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The Titans (in Japanese: 巨人 Kyojin) are the false main antagonists of the anime/manga series, Shingeki no Kyojin, known in the western world as, Attack on Titan. Within the Attack on Titan universe, these human-esque monstrosities had nearly brought forth the extinction of the entire human race, with most of the world having been lost and forcing the remaining human beings to retreat inside the confined walls of a massive city state.
Much like the Romero Zombies of modern day horror fiction, Titans are hinted to be an off-shot of the human race now cursed to forever devour the rest of humanity. This was due recent chapters of the series reveals that their nature are almost same with Titan Shifters albeit their human bodies within their titan's nape are crushed and partially assimilated.
Physical Appearance and Characteristics
Titans are creatures closely resembling human beings, but with various deformities, ranging from either over/under-sized heads and limbs, massively fat stomachs, or even skeletal frames. As the species' name would imply, titans dwarf over any human being. All titans keep their eyes constantly opened, their mouths possess lots of molar teeth used to grind human flesh. Titans possess no visible reproductive organs, thus it is unknown how they keep increasing their numbers. Each titan possesses unique facial features and hair style, much like any individual person. Strangely, despite their large size they are unnaturally light, with humans of average strength able to lift up their body parts without trouble. They also produce a high amount of heat and emit steam to control their body temperature. Due to lacking a digestive track, they don't require eating of humans to survive, instead they can absorb sunlight like a plant does. Titans also possess a high amount of regeneration which allows them to survive dismemberment, disemboweling, and decapitation while the back of their neck is undamaged. To exploit their weakness, the Three Dimension Gear were developed to target the nape of their neck.
Titans have several size variants:
- Three Meter Titans: The smallest type of Titan. Due to their smaller stature, they are the weakest of the Titan types. Even farm equipment can gravely damage if not kill them, as Christa demonstrated. However, this also makes them the fastest of the three types.
- Ten Meter Titans: The most common type of Titan. They are medium sized in the grand scheme of things and can smash through buildings and are virtually immune to gunfire. Titans of these size require Three Dimension Gear to kill. Mammon and the Smiling Titan are examples of this subtype.
- 'Defiant' Titans: These are an abnormal type of titan, which can range from being smaller than the Ten Meter Titans (up to 5 and 7 meters) to 13 meters tall. Deviant Titans are also unique, they are far more active than other Titan types (not including Titan Shifters) and many possess agility other Titans lack, or speed or skills that other Titans lack. Ymir is a member of this subtype.
- 15 Meter Titans: Formally the largest type of titan known, they were also the most dangerous. A single 15 Meter Titan can take down an entire squad of troops without effort, smash through two story buildings, and even withstand cannon fire due to their rapid regeneration. When Eren transforms, he becomes a unique 15 Meter Titan.
- Armored Titans: As the name suggest, these titans can produce crystalline armor. They usually rank around the same size of the 15 Meters, and are more muscular built. They also possess a high amount of speed and durability with cannonballs just bouncing off their armored bodies. The only areas that aren't armored are their joints which are vulnerable to attack. Reiner Braun is the only known member of this subtype.
- Beast Titans: As the name suggest, these are titans that have animalistic appearance. They are also larger than the 15 Meter Titans, reaching a height of 17 meters. Unique to even Titan Shifters, the Beast Titans are highly intelligent, able to communicate with humans by speaking their language. They also have the ability to control other Titans and freely turn people into Titans. Zeke Yeager is the only known member of this subtype.
- Female Titans: Another type of titan, as the name suggest these are titans with female characteristics. They range from 10 meters to 15 meters in height. They are also able to form temporary crystalline armor to protect themselves and have shown far greater agility than their male type counterparts. Annie Leonhardt is one member of this subtype, with Connie's mother being another member.
- Colossal Titans: The (second) largest and strongest type of titan, they range from 50 meters to 60 meters in height. Bertolt Hoover was a 60 meter tall Titan and was the one which ended the era of peace which humanity was enjoying behind the walls by destroying the gate of Wall Maria with a single kick, creating a shockwave that destroyed the first few districts that were near the gate. They are also able to produce super-hot steam as a defensive mechanism due to their size hampering their movement. Bertolt Hoover was one member of this subtype, with hundreds of them hidden in the very walls themselves.
Behavior and Goals
Some humans such as Eren Yeager, have the unique ability to summon and control a Titan body. While in this form, the human's normal body rests in the weak point at the base of the neck, connected via masses of muscular tissue, indicating a connection between the sentient and feral Titans. Certain Titans are noted to be Deviant-Type (奇行種 Kikō-Shū), acting in a way that is not normal for Titans, such as not eating humans directly but acting in a way to help their fellow Titans and easily controlled by Titan Shifters that have ability to control regular Titans.
Over 1,820 years ago, Ymir Fritz as came across the "source of all organic material". With this discovery, Ymir gained the power of the Titans, becoming the progenitor of all Titans. The power of her Titan, the Founding Titan, was the coordinating point linking unseen "paths" which united the minds of her subjects. What she accomplished with her powers is unknown, but after 13 years Ymir met her death, and her "soul" was split between nine successors. However, her memories would live on throughout the generations due to the abilities of the Founding Titan. Furthermore, all inheritors of her power would be doomed to die after 13 years as she did, in a phenomena that would later be known as the "Curse of Ymir". No Titan would possess more power than Ymir had possessed in life.
