Attack On Titan is the disturbing, yet deeply complex manga and later anime that explores a world ravaged by gigantic monsters. The only defense against the so-called Titans is a wall that surrounds the city containing the last remnants of humanity, who are guarded by the Survey Corps, a small military organization dedicated to venturing beyond the walls to study the Titans and find a way to defeat them once and for all.
Initially criticized for featuring unnecessarily shocking content and apparently sending out pro-fascism messages, the series has since gone on to garner critical praise for its deep themes. Here are 10 hidden details about the show's characters.
10 They Live In A Zombie Apocalypse
While the size of the titans often makes viewers assume they are watching a magical fantasy show about trolls and giants, the behavior of the Titans is actually more similar to zombies, albeit a much large version of the undead. Titans never seem to think, sleep, or communicate; they are driven by an endless hunger that can only be sated by consuming human beings.
The main characters also make use of science instead of magic to counter the Titans, which makes the series steampunk sci-fi instead of magical fantasy.
9 The Titans' Appearances Reflect Their Personalities
The Titans, for the most part, are expressionless monsters that are incapable of holding an actual conversation or communicating their feelings. But their outer appearance can give hints regarding their basic nature. For instance, Reiner's Titan form is covered in armor, hinting at his primary warrior role.
Bertholdt has a regal presence, a fact emphasized by his huge size, even by Titan standards. Ymir's lack of lips and sharp pointy fangs indicate her sharp tongue and constant need to talk. Annie's face has a permanent smile but also dark circles under her eyes, indicating she is happy with her work but constantly exhausted.
8 The Chess Motif
It is surprisingly easy to see the main characters of the story as chess pieces, hinting at the fact that this is a deliberate choice on the part of the author. Eren is the king, the most important piece who needs to be protected even if his teammates have to sacrifice themselves. Levi is the Queen, a powerful character who can inflict great damage on the enemy on his own.
Rooks are represented by Mikasa, who stands atop the walls guarding against the Titans. Armin and Jean are bishops, one black and one white, representing their opposing ideologies, while Erwin and Hange are knights. All the other characters are expendable pawns.
7 The Wall Is The Biggest Mystery
Viewers are so busy wondering about the Titans, they seldom think about the wall. It's just there. A giant monument that protects the people of the city from the monsters without. However, no one really knows much about the origin of the wall save one interesting fact.
An Attack on Titan commercial bumper sticker revealed an interesting fact. A miner once tried to dig under the wall, but - no matter how deep he dug - the wall never ended. Eventually, he reached the bedrock of the land, and it was made of the same material as the wall. So is the wall some kind of natural phenomena?
6 Two Titan Bodies Are True-to-Life
When series creator, Hajime Isayama, was designing the look of two main Titan baddies, he looked to many real-world fighters for inspiration. Eren Yeager's titan form was based on MMA fighter Yushin Okami, while the armored titan was based on one of the most famous wrestlers of all time who also later entered the octagon ring as an MMA fighter: Brock Lesnar.
5 Hange Zoë May Be A Boy Or A Girl
The gender identity of Hange in the manga has, surprisingly, never been made explicitly clear. This was a deliberate decision on the part of Isayama. He has stated that Zoë's gender has no effect on the storyline, and that is why he has chosen to leave the question of whether the character is male or female open to interpretation.
The character was portrayed as female in both the anime and the live-action movie, so most fans assume Hange is a female. But the series creator has given fans his permission to think of the character as either a girl or a guy in their minds.
4 Descendants Of Norse Mythology
The characters from the series may be German with a Japanese creator, but they appear to be playing out Norse legends throughout the show. In Viking lore, there is a sea of flames and a land of ice where reside giants whom the gods built a wall to protect against. During Ragnarok, aka the apocalypse, the giants would break down the wall and kill the gods.
On the show, Armin once talked early on about a sea of flames and a land of ice beyond the wall. The giants have already breached the wall and killed the city's inhabitants in large numbers. Looks like Ragnarok has already arrived, and it only remains to see which of the characters will survive the apocalypse.
3 The Watchmen Analogues
Alan Moore's Watchmen is one of the most acclaimed graphic novels of all time. It inspired countless artists, including the creators behind Attack on Titan. There are two direct inspirations from Watchmen characters to be found in the series. Levi is partly inspired by Rorschach and shares the character's cynical worldview.
Erwin Smith, meanwhile, was inspired by Ozymandias. They both are cold, calculating, and while technically good guys, do not hesitate to sacrifice their fellow men for the greater good.
2 The Build Of The Heroes
Almost all the people who fight the titans on a regular basis are very short and have a slim build. This is also true of Levi, who has an unimpressive appearance, making it hard to believe he could be so effective in fighting the titans.
Keep in mind that the Corps fight the Titans by throwing themselves around the air using ropes. For such an activity, the slimmer and smaller you are, the better. Think of real-world gymnasts who are usually on the short and slim side.
1 Eren Yeager Is Every Bullied Kid In History
Isayama wrote the series as a metaphor for his own experiences being bullied in school. He imagined Eren as the small, scrawny kid who gets picked on mercilessly by the bullies, in this case, the Titans. Attack on Titan's antagonists use their bigger size to mindlessly push around and terrorize those weaker than them.
Instead of submitting to the bullies, Eren embodies the desire to fight back no matter the cost. To achieve victory over your stronger opponent through sheer will power and smarts.