Up until the beginning of this year, I’d never finished (or, at least, caught up to) an anime series. I’d only tried it once or twice. Before now, I’d kinda lived under the assumption that anime was something of a restricted medium, where every show had a name like “Bobobo-bo bobo-bo” or “All Purpose Cultural Cat-Girl Nuku Nuku Dash!” and each episode was spent comparing rapidly-inflating power levels or replacing all human reactions to emotional stimuli with “go absolutely fucking apeshit”. I’d reasoned that it wasn’t for me.
Some of my friends hadn’t. They reassured me that Attack on Titan was something else, that it stood at the fore of its genre and that it’d change my crystallized opinion of the medium. So I watched. And, credit to them, they were right. I liked an anime, and now here I am, a veteran of eagerly awaiting Sunday afternoons when the English-subtitled version of each new episode made its way online.
If you’ve never watched the show, I can confidently say, as someone who’s never seen another anime series: this is the best anime. But, moving past that, you gotta get out of here. Hella spoilers to follow. You might think it’s okay to read on, but I inherited your future memories and it turns out you end up fucking hating it.
Final Warning: Spoilers for Big Boy Vore Simulator Seasons 1-4 to follow
Alright. It’s just us now. If you’re still here, you’ve seen seasons 1 through 4B of Attack on Titan or you’ve, against your better judgment, decided to read the entirety of an article you can’t possibly understand. I’ll take that as a compliment.
So we’re all on the same page: Eren Jaeger, in control of three of the nine human titans, has contacted racial matron/centipede child Ymir and commanded her to release the hundreds of thousands (or tens of millions, depending on the estimate and whether or not you think the titans are 69ing to conserve space) of colossal titans hidden within the walls that surround the Eldian capital.
Eren’s justification for this is simple: the world is coming to destroy Paradis, so he’s heading out to destroy the world. For good vs. evil show logic, it’s pretty straightforward. It’s easy to see how you’d be bamboozled into thinking it makes sense.
But Attack on Titan isn’t a straightforward good vs. evil show. You know this. We’re led to sympathize with Reiner in spite of the insane level of damage he’s inflicted upon innocent people. His cousin Gabi took the express train from demonization station to redemptionville.
I understand your hesitation to go against the show’s protagonist. It’s easier to fall in love with a character we hate than to turn away from one we adore. There’s no anti-mere exposure effect. By Season 5 of Breaking Bad, Walter White has (spoiler incoming) broken bad. But pieces of us still root for him.
So what’s my argument here? That you’re an idiot for still sympathizing with the character you’ve built years of sympathy for? No. That’s a bond that’s gonna be hard to break, and without getting too deep into theory territory, not one I’m certain is worth severing completely.
No, my crusade isn’t against Eren fans, misguided as ye may be. I’m looking at Jaegerist recruits, at people who think Eren and his cronies have a point and that what they’re doing is justified.
Are y’all fucking kidding me?? I know we live in interesting times, but I need us to pull back for a second. The show needs us to pull back for a minute. Hange may as well have looked past the camera and into your souls when she said “Genocide is bad.”
No, dude. It’s always bad. Like… always always.
“But in this case—”
NO, guy. It’s still bad, even in this case.
“But the world wants to kill all the Eldians.”
Okay, if you’ve got anything resembling a point, it’s this. Don’t get hyped up on coderoin, you’re still wrong. But you’re getting into a problem I’ve had with the show’s (and, probably, the manga’s) depiction of the world. Barring a few late-game instances of empathy from characters like Falco, Gabi, Onyankopon, and the refugees introduced in the finale, we’re allowed to sit with the idea that the entire world feels a deep, burning hatred for the Eldians. The show plants that seed and expects us to embody BYU freshmen and soak in it.
Everyone is united in their hatred of Eldians. It’s not just the Marleyans, it’s everyone. Can we talk about how insane that is? Even if we give some open-minded leeway and call it 90%, let’s compare that figure to our world.
First, I understand that anime is an escapist medium. We turn to stuff like this to distract ourselves from the dissolution of our shared worlds and watch power levels go up. It’s the same reason I play video games. So I’m sorry for playing this next card:
One sick revelation of the past half decade is that the number of westerners who agree that the Nazis were bad guys is not nearly as high as most of us would hope it to be. Even among the particularly patriotic in the United States and Europe, a fringe of neo-Nazism prospers. These were the bad guys eighty years ago and we can’t all unite against them. The last time the Eldians fucked shit up was well over a hundred years ago. What’s more, the Nazis are an ideological enemy. The closest ethnic or national equivalent is the Germans. They certainly bear scars from the war and everyone’s go-to Germany joke invokes Nazism, but the two pieces of Germany were allied with all of their greatest enemies just decades after the war. They’re politically active. They’re there. But we’re over it.
The Eldians, by contrast, are on a fucking island. They’ve taken isolationism to the absolute extreme. They don’t know what cars are in a world that has tanks. Honestly, it’s hard enough to get people to care about the genocidal pasts of faraway states when their governments are still active. We’re talking about Africans viciously hating Hawaiians for their historically evil luaus.
But let’s humor this view of the world. Let’s say that 90% of the world’s remaining people want to put all Eldians to the sword. Can I at least admit then that Eren’s campaign of counter genocide is okay?
Are you even reading what I’m writing? Fuck no, dude.
Eren is on a mission to kill millions of children. You either hadn’t considered that or you’re a nationalist penis.
I’m going to rumble you for real. It’s not okay to kill millions of kids. It’s not okay to kill one kid. Eren’s doing that. On purpose. He’s killing people who haven’t had a single thought about Paradis in their lives. Mothers, fathers, grandparents. If you’re a doggo mom whose tear ducts move for no human tragedy, recognize that he’s gonna kill their pets too.
People are not their governments, and governments are not people. It’s a favorite flavor of baby logic among the newly indoctrinated to history, those teenagers who’ve gone all the way in on the gateway drug that is World War II, to try to justify the actions of one country using those of another. Japan deserves destruction because they attacked America. Germany deserves to have its borders manipulated because of their invasions in Europe. The Netherlands should be swept under the sea for what it’s done to the Realm of Poseidon. Often, in our haste to punish a state, we forget that we’re actually punishing people, many of whom never asked for a war and may have never supported it.
That’s not to say our only course of action is an ultra-Gandhian laying down of arms and giving into aggression until the aggressor gets tired. But we don’t resort to genocide. We don’t kill kids. I feel no one should have to lay this out further, but consider that the number of innocents who will die to Eren’s plan is exponentially higher than those who will die under Marley’s.
Stow your counterattacks; Marley is a stagnant rectum of a nation whose favorite pastime is Holocaust roleplay. But when we’re faced with this sort of an atrocity engine, we don’t play the Uno reverse card. We take the high road.
We don’t even have to take the high road. We just have to keep our mouths from touching the same sewage they swallow up as they Rod Reiss their way to Jaegerist glory.
Eren Jaeger is not justified. Check yourself, weirdo.