Eren Jaeger, At Long Last
Warning: Contains spoilers.
Oh thank the manga gods both living and dead! Glory be! Hallelujah!
Eren’s back in full force.
Not only that, in this chapter we get to see the three most important women in Eren’s life: Mikasa, Historia, and Carla. We get to see the real motives behind Eren’s actions.
I am so stoked that Historia has finally, finally made an appearance in a speaking role. How many years has it been? It’s been soooo long I’ve lost count. Even if it’s just a flashback from Eren’s memories, at least we got to see her in a form other than sitting preggers in that blasted rocking chair.
Along with Historia, we finally get some Eren-centered narration. Hallelujah! I’ve missed that so. In the early years of the manga we got so much Eren head talk, but post-timeskip all that disappeared, just like he disappeared and left the Scouts in the story.
I’m sure it’s all Isayama’s way of making us miss Eren’s thoughts in the same way his comrades were desperately trying to figure out what he was up to in the story. It’s been such a tiresome, frustrating wait.
Where to begin?
Big Bro, Little Bro
I really enjoyed seeing Eren’s interactions with his big bro, Zeke.
Zeke has been one of my favorite villain/anti-villain characters in my manga-reading history. Isayama made sure he wasn’t just your typical one-sided Hollywood bad guy. He was introduced as a heartless monster in a very bombastic, interesting and intriguing way, making us readers want to know more.
He got a complete backstory, and we were given insights into how his tragic childhood experiences shaped the way he perceived the world and his role in it. His interactions with both Eren in Marley and Levi in Paradis have been pure gold. Zeke wasn’t merely a onenote act, he was a layered, paradoxical character.
In this chapter we see him exhibiting a kind side, grinning and giving brotherly advice to his little bro. The topic? Why, girls, of course! Zeke technically has high intelligence, and we see it on display here. He was able to surmise that Mikasa’s affection for Eren was borne out of her own feelings of love for him, and not out of obligation or duty.
I’m thinking that Eren is so befuddled with Mikasa’s love for him because her feelings for him are too intense, bordering on obsession. After Eren left behind his clueless phase, he comes face to face with the fact that Mikasa is madly in love with him. How come? Zeke tells him the truth. But we see him making his short lifespan as an excuse not to return her feelings.
It was so cute it could almost be a conversation in a daily sitcom.
Out of the Rocking Chair
And then, and then, there is Historia. Ah, my beloved Queen. Do you have any idea how much I’ve missed you?
We see our queen here ready to accept her fate. If it’s to protect her people, then she will do what has to be done.
But Eren will have none of that. Eren’s so hot in this chapter, the way he tells Historia straight out that he will do whatever it takes, anything at all to put an end to the deplorable act of Eldian royal children devouring their parents. This was simply unacceptable to him. The way he looks at Historia…ah, be still, my beating heart!
While Historia disagrees with the mass extermination plan under moral grounds, Eren tries to convince her by reminding her that, once upon a time, she called herself the worst girl in the world (Chapter 66). And then we see her, coming up with the idea of bearing a child so as not to have Zeke fed to her.
And then we see Eren being truly badass: gouging out his eye with a bullet and chopping off his leg. OMG. We’ve always known he self-harmed so as to appear to be an injured soldier. But now that it’s graphically explained…oh my.
As a titan shifter he should be able to heal when he wants to, but still! The pain he so willingly endured. We see Historia’s face and we see Eren doing anything, anything at all just to keep her from suffering. She saved him, as Eren pointed out. And then he saved her, as Historia pointed out.
Ah! If this isn’t a great, legendary love then I don’t know what is.
Which brings us to the big baby issue: Historia says, “What if I have a child?” She didn’t say “What if I have your child?” or “What if we have a child?”
This leads me to believe that Historia is not pregnant with Eren’s baby.
Eren cannot return Mikasa’s love because he is concerned about his short lifespan. In the same manner, that Eren wouldn’t want to impregnate Historia because the children will become fatherless very soon.
Yet I’m hoping against hope that it’s otherwise. I really, really want that baby to be Eren’s. I’ve never wanted anything so much in my life, manga-wise.
My love for the queen is such that I find it troubling and offensive the idea that she’d just pick a random farmhand to knock her up.
Sure, IRL I’m all for casual sex and that liberated woman kind of stuff, but in the AoT universe I want Historia to be impregnated by a man she loves and respects. There is no denying it: among the 104th guys, she is closest to Eren. Even if Eren loves her only platonically, as a man would love a precious friend, that is still far, far better than her shagging a stranger.
