Anime Review: Attack on Titan and its infuriating characters


NHK General TV

Attack on Titan Season 4 closes the hit anime series with its disturbed heroes.

Spoilers for Attack on Titan (Anime)

Humans are naturally drawn to deeply flawed heroes, characters we love to hate. The anime series Attack on Titan is no exception. 

On January 10 the long-awaited Attack on Titan picked back up, airing the fourth and final season. It is expected to finish airing March 21st. When Attack on Titan’s first season was released in 2013, it wasn’t bad. There was something so captivating about a young teenager trying to avenge his dead mother by making it his mission to kill Titans, large humans without skin showing the muscular system that just so happens to eat people. However, four seasons in, the plot has largely diverged. It now focuses on the war between the Eldians and Marley. The current plot is so complex that there is no good way to explain it besides saying, “it’s basically Germany in World War II.” 

Ever since Attack on Titan first premiered, it has been widely popular. The fandom itself has grown so big that the show was gifted with a bigger budget each season. After the immediate hype of the first season, season 2 was miraculously able to have 3D animation in the fight scenes. Popularity has its vices, however: with the surge of that fandom, there has also been a surge of backlash.

While the concept of the show is phenomenal, the actual characters are incredibly infuriating. Eren, the main character of the show, was nominated in both the best protagonist and the best antagonist categories for the Crunchyroll Anime Awards this year. He is extremely ‘angsty’ stating lines that appeal to stereotypes, such as “You wouldn’t understand.” Like we get it, you have the haircut of an emo boy in the early 2000s. I don’t want to listen to you act like one too. What I think the audience loves about him, besides his appearance, is his growth from a reckless and stubborn teenager to a master manipulator of the whole show. That doesn’t make his flaws any less annoying. 

He’s not even the only one. Mikasa, who was adopted by his parents, is in love with Eren and most of her character revolves around wanting to protect him. Wanting to save him wouldn’t be so bad if she wasn’t so obsessed by this sole motivation. It wouldn’t be a shock to hear that she fails the Bechdel test with the amount of time she talks about him. She’s an amazing fighter with some of the best action scenes. Even within the show, she is acknowledged as a very powerful person. The least they could do would be to give her a character motivation that wasn’t intrinsically tied to her romantic interest in a man. 

In season 4 you are introduced to Gabby. I have not met a single person who can defend this little girl. At this point of the story, the WWII imagery is in full force. She is a part of the Marley army, which is an analogy for the Nazis, and absolutely hates Eldian-analogous Jewish people, to the extent of being repulsed when asked to simply eat with them. She is also well-known for murdering fan-favorite character Sasha, who had been a prominent character since season 1. She has zero redeemable qualities, which wouldn’t be so bad if she wasn’t a main character whom the audience is supposed to sympathize with. If she weren’t such a prevalent and important part of season 4, I would skip all of her scenes.  

In real life, after finishing the manga, author Hajime Isayama received backlash about the ending. The criticism was so intense that he had to make an alternate ending. This is incredible to me since I have never seen that backlash towards the incest within the show. Eren’s mother treats Mikasa like her own child after her parents die. They are literally raised as siblings. It makes me glad every time Eren rejects her advances even though it is typically common for the lead male and female to get together.  

While Attack on Titan still has an interesting plot and will go down in history as a fan favorite anime for its concepts and brilliant plot twists, I am nothing but overjoyed for this show to finally come to an end. Although I have been watching since 2016, my distaste for the majority of the characters has only grown. Any character I do like has either died or is no longer in the main cast, such as Hange or Levi. Even though I know Eren is going to have a redemption arc, at this point, no matter how he is redeemed won’t change my hatred. Six years of hatred will not go away that quickly. At this point, I am watching just to see the end. 

Despite this, I would recommend watching Attack on Titan if you are into dark shows with complex plots. While the characters are not the most lovable and the plot can be slow or hard to understand at times, it does have its upsides. Everything and everyone has a purpose and will come into play. While this show isn’t particularly for me, I do give it a solid 3 out of 5 stars.