Watching the ultimate episode of Assault on Titan in 2023 made me really feel precisely like I did studying the ultimate chapter of the manga two years in the past. The primal screams of the voice actors, goosebump-inducing soundtrack of anime music god Hiroyuki Sawano, and largely crisp animation of MAPPA — near however not fairly on the identical stage as Wit Studio’s work on the primary and second seasons — all enhanced the expertise. Nonetheless, the feelings they stirred up inside me had been the identical ones I felt scrolling by means of the manga on my laptop computer: worry, unhappiness, disgrace.
[Ed. note: This post discusses the end of the Attack on Titan anime and manga.]
Assault on Titan Remaining Season “The Remaining Chapters Particular 2” picks up the place “Particular 1” left off, with the surviving members of Marley’s Warriors and Paradis’ Survey Corps teaming as much as cease protagonist turned antagonist Eren Yeager from destroying the world. He’s already destroyed half of it and almost succeeds at wiping out humanity in its entirety. Eren’s destiny arrives within the type of his adopted sister, former companion, and forbidden lover, Mikasa, who, after a lifetime spent defending her brother-boyfriend, finds it in her to lastly minimize off his already disembodied head. Eren dies, the curse of the Titans goes away, everybody embraces. Years later, Mikasa visits Eren’s grave below the tree the place they slept as youngsters, and the place, with Eren waking up from an indecipherable nightmare, the anime initially started. Centuries after that, the tree remains to be there, and the world is as soon as once more engulfed in an all-consuming conflict.
The ending of the anime, just like the manga earlier than it, has generated blended responses, with lots of the complaints boiling all the way down to the dealing with of Eren’s character. As soon as closely disliked by the fan base, his recognition went by means of the roof when — following the mid-series timeskip — he turned from an incompetent crybaby right into a seemingly invincible pressure of nature, one whose choice to destroy the world seemed to be based mostly on an enlightened understanding of human nature. Touring to Marley and seeing how the nation is hell-bent on eradicating the folks contained in the Partitions, Eren involves imagine that totally different races and cultures may by no means reside collectively in peace and that for one to flourish, the opposite wanted to die.
If the purpose of “The Remaining Chapters Particular 1” was to determine Eren as this unstoppable pressure, “Particular 2” reveals that the particular person hidden inside his huge, scary titan physique is, in reality, the identical pathetic, helpless youngster we met at the start of the sequence. Within the earlier episode, Eren already hinted that the justifications for his crimes had been flawed, that he did what he did as a result of he needed to do it, not as a result of he wanted to. Partially 2, throughout a non-public dialog together with his lifelong buddy Armin, the facade breaks down additional. They acknowledge that his plan would possibly fail — a risk confirmed by these finish credit, which present the cycle of conflict persevering with far into the long run. (The ultimate shot of the anime, of an unnamed boy coming throughout the identical place Founder Ymir found her divine powers, even means that the Titans themselves will finally return.) Confronted by his imminent demise, Eren’s stoic demeanor offers method to tears, and he tells Armin he needs Mikasa to think about him for years to come back.
To know what makes these plot factors so upsetting, we now have to return to the primary episodes. Though Eren Yeager was, as talked about, closely disliked by viewers, he was nonetheless the protagonist, and the qualities that made him so irritating to look at — his stubbornness and incompetence — additionally made him extremely relatable. In Eren, Assault on Titan’s angsty adolescent fan base may discover a excellent mirror: somebody who feels deeply, but is unable to specific themselves to others, who needs desperately to attain his lofty objectives however fails at nearly each flip and is humiliated for it.
This interpretation of Eren explains why his character turned so common within the second half of the sequence, when he turned from a protagonist into an antagonist. The typical viewer wasn’t excited by the Rumbling as a result of they’ve genocidal aspirations of their very own. (Though, given the sequence’ resonance with far-right viewers, this level is definitely value investigating.) Somewhat, they had been excited as a result of the story of AoT is ready as much as make us determine with Eren and need for him to succeed at one thing — something.
Seen on this gentle, Eren telling Armin that he likes Mikasa and that he needs Mikasa to love him is greater than a confession of affection. It’s additionally an admission of defeat — an admission that he was mistaken, his plan was mistaken, that he hasn’t grown, that his decisions had been misguided, and that each one of his struggles had been for nothing. Within the anime, altered with manga creator Hajime Isayama’s enter, Eren is much more express:
“Why did this occur?” he asks, kneeling within the blood of 80% of humanity. “I lastly perceive. It’s as a result of I’m an fool. An fool you will discover wherever, who received himself unimaginable energy.”
Assault on Titan wasn’t created in a vacuum, and plenty of different manga and anime characteristic characters and plot traces that prey on the wishes and insecurities of their impressionable audiences. However the place most shonen narratives enable followers to reside out their private fantasies, changing into highly effective warriors and attracting lovely girls, AoT takes the other route, selecting a protagonist whose fragile ego turns him right into a villain, a monster, a satan, a loser. Eren’s ending isn’t sloppily written. Removed from it; his devolution is deliberately jarring and considerably unsatisfying, functioning as a impolite awakening for anybody who, at any level within the sequence, felt they acknowledged part of themselves in him.
I do know I did. As a highschool freshman who suffered from social nervousness and dreamed of someday changing into a world-famous author, I admired pre-timeskip Eren’s drive and willpower. I recommended his skill to remain true to himself, the single-minded conviction with which he pursued his objectives, and simply how little he appeared affected by ridicule and criticism from those that doubted him. I additionally sympathized together with his self-loathing, with the best way he agonized over his personal shortcomings and intentionally punched himself within the face when he felt that his finest wasn’t ok.
And whereas I’ve by no means needed to harm one other human being, I might be mendacity if I mentioned that, throughout my lowest moments, there wasn’t a voice inside my head that instructed me life was merciless, and even wished for the destruction of the world.
To today, no different piece of media — movie, present, e-book, or online game — has spoken to me the best way Assault on Titan has. For years, I noticed the sequence as a buddy, a confidant as expensive to my coronary heart as a residing, respiration particular person. Eren’s maxims penetrated the reptilian a part of my mind, the place they lived rent-free, echoing at any time when I used to be dissatisfied with myself or offended on the universe.
As a lonely teenager, Assault on Titan satisfied me to belief my very own feelings, embrace my very own id, and battle to show my desires right into a actuality. As a wiser, extra well-adjusted grownup who doesn’t really feel so lonely or misunderstood anymore, my perspective towards Assault on Titan has modified. Whereas I nonetheless assume that there’s something uniquely and universally human about Eren’s character, I now acknowledge his ego as weak spot, not power, one thing that clouds his judgment, pushes away family members, and places himself and everybody at risk.
The concepts talked about on this essay are concepts I’ve talked about many occasions earlier than, however that the finale lastly crystallized. To look at Eren’s dying is to let go of your inside youngster, of your pitiful mood tantrums and the naive, overly simplistic worldview that seeks to offer excuses for them. To complete Assault on Titan as an entire is to take a deep breath and say to your self, “That was that. Now it’s time to develop up.”
Assault on Titan is streaming on Crunchyroll, together with all closing components.