“Hey, you, c’mere. Let’s hook up. I need to get pregnant so as not to be titanized. Be a good boy and unzip your fly,” Historia commands the farmhand. All the while Eren is watching in the background, a hood over his head.
I mean, WTF.
A scene like this is the only thing that comes to mind, though, given the lack of information and character development on the part of the farmhand. Here he is reduced to being a sperm donor, and Historia a breeding cow.
If the father is indeed the farmhand, I hope Isayama has the decency to give us a more fleshed-out backstory of how their relationship grew from childhood bully-victim to lovers. I hope Isayama has the decency to at least show us his face and give us his name. I hope we get a flashback of them interacting, falling for each other.
Because otherwise, Historia will merely be a baby making machine. From tragedy to tragedy. That would totally break my heart.
But I’m not holding my breath. Isayama killed off 104th Ymir in one teeny-tiny panel. If he can do a cold-hearted thing like that, imagine what else he is capable of doing.
Historia has suffered so, so much in her life, from her heartbreaking childhood filled with abuse and neglect, to an adolescence in which she is filled with shame and then abandoned by the girl who professed to love her, later on to an adulthood in which she had to kill her own (far from saintly) father and then finally, become a breeding cow. Not so much different from her poor ancestor, Founder Ymir. What a terrible life.
Please, Isayama, find a bit of kindness in your callous, uncaring heart and don’t make her suffer any more than this!
Lying in the Name of Love
As for Mikasa. Well, we finally see what many of us knew already: Eren’s telling Mikasa he hated her and diminishing her feelings for him as merely stemming from her Ackermann instinct (the master-slave dichotomy) was all a lie.
Zeke had told him the exact opposite, told him what was so blindingly obvious to all: Mikasa being in love with him out of her own free will. And yet, in his mistaken attempt to save her from herself, to spare her from the pain of his imminent death, and to distance her from the mass extermination he was about to inflict on the world, he lies to her big time.
It feels to me that Eren doesn’t want Mikasa to love him because doing so will only cause grief and pain in the end. I’m pretty sure Eren loves her very, very much. Whether that love is familial or romantic…needless to say, it’s open to interpretation. I think it’s a mix of both.
She’s not just his childhood friend and protector, she’s also the girl his parents considered as their very own daughter. Whenever I remember Grisha pleading for his children’s life, I am deeply touched by the way he saw Mikasa as an essential part of his family. In one of the early chapters, we see Mikasa being upset by Eren recollecting how he devoured Grisha, and we see a flashback of Grisha being tender to her at home. Eren has inherited Grisha’s memories, making his relationship with her all the more complicated.
But Eren’s famous line: “I’ll wrap that scarf around you again and again, as many times as you like” is turned by many into “I’ll shove my cock inside you again and again, as many times as you like.” In other words, a sexual, romantic relationship. Is it? It’s the biggest ship in the AoT fandom. Just not my cup of tea. Well, whatever floats your boat. *shrugs*
But whether Eren’s feelings are sexual or not doesn’t really matter in the long run.
What really matters, for me, is that Eren indeed loves Mikasa.
He is obviously very much in love with her. He cares for her deeply. His affection for her is genuine. He loves her so much that he’d rather she be with someone else and be happy for a long time, than to be with him for a short time and spend the rest of her life grieving his death.
And it’s this love for her that made him (erroneously) spout those lies about hating her, of her being a slave to her instinct.
He wanted to spare her feelings, to make her see that she has no future with him because (1) he was going to become the devil and destroy the world save for Paradis, whether she likes it or not, and (2) he’s going to die soon, whether anyone likes it or not.
All For Love
There is just so much love in this chapter. Misread, distorted, misjudged perhaps, but it’s there.
Eren loves Historia. Eren loves Mikasa. Eren loves his friends and comrades. He cares for them so much that he is willing to become the devil just to save them.
There isn’t that shitty, childish concept of a “one true love” or “one true partner” here. Only a fool would insist that Eren can’t love both Historia and Mikasa at the same time. While we can argue about how much of that love is romantic or platonic or familial, yes, argue and argue until the cows come home, the really big question is: does it matter?
I believe it doesn’t.
What matters is he loves them. Period.
