Draft:Attack on Titan
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Attack on Titan (AoT), known in Japanese as Shingeki no Kyōjin, is a dark fantasy manga and anime series by Japanese manga artist Hajime Isayama. Set in a post-apocalyptic Earth in which most of humanity has been killed by giant, man-eating Titans, it follows a young soldier named Eren Yeager (alternatively spelled Jaeger) who becomes determined to kill all the Titans after one of them eats his mother.
The series has become one of the most popular manga/anime series of all time and has received acclaim for its story, animation, characters, action, and philosophical themes. That said, it has also been the subject of controversy.
After humanity is driven to near-extinction by giant, man-eating humanoids known as Titans, the survivors hide behind three large walls in order to remain safe. Humans inside the walls live normal lives, until one day, when the Colossal Titan and Armored Titan breach two of the walls, allowing the other Titans to enter. The show follows Eren Yeager, a young boy turned soldier after his mother is eaten by a Titan. Eren, along with his friends Mikasa Ackerman and Armin Arlert, joins the military, hoping to join the 104th Scout Regiment (also known as the Survey Corps), whose job is to kill and research the Titans. After the Colossal and Armored Titans return, Eren is seemingly killed by a Titan, but is later revealed to not only be alive, but also capable of transforming into a Titan himself: the Attack Titan. This puts him in hot water initially, but he eventually is allowed to join the Scout Regiment after he gains his father's memories and remembers his father's basement, which contains all the secrets about the world. This piques Commander Erwin Smith's interest. As a member of the Scout Regiment, he later learns that one of his comrades, Annie Leonhart, wielder of the Female Titan, is also a Titan-Shifter, but not until after she kills a ton of people. Season 1 ends with a mysterious crack appearing in the walls, showing Titans mysteriously within them.
Season 2 begins with a sudden Titan attack despite there being no new breach in the walls. It also introduces two new special Titans: the Beast Titan and the Jaw Titan. While the Beast Titan's wielder remains unknown until Season 3, the Jaw Titan is wielded by a woman named Ymir, another of Eren's comrades. That same season, Eren is kidnapped by two of his comrades: Bertolt Hoover and Reiner Braun. It is also revealed that they wield the Colossal Titan and Armored Titan, respectively, and are thus the two that breached the walls in the first place. The rest of the Scout Regiment tries to rescue Eren, while Eren tries to fight back himself, but proves unable to transform into the Attack Titan. Eren then is reunited with the Titan that killed his mother. The season ends with Eren mysteriously controlling the other Titans for reasons not fully explained until Season 4.
Season 3 is a rather different season. Eren, Mikasa, and Armin are made members of Levi Squad, an elite squad led by humanity's greatest warrior, Captain Levi Ackerman, while the Survey Corps is targeted by the Military Police, led by Levi's uncle, Kenny. It is also revealed that a human can transform into a Titan if injected with spinal fluid and can gain a sentient Titan (e.g. the Attack Titan) by transforming into a Titan and eating the Titan's wielder. This becomes important when Eren is kidnapped (again), this time by Rod Reiss, father of Historia Reiss, one of Eren's comrades who is one of two surviving members of the royal family, the other being Rod. Rod does so because Eren wields the Founding Titan, which previously belonged to the royal family, until Eren's father, Grisha Yeager, turned into the Attack Titan and ate the previous wielder, Historia's half-sister Frieda. Thus, Rod orders Historia to receive a spinal fluid injection and eat Eren. She refuses, so Rod transforms into a monstrous Abnormal Titan as a last-ditch effort before being killed by Historia, who is later crowned Queen. From there, the Survey Corps leads an operation to reclaim the outermost wall, Wall Maria, wherein the Beast Titan's wielder is revealed to be Zeke Yeager, Eren's half-brother, and Armin eats Bertolt to gain the Colossal Titan. Commander Erwin Smith is fatally wounded in a suicide charge against the Beast Titan and is replaced by his former second-in-command, Hange Zoë.
Racism and Antisemitism?
