Mikasa whispered it to us in every way: the world of Attack On Titan is cruel and ruthless. Eren’s adoptive sister understood this when she was torn from her parents on a freezing winter night, when a group of strangers killed them in front of her innocent eyes. In those terrified seconds, the little girl who lived inside her turned into a woman, because the world often makes you grow up in the face of needs, and necessity for Mikasa was called survival. Armin also tried to convince us that the universe is not a peaceful place, and that the good guys get kicked around like small stones on the seashore. Armin then told us that the world is full of oppressors who build fences for the oppressed, and that it’s hard to climb over them without the help of a friend.
The first episode of Attack On Titan takes a few seconds to show us all its atrocities, and it does so without hesitation.
But in reality the warning had already reached us in the first episode of Attack on Titan. It took us less than half an hour to figure out what we were looking at, and a few trifles to grasp the general gist of this beautiful but atrocious narrative universe. Back then Eren was just a child who dreamed of joining the army to fight the giants, those enemies of mankind known only through local tales. Eren wanted to climb over that fence to feel strong and courageous, and above all to differentiate himself from all those cowards who lived in his territory – all those for whom other people’s lives matter less than a piece of bread. In the first episode, it is Mikasa himself who confesses to Carla, Eren’s mother, the courageous will of his adoptive brother and his desire to leave to become a soldier and do research on the Giants. (The same Giants who would soon invade the walls of his territory)
Carla knows well what it means to leave home to venture on such a mission, she knows well that few of those who left have returned safely, and she tries in every way to change her son’s mind. like any mother ready to build a nest to protect her baby. But can there be a nest in Attack in Titan if we only talked about fences? There is no time to know the answer of Eren’s mother or even to fully understand this woman: Attack On Titan does not even let us breathe, and immediately breaks the threads of time to cut off a life. But not a life like any other. The death of Eren’s mother in the first episode represents the incipit of a gruesome story, the story of a world that is crumbling like the castles that children build at the bottom of the beach.
“No matter how bad things get, there’s always a better solution.”
The representation of Carla’s death (as well as many other moments in the anime) is not easy to digest: she is first overwhelmed by the rubble and then swallowed by a giant before the eyes of her children. The staging is creepy and her eyes try to look at the white wall next to the television to escape from that imminent horror. Attack On Titan hits us in the stomach several times through the prayers of Carla who screams for Eren and Mikasa to escape, and to find a safe place to drive away the nightmares. He even avoids the help of the commander to ensure that his forces are directed towards his children, so that he can bring them to safety from that world that smells of death. Eren’s eyes reflect that image like a mirror in which you see the ghosts you were afraid of as a child, while Carla’s hands seek one last contact with the immature hands of the kids. The protagonist’s mother extends her arms even when there is no more hope, especially in moments when death seems as certain as life. And so the raw manifesto of Attack on Titan also becomes the manifesto of dreams, of faith in the light, and in the strength of possibility. And so Eren weeps but keeps screaming her mother’s name, sees her eyes in the outlines of the trees, and dreams of her hair in the drops of a lake.
It is no coincidence that from that moment the true story of the anime begins, the long battle against and between the giants. Eren’s revenge against the giants stems from the death of his mother, from the prospect of destroying them all to pay homage to the woman who gave birth to him, and who lost her life trying to save him. Mikasa whispered it from the very first moments: this world is scary but it’s also beautiful. It’s beautiful when you get back up, in the seconds before fear, and especially when you try to demonstrate your infinite value to the whole world. Eren and Mikasa tried right away: they stood up after their parents’ death to limit the arrogance of the difficulties. For Mikasa and Eren it is necessary to fight for freedom because it doesn’t matter how horrible this world seems, but how much you decide to make it less horrible.