Attack on Titan (Manga) – A Tragic Lesson in Futility

Attack on Titan Volume 34 Cover

For my 1,000th post on OtakuAuthor.com, I thought I’d pick a story that means a lot to me. I’m going to be talking about Attack on Titan and how it’s impacted my life over the last nine years, and also that ending!

Attack on Titan (Manga) – A Tragic Lesson in Futility

What’s going on?

As usual, I was late to the scene. My first experience with Attack on Titan was at the Armageddon Expo in Auckland, New Zealand in 2013. Of course, this was shortly after the first season of the anime had been released. I picked up the first volume of the manga on November 4, 2013, and quickly began to devour the series. Not long after, I bought the first season of the anime in Sydney, Australia and watched it overnight. By the time I left New Zealand in 2015, I owned the first twelve volumes and several of the spin-off mangas.

At that time, I was very much in the infancy of my dreams to become a writer, so when I saw the manga charts with Attack on Titan occupying the top ten spots, it inspired me to write in a series. This was before the wealth of advice that recommended writing in a series, so I like to think I was ahead of the game at least in my planning stages.

Despite that moment of clarity, it took us a while to settle down in Canada. When we did, I joined the local library and started trying to catch up. It was the beginning of 2017 and I had a lot to get through. By the end of the year, I had caught up and was left waiting for new releases and then my library to make them available. I made it to volume 26 before the pandemic appeared.

Fast forward two years, as pretty much nothing happened during that time, I decided it was time to finish the series off. Of course, I had heard the outrage following the final chapters, but that wasn’t about to stop me. I reread volume 26 and then flew through the next seven volumes in two days. That just left volume 34. There was a massive waitlist at my library so I decided to buy it from Amazon. I figured I would eventually have to get the others to complete the collection at some point anyway.

I got it two days later and read it instantly. Anyhow, that’s enough about me. As much as this is my 1,000th post, I really want to talk about the Attack on Titan manga, specifically the ending. I realise the final season of the anime hasn’t finished yet, so if you don’t want spoilers, you’re free to come back later. It’s fine, I’ll wait.

Attack on Tital Volume 34 Lots of Titans

What did you think?

I feel like I’m going against the grain here, but I loved it. Let me clarify that a little. I loved the story. I thought it was fantastic and as much as you’ll read about how it didn’t make sense or it wasn’t satisfying, I think the owners of those views may have missed the point. Attack on Titan is about the horrors of war. It shows you everything and it’s not glorious. We get to see all sides and there are no good guys and bad guys. Everyone is at fault in some way.

The thing I didn’t like as much was the way the story bounced around in time. We had a time skip and then spent a lot of time going back and piecing together how we got there. I appreciated what Hajime Isayama was doing, but was a little frustrating. The only thing I can use to reason that it was the right way to do things was that it mirrored what Eren Yeager was going through. Since his memories awakened, he was able to see his memories of the future and the past. To him, time was a jumbled mess. I believe this is what broke him.

I remembered thinking that if Eren could see his future memories and there was no deviating from them, as they wouldn’t be memories, he must know the outcome. Not just that, he has no choice over the path he will take. Ultimately, he was a pawn of Ymir. She used him to give herself closure, forcing him into the horrific actions that wiped eighty percent of the world’s population from the face of the Earth.

He also knew that he would die at the hands of Mikasa. That was essential to Ymir. Mikasa’s resolve to make that difficult decision freed the world of the titans and allowed Ymir to reconcile her tragic past. One of the things that I noticed was how utterly futile everything was. For example, the Marleyan commander spoke about not making the same mistakes anymore. He was talking about how Marley had treated the Eldians in their internment camps. However, he quickly changed his tune.

Even once Mikasa had killed Eren and stopped the Rumbling, the differences started to reappear and prejudices resurfaced. We saw a couple of moments where Eren spoke to Mikasa and Armin in their pasts and then wiped their memory of the discussions. The island of Paradis was safe for a generation and then, the world retaliated, wiping it out entirely. All that, and it meant nothing in the end. Empires rise up from the ashes and crumble to dust once more.

I think this is the message Hajime Isayama is trying to show. Conflict is futile. It can go on for generations to the point that no one knows why they’re fighting anymore. We’ve seen that in our history and bizarrely, I think that’s why King Fritz sealed the Eldians away from the world. Maybe he hoped to avoid the inevitable conclusion – it only ends when everyone is gone.

In the end, I’ve come away feeling sorry for Eren. He had no say in how his life would go. Many of the things that shaped his existence were things that were set into play before he had even been born. You could argue that he did it as it was his future self, but as I said, those were memories. Everything that happened and would happen to him had already happened. His life was tragically futile.

Attack on Tital Volume 34 Eren Colossal Titan

What is next?

I watched season one of the anime back in 2013 and I watched season two after it aired. However, I have never actually talked about any of it on this site or my previous one. As soon as the final season finishes, I feel like I owe it to myself to go back and watch the whole thing from start to finish. I’m probably going to reread the manga too.

The analyst in me is determined to see what was foreshadowed and when. The fan just wants to relive those crazy moments again. I love this series. It’s epic, which is why it was the perfect thing to discuss in my 1,000th post. No doubt, revisiting the series will help get me on my way to the next milestone!

Anyhow, thanks for putting up with me dumping all my thoughts on the ending of Attack on Titan. I was a little worried going into it because of the vocal outrage from the fans, but as is so often the case, you’ve got to make your own mind up. The only person that can decide whether something is good or not is you.

What are your thoughts on Attack on Titan? How did the ending impact you?

Attack on Tital Volume 34 Levi Ackerman
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