The titans of Attack on Titan have a power that is simultaneously one of the most powerful and terrifying in recent anime history. Whether they are normal pure titans who roam and devour people or the freaks who wield strange powers, being a titan is better than a normal person living on Paradis island.
However, being a Titan is not as good or as powerful as it may seem in theory. As recent events and revelations have shown, being a giant has its fair share of damaging weaknesses for all benefits, and these go beyond the nape of the neck being a Titan’s weak point.
Warning: There will be spoilers for both the Attack on Titan anime and manga.
10 Benefit: Titans have astonishing physical strength
Regardless of size, any Titan is strong enough to smash through a house or drop a Scouting Legionnaire a mile away. In terms of size and strength, the Titans automatically surpass humanity. Although they lack strategy, a decent amount of Pure Titans is more than enough to overwhelm even the best soldiers of Paradis.
The Titan Shifters have it better, as each of the Nine Titans has a unique power that enhances their position. For example, the Beast Titan’s innate strength to launch projectiles at sonic speeds is enhanced by Zeke’s Coordination ability. Certain shapeshifters can even control Pure Titans, giving them a more deadly advantage in combat.
9 Harsh reality: Titans’ appearances are determined randomly
As cool as it might seem to become a waterproof giant, what exactly someone’s Titan shape would look like is luckily decided. Pure Titans have no control over how they will appear; the best they can hope for is some recognizable facial features. Titan Shifters are assigned a specific Titan power, but it is not known in advance what their Titan transformation will look like.
While some Titans are basically giant people, others turn into insane caricatures of people. Both Pure Titans and Shifters can have disproportionate limbs and joints, and few if any retain a precisely enlarged version of their normal pre-Titan self. Rare cases like Connie’s mother couldn’t even walk due to the strange shape of her Titan.
8 Benefit: hunger is never a problem for pure titans
In a world as harsh and bleak as that of Attack on Titan, surviving is something very few can do. Given the medieval conditions, the life expectancy among normal people is not that good, and that’s before the Titans stormed Wall Maria. Fortunately for Pure Titans, basic needs like food and hygiene are not a concern.
Plus, Pure Titans can heal injuries quickly and you won’t starve. That said, the Pure Titans are driven by the innate need to be human again, so they eat anyone they come across in the hope that they are a Shifter. Each and every non-Shifter digesting human throws up a bit after eating.
7 Harsh reality: the only ways to become a titan are horrible
Anyone with Eldian blood (aka Ymir’s Subject) can become a Titan, but becoming one is much easier said than done. This is because in order to gain such power, a would-be Titan’s basic freedoms and even his right to life are stripped away.
Pure Titans are born when a Subject of Ymir is injected with Titan cerebrospinal fluid, and this is considered a fate worse than death. Meanwhile, shapeshifters are born when a recently transformed Eldian devours a shapeshifter, which may be someone they know (for example, Eren ate his father to get the attack and foundation titans). This must be done 13 years from now due to the Curse of Ymir. Simply put, the shapeshifters can’t get over Ymir, who died 13 years after he bonded with the Founding Titan.
6 Benefit: Titans are almost unstoppable in war
The Power of the Titans is no joke, which explains why almost everyone in Attack on Titan either he fears it or he wants it. A horde of Pure Titans is terrifying and unstoppable, while a single Titan Shifter is enough to turn the tide of war in seconds. Together, they mean destruction to whoever is on the other side.
At first, the Titans were immovable forces that trapped the Eldians behind walls. When the truths of Paradis were revealed, the use of the Titans as weapons was shown. Of course, the age of the Titans may be coming to an end as the world continues to industrialize, but it was still thousands of years before weapons capable of taking down the Armored Titan with one shot were made.
5 Harsh reality: Titans are expendable political tools
The ultimate irony of the Titans is that, for all their power and fear they can inspire, they are nothing more than disposable pawns. Both the Pure Titans and the Shifters are viewed as living weapons by whoever they answer, with few options. Marley has been using them for some time, using the shapeshifters for military gain. Zeke knows this and wants to end it covertly.
Even the Titans on Paradis Island were nothing more than tools used to keep the Eldians in their place, cut off from a world that hates them for what their ancestors did. This is all due to the tragedy of Ymir where, from the moment it merged with the Founding Titan until its death, it was used as such by the ancient Eldian empire.
4 Benefit: Pure Titans practically live forever
When someone becomes a pure Titan, they are stuck in their current age until they become a shapeshifter. In fact, the Pure Titans are immortal. Combined with its physical strength and waterproofing, Pure Titans can also withstand the ravages of time. Examples are the Eldian restorationists from Ymir and Grisha.
In Titan form, Grisha’s comrades barely changed in physical appearance despite having become Titans a generation earlier. Attack on Titan started. Similarly, Ymir turned around 60 years earlier, but when he became the Jaw Titan, his human form did not age a day (above). Also, the Wall Titans have been buried for eons, but they are alive and well during the Rumbling.
3 Harsh reality: becoming a pure titan is literally dehumanizing
Like a blessing from a monkey’s paw, the harshest compensation for the technical immortality and impeccable strength of a pure Titan is to lose everything that makes one a person. Pure Titans are basically mindless cannibals driven by their basic desires and instincts, hence their nickname “pure.”
In very rare cases, the Pure Titans retain fragments of their memories and personalities. Examples include the Smiling Titan and the Talking Titan, who were vaguely motivated by marital envy and religious allegiance to the (fake) Lady Ymir. That said, these remnants of humanity weren’t enough to suppress their basic instincts to devour humans.
two Benefit: some titan shifters can alter reality
Unlike Pure Titans, Shapeshifters gain the power of the Nine Titans: Armored, Attack, Beast, Chariot, Colossus, Female, Founder, Jaw, and Warhammer Titans. Despite being cut short by Ymir’s Curse, the shapeshifters wield enough power to change the world.
Some Titans, like the Armored or the Colossus, are incarnations of brute force, while others, like the Strike and the Foundation, can transcend time. With the right users, the powers of a shapeshifter can rewrite reality itself. Eren is terrifying proof of this, as he used his Titan forms plus the Paths that connect all of the Eldians to end the world.
1 Harsh reality: becoming a shapeshifter perpetuates generational suffering
While shapeshifters retain their humanity, their mere existence perpetuates a seemingly endless cycle of death and suffering. In addition to the ancient guilt with which all of Ymir’s Subjects are burdened, the Changelings are trapped in the circle of misery and forced to drag others as well.
Marley’s Warrior Unit program is proof of this, where the shapeshifters killed other Eldians on Paradis Island. Reiner suffered greatly, and guilt and trauma took their toll. Before succumbing to the Curse of Ymir, the Changelings will have to hand over their power to the next candidate, ensuring that this living hell never ends.
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