Shifter, whose presence aids Eren in executing his intricate plans. Despite the suffering endured over centuries, the continuous bestowal of transformative Titan powers to Ymir’s people emerges as a perplexing aspect of the storyline. Her enigmatic determination is linked to her romantic entanglement with her harsh partner, compelling her to obediently follow his directives to perpetuate the spread of Titan’s abilities.

Furthermore, significant criticism arises following Eren’s drastic genocide plan. Instead of averting threats to Paradis, the impact of his actions only serves to postpone hostilities temporarily. This temporary hiatus prompts Eldia to adopt a militaristic ideology and, arguably, a fascist ideology as a mechanism of defense against anticipated retaliation. Questions arise about how Eren, a proponent of such a controversial strategy, seems to be exempt from accountability by his peers.

A crucial paradox emerges from the narrative’s conclusion where, in the eleventh hour, Eren transforms into a heroic figure once again. This sudden transformation prompts contemplation on the fundamental motivations and internal dynamics that facilitate the collective forgiveness extended to him for his earlier genocidal aspirations.

Reflection

Upon reflection, alternative courses of action that make sense emerge, prompting questions about the necessity of Eren’s drastic measures. The almighty Founding Titan can nullify the Titan powers inherent in the Subjects of Ymir, thereby eliminating the need for genocide as a preservation method. This reflection prompts inquiries into why a more pacifist resolution is omitted.

Lastly, peculiarity arises in the thematic discourse surrounding freedom. Despite Eren’s steadfast declarations in the fight for freedom, his predetermined actions culminate in the paradoxical implementation of genocide as an inevitable fate. The discord between acknowledged ideals and manifested actions becomes a sharp critique, inviting deeper exploration into the complexity of character development and narrative coherence within the broader context of the storyline.

Indeed, certain forms of media exhibit a maturity comparable to the refinement of quality wine. For example, Spiderman 3 with a particular emphasis on the infamous dance scenes. Upon its initial release, audience reactions could have been more satisfactory, and understanding such sentiments is not unwarranted. The scenes, marked by awkwardness, elicited discomfort and an overall sense of oddity among viewers. However, in retrospect, one can discern the intentional meaning behind this discomfort. At that point in the film, Peter Parker wears the Venom Symbiote, a transformative entity that fundamentally alters his entire personality. Though seemingly unrealistic and unsettling, the exaggerated display of confidence serves a purpose—it highlights Peter’s vulnerability to corruption. The discomfort experienced by the audience reflects the character’s descent into moral ambiguity. It is an intentional exploration of the vulnerability of even beloved heroes like Peter Parker, ultimately leading to his acknowledgment of this corruption and subsequent rejection of the symbiote.

Isayama’s Narrative Precision

Two observations can be made from this specific situation. First, fundamental implications become clear upon subsequent reflection, especially when revisiting the film. Despite the temporary investment required, it becomes evident that a more nuanced appreciation of the narrative will manifest after comprehensively internalizing the entire sequence of events, possibly requiring a reevaluation on one or more occasions. Second, it becomes apparent that these events were premeditated and deliberately incorporated from the outset of this endeavor. Notably, both principles can seamlessly be extrapolated into the context of Attack on Titan.

Naturally, Isayama cannot be regarded as an extraordinary scholar who meticulously orchestrated his narrative with intricate precision from the outset. Such endeavors surpass the abilities of even the most formidable writers. Nevertheless, it is crucial to acknowledge that the foundational elements of the storyline and plot, in general, were definitively established in the early months of the manga’s production. After a thorough reassessment of the entire manga, a discernible pattern emerges.

Despite possessing incredible abilities inherent to the Attack Titan, Eren Yeager consistently takes on the role of an outsider within the ranks of the Survey Corps. His position among his peers is marked by widespread alienation, a consequence of the pervasive distrust directed towards him by the government he serves. Paradoxically, despite being blessed with extraordinary power, Eren is often manipulated as a mere pawn in the intrigues of his enemies.

Moral Complexity

His inclination toward impulsive actions and outbursts of anger complicates his personality further. As a character, Eren occupies a nuanced space where he elicits sympathy as a victim of circumstances while emerging as an unapologetic antagonist. This duality is accentuated in the final chapters, where he becomes the primary catalyst for a series of heinous actions, culminating in a horrific endeavor commonly referred to as “The Rumbling.”

In a shocking turn of events, Eren’s journey leads him to commit a series of atrocities that, upon closer examination, reveal terrifying motives—a genuine attempt to orchestrate genocidal efforts against the entire global population. This radical shift in character development renders Eren a morally complex and ambiguous figure, blurring the lines between protagonist and antagonist in the narrative landscape.

