Attacking Attack on Titan: A prelude

I just did a pretty extensive series of posts analyzing the fascist…well at this point in the manga, overtones, in Attack on Titan and how the narrative has failed both the premise and the characters that that drew people to it in the first place. I am reposting the series here.

Reflecting on Attack on Titan: How the narrative failed the premise

Reflecting on Attack on Titan: How the narrative failed the characters

The Final Reflection on Attack on Titan: How the narrative failed its potential in regards to gender and queer themes

But I think to compliment this series, I need to give context about me and Attack on Titan.

I was never an Attack on Titan superfan, but I did read the manga around the time the first season on the anime came out, watched and enjoyed that anime season, and was hooked along with a lot of other people. Then it came out that the author, Hajime Isayama, was a hardline  nationalist who straight up claimed the Japanese war crimes against Korea in WWII were okay on Twitter. And if you want to clutch at straws and deny those tweets were his, there is ample evidence they were. Don’t bury your heads in the sand on this one, folks.

I wasn’t sure what to do with this revelation. I’ve enjoyed work from plenty of problematic creators in the time (when it comes down to it, everyone’s a lil’ problematic) but this was beyond the fucking pale. I waited to see if anything else would come forth and read the manga through not-so-official means in the meantime. I kept a sharp eye out to see if I would spot any war crime apologism in the work- sometimes art can be separated from the artist, but if a manga’s about the military and the mangaka’s a nationalist and war crime apologist? Yeah, those views are probably gonna start showing up in that narrative more and more as time goes on.

I gave up on AOT as a narrative around chapter 60-ish. I found myself utterly bored with the story now that the focus had shifted from fighting the titans to some badly-written fighting-the-government royal family drama. What’s more, there was a thing where Hange and Levi, our heroes, were torturing a dude for information. Though the characters were all like “This Makes Us Bad People”, it was still presented as “necessary”. Considering this was coming from a guy who thought the ACTUAL rape and torture of Korean civilians by the Japanese military was “necessary” it was a big NOPE.

Levi_pressures_Historia

There were other factors, like Armin almost getting sexually assaulted while disguised as a girl and other characters shown laughing at this, and even Jean, who seemed more sympathetic, implying that this meant Armin was “corrupted”. There was a moment where Levi physically intimidated Historia, an abuse victim, into “doing her duty as a soldier” and becoming Queen when she didn’t want to (and then the narrative then immediately had a character assure us that really, Levi is a good guy, because it couldn’t stand for the readers to think badly of the manga’s golden boy for one second).

There had been similar scenes to the one with Historia in the narrative before this, but with my knowledge of Isayama’s views, any whiff of “a soldier’s duty takes precedence over individual freedom” made me sick. Isayama’s poisonous views were clearly coming through strongly and damaging the narrative and the characters at this point and I was not about it. It just wasn’t enjoyable anymore. I told myself I’d check back in when Historia and Ymir reunited because I still cared about them as characters (look, i’m a lesbian who loves lesbians, you know me) , but otherwise, I was done.

Quitting when I did may have been the best decision I ever made regarding a piece of fiction in my life. A…lot of bad stuff happened in the manga after I left. Here’s a tumblr post detailing some of it. (Discussion of antisemitism enclosed).

I was super naive to think Isayama would care enough to reunite Ymir and Historia, turns out. I heard via the grapevine that Ymir had died offscreen without ever seeing her again, and oh yeah, Historia is pregnant or something now.

I was aghast. I went dumpster diving in the Attack on Titan wiki to investigate this trainwreck. Below the cut, I copy and paste the posts that resulted, in which I discover what a blatantly pro-fascist shitstorm the manga became. This is what led to the in-depth analysis of how AOT went off the rails that I will be posting on this blog.  So let this give you some context, if you aren’t following the manga.