While AoT's first two seasons pretty much just involve fighting Titans, the show takes a turn by the end of the third season, focusing much more on political themes than slaying giants. At the end of the third season, it is revealed that humanity outside the walls is in fact prospering and that the Titans were really all humans known as Eldians. Thousands of years ago, the Eldians used their abilities to transform into Titans to conquer most of the world, until a couple centuries prior to the events of the show, when the conquered Marleyans rebelled and took over. Marleyans instituted a policy of systematic discrimination against Eldians, only allowing Eldians that managed to prove themselves in battle to be granted equal rights. Among these policies was a law requiring all Eldians to wear yellow armbands with white stars on them. Sound familiar? In case that wasn't obvious enough, the Marleyans also forced Eldians to live in ghettos, and Marleyans themselves dress similarly to German soldiers during World War II.
Because Eldians appear to reference Jews, some people have accused series creator Hajime Isayama of antisemitism, particularly based on the Eldians' previous attempts to rule the world. While Isayama claims that his inspiration for the manga was both an encounter with a drunk customer at an Internet café where he worked, as well as his life growing up in the mountains of Japan, a few people doubt his claims. Opposing arguments point to the fact that the show tries to make the viewer sympathize with the Eldians to prove that the show isn't antisemitic. However, this argument sort of falls apart.
Initially, the show portrays the Marleyan government as the bad guys, while also still mentioning various horrible acts committed by Eldians. That is until about halfway into the fourth season, in which Eren reveals his true nature, announcing his plan to use the Founding Titan (the Titan that can control all other Titans excluding the Attack Titan, which Eren also wields), to start the Rumbling, a cataclysmic event in which large titans within the walls walk across Earth and destroy everything and everyone in their paths. About that same time, the "Yeagerists" (radical Eldians that practically worship Eren) stage a coup d'état against the monarchy of the island of Paradis. Unsurprisingly, the Yeagerists wholeheartedly support the Rumbling and view it as a way to rebuild the Eldian Empire and cleanse the world of all of Eren's enemies.
Because of the show's themes, there are a number of neo-Nazis and other individuals on the far-right that like the show. In 2020, Shaan Amin, writing for The New Republic, identified AoT as a favorite among the alt-right and white nationalists. On Reddit, there existed an entire community called r/yeagerbomb, where members would intentionally misattribute Hitler quotes to AoT characters and depict certain unpopular characters like Armin Arlert as being Jewish. Fortunately, the sub was eventually banned for violating Reddit's hate speech policy. Numerous ban evasion subs were created in response to the ban, which were themselves banned shortly thereafter. Ironically, the Eldians appear to be based on Jews, so the people on r/yeagerbomb were worshipping their enemies.
War Crime Apologia?
Another controversy regarding the show surrounded the design of the character Dot Pixis, who was drawn to resemble Imperial Japanese General Akiyama Yoshifuru, who committed several war crimes during the Japanese occupation of Korea and China. People on the Internet sent death threats to Isayama on his blog as a result, the majority of which appeared to be from non-native Japanese speakers based on the presence of numerous grammatical errors in Japanese comments. Of course, considering Japan's track record with acknowledging its war crimes, it isn't too shocking that the majority of the bloggers weren't Japanese. Combine that with simple Western cancel culture, and the result is a complete Internet flame war.
In 2015, the Chinese Ministry of Culture listed Attack on Titan as one of 38 anime/manga titles banned in China, because of course.
For those interested in philosophy, AoT is a pretty good anime, particularly people obsessed with morality. In the show, Eren supports the Rumbling because he legitimately thinks it is right and for the best, as he is convinced that Eldians will always be persecuted unless all other peoples are exterminated. Obviously, most sane people think his views are too extreme, except the Yeagerists, of course. Meanwhile, Zeke instead wants a bloodless solution, where he uses the power of the Founding Titan to prevent Eldians from breeding, allowing them to die out naturally. This brings up another philosophical question, as while it is far less violent and will result in much less death, it also completely deprives Eldians of their free will. In addition, AoT explores the idea of how war changes people and throws off their moral compasses. Essentially, the main theme is "War never changes," as while the characters grow and develop, their thoughts always seem to conflict.
See the main article about this topic: Paul Gosar
On November 8, 2021, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) tweeted an edit of AoT's first anime opening with himself as Eren Yeager and several prominent Democrats as the Titans. This included Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is specifically the Titan that Eren kills in the opening, and Joe Biden, who is substituted for the Colossal Titan. Needless to say, the post was widely criticized by Democrats and resulted in his censure. Anime fans also gave negative reviews, as Eren turns out to be an omnicidal maniac in the fourth season, showing that Gosar never actually watched the anime.