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Moments - 01 - Attack on Titan (Eren's Mother)

A bombastic beginning.

By BoblobV2Published 3 years ago 3 min read

A moment that has stuck out for the past few years is one at the end of the first episode of Attack on Titan. Eren and Mikasa are being hauled away by Hannes, while Eren’s mother is trapped under the rubble of what used to be their home. A titan walks to the rubble, collects the mother and eats her as a titan would. Mikasa looks away while Eren’s gaze is fixed on the titan devouring his mother, thus ending the episode. It was visceral, and we as the audience got to see every detail from Eren’s point of view.

The first reason why this stood out was the graphic nature of the death, and the reactions of the characters involved. It set the tone of the show immaculately while giving a taste of where the show is willing to go. Having only met the character in this episode, it is the trope to have the parent or parents be killed by the villain. As is the case in the likes of Star Wars or something of similar ilk. What separates this death from many others is the fact that the one that killed the mother is not a villain capable of conscious thought, but an uncaring entity whose programming is to eat humans for no other reason than that.

This sets up what the protagonists have to endure through the rest of the series. The Titan’s not enemies they can bargain with, they are not concerned with the fact that the humans are only trying to live, completely divorced from the trials humans have to go through. As the show has emphasized quite often already in the first episode alone, humans are nothing but cattle caged inside a pen waiting for the titans to enter and devour them all.

The second reason is regarding character development and writing. In particular character motivation. Through many narratives we have an abundance of character goals and motivations. It could be that they want to get stronger simply because they enjoy fighting, or they want to save their family because of their familial connection and the fact that the character could be incredibly empathetic. Early on in the episode, Eren has expressed a desire to go out of the walls alongside the Survey Corps, learn about the titans, and eventually kill them so that humanity would be able to live outside the walls.

This motivation is informed by the one perspective that he has experienced which is from the point of view of the humans alone. Being content to live inside the walls without worrying about what is outside. His primary reason for leaving is driven from a desire to explore beyond the walls, to be free. However, now that he has been exposed to the threat that lies beyond and the callous nature of the world in general and how it treats humans, there is an added level of desire set upon the core goal of being free and exploring beyond the walls, and that is to truly extinguish Titans from the world. Having his mother die in such a way, right in front of him, gives ample evidence for the characters goals, desire, and motivation to carry him through the remainder of the narrative.

This was a very effective way of creating a character with very strong personal motivations and making said motivations clear to the audience members as well, making sure that we are all onboard with the reasons why he wants what he wants. The hard part from this point onward is how not to waste the opportunity that has been created by this opening.


About the Creator


Writing about anime, and anything else I find interesting.

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