Attack on Titan has officially entered its Lost phase. With the latest string of episodes taking the kind of mythology dump that would make Game of Thrones blush, Attack on Titan has revealed more about the backstory of the titans in the last two episodes than it has in the last two seasons.
With the basement door open and Grisha Jaeger’s secret journals revealed at last, fans have gained their first glimpse into not only what the world looks like outside the walled cities and surrounding countryside, but also how the rest of the world operates, and where titans actually come from.
But let’s backtrack for a second, because holy crap, this is NOT a post-apocalyptic scenario as we’ve been lead to believe for so long. There are plenty of humans outside of the walled cities and not only are they living relatively care-free lives, they’re the source of most of the titans that continue to menace our heroes.The pictures of Eldians from academic and religious books paint them as hideous demons and corruptors of mankind. With this in mind, the parable between Eldian hatred and anti-semitism is almost immediately apparent.
It turns out that the people of the walled cities are called Eldians. A sort of surrogate for the Jews, Eldians are a long-persecuted race of people who have been blamed for the ills of the world for centuries, and as a result they are kept separate from the main population. In their carefully controlled neighborhood ghettos they are closely watched and monitored while being subjugated by the powers that be.
However, after something called the Titan War, the leader of the Eldians went to Paradis, the island where most of the show has taken place, and built the walled cities out of massive titans. He swore if he and his people were not left alone, he would unleash all of the titans within the walls and flatten the world forever.
Phew, but that’s not all: there are also nine founding titans, and they are hosts to god-like powers. One of these is the Attack Titan, which Eren inherited from Grisha. But then the question becomes how many of the other 8 have we seen? The Beast, Colossal and Armored Titans are likely three of the others, meaning that the opposing side is trying to gain this power as well, but what of the other five?The origin and motivation of the Joker-like Smiling Titan has been revealed at last, and they’re as heart-breaking as they are chilling.
Speaking of the origins of titans, we also got the hideous cap on a long-ago love story, as the Smiling Titan was revealed to be Grisha’s former lover from when he aspired to revolution on the main continent. This horrific twist means when the Smiling Titan arrived to eat Eren’s mother in the first episode, she was still trying to honor her promise to come back to Grisha, no matter what. It’s a truly disturbing reveal, and it bodes of even more moral challenges to come for the heroes of Attack on Titan.
For one thing, this means that the titans that the Garrison and Survey corps have been slaughtering for years have actually been their fellow Eldians, hated by the people of the mainland and turned into titans as punishment for their insolence. Even more terrifying, many of the abnormal titans we’ve seen from past episodes were members of Grisha’s resistance group, including the bearded titan and the small, short-haired titan with the large eyes.
The real-world reference point to this would be the classic tale of world leaders pointing groups of disenfranchised people against one another to keep them from focusing on the leaders who are truly deserving of their ire. Call it the Wizard of Oz strategy. The devious nature of such a plan, and how well it has worked since time immemorial, makes the struggle at the heart of Attack on Titan feel even more real, and it’s all the more chilling for it.The leaders of Paradis now understand their circumstances more than ever, but what will they do with their newfound knowledge?
Finally, though, with all of this new information being handed over to Historia, Pyxis, and the other leaders of Paradis’ governing bodies, the question is what are they going to do with it? Yes, there is a much larger, and much more threatening enemy across the ocean, but how on earth can the Eldians begin to confront them? Especially with the threat of the Beast Titan and his followers remaining omnipresent.
If anything, like with Lost and Game of Thrones mentioned at the outset, the new information may answer a lot of questions, but those questions are then replaced by a myriad of new queries and concerns. Let’s hope we can get a few more answers before season three comes to a close.