Ymir's story is slandered in Marleyan legends. Some time after her death, Ymir's existence was hailed as a god-given miracle. Many would claim that as the Founding Titan, she used her Titan power to cultivate barren lands, build roads across the lands, and raise bridges through the mountains of the world, overall bringing great changes to the Eldian Empire though these claims could never be supported. On the other hand, after the fall of the Eldian Empire in the Great Titan War, the new Marley government would spread slanderous legends that Ymir's power was derived from the "Devil of All Earth". All Titans originate from Eldia. Every single Titan was a human being with Eldian origins who can become a Titan if injected with a particular serum. Only select few like the Ackerman clan, Asians, and certain royals are unaffected by this and thus will never be able to turn into Titans or Titan Shifters.
The Marleyans (normal humans) have been dominated by Ymir's people and according to the Marleyans, they were also eaten by them. Over a century before the battle of Trost, the 145th King of the Fritz family inherited the power of the Founding Titan. For many hundreds of years, eight houses led by the eight Titan shifters subservient to the Fritz family were constantly at war with each other. Rather than following the method of his ancestors and using the Founding Titan to maintain order in the nation of Eldia, King Fritz chose instead to move the capital of Eldia to the island of Paradis to the east of the mainland of their nation. In the King's absence, the oppressed society of Marley instigated the Great Titan War in Eldia, taking control of seven out of the nine Eldian Titans and rising up against their oppressors.
The shifters known as Wall Titans used their hardening abilities to erect 50 meter walls to isolate Paradis from the rest of Earth. The royal family erased the memories of their own people, which caused them to remain ignorant for 100 years, never develop their technology, and thinking that humanity is almost exinct beside themselves who live protected by the Walls. In reality the Marleyans have been banishing drugged Eldian prisoners, injected them with titan serum, to the island of Paradis.
The Eldians who were born in Marley are treated lowly: they live in the ghettos as a low class and are used as soldiers for suicide missions. Zeke Yeager is one of these soldiers and doesn't share the views of his father Grisha Yeager and his mather Dina Yeager, who were Eldia Restorationists who rebelled against the Marley government. Such group was born from the hateful cruelty of the Marley soldiers, whos actions weren't controlled by the government and also provoked the leaders (Eren Kruger and Grisha) by burning alive Kruger's family in front of him and sadistically murdering Grisha's little sister, Fay Yeager, by having her mauled by hounds. The Public Security Authorities eventually discovered the cult of the Eldia Restorationists and punished them by injectting them with titan serum and throwing them off to Paradis, including Dina.
Marley's goal is to eradicate the Eldians once and for all and thus getting Earth rid from the Titans, the "demons". As Marley kept fighting the war against Eldian factions and their human allies, a group of Titan Shifters was sent to Paradis to recover the "coordinate" stolen by Grisha years ago, eradicate all the Eldians who lived inside those walls, and bring Historia Reiss to Marley. As of Marley's decision to move against Paradis to secure its vast fossil resource, the PSA are also tasked with recruiting warriors from among the Eldian children aged 5-7 in service of the Marley government with the promise of designating the Eldian families of the chosen children as honorary Marleyans. Zeke Yeager, Bertolt Hoover, Reiner Braun, Annie Leonhart, and Marcel are known to be among those chosen children. It seems the warrior recruits were subjected to pro-Marleyan indoctrination as part of their training, as Zeke exposed the identity of his parents after he was selected. Meanwhile, Grisha had inherited Eren Kruger's titan power and escaped Marley a long time ago, and abandoned Zeke, as he made a new life in Paradis, befriended Eldians such as Keith Shadis and Hannes, and married an Eldian woman Carla from whom he had another son, Eren, who shares his first name with the deceased Kruger.
Reiner Braun and Bertolt Hoover were to lead the genocide by kicking the Walls to let mindless titans in. This group of soldiers was disfunctional and their poor planning led to their failures: Marcel died as a kid before even reaching the destination, Annie started to get sympathetic towards Eldians, Reiner developed identity crisis, and Bertolt remained the only one still fully obedient to Marley and decided to act on his own to protect his friends and just kill all people of Paradis.
The defeats of Bertolt Hoover and Annie Leonhart signed the beginning of the end of the dominion of the Titans in Earth and a huge crisis for the Marleyans. Reiner's loss of his 3 comrades ended his identity problems and he finds huge walls disgusting. Four years have now passed since the main events of the Attack on Titan story. Reiner is fully loyal to Marley as of now, possibly hateful and vengeful towards the now done Survey Corps (literally only 9 S.C. members survived and all the others died fighting battles), who destroyed Bertolt and Annie. Reiner likely feels remorseful towards himself and feels guilty for the death of his entire team (he likely gave Annie for dead, after all these years, as he never learned what really happened to her): himself and Marcel were the true leading and strong ones in contrast to the reserved, taciturn, quiet, and unreliable Annie and Bertolt, yet Marcel died to protect Reiner, Annie disappeared because Reiner let himself be fooled the Survey Corps and failed to be around her in Wall Sheena to save her when her identity was exposed, and lastly it was thanks to Reiner's mental problems and incompetence that Bertolt got exposed and later killed when he had to make a new plan on his own against the Survey Corps, then even Zeke failed to rescue him from Eren and Levi and retreated with Reiner.