Here’s a discussion I had with my ex upon finding out about Ymir’s death:

so guys. i was explaining to my (ex) girlfriend when she asked why someone on twitter was calling attack on titan a nazi anime about isayama’s views and everything and i looked up what’s happening in the manga’s current plot bc i was curious if any of the fascist themes had gotten more blatant and holy shit oh my god he stopped trying to be subtle at all i am flabbergasted. i’ll just cp my chat to my (ex) gf as i was looking up the plot summary:

me: looked up what’s actually been happening in the attack on titan manga out of curiosity and 1. everything sounds so dumb, 2. I’M SO ANGRY

insert dead dove gif from arrested development i don’t know what i expected

i am definitely glad i stopped reading when i did. good job bailing, me. 

 reads more oh my god. yes his fascist politics definitely become way more obvious later in the story. I didn’t completely believe it about the 1:1 metaphors being conscious on his part before but yep. this is a manga about how Japan should totally get its military back and try to take over the world. He absolutely stops being subtle about this later in the story. jesus. 

yep there is definitely a blatant “Japan didn’t REALLY rape anyone in Korea or China or do anything bad the rest of the world is lying and revising history” later in the story. WOW. 

gf:  ffs 

 me:  also apparently the official name of the walled island eren and co live on is PARADIS ISLAND which is unintentionally cracking me up. that is one letter away from Wonder Woman’s island home. i feel like the author doesn’t know this and am feeling schadenfreude over how unintentionally ridiculous he’s made everything. 

(ex) gf: (is surprised she hasn’t hear more about this controversy but supposes it might be why she never sees anyone talk about attack on titan on twitter)

me:  Yeah i think a lot of people just stopped reading the manga after the author’s views came out on twitter and it started dragging. And anime-only people haven’t gotten to the blatant stuff yet. 

heck, even i hadn’t quite gotten to it before i stopped reading.

though the amount of denial whoever wrote this wiki article is in about what this all is really a metaphor for is quite amazing, So there’s ppl like that too.

hahai j just learned something else unintentionally hilarious but it’s a spoiler do u wanna know

ex gf: absolutely

me: eren ate his dad. that’s why he’s been gone this whole time. eren ate him.

(ex) gf: lmao

me: also the titan that ate eren’s mom… is actually his dad’s first wife who got like. captured and turned into a titan or something i don’t know. 

in attack on titan family drama is solved by everyone eating each other.

like honestly what are the odds

(ex) gf: are titans the master race

me: YES

no i’m not kidding they basically are

(ex) gf: well at least he made them disgusting monsters

me: basically the backstory is that like…this queen had the power to transform into a titan and they used it to take over various lands. then one of those lands (Marley) rebelled and a war started and they stole the power of the titans. so the ~master race~ fled to an island and had a bunch of titans harden into walls and chose to stay there. on the island, and not conquer any more lands, to end the conflict, and that’s attack-on-titan land.

IS THE METAPHOR OBVIOUS ENOUGH.

and now Marley is lying and saying those ppl totes did all those rape and genocide they didn’t really do and keeping them on the island by sending all these titans after them! the only solution for attack-on-titan land is to break down the walls and restore the great Japanese-i-mean-Eldian empire!

me:  should write soon but ONE LAST THING I’M MAD ABOUT DISCOVERING RE ATTACK ON TITAN’S CURRENT PLOT: ymir died offscreen.

 Like I DON’T KNOW WHAT I EXPECTED but i’m angry forever now. 

u had one good thing going for u attack on titan, and that was lesbians, and you ruined even that. at least it’s a clean break now. there is nothing of value in this story anymore whatsoever.

(ex) gf:  is it better to have had lesbians who die tragically than to never have them at all

a question for our time

me: i’m just insulted she doesn’t even get a dramatic onscreen death how dare. apparently it’s just some titan-shifter dude being like “lol btw i ate ymir so i have her memories now”. 

Apparently she did write a dramatic letter to Christa/Historia beforehand saying she mostly lived her life without regrets in the end, except for her one regret being that she never married Historia like she said she would. WHAT THE FUCK. I’M SO MAD. 

