When Attack on Titan Volume 34 was released, author Hajime Isayama was worried. He had four endings in mind. But went with the first one he intended for the series.
His editor, Shintaro Kawakubo, understood his reasons and consoled him. Genocide is nothing to make light of. The world has seen too much of it.
But some in the world did not understand Mr. Isayama’s intentions. For example, in 2019 Polygon infamously published a news story claiming there were fascist subtexts to the story. The Attack On Titan manga’s ending was so unpopular among a segment of the fandom that there was a petition demanding that Mr. Isayama rewrite the ending.
Some artists even went so far as to band together in order to create their own ending called AoT no Requiem. There is even an animation project that intends on creating a new anime ending even though Attack On Titan Season 4 Part 3 hasn’t finished the story yet.
Even Mr. Isayama himself tweaked the ending. The original version of the final chapter was much shorter in the manga magazine whereas Volume 34 included an extended version that acted as an epilogue to the main story.
The following covers an interview between Mr. Kawakubo and The Weekly Shonen magazine editorial department. (Please be aware that this writer relied on Google Translate, so some points might be confusing, but the overall intent of the editor is still clear.)
Attack On Titan interview explains the intent of the ending
Bessatsu Shonen Magazine published the final chapter of Attack on Titan in Spring 2021. At one point, Mr. Kawakubo told Mr. Isayama, “I think it was a final episode that no one could complain about.”
According to Mr. Kawakubo, the meaning that he intended to convey at the time was that he thought the basic premise was very interesting, not that “it’s a final episode that we can show to anyone and have them think it’s interesting.”
When Mr. Isayama began the series 11 years and 7 months ago, there were specific stories and emotions that he wanted to depict. Mr. Kawakubo believes that since Mr. Isayama started the manga because he wanted to draw those things and ended up being able to draw what he wanted to draw that no one has any right to complain about that In that sense, Mr. Kawakubo believed, “No one has the right to complain, so I think it was the final installment that no one can complain about.”
Mr. Kawakubo only said these words at the time, so they may not have been clear, but after the final publication came the criticism. Mr. Isayama was worried about it, so Mr. Kawakubo told him, “You finished the project the way you wanted to, so that’s fine.”
Attack on Titan editor Kawakubo reveals the true meaning of Attack on Titan
A long time ago, Mr. Isayama discussed with the editor the meaning behind the story. The manga creator wanted to convey the message that murder and genocide are wrong, but the editor felt that directly stating this message would not work.
“If you want to tell people that they should not kill, it may be meaningless to directly tell them that they should not kill. We can tell 7 billion people in the world to ‘don’t kill people,’ and yet the fact that murders never disappear may mean that the words ‘don’t kill people’ don’t mean anything. If that is the case, then the words, ‘It’s okay to kill people,’ may be more meaningful if you only look at the results of the actions, because readers who hear it may think, ‘Killing people is wrong, what are you talking about?’ So, if you have a message you want to convey, you may not necessarily want to draw the manga as you want to convey it. Having said that, I think I was talking about this as a story that has nothing to do with Attack on Titan.”– Mr. Kawakubo
Unfortunately, there was a lot of controversy over the final chapter and criticism that it was “affirming genocide”. Of course, Mr. Kawakubo never intended to approve of the massacre in the manga story, but Mr. Isayama was quite troubled about the criticism so the editor told him, “But isn’t that actually a good thing?”
“Compared to the fact that a war actually broke out and many people died, it’s better to read Attack on Titan and think, ‘This is a pro-genocide manga, and genocide is not good,'” Mr. Kawakubo explained. “So, even if it is said that Hajime Isayama affirmed genocide, it is a good thing because it means that there is a movement that wants to fight back against genocide.”
Yet people keep killing. Mr. Kawabuko said it was better to have a genocide in the manga and have everyone agree it’s wrong and do something about it.
Then to have a genocide happen in real life and do something after the fact. The main theme of Attack on Titan is freedom. Freedom for everyone.
Regardless of race, gender, beliefs, and politics. That’s what Mr. Isayama and Mr. Kawakubo wanted to convey all the way back in the first chapter.
A creative duo to the end
And Part 3 of Season 4 is right around the corner. Studio MAPPA intends to follow the manga closely, but there are still some fans who may prefer that the anime have an alternate ending.
This isn’t a bad thing. Attack on Titan isn’t the only series to depict humanity’s dark side. And it won’t be the last. Attack on Titan will be remembered for many things, and it’s a story you’ll want to reexperience from the beginning once you’ve seen it end.
Attack on Titan is about a young boy (Eren Yeager) who along with his two friends (Mikasa and Armin) lives are turned upside down. In the first season, we’re introduced to many characters, some of whom won’t be in the final battle.
Some will choose to help Eren, while others will seek to use him for their own purposes. But the one quote that always stood out is: humanity are cattle in a pen. Life within the walls was hard.
But with every episode, we learn that nothing is how it seems. Attack on Titan started as humans versus titans. An action-packed race for survival paired with the growing knowledge that you can’t trust anyone.
When Season 3 started Eren and the company had a new human threat to contend with. One that was worse than the titans. Then the next story arc introduces us to a young girl named Gabi, who isn’t that different from Eren.
She’s headstrong and loyal to her friends. The first to rush into danger and the last to leave if she can help it. We learned about what life is like outside of the walls. And how far both sides are willing to go to win.
The Attack on Titan Season 4 Part 3 release date is slated for some time in 2023. The final third of the final season will conclude the anime’s story and likely result in even more controversy about the story themes. Let’s just hope the fandom understands Hajime Isayama’s intentions.