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What is the meaning of Attack on Titan?

Attack on Titan, "The Walking Dead of Japan," is a hit anime in which humanity must strike back against the cannibalistic Titans. But what does the story actually mean?
by

Joel Covington

on 17 August 2014

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Transcript of What is the meaning of Attack on Titan?

Attack on Titan
WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
(Spoilers)
(Duh...)
Background:
Over one hundred years prior to the beginning of the story, giant humanoid creatures called Titans suddenly appeared and nearly wiped out humanity, devouring them without reason. What remains of humanity now resides within a country surrounded by three enormous walls: Wall Maria, Wall Rose, and Wall Sina. Inside these walls, humanity has lived in peace for one hundred years; many people growing up without ever having seen a Titan, the exceptions being most of the military.
All that is known about the Titans is that they are giants that vary between 3 and 60 meters in height, and they attack and devour humans on sight. Their skin is tough and difficult to penetrate and they can regenerate after a short time. Their only apparent weakness is a spot on the back of the neck where, when cut deep enough, kills the Titan.
This revelation led to the development of the Vertical Maneuvering Equipment which allows trained humans to move quickly in a three-dimensional space (As is shown).
THE MILITARY POLICE
THE GARRISON REGIMENT
THE SURVEY CORPS
The Military
The story opens with the fall of Wall Maria, the outermost wall, due to the Colossal and Armored Titans; and the death of Eren's mother, which causes him to join the military along with Mikasa (his adoptive sister) and Armin (his best friend).
Eren Jaeger
Mikasa Ackerman
Armin Artlet
What does this represent?
The fall of Wall Maria represents what is essentially a 9/11. Humanity forgot "the terror of being at their mercy," resulting in thousands of deaths. Even deeper into this association, 9/11 resulted in people signing up for the military to strike back.
Eren Jaeger, the Rogue Titan
Reiner Braun, the Armored Titan
Annie Leonhart, the Female Titan
Bertholt Hoover, the Colossal Titan
Ymir, the Dancing Titan
Another core aspect of the series is the existence of the Titan Shifters. They are humans who can seemingly be trusted, even though they have been a bane to humanity, with the exception of Eren and Ymir. The other three are people who have been the core character's friends and allies, until it was revealed to them that they were the ones who have been attacking humanity and effectively destroying it. They aren't just Titans. They were friends. You can see this similarity in the Cold War. Spies for the USSR who were found out were thought to be the least likely people to do such a thing.
Note: I am not associating the series with terrorism,. This is simply an example.
Next, in episode 11, after it is learned that Eren possesses a Titan power, he and Dot Pixis have a conversation in which Pixis tells Eren about a legend in which humans stop fighting against each other and unite when a common enemy appears. When Eren says that that idea is naive, Pixis laughs and claims that Eren's mind is just like his own.
What does this represent?
The legend Pixis mentions is meant to say something, however subtle it may be, about humans. No matter what, we still can't unite as one. We could be invaded tomorrow, and we would still have people fighting one another. There would still be racism. There would still be prejudice. There would still be spying. It's a naive idea to think that, in the face of extinction, we would all unite as one.
Proceeding past the end of the anime, in a story arc labeled "Uprising," Connie Springer, in an attempt to evacuate his village, finds it deserted with the exception of a Titan in his house that looks like his mother, that even says "Welcome back." This results in Squad Leader Hange coming to the conclusion that the Titans are people.
What does this mean?
This part of the series states simply enough that we are our own worst enemy. There are, of course, the shifters, the ones who spy on humanity. In the end, however, no matter what we may say about them: We have met the enemy, and he is us.
What about the Titans as a whole?
The Titans are what we fear the most. They are essentially unstoppable, whether they're normal, agile, massive, or indestructible, and they want to destroy us. They aren't evil. They don't even have a true goal, other than to kill humans. They can't be understood, and that's why we fear them. They try to end humanity without any real reason.
So What Does It Mean as a WHole?
In the end, all Attack on Titan is about is the human willpower, and what we would do in the face of extinction. In the event that humanity was going to be wiped out, would we cower? Or would we fight back, the "manifestation of humanity's anger"? It's about the human resilience against everything. Look at Pearl Harbor and 9/11. We did not run. We did not hide. We fought back, with the fury of those who had died. In the end, humanity is too stubborn to give up. So it strikes back, even if it's facing its own Colossal Titan.
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