Eren’s actions do not seem without reason, as he witnesses the deep-seated cultural hatred harbored by Marleyan society towards Eldians. This sentiment extends even to the Marleyan Titans themselves. Confronted with an imminent genocidal threat looming over his people, as Marley initiates a massive assault on Paradis, Eren makes a morally reprehensible choice by leveraging the power of his Founding Titan, obtained through his father’s consumption of the former Founding Titan, to unleash the colossal Titan forces within the massive walls of the city of Paradis. This devastating act is intended to wipe out the entire human race. Although Eren’s sudden shift in allegiance may surprise fans, the historical parallels with World War II in the narrative suggest intentional analogies by Isayama, aiming to convey profound lessons.

The protracted conflict between the Eldians and Marleyans has endured for a long time, resulting in ambiguity regarding the truth of both factions. The intricacies of determining who is right or justified in their actions still need to be discovered by both parties. In this prolonged dispute, both Eldians and Marleyans play the role of aggressors, a fact underscored by Eren’s direct involvement in the terrorist attack on Liberio—a pocket Eldian district. This act of violence occurs after Marley’s official declaration of war, a decision contrary to the wishes of Eren’s comrades.

Exhibit Compassionate Heroism

Despite Eren’s extraordinary ability to cause widespread death and destruction, Hajime Isayama earnestly endeavors to depict Eren’s perspective. In doing so, Isayama emphasizes that, from Eren’s point of view, his actions are a response to the ceaseless and blatant hostility in the world. This portrayal underscores the idea that Eren perceives his existence as marked by constant isolation, which leads to profound emotional alienation. In this context of isolation, Eren’s path towards wrongdoing can be traced, revealing the complex interplay of factors that culminate in Eren’s descent into a morally ambiguous role.

Eren’s reluctance to exhibit compassionate heroism is a poignant illustration of his profound fear of embodying “the other”—an individual in constant conflict with his environment, a target of oppression by authority figures above him, and estranged from his peers, who consistently see him as an irresponsible outsider. The transformation into this monstrous figure manifests the psychological consequences of this deep-seated fear.

In a critical examination of traditional Shonen narratives, where a close-knit group of heroes forms a surrogate family, Eren’s ultimate decision to sever ties with his comrades in the Survey Corps serves a specific purpose. This intentional disregard functions as a commentary on the genre, indicating that Eren, having witnessed humanity’s rejection, including those within the Corps, responds by rejecting their shared moral values. This significant departure from the typical Shonen metaphor emphasizes Eren’s sharp deviation from conventional heroic narratives and underscores the profound impact of society’s alienation on his character development.

Pervasive Fear of Social Isolation

Concerns about experiencing social isolation and rejection extend beyond Eren; this pervasive fear resonates consistently throughout the narrative. Its echoes materialize in various characters, such as Mikasa grappling with deep sorrow stemming from Eren’s rejection of her, Reiner tirelessly striving to redeem Eldian heritage as a Warrior reflecting this profound anxiety, and Zeke, whose betrayal of his parents further exemplifies the widespread themes of fear and isolation. In summary, Attack on Titan argues that fanaticism brings about specific consequences: it orchestrates the systematic removal of a significant number of politically undesirable elements or gives rise to a society inhabited by individuals who are fractured and forced to sacrifice their most cherished values solely to secure a sense of belonging. This profound commentary remains relevant in the contemporary world where fanaticism and prejudice persist. The resilience of this message underscores the narrative’s potential, and it is a testament to Isayama’s skill as a writer. All the intricate twists in Attack on Titan seamlessly coalesce when viewed through this thematic lens.

The narrative depicted in Attack on Titan does not revolve around the theme of freedom; instead, it intricately unfolds as a deep exploration of fatalism and the inevitable direction of fate. Within its narrative framework, the overarching storyline delves into the intricacies of destiny, emphasizing the unyielding and predetermined nature of events. As a result, Attack on Titan emerges as a sharp portrayal of the role of fatalism, offering a different perspective on the inevitability inherent in the fate of characters and the overall narrative structure.

Upon closer examination, a striking paradox emerges in the narrative, seemingly revolving around the theme of liberation. The Scouts actively struggle for autonomy; likewise, the Warriors, embodying Marley’s Titan Shifter army, earnestly pursue freedom and security for their loved ones. However, a different analysis reveals the pervasive nature of fatalism within the storyline.

The Inevitability of Fate

From the outset, the Survey Corps is firmly informed about the possibility of the fate awaiting them—a destiny seemingly destined to culminate in their transformation into Titan livestock. Though unavoidable, the presence of the Titans becomes an unquestionable certainty, a constant and unyielding force in the narrative landscape. The ceaseless existence of these Titans, a ubiquitous threat, instills deep fear and dread in the characters and, more profoundly, in the audience. The coexistence of the aspiration for freedom and the specter of inevitable fatalism is tightly intertwined, casting a shadow over a narrative seemingly liberating, revealing the profound complexity underlying the characters’ relentless struggle for autonomy.

The people of Paradis are compelled to endure and continually raise their expectations to alleviate these widespread concerns. Their yearning for freedom remains unfulfilled, compelling them to seek alternative actions. As explained by Kenny Ackerman, “Each individual finds solace in some form of poison to sustain their endless pursuit… Every soul is bound by slavery to some power.” The confined inhabitants within the Walls persist, tirelessly fighting for a glimmer of hope that is challenging to grasp.

The realization of these hopes is manifested through the personality of Eren Yeager, the carrier of the Attack Titan, symbolizing the aspirations of Eldia. However, an inevitable fate has predetermined the semblance of this rightful choice. Eren reveals that he utilized the inherent ability of his Attack Titan, known as Future Memory Inheritance, to manipulate his father into inheriting the Attack Titan and the Founding Titan. Thus, from the outset of the narrative, the course of events has been predetermined and etched in unwavering certainty. Eren is destined to inherit the Attack Titan, and fate dictates the inevitable course of his descendants to carry out genocide.

Examining this issue from an alternative perspective, particularly from a Nordic standpoint, reveals an intriguing relationship between Attack on Titan and Norse Mythos. Incorporating names such as Ymir and the Titans correlates with the Giants in Norse mythology, underscoring a tangible influence. However, delving deeper into this analysis unveils various mythological dimensions embedded in Attack on Titan.

Norse Mythology

Norse mythology, renowned for its emphasis on the concept of fate, bears striking similarities to the intricacies of the Attack on Titan narrative. Odin, in particular, continually strives to evade his predetermined fate, reflecting the characters’ struggles in the series. Furthermore, the omnipresent threat of Ragnarok, the apocalyptic battle destined to culminate in the destruction of all creation, aligns with the climactic events in the storyline. A careful examination reveals that the final chapters of Attack on Titan encapsulate elements reminiscent of an apocalyptic battle, further aligning with the thematic foundation of Norse Mythology.

Various individuals forming the ensemble cast of characters in Attack on Titan are metaphorical analogies of different Norse gods. In explaining this conceptualization, Erwin Smith, the former commander of the Survey Corps whose tenure ends abruptly, is analogized with Tyr, the god synonymous with justice and distinguished by his single hand—a trait shared by himself. In parallel, Levi Ackerman is likened to Thor, renowned for his feats in conquering giants and protecting humanity. Specifically, Hanji, also known as Hange, plays the role of Odin, the one-eyed god symbolizing war and wisdom. This intricate parallelism prompts contemplation on the characterization of Eren, inviting an investigation into his fellow Norse god counterparts.

Surtr, renowned as the Harbinger of Ragnarok, is destined to traverse the celestial path of Bifrost, where he will launch a decisive assault and lay claim to the Midgard territory. Undeterred by the exquisite beauty surrounding Bifrost, his sole focus remains fixed on the adversaries ahead. This resolute determination reminds us of another character, Eren, who disregards the allure of the ocean, embarking on a journey across it with indifference to its aesthetic appeal. Eren contemplates that true freedom will only be achieved after the death of every individual in Marley. Simultaneously, Surtr, eagerly awaiting the revelation of his predetermined fate, is driven by an unshakable thirst for vengeance that has consumed his entire existence.

Conscious Choice

The fate of Eren, akin to an unavoidable decision, is closely tied to the spread of chaos and destruction. This determination is explicitly elucidated through the prism of his future memories, serving as an eternal signpost of the preordained path. As a resolute response to these preordained revelations, Eren, trapped in the labyrinth of his uncertainty, consciously chooses the path leading to an ongoing natural disaster.

The mystery resides in Eren’s deep confusion, a complex maze of conflicting emotions and turmoil that compels him to assume the role of a puppet in the face of destiny. His depiction as an enslaved person to an inescapable fate symbolizes the universal condition of humanity, where individuals continually wrestle with the eternal struggle for a glimmer of hope amid the unending tumult of existence.

As an allegorical representation of our collective humanity, Eren symbolizes humanity’s unending quest for optimism. The essence of his choice lies in pursuing a destiny that promises a better future. The moral foundation of this narrative is unveiled as a profound revelation: the concept of freedom, seemingly considered a force of liberation, becomes a mirage that leads to slavery when earnestly pursued. The relentless pursuit of freedom transforms into a Faustian bargain, where individuals unwittingly become bound to an unavoidable destiny that casts a shadow over human existence.

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