Attack on Titan: What Is the Meaning of the Giant Tree?

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The end of Attack on Titan was tragic and seemingly able to end the cycle of hatred and revenge between the Eldians and the other people, although peace was not guaranteed. In that regard, we know that a long time went by between Eren’s death and the final panel of the manga, where we saw a giant tree and a child seemingly stumbling upon it in the forest. So, what does the giant tree mean in Attack on Titan?

This giant tree at the end of Attack on Titan resembles the tree where Ymir encountered the Source of All Living Matter and became the Founding Titan. That means that this tree represents the restart of a new cycle of titans long after Eren’s death erased the titans from the face of the planet.

In a way, the giant tree at the end of the manga shows that nothing truly changed and that the cycle did not end. It represents a new beginning to new possibilities regarding the titans and what humankind would do with its power now that it knows what Eren did to the entire world when he used the Power of the Titans. Now, let’s look at what we know about the giant tree in Attack on Titan.

What Was the Giant Tree at the End of Attack on Titan?

Suppose there’s something that we know about Attack on Titan. In that case, it’s that Hajime Isayama, the author of the manga, is known for leaving cryptic messages that are left for the interpretations of the readers of the manga or audiences of the anime. He was always known for making the entire world of Attack on Titan and the nature of the titans mysterious. And even after the manga ended, there were still many things that we didn’t understand about the titans and where this power came from.

The final parts of the manga even left something cryptic for everyone to interpret in their own way. We know that Mikasa, Armin, and their friends could defeat and kill Eren despite their hesitance due to his friendship. Mikasa, even though she loved Eren, decapitated him. And when Ymir saw the love shared between them, she disappeared along with the Power of the Titans, as Eren was successful in wiