Eren is secretly a Japanese Mixed Martial Arts legend

As we delve into the Mixed Martial Arts roots of Attack on Titan, it turns out that Eren was modeled after Japanese MMA legend, Takanori Gomi.

Attack on Titan is amongst the most popular manga and anime franchises of all time, with its epic fourth season wrapping up its second part earlier this month.

However, from specific athletes to some of the fight sequences that were choreographed for the series, large parts of Attack on Titan were originally inspired by the beautiful and brutal world of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA).

Hajime Isayama actually revealed in a 2019 interview that before he even started working on the series, he “was already a fan of martial arts” which allowed him to “incorporate martial arts scenes in the manga.”

As part of our week-long look into Attack on Titan’s MMA base, it turns out that Eren was secretly modeled after an icon of modern Japanese Mixed Martial Arts.

Modeling Attack on Titan’s Eren from MMA legendTakanori Gomi

For Attack on Titan, Hajime Isayama created some of the most iconic and popular characters in the history of anime, especially the series’ main character Eren Jaeger.

Eren started as an idealistic and innocent young kid with dreams of exploring the world outside the walls; by season 4, he has turned into a hardened soldier, hellbent on destroying the same world he once dreamt of exploring as a child.

Without a doubt, Eren has become a legendary character in the wonderful world of anime and fascinatingly, his design was modeled after a famous Japanese Mixed Martial Arts legend.

Whilst a 2017 interview with Isayama reportedly revealed that Eren was modeled after UFC fighter Yushin Okami, it turns out that the Attack Titan’s fighting style was actually inspired by another iconic MMA athlete, Takanori Gomi.

Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images
Attack on Titan/WIT Studio/Crunchyroll YouTube

Speaking to former UFC and ONE Championship Flyweight world champion Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson, Isayama revealed that Eren’s southpaw fighting style was inspired by Gomi’s own career in Mixed Martial Arts.

Southpaw fighting style: When an athlete has their right hand and foot forward, with their left hand and foot behind – often the preferred stance for left-handed athletes.

“At the beginning my drawing wasn’t that good. I wish I could have drawn better some of the fight scenes between the titans. I wanted to add more of Takanori Gomi’s southpaw fighting style. [So Gomi’s southpaw fight style is modelled after which Titan?]. It’s modeled as Eren’s Titan.” – Hajime Isayama, YouTube.

Photo by Koki Nagahama/Getty Images
Attack on Titan/WIT Studio/Crunchyroll Dubs YouTube

Takanori Gomi, also known as “The Fireball Kid”, is now a 43-year-old MMA fighter from Kanagawa, Japan. With unrelenting pressure, a good fundamental understanding of striking and a never-say-quit attitude, it’s no surprise that Gomi quickly became a household name in Japan; and that Isayama decided to model Eren’s Attack Titan after him.

After competing on the regional circuits, Gomi would gain widespread notoriety when he defeated Hayato Sakurai at the Pride Shockwave 2005 event for the undisputed Pride Lightweight Championship. Gomi would then go on to enjoy an iconic career across various promotions (MMA organisations) including the UFC and Rizin, where he still competes.

Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images
Attack on Titan/WIT Studio/Crunchyroll YouTube

The Japanese superstar has fought a who’s-who of MMA legends including Jens Pulver, BJ Penn, Kenny Florian, Clay Guida and Jim Miller. However, his last fight was arguably one of his most entertaining performances of recent years, stopping Melvin Guillard in a back-and-forth slugfest at Rizin 11 in 2018 – see below.

Interestingly, Gomi is one of only four fighters to share a cage with both Diaz brothers, Nick and Nate, alongside Josh Neer, Joe Hurley and Koji Oishi. Gomi sadly lost both fights with the Diaz brothers, although the Nick Diaz fight was overturned to a no-contest following a positive marijuana result from the Stockton native.

Gomi is a legend within Japanese culture and the global MMA community; now, he should be a legend within the anime community too for being the inspiration behind Attack on Titan’s epic main character.

By Tom Llewellyn – [email protected]

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