And then, when I found out about Historia’s pregnancy:

so um, I was VAGUELY curious to how Historia ended up pregnant, (it’s worse than you could possibly imagine, she literally has to get pregnant over and over to “preserve the bloodline/titan powers). 

and reading led to more horrified reading and it led to this! Mikasa meets a representative of a nation called “Hizuru” annnd

Kiyomi displays the crest of the Azumabito clan and Mikasa is shaken to see it is the same as the tattoo on her wrist. After some prompting by Eren, Mikasa shares it, saying that her mother gave it to her as a girl and to pass it down to her children later on. Kiyomi describes how both Hizuru and Eldia were allies long ago and laments that the nation suffered after the Great Titan War. Kiyomi finishes by stating that Mikasa is the descendant of Hizuru’s lost lord and the hope for their nation. 

so um, Eren and Mikasa’s country, which as we all know is very obviously Germanic, was allied with an East Asian nation during a great War, and this nation “unfairly” suffered after this war. Wouldn’t it be great if they could ally again and fight all the other nations? Wouldn’t it be great if Mikasa, a descendent of the “shogun” clan (I’m not kidding this is what they are called the wiki says so) could like. you know, restore the bloodline of the emporer, I mean lord, and take leadership of the nation again, restoring the country to its former glory? Wouldn’t that be great?

OH AND

The name “Hizuru” (ヒィズル Hizuru?) is phonetically similar to “Hizuru-kuni” (日出ずる国 Hizuru-kuni?), a name for Japan which translates as “Land of the Rising Sun,” referring to the nation’s location in the far east of the early known world. 

you can accuse aot of being a lot of things, but being subtle is not one of them, WOW. 

And more info on plot developments that apparently happened in the manga:

-Sasha is dead she got shot in the chest by some twelve year old super soldier. anyway her last words were about meat. rip. a meme to the end.

-actually wait does this mean Mikasa is the only girl left in the squad? holy shit she is everyone else is dead or lying back and thinking of England. i mean new people may have joined but wow bye all original girls besides the main one, u were so disposable.

-I guess Eren’s character development is he redirected his ‘i wanna kill em all’ rage towards a vague general “the enemy” instead of titans now that we are all titans which means he’s okay with killing civilians and children now and even Mikasa is creeped out by him. so that fun what a good main character what a great direction (the fact Sasha’s unwillingness to kill children got her killed implies he’s the RIGHT one in this scenario btw).

-weirdly though he isn’t mad at Reiner anymore bc they both kinda kill indiscriminately now so he can’t really judge. at least he’s self aware. Bertholt’s dead btw no queer ppl are allowed to be together.

-annie is still in the fucking crystal holy shit it’s been 800 chapters i’m dying laughing. Armin talks to her i guess I don’t really blame him a hunk of crystal is probably way more interesting than anyone else around him.

-Hange got a nice eyepatch good for them i guess

-EVERYONE changed their hair post timeskip (yes of course there was a timeskip) like maybe that was a military mandate.

-they finally got to see the fucking ocean but Eren didn’t even let them be happy about it despite the fact that dream was enough to wake him from a coma before. He was just like “THE ENEMY IS ACROSS THE SEA WE MUST DESTROY THEM” like here Armin is achieving his goddamn life’s dream supposedly and Eren has to fucking remind us all about nationalism the beauty of the ocean is nothing compared to our duty to destroy foreigners im just…

-like i dunno. that just sums up everything doesn’t it? AOT started out making vague gestures at like “ooohhh but the ocean the wonders of the world that’s what we’re fighting for right the world is cruel but also beautiful!” You would think that the grand ending would be escaping the walls and seeing the world, open to them, freedom, bliss, all that. This is what made it all worth it.

but nah, it just dropped all pretense and was like “ACTUALLY YEAH THAT NEVER MATTERED IT WAS NEVER ABOUT FREEDOM OR THE BEAUTY OF THE WORLD OR ANY OF THAT. IT WAS ABOUT FIGHTING THE OTHER. SUBJUGATING THE OTHER. THAT’S WHAT REALLY TAKE PRIORITY. THE OCEAN IS A FOOTNOTE “

like yep. we got it. we got it.

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2 thoughts on “Attacking Attack on Titan: A prelude

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