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.

breCH

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:

[gg]_Shingeki_no_Kyojin_-_02_[AF2A47CF].mkv_snapshot_14.33_[2013.09.21_17.10.19]

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!

Shingeki no Kyoujin – Spoiler free theories

Disclaimer: This post does not contain any trace of spoilers; any resemblance to actual spoilers is purely coincidental and unintended. This post may cause all-knowing manga readers to violently shake their head and laugh, so please take pity on us anime plebs! Also, this is brought to you by discussions I’ve had with a friend.

I can now safely say that when I first started watching Shingeki no Kyoujin I had completely the wrong idea about the show. With gleeful ignorance I took the show at face value as a shounen anime about the struggle of little people to avoid being eaten by big lumbering, hungry people. It seemed like a simple but effective story. But it’s time to throw that view out the window, because it’s now clear that the show is anything but simple. In fact, it’s turning more and more into the animated version of Lost with every episode. If you pay close enough attention there enough questions hanging in the air that it can make anyone’s head spin. It’s no longer just an action series, but a sophisticated tapestry of hidden human motives and mysteries woven over a backdrop of a fractured society. Here’s a taste of some of the questions on our plate at the moment:

  • Who built the walls and when?
  • What are the titans, where did they come from, and is there more to their end-goal than just hording people in their stomachs?
  • What is the significance of Eren’s Father and his magical medicine in the basement?
  • Is there some significance to Mikasa’s heritage and is there an explanation to her preternatural strength?
  • What motivates the human titans?
  • What are the identities of the armoured titan and the behemoth?
  • What is with the religious groups and their worshipping of the walls?

Having so many questions like this lingering around makes me really excited in the potential of this story to go on for a long while and get to some really interesting places. I really have to hand it to the author of this manga: he really has a handle on his storytelling. And what I like about it particular is that it has unfolded so organically into the complex beast it is today. Whenever we meet new characters, the breadth and depth of the story takes another step. He clearly has the story mapped out pretty well in his head.

No Shit it Was Annie!

So let’s get to business. We have questions, and now it’s our job as fans to come up with answers, right? I just finished watching episode episode 23 and that finally cleared the air on the identity of our lethal female Titan. We should be happy that we got some answers, but I think every man, woman and child had reached the conclusion that it was Annie already – it certainly didn’t come as a shock when she came out of the closet (although I loved Armin’s plan to out her). I mean, Annie was conveniently with the Military Police, shared the female Titan’s agility and combat prowess, and even looked just like her.

itsannie

But Who is The Armored Titan?

But the burning issue for me now is putting a name to the armored titan and the behemoth (and doing it without the aid of spoilers).

unknowns

Luckily, I think there have been several hints dropped about this. Let’s rewind back to when Annie first showed up in her titan shoes. This was episode 17. She showed up and killed some people near Armin before knocking him down.

[HorribleSubs] Shingeki no Kyojin - 17 [720p].mkv_snapshot_21.11_[2013.09.15_12.13.26]

Importantly, she spared Armin’s life – a key decision that would come back to bite her later. While we thought at the time this was done simply because she was only interested in Eren and he wasn’t perceived as a threat, I think it was likely an unusual moment of compassion from Annie.

The interesting stuff comes after this. All of a sudden Reiner shows up and joins Armin in following the titan. His reaction to Armin telling him that she is not an abnormal type but a human Titan is surprisingly intense – he looks concerned rather than surprised. Armin worked out too much, too quickly.

[HorribleSubs] Shingeki no Kyojin - 17 [720p].mkv_snapshot_15.04_[2013.09.15_12.05.33]

Now Jean shows up. When Armin mentions that the female Titan is searching for Eren, they all realise that they had been told Eren was in a different part of the formation – they all had deliberate misinformation. Armin then thinks out loud about where he would be and Reiner presses him on wear he would be.

[HorribleSubs] Shingeki no Kyojin - 17 [720p].mkv_snapshot_13.26_[2013.09.15_12.03.16]

Armin tells him that Eren would likely be in the center-rear. This is when Jean decides they should slow down and attack the female titan. His motives for this, which include a flashback, seem genuine. Meanwhile,  Reiner still looks concerned. The three of them attack. Interestingly, the female titan slows down for them.

[HorribleSubs] Shingeki no Kyojin - 17 [720p].mkv_snapshot_18.00_[2013.09.15_12.10.15]

And I don’t think it’s tired! They take the chance and attack. Armin and Jean and knocked down. This is when Armin lies to the female Titan and tells her that Eren is dead. She seems to stop, maybe believing him. Now Reiner suddenly launches a one-man attack straight for the neck, a suspiciously suicidal undertaking. He is grabbed by her and she covers his face. Note that at this stage, with her strength, she could easily have killed him.

[HorribleSubs] Shingeki no Kyojin - 17 [720p].mkv_snapshot_21.11_[2013.09.15_12.13.26]

But then the impossible happens – he explodes from her palm unharmed. An heroic escape by all appearances. But then she gets back on her feet. And she now seemed to have a new sense of purpose in her stride. Reiner says ‘she must be running away’ – which sounds like bullshit. Meanwhile Armin notices, to himself this time, that she is heading right for the center-rear.

[HorribleSubs] Shingeki no Kyojin - 17 [720p].mkv_snapshot_22.12_[2013.09.15_12.16.35]

So it’s pretty clear what happened. Annie slowed down when she noticed Reiner was chasing her down, perhaps to see if she had something to signal to her. Reiner jumped in at the appropriate time to be caught by her and then tell her where Eren is located before being allowed to escape. In my view, Reiner is definitely the armored Titan.

itsreiner

As For the Behemoth..

Now, who is the Behemoth? My only guess at this is based on a conversation back in episode 3, which further cements Reiner’s identity. Armin asks Reiner and Bertholdt where they are both from. Reiner and Bertholdt both seem close and they say they came from the same mountain village which was conveniently totally wiped out. That’s all I have, but maybe it’s Bertholdt..

It’s clear that there’s a lot of foreshadowing and hints in early episodes of Shingeki, and I definitely recommend giving them a rewatch with later events in mind. I’m confident I’ve worked out some of this stuff, now I’ve gotta start looking at some of the other questions. A fans work is never done..

Please share your own thoughts and theories but NO SPOILERS PLEASE.