This interview contains spoilers for the “Attack on Titan” finale.
On Saturday, the final episode of the anime adaptation of Hajime Isayama’s “Attack on Titan” premiered on Crunchyroll, ending an epic story that began in 2013.
Like the manga, which ran from 2009 to 2021, the anime was an instant success, becoming one of the defining shows of the modern anime era, with spinoffs, live-action adaptations and live-action adaptations. video games, and even a comic book crossover with Marvel. “Spider-Man” and “Avengers” titles.
Since the fourth and final season began broadcasting in 2020, “Attack on Titan” has been one of the most popular shows on the Internet: episodes are regularly broadcast on social networks, streaming servers sometimes go down broken down, the opening theme song became a rare anime. song to reached the US Billboard charts. Parrot analysis said it was the most “in-demand” show globally in 2021, a metric based on analysis of streaming, social media, search and other online behavior. The manga has also continued to be popular, selling over 120 million copies worldwide, and several of the published volumes have appeared on The New York Times’ list of best-selling graphic novels and manga.
What began as a thrilling but relatively simple story of a young boy seeking revenge on the giant humanoid monsters who ate his mother quickly transformed into a thought-provoking war epic. The tonal shift in “Attack on Titan” was also accompanied by one of the biggest plot twists in modern anime, with the protagonist, Eren Jaeger, transforming into a radicalized monster threatening global genocide .
The final episode ends the battle of heaven and earth, with Eren’s Titan army destroyed by his former comrades – along with 80% of the world’s population. Peace has been achieved, but nothing good lasts very long in the world of “Attack on Titan.”
Since the manga ended in 2021, there has been much speculation and debate about Eren’s antagonistic turn and the significance of the story’s ending. Before the release of the final episode, manga creator Hajime Isayama, speaking through an interpreter, David Higbee, discusses the restrictive nature of the writing and the dark ending of the story. These are edited excerpts from the interview.
The manga ended a few years ago and the anime has only just ended. What do you think of the end of the story?
For this anime to be made and for it to go beyond the borders of Japan and reach a global audience is something that was a very happy event for me. In a sense, “Attack on Titan” connected me to the world, and that’s something I’m very happy about.
What part of the manga’s ending did you have in mind when you started writing “Attack on Titan”? And how much has it changed along the way?
It was pretty much there from the beginning, the story that begins with the victim who then goes through that story and becomes the aggressor. This is something I had in mind from the start. Over time, some aspects of the story didn’t go as planned, and I adapted and fleshed out certain aspects. But I would say the end of the story hasn’t changed much
There is a much talked about scene where Armin, who is struggling with Eren’s transformation into a mass murderer, appears to thank him for his actions. Can you tell us about the meaning of this conversation?
I thought Armin wasn’t really trying to push Eren away for the sake of justice or anything. Rather, in a sense, he wanted to take on a common responsibility. He wanted to become an accomplice. In order to become complicit, Armin had to make sure to use very strong words so that he could take these sins upon himself. And so that was the intention behind it.
You have a scene where Eren apologizes to a child for the carnage he is going to commit and says he is disappointed with the world he saw beyond the walls. What does this say about his motivation?
I think this refers to the fact that Eren dreamed of going to this world outside the walls where there was no one and there was nothing. There was an enthusiasm for this world that was simply empty, a blank slate. I’m not really sure if that’s a good or bad thing, and I’m not sure why that was the ideal I set for Eren for the purposes of this story. But what I can say is that when he walks through the wall at that moment, he says he sees that the world really isn’t that different from what’s between the walls in the world he already knows. I think that’s probably the disappointment I’m referring to in this specific scene.
Eren says in the final episode of the anime that he had no choice but to follow the future he saw, that he was powerless against the powers of the Founding Titan. Armin even asks if he’s really free. Was he telling the truth or do you think it was an excuse?
So the truth is that the situation with Eren overlaps in some sense with my own history with this manga. When I started this series, I was worried that it would probably be canceled. It was a work that no one knew about. But I had already started the story with the ending in mind. And the story ended up being read and watched by an incredible number of people, and through that I was given a tremendous amount of power that I didn’t really feel comfortable with.
It would have been nice if I could have changed the ending. Writing manga is supposed to be liberating. But if I had complete freedom, I should have been able to change the ending. I could have changed it and said I wanted to go in a different direction. But the fact is that I was tied to what I had initially imagined when I was young. And so, manga became a very restrictive art form for me, in the same way that the enormous powers Eren acquired ended up restricting him.
You’ve been involved in the production of the anime for a little while, overseeing the storyboards for the adaptation, and are known for requesting changes to the adaptation’s story. Did you personally request anything for the final episode?
Yes. Absolutely. I checked the script, but the main thing was the storyboards. I suggested different things. Ultimately, it’s really the role of production to make these decisions. But I wanted to at least give my opinion so that they could take it into account when making the final decisions.
The manga ends by showing the future of Paradis and sort of the cycle of war that continues. Is there no end to the conflict and cycle you present in the story?
I guess there could have been an ending where it was a happy ending and the war ended and everything was okay. I suppose it could have been possible. At the same time, the end of the fights and the end of the conflicts themselves seem a bit cheesy. Seems like it’s not even credible. This is simply not plausible in the world we currently live in. And so, unfortunately, I had to give up on that kind of happy ending.