Making Sense of Shingeki no Kyoujin (without manga spoilers!)

It’s that time of the week again! Before the next episode in the series sneaks up on us tonight, I’m going to try lay out my thoughts and deductions on the mysteries of Shingeki no Kyoujin. Once again, a lot of credit goes to my friends and our discussions about the show. And note that this post contains no spoilers from the manga, which I haven’t read. Any manga spoilers that appear in the comments will be violently deleted!

So last time I’m pretty confident we worked out the identity of the armored Titan, and at least have one lead for the man behind the mighty Behemoth. I’m willing to lock in Reiner as the armored Titan, so I’ll uphold that as an assumption for this post. But let’s just leave Bertholdt-the-behemoth in the conspiracy corner for now, at least until we get some meatier evidence to throw at him. With these questions now more or less under control, I’ve been turning my attention to the following topics.

They Invaded

It was stated that anyone who has been in the military for more than 5 years can be trusted. Why? Because the human titans almost certainly came from outside the wall the day the Behemoth broke in. The theory goes that the Behemoth and the Armored Titan tag-teamed to breach the wall that day, and then transformed back to human form and, along with Annie, donned a peasant outfit and evacuated into Wall Rose disguised as normal citizens during the chaos.


Annie and Reiner both have question marks over their past, with no friends, family or old acquaintances to speak of. So that definitely points to them entering in this way. I’d say they entered the wall with a definite mission to infiltrate the military. Both of them showed natural capabilities in training, but did learn how to use maneuver gear there (meaning they couldn’t use it before most likely). We know Annie and Reiner infiltrated the military, but what about the Behemoth? Well we can safely assume that the Behemoth can use maneuver gear as well, since he must have used that to scale the wall in order to appear on the other side for the second attack.

That means that all three are in the military and all three went through in the same year of training (which also supports Bertholdt as the Behemoth). Annie and Reiner were the two skilled warriors, whereas the behemoth is probably less of fighter and more of a tactician/thinker – he certainly has the imposing presence of a leader.

Eren is Different

As the main character, Eren gets special privileges to be different. He is a titan shifter, but he is not the same as the other three. The other three came from outside the walls, are clearly aligned against human civilization, and there are hints that they are naturally titans. Hints such as the fact that normal titans do not attack them, and that they appear to have the ability to communicate with them as well (Annie screaming for help when she was trapped in the forest).

Eren isn’t one of them, and his ability to shift into titan form is clearly related to whatever was going on with his father and his daddy needles:


This works out through one of two ways:

  • Eren’s Father went outside the wall, learned about the titans and gave Eren this ability in the hope that having humans with the ability to transform could save humanity. (more likely)
  • Eren’s Father went outside the wall and found Eren there, and bought him back to raise him as a human rather than let him be a titan. (less likely)

He may be different, but when the other titans found out about his existence, they clearly wanted him on their side. Annie’s assault during the recon mission had the single aim of capturing Eren. She bit him out of his titan corpse and tried to carry him away to safety, before Mikasa and Levi awesomely got in the way.

[HorribleSubs] Shingeki no Kyojin - 22 [720p].mkv_snapshot_04.43_[2013.09.21_21.12.32]

If they wanted to capture Eren they either:

  • Thought he could be convinced to fight for them.
    If they thought this, then that would mean that they do have a motivation for destroying the walls that’s not just KILL THE HUMANS! There must be some valid cause they believe in which they could convey to Eren. This could be very interesting.
  • Didn’t want him as an enemy but couldn’t kill him for some reason, either due to a moral code about killing other titans, or because they were instructed not to.
    I doubt they see Eren as too much of a threat. With a coordinated attack, they could quite easily deal with him (especially because Annie and Reiner know his human form and could probably just cut his throat while he’s sleeping or something). But perhaps they were asked to capture him by someone who wanted him out of harms way – that would have to be Eren’s father, who is suspiciously missing.
  • Wanted to question him and find out how he could be a titan.
    I don’t think this would be the case. If they want to know about the military, Eren would be a poor choice for interrogation, and I think they know that he doesn’t have much of an idea of how or why he has these abilities either.

Probably the single most telling thing about the capture plan is this:

[HorribleSubs] Shingeki no Kyojin - 22 [720p].mkv_snapshot_07.11_[2013.09.21_21.06.20]

When Annie fails to escape with Eren, she actually sheds a tear. As we all know, showing compassion or any emotion is highly unusual for Annie. At that moment I think she was clearly deeply saddened. Now, since last week established that Annie respects Eren, I think this suggests that Annie thought she was doing the right thing by capturing him.

What’s The Plan?

At this stage, this is probably the biggest question for me. The human Titans led an attack on the wall, not once, but twice. If all they wanted to do was to get in and infiltrate, then the once would have been enough. And similarly, if all they wanted to do was kill everyone and destroy humanity, they probably could have kept their attack up and done a lot more damage (although I guess they could be going for a more cautious, patient approach).

I said before that they likely have a righteous motive (from their view point anyway), but whatever their motive they clearly see normal humans as enemies or as expendables, because they allowed many tens of thousands of people to be killed by breaking the walls. This pretty clearly shows that there is something bigger at play here. I get the feeling their goal is to get to something in the very heart of the walls, something sacred to them. Perhaps this is also related to why we have the religious group among the humans who worship the walls. Could they be more than just bricks and mortar, could they have another purpose other than protecting humanity from titans?

So to summarise:

  • The human titans, other than Eren, are probably naturally titan somehow.
  • They have a motive that has more to it than just being evil bastards wanting to trample on the little people. They have something driving them which feels like the right thing from their perspective.
  • Their aim is probably related to the walls, something in the center of the walls, and the origins of the walls and how humans came to be there.
  • Eren’s titan abilities are the result of his father somehow, and is also related to what his father had in his basement.
  • Eren’s father has gotta be still alive, and I get the feeling he is behind a lot of what is going on at the moment. One thought I have is that he may even be aligned with Annie, and was the one who wanted him retrieved from the military.

In my view, the question of ‘what motivates the human titans?’ is currently the single most pressing question facing fictional humanity, and it’s probably the hardest one to chew through right now as well. This is the WHY of Shingeki no Kyoujin, much more critical than the whos, wheres or whats of the world. It’s the most important question because I think the answer is also linked to all the other story elements underpinning the show – like the origins of the Titans, the whereabouts and significance of Eren’s father, and the wall itself.

I suggest we all keep this in mind as we watch the anime!