Attack on Titan is a manga written by Isayama Hajime and animated by Wit Studio. It depicts battles against titans for the survival of people left within the walls in Paradis Island. The wall in Paradis island protects the people from the man-eating giants. On the other hand, people fight the Titan to gain the freedom to access what truly lies behind the walls. The Titan's origin, the forgotten history of the walls, and several secrets unfold as the plot progress. Hajime patched a complex story that reflects a real-world historical inspiration like the Holocaust during World War II, which talks about oppression, survival, and wars.
There are several connections between Attack on Titan and the events of World War II. These connections include but are not limited to the characters having German surnames, the appearance of the setting that depicts German infrastructures, and the presence of an enemy that ruled the people through imposing fear and killing ruthlessly. Seid ihr das, Essen? Nein Wir sind der JWirer! is an iconic German phrase in the opening song of the anime. It translates to Are we livestock? No, we are the hunters! We can assume the anime that its inspiration is German history.
Historical animes allow us to reflects and learn the concept of ideologies with historical relevance in a way that indirectly discusses the ideology through the use of symbolism. In Attack on Titan, the Titans symbolize colossal crises that humanity faces, while the walls reflect that meant our being trapped or cornered, surrounded by the fear of being killed. We can connect the German artifacts as symbolism to the fascist rule of fear imposed by Adolf Hitler towards the Jewish. Meanwhile, the hunters symbolize bravery to fight back for their freedom. Spoiler alert! It revealed that the greatest enemy of hunters is its fellow human that creates the Titans.
We can see in the anime a promotion of communism as depicted within the Survey Corps. In the corps, they expect the hunters to fight all out without expecting to receive any returns for their effort. Besides, hunters have no guarantee that they will be coming back home from the battlefield. We can feel in Attack on Titans the ideologies of collectivism principles like cooperation, collective responsibility, and collective interests were also seen during their wars and training. After revealing the royal involvement with the crisis and the higher-ups who seek control of the kingdom, there are criticisms of fascism, which ignites the hunters to fight.
In Marley, the Eldians are the enemy of society, which lived within the wall as second-class citizens. They forced them into internment zones while wearing armbands. In the alternative narrative, the Eldians within the walls formed a new fascist faction, the Yeagerists. It exists to seize power through a coup. Fueled by the desire to kill their enemies and gain freedom for themselves, the Yeagerists decide to commit global genocide on their oppressors. It is a parallelism to what happened to the Jews during the Holocaust. But what is interesting with Isayama Hajime's writing is not a one-to-one metaphor; hence it depicts Japanese, North Koreans, and other groups.
Several imageries reflect real-world politics, but it does not endorse such ideologies. We can relate the armbands and internment camps on Attack on Titans to the events of the Holocaust in Europe. When the aggressive and oppressive Eldian Empire collapses, it reflects Japan and the United States in World War II. Hajime showcased a concrete image that speaks volumes to what the message intends to convey. It articulates a clear and coherent message about our world and historical events. The Attack on Titans contains disturbing fascist subtexts of Nazism and the Holocaust, but it is anti-fascist and anti-racist. When we go deeper into the story, it is far from subtle in its context.
How Attack on Titan denies the racist narrative of the fascist regimes? An internment Eldian, Gabi believes the Eldians within the walls are devils. She killed the foster sister of Kaya, who saved him. When Kaya queried why she killed her foster sister, Sasha, she responded that his mother suffered the same fate without any reason. Gabi further elaborates that it is due to atrocities committed by the ancient Eldian Empire. Gabi's prejudice was a byproduct of ideologies instilled by the Marley government.
Gabi realized the flaws in her irrational beliefs, and she decides to joins Kaya to fight against fascist ideologies that caused her prejudice. Isayama Hajime sets up fascist and racist arguments to counter them through his highly nuanced storytelling. We see Eren Yeager turned from being the protagonist to antagonist. The former enemies joined together to eradicate the true enemy.
Several people are mad at how Isayam Hajime depicts Jews in an uncanny parallel on Attack on Titans. They seemed to think that the Eldians are the villains in the story. But I think they wrongly perceived the storytelling of Isayama Hajime. They speak more to their worldview than it does reflect Isayama's. The Eldians are an ancient race that ables to transform into Titans, which mindless, human-devouring monsters that our heroes were fighting all along. If people heavily compare it, there is room for rightful outrage of the fascism context on Attack on Titans, but it's a snippet of the story.
If we consider Attack on Titan as truly pro-Fascist and anti-Semitic, the Titans remained mindless and cannibalistic, and our heroes allied with the Fascist to exterminate the Titans. Isyama Hajime would put more hateful ideologies and straightforward rhetoric. We get the gut-check that enables people to realize that the heroes were rooting for all along duped by their familial, political, and military superiors.
We can say that either side has good points, but their stories intertwine to a similar coin, one on the other side. Whether on Paradis or Marley, they are victims of bigotry and hatred that brainwashes them into judging an entire race without knowing a single one of them. Isayama Hajime does not draw simplistic condoning on real-world fascism but shows realistic imagery of cultural context that isn't unnecessary and problematic. He hinted that the war is not against the people but the beliefs and idolatry instilled in people. Again, Attack on Titans articulates a clear and coherent message that it contains disturbing fascist subtexts of Nazism and the Holocaust, but it is anti-fascist and anti-racist.