There are very few stories like Attack on Titan. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon. While very divisive, which was predictable from the get-go, Attack on Titan’s ending is perfect. Thematically perfect. It’s a cruel world, and everything was set up from the early chapters. Once Grisha told Eren that he has to save “Armin, Mikasa, and everyone”, everything was set. Kruger echoes those words. In fact, given the scene with Eren Kruger, it could be Eren talking through him to Grisha, which is kind of mindblowing. Some were so offended by the ending that they created an alternate ending called Attack on Titan Requiem. It was put into manga form and is now being animated by fans. It’s great that fans are so devoted, but by the same token it’s not just disrespectful to Isayama-sensei, but it is absolutely ridiculous. These fans are both delusional and entitled. They don’t understand Attack on Titan and Eren’s journey, nor Mikasa’s. They’re clueless.
Moving away from that though, it was fitting that it was Mikasa who kills Eren. This was set up very early in the series in “To you, 2,000 Years From Now.” Mikasa, in what is seemingly a flashforward as seen by Eren, tells him she’ll see him later. This is probably a memory that Ymir, the Founder, passed to Eren through PATHS, where there is no future, no past, and no life or death. Everything simply is, and all is connected to a single point: the coordinate, which is the Founding Titan. We see this scene in chapter 138, “A Long Dream.” The world is a cruel place though, and Mikasa then decapitates Eren, kissing his bodiless head her. Attack on Titan is dark, and here is one of the darkest moments in the series, but one of the most fitting.
In the final chapter, we find out Eren’s motivations. He sets up his friends his, the people most precious to him, as the heroes who killed the Attack Titan. He knew the choice that Mikasa would make, but not how it would play out. He did n’t know if his friends he would even survive. The most interesting aspect is that Mikasa is revealed as the true protagonist of the series. She is the one Ymir has been waiting for 2,000 years, to help break her free of the shackles of love. Mikasa must do the same herself. It’s cruel, it’s painful, but it is the very essence of Attack on Titan. Even if there were another solution, Eren himself states that he would probably still do what he did to save Eldia. He even states early on in the series, in the last episode of Season One, that he’s free and will destroy the world, which is some major foreshadowing. Armin also states, time and time again, that in order to gain anything something must be sacrificed; to defeat a monster, you have to be willing to shed your humanity. Eren does just that, as Erwin Smith did before him.
Eren’s conversation with Armin is most fascinating in the final chapter, “Toward the Tree on That Hill.” It is actually a flashback from chapter 131, “The Rumbling.” Eren erases Armin, and all his friends ‘memories his after visiting them each. We only see his conversation his with Armin though. We already touched on the fact that Ymir Fritz was waiting for Mikasa, not Eren. But we also find out that Eren was in love with Mikasa as well. We touched on the nature of time in Attack on Titan in our latest TikTok video, but Eren admits he’s become all messed up because there is no past, present, or future for him anymore. Everything exists all at once. He and Armin get to visit the sandy snowfields, fiery waters, and lands of ice. Eren is free. Many would say that he is a slave to both the Attack Titan and the Founding Titan, but I disagree. Despite the nature of time in the Attack on Titan world, there is still free will. Eren did all of these things of his own volition his and finds freedom. He becomes a mass murderer for the sake of the people he loves, to save them. He fulfills Grisha and Kruger’s words. Eren completes his journey his and ends the curse of Ymir and destroys all the Titans. He swore to drive them all out, and he does just that.
One last bit is that Levi, while his story is wrapped up, repeated to himself that he doesn’t regret his choice to save Armin. That Armin will be the one to save Humanity, which is the same thing that Eren said all along. Armin takes credit for killing the Attack Titan, and much like early on in the series when he saved Eren and Mikasa from being killed by canons with an epic speech, he gives another epic speech and saves the Eldians that are left. This is much like what Suzaku does in Code Geass, though without the speech. Armin’s development and character arc, much like Mikasa’s and Eren’s, are perfect. They could not have ended any other way, and anyone who says otherwise misses the point of the series.
Attack on Titan is one of the best stories ever told, the best manga of all time, and the best anime of all time… so far. Eren, Mikasa, and Armin’s stories are executed to perfection. Everyone has closure, and as Isayama said from the start, the ending was going to be bitter-sweet, which it was. Now the question is, will the second half of the final season live up to the manga’s legacy? That question has yet to be answered, as the next set of episodes will air this winter. If the adaptation as a whole is any indication up to this point, yes, it will. The fact that the key art is a panel from chapter 120 or so is promising, as 120 through 122 are some of the best chapters in the manga. If there is a major focus on those, as there has to be and will be, as it is one of the biggest mind f***s in the history of storytelling.
Attack on Titan’s ending is perfect, and the anime will reflect this. Anyone who doesn’t believe this, at least from a thematic standpoint, though criticism is still okay, is lying to themselves.