A Recap Before the “Attack on Titan” Finale: Memories, Manipulation, and Mass Genocide

It ends with a farewell.
Published On September 06, 2023

Attack on Titan has been known for its depiction of horrifying aspects of humanity, and the final season poses the greatest moral problem the series has to offer. Photo via Wit Studio

Spanning 29 episodes and nearly 3 years, Attack on Titan’s final season has become the longest climax in history. Each successive season has upped the stakes, as a resistance against the Titans quickly devolved into a one-sided mauling of the strongest nation in the world.

For better or worse, Eren’s ‘Rumbling’ plan has its grasp around the Marleyans’ throats. Here’s a quick look at the events that have culminated in this trampling.

The Power Struggle that Originated with the First Titan

The Titans were an alien threat to humanity — giants bearing horrifying smiles that devoured humans alive. The origins of these Titans served as a turning point for the series — revealing their cannibalistic origins and a history of oppression of the Eldians.

The First Titan

Eldians are the descendants of Ymir Fritz, a young slave who became the first Titan nearly 2,000 years ago. Accepted by King Fritz, Ymir served as a great military asset — raising Eldia’s status to that of a superpower. On the verge of her death, however, Ymir was subjected to cannibalism by her three daughters, in an effort to retain the powers of the Founding Titan.

This cannibalistic inheritance became a dark secret of the royalty, and the Founder’s power was eventually split into 9 Titans, and a whole race called the “Subjects of Ymir.”

The Great Titan War

In response to Eldia’s growing might, Marley led the world to war against the nation — what later came to be known as “the Great Titan War.” The war ended with seven of the nine Titans falling under Marley’s control.

King Fritz, then holder of the Founding Titan, managed to escape with several Eldians to Paradis Island, walling it off from the rest of the world with Colossus Titan-laded walls. Threatening to unleash the Colossus Titans upon the world if the islanders were ever disturbed, the king managed to grant temporary protection to his subjects. The two nations, however, ended up in a silent power struggle — with Marley subjecting captured Eldians to cruel oppression.

The Aftermath

Wrecked with the guilt of his ancestry, King Karl Fritz erased the memories of the Eldians — having them live in ignorant bliss until the threat invaded the walls.

While the Eldians on Paradis remained in the dark about the historical grievances they had been through, those on Marley suffered a different fate.

The Eldians left in Marley were quickly separated into two groups — living their lives as “Honorary Marleyeans” in servitude to the nation, or forming the “Eldian Restorationists,” a group of revolutionaries. Part of these Restorationists, Eren’s father Grisha Jaeger fatefully gained the Attack Titan’s power — fleeing to Paradis Island seeking retribution on Marley.

Prejudice has remained a central theme throughout the series, but picking a side doesn’t come as easily. The power struggle is one where each party seeks control over an unmatched arsenal to become the greatest military power. Both have the agenda of preventing war by becoming unconquerable.

The cannibalistic inheritance of the power of Titans casts a dark shadow on the Eldian royalty. Isayama Hajime’s work poses a complex moral dilemma that doesn’t explicitly answer whether one side is right or wrong — it instead presents an intense interpretation of a deeply flawed world filled with racial and historical tropes.

How the “Attack Titan” Pushed the Uprising

The Attack Titan lacked the flashy appearance of the Armored or Colossus Titan. All it had going for itself was being slightly larger and more muscular than the average Titan — paling in comparison to golden plates of armor.

While Eren’s transformation came as a ray of hope for overcoming these previously invulnerable giants, the Attack Titan revealed its true purpose only towards the end.

In season 4, Eren and Zeke, then linked in consciousness, explore the memories of their father, Grisha. Experiencing the night Grisha murdered the Eldian royal family to obtain the power of the Founding Titan, the moment revealed the Attack Titan’s ability to share memories between its users — both in the past and future.

It is revealed that it was Eren, who, by experiencing this moment, drove Grisha to murder the royals, setting in motion all the events that transpired in the previous four seasons and sowing the seeds for his “Rumbling.”

Eren Looks to Liberate Eldians Through Mass Genocide

With his race branded with hate and terror from the world, the heroic protagonist gets plagued with the plan to rid the planet of all threats, turning the series darker than ever. As Eren harnesses the powers of the Founding Titan, he unleashes the “Rumbling” upon the world — bringing to life King Fritz’s threat of Colossus Titans. 

Eren’s plan is a simple one: to kill all who have branded Eldians as aliens and monsters and “ethically cleanse” all life. By having the oppressed be the only ones left, Eren plans to put an end to the cycle of hatred and prejudice.

While his descent to annihilationism is yet to be fully explained in the anime, the events suggest that the character has given up all hopes of growing past the tainted history. Mass genocide became the only hope as salvation was sidelined.

The Resistance

Having already decimated much of Marley by the end of Part 2, Eren’s Rumbling has humanity (outside Paradis) near the brink of extinction. The marching Colossus Titans did not see a friend from foe, but Hange’s last dance allowed a few to escape in pursuit of Eren.

Mikasa, Armin, Levi, Connie, and Jean from Paradis are accompanied by Marley’s Reiner, Gabi, and Falco — joining forces with the hope of smacking some sense into Eren. Zeke’s consciousness seems to be trapped inside Eren’s Founding Titan, but the young Eldian has likely gained complete control over the founder’s abilities.