The Attack Titan has never obeyed others. It’s all been to resist the self-righteousness of the KingGrisha Yeager
For twelve long years, Hajime Isayama has finally unravel the fate of Eren, humanity and the Survey Corps in April 2021. I myself started the anime when it first came out in 2013 and I remember getting so bored of the show I quit one to two episodes before season one ended; years later, I gained a better appreciation in this world of Titans but I still hold similar feelings towards this highly raved anime.
MAJOR SPOILERS FOR ANIME-ONLY VIEWERS AHEAD.
WAS EREN TRULY FREE?
This was something that hung over me for days (yes seriously): was Eren Jaeger truly free or was he Ymir’s prisoner? Based on the title of CH1 (“To You, 2000 Years from Now”), we can all infer that the ‘you’ has got to be no one else but Eren Jaeger because, of course, he is the main character. In the War for Paradis arc, we learnt more about the founder Ymir and it was hinted that Ymir was the one who revealed that dream which made the cute wide-eyed young Eren cry in year 845.
From Eren’s later conversations with Armin it was heavily implied that future Eren manipulated the Smiling Titan AKA Dina Fritz to kill Carla Jaeger instead of Bertolt. No one really knows why Eren indirectly killed his beloved mother but I believed that it was to:
1. ensure that Bertolt would be alive for a dying Armin to devour the Colossal Titan in the Return to Shiganshina arc
2. provide a young Eren enough hatred, motivation and the killing desire for the Titans and Marley who stole his freedom.
The second option sounds logical but when looking back from future Eren’s perspective, this murder was rather mindblowing; son sends memories back to younger self to kill mom to motivate future self to kill all enemies?? As the brown-haired boy develops as a teenager, he grasped the reality of his “bird cage” and discovered that his gigantic enemies were nothing more than people of his blood, and that the true enemies were the outside world who branded the Eldians as “devils”. That was when Eren cooperated and then later tricked his half-brother Zeke to unleash the Founding Titan’s true powers to activate the Rumbling which would kill 80% of the world’s humanity.
DID YMIR SENT BACK THOSE MEMORIES TO EREN?
I believed that these were possible because Ymir sent the visions of the future events to Eren, hoping that Eren would one day ‘awaken’, realise the truth about the world and set herself free. In other words, the whole chain of events was nothing but a manipulation by the founder Ymir via her slave Eren who probably inherited some memories from Ymir, who technically speaking is the first Attack Titan, to free her from her master King Fritz. Granted the protagonist was unable to recall what happened after he woke up but given how Eren said his head has “gotten all messed up” by what was in the past, happening in the present, and the future events, it is possible that Ymir – literally the Titan of the all Titans – could have sent her memories to Eren and influenced his decisions. After all Ymir herself said that she has waited for Eren for over two millennium.
And this is something I greatly dislike about AoT. If Ymir really has been affecting Eren, does Eren truly possess free will or was the 19 year-old just a puppet of Ymir? I myself dislike stories where a pre-destined fate exists; it takes away the joy from seeing how the character development, the experiences the character undergoes and the decisions the character makes can affect the grand outcome. Even if Eren chose not to die, the Power of the Titans will still be passed on to a random baby via the Paths. Someone must die and it is our dear hero Eren Jaeger. Imagine watching over 70 episodes and reading the manga only to arrive at a conclusion where the main lead has to die because well he just has to. That’s disappointing, to me at the very least.
WHAT IS RIGHT? WHAT IS WRONG?
If I gained any lesson from AoT is that nothing is fully right or wrong. The whole anime is literally just based on propaganda, intense hatred of a race and strong nationalistic sentiments and the murderous intent to wipe out, or in Zeke’s case, to sterile a whole race which is simply passed down from generations to generations.