A great story is all about layered, complex, multidimensional relationships. Oversimplified, Cinderella-type stories are for amateur writers like me. Isayama has proven to be a master storyteller. I have faith he won’t wrap up his masterpiece in the most blasé way possible: hero gets heroine while the world burns, the end.
Chapter 130 is a chapter on love. A multi-storied love. A love so strong and unshakeable and non-negotiable that the bearer of it will sacrifice everything just to see the people he loves survive. However mistaken he is in his cause, however morally wrong he may be, there is no denying the fact that, cliché as it may sound, he is doing it all for love. Yeah, like that song…
Welcome back, Eren Jaeger. We’ve missed you, you have no idea.
Oh, Eren. I still believe, in my heart, that Armin will find a way to save the world and prevent you from having to destroy it. It was what you predicted all the way back on that fateful night on the roof in Shiganshina. And that is how it will end. I know what you’re fully capable of doing: sacrificing your very life so that everyone else can live.
Because you’re Eren Jaeger. And no, you are not about hate or anger or revenge. You are all about love, no matter how misplaced or misconstrued.
You do you, Eren.
I love you, too, ya know? Since that day I read the manga ten years ago, when I saw you having to witness with your own eyes your mother being devoured by your father’s first wife’s titan.
Oh, Eren. You and your pain. You and your vengefulness. You and your cluelessness. You and your drama. You and your flaws. You and your perfect imperfections.
Welcome back indeed, beloved Eren. And as our darling Jean would say, you suicidal bastard.
Other Noteworthy Stuff
- Annie has give up the fight. Hange explains Magat knew all about the impossibility of saving Liberio, yet he wished for the warriors to go and save the world. There is a panel of Gabi looking shocked. Will she rise up and fulfill Magat’s dying wish?
- When Eren says that he wants his people to live a happy life, the flashback is that of the 104th plus the veterans. Among them, Erwin, Marlow and Sasha are already dead (Floch’s state is currently unknown, but I’m sure he’s still alive). How can the dead live happy lives? Could this picture have a deeper meaning? Perhaps Eren will use the Attack Titan’s ability to go back in time and save the world (by saving himself), sparing these people from having to die. When we think about it, they are dead as a direct result of their trying to protect him. Ah, what I would give to see Sasha happily eating potatoes once again.
- Eren, through the Founder Titan’s power, can manipulate the memories of Eldians. He offers to do so for Historia. But he can’t manipulate the Ackermanns. Mikasa and Levi will have to spend the rest of their lives knowing that the peace and happiness they enjoy in a post-rumbing world are built on the backs of billions of murdered people, both the guilty and the innocent, the sinners and the saints (By innocent saints I mean the newborn babies who haven’t done one single bad thing in their life). What kind of life would that be? All that guilt. How much of it can they bear? I’m thinking that in the end, Eren will rethink his plan of destroying the world to spare the Ackermanns from having to live with such a crime. Wishful thinking on my part, I know.
- I love that when Eren asks when it all started, there was a shot of Founder Ymir’s pigs.
- I’ve always wondered how the wall titans will swim cross the ocean. Seems they do the doggy paddle, a primitive form of the crawl. Makes me wonder, can they do the butterfly or backstroke or breaststroke, too? Ahaha.
- In Chapter 1 the people on the streets say, “Oh no, it’s them, the titans.” In Chapter 130 they say, “Oh no, it’s him, the Attack Titan.” The dialogue and composition of the panel are the same. The people’s feelings: that of sheer terror and hopelessness, is also the same. Wow.
- Eren’s combo titan looks something like a marionette or a bird cage. Whichever way you like to see it, it seems to me that he himself is not free. He is controlled by a force stronger than himself, something beyond his control. Like Kenny Ackermann said, everyone is a slave to something. I see Eren as a slave to freedom. In the end, he is still a bird in a cage.
- In the last three pages, when Eren says, “I’ll destroy them all, not a single one left standing,” we see that the “them” changed from titans to everyone who cannot titanize. This has been pointed out so many times in fan boards, but seeing the words written here large and clear makes it all the more harrowing.
All in all, another glorious chapter. The thought of AoT nearing its end is killing me.
PS. Isayama-sensei, since you’re gonna kill Eren anyway, could you please make him die happy and fulfilled? Thank you.
Thank you so much for reading! Please consider sharing a thought or two in the comment section below. Your comments give me life and are a real source of encouragement. xoxo, hana
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