With Attack on Titan coming to an end, everyone is wondering, “Whose side are you on?”
Spoilers follow: The series began with Eren Yeager, a young man determined to kill every Titan on the planet. We watched him and those around him grow with each season. We see the other side of the coin as the story progresses: the Marleyans. We learn about their civilization, way of life, and the Eldian Restorationists’ revolution.
It was almost instinctive for the audience to side with Eren because of their journey with him and his friends. As the fourth season progressed, some questioned Eren’s methods. Thousands of people were killed as a result of his reckless plan to overthrow Marley. He betrayed his friends and appears to have joined the Yeagerists. But let us not forget Marley’s cruel and violent actions on Paradis Island.
The series introduced us to the series’ main foe: Titans. And who exactly brought the Titans to Paradis Island? Marleyans. It all started with them. Marley planned the majority of the deaths and plots to destroy the “Devils.” As a result, the general audience’s reaction to Eren infiltrating Marley was a triumphant feat.
We can all sit here and point fingers. “Marley started it first,” we can say. “Eren betrayed everyone and killed many innocent civilians,” we can say. The point of war is that no one is right or wrong. Reiner Braun is the epitome of this. Throughout the series, he is torn between being with his comrades Marley and Paradis. Reiner has seen both sides of the coin and is ready for it to be over. Gabi Braun was similarly convinced that Paradis Island was teeming with devils. When she actually meets them, someone as stubborn as her begins to change her mind.
Because the story was written primarily from Eren’s point of view, we as the audience are blinded by our prejudice. The audience is reminded of Eldians by seeing Grisha Yeager’s memories. Not only Eldians, but also innocent civilians brainwashed with secrets and lies. Yes, their perspectives and actions have been erroneous, but they can be altered. Gabi and Reiner’s perspectives attest to this.
Eren and the Yeagerist’s point of view isn’t necessarily correct or incorrect. It wasn’t something they were born with; rather, it was influenced by the heinous experiences they had to endure. All of the comrades, family, and friends they had lost fueled their desire for vengeance. Although some of the wrongs occurred within Paradis, Marley bears a great deal of responsibility. So, when does vengeance go too far?
Nobody’s hands are clean; they’re all stained with blood from one another. It’s a vicious cycle: one side kills with war, and the other side retaliates with war. Where does it end? Zeke wants to euthanize every Eldian so that no one feels the pain of the world in which they live. Eren disagrees, believing that everyone, no matter how horrible, has the right to be born into this world. Each solution does not completely solve the problem. People must eventually die to break the cycle.
Just because some people choose one side does not mean that side is right or wrong. People react negatively to war. The winners write the history. We never get to hear both sides of a story. We do know in this case. Perhaps the audience hasn’t spent much time with Marley’s side, but there are people who can’t choose where they are born. There are Eldians who are separated and mistreated. We saw this clearly with Grisha’s sister’s death.
Attack on Titan does not want us to take sides, but rather to examine how war changes people. These characters would go to any length to survive and exact revenge. Who’s to say the opposing party isn’t doing the same? It’s a two-edged sword. All we can do as viewers is wait and see what happens to the characters in this brilliant series that has spanned so many years.