In the beginning of season four, we begin to understand history from Marley’s point of view (to be honest, there were so many different versions I am unsure which is even the factual [note how I used ‘factual’] one anymore) and from the Warrior Candidates. These kids including Reiner, Bertolt and Annie carry such heavy responsibilities and the glory and honour of their family lie on them but it should not be the case from the beginning; they were only kids who were forced into it. I dare not classify them or in fact any character as being ‘innocent’ as each has killed far too many, but unfortunately it is hard to say that it was wrong to kill the enemies too because both sides simply grew up believing in a different side of a story.
WAS THAT RUMBLING REALLY NECESSARY?
Couldn’t a small Rumbling, like what Armin questioned, suffice? As stupid as it sounds, is it not possible for the Power of the Titans to just die with Ymir instead? Was Eren’s death truly a necessity? I would say yes. Eren’s death is noble and very heroic. He loves his friends and he loves the place he grew up in to the extent that he will become the world’s enemy for them; it is only by having the Paradis kill Eren can the image of Paradis be rebranded in the eyes of the world. Eren needs to be punished for his crimes against humanity (fam literally activated millions of Colossal Titans to stamp on people) and he does not deserve to live.
DOES EREN DESERVE TO DIE?
Hajime’s build-up of Eren as a bratty, angry and impatient wide-eyed boy to the a cold and ruthless murderer who justifies his actions as a parting gift to Paradis and his friends only makes the viewers sympathize with Eren. Even if Eren was set free from his caterpillar-like final form, what will happen to him? Will the Survey Corps, if it is still relevant, be able to impose military punishment on him? Or will Eren be lauded by the Paradis people and worse, be installed as a Commander of Paradis’ military and made to conquer the world? In CH 139 we saw that the people of Paradis still has nationalistic sentiments in them so it may not be surprising if the latter was the case.
IS ATTACK OF TITAN THE BEST ANIME OF ALL TIME?
Judging solely on the plot, Attack on Titan truly deserves an applause for the many unexpected and dramatic turn of events. I never would have expected Survey Corps Commander Erwin Smith to die by Zeke’s stone throws and neither would I imagine Mikasa to be the one delivering the final blow to Eren’s whatever-that-caterpillar-neck-thing-is-called final Titan form. Hajime did live up to his words and kill everyone in the world of Attack on Titan. I have to say that I amazed by the world of Titans Hajime has came up with. Making Eren die is a painful and difficult decision, kind of like how J.J. Abrams killed off Kylo Ren, but it is the only path forward for Eren’s character.
PLOT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER ORGANISED
Nonetheless, I just wished that the mangaka could have allowed Eren the decision to choose his fate and provide a better explanation into all the abilities of all Nine Titans. However, the anime series was also far too draggy for my liking. First off, the first two seasons revealed so little about the mystery behind the Titans; any person who has watched a few shounen anime would know that the Titans are definitely more than just Titans, and I correctly predicted that the Titans were actually humans. But that’s what the first two seasons only showed: Titans were the enemies.
But very quickly in the third season, we understand so much more about the Kings, Historia and Ackermans. I had to re-watch season three twice and read the manga to better understand the series and till now, I don’t think I fully comprehend the gist and significance of featuring Kenny so heavily in that season. Season 3 contained far too many important sub-plots for my liking and it literally diverted the attention away from their quest to retake Shiganshina.
While we spent over 59 episodes exploring Paradis, the mystery behind Titans and the whole 104 Training Corp sessions the whole of Marley was explained in just a few episodes. We were suddenly introduced to Hizuru, Marley, the Yeagerists and a bunch more Titans. It would have helped if the plot was explained in a linear narrative format but no, the whole plot and attack on Marley plan was revealed mainly in flashbacks to the point where it gets really confusing.
I am not sure about how others view about this but it just felt very messy and too rushed; it is like a roller-coaster, accelerating very slowly and only releasing all its stored-up energy once it reaches its peak. The plot was very refreshing at the start but because of the lack of hints in season 1 and 2, it kind of grew boring on me and what was supposed to be an exciting episodes just turns to another episode filled with confusion and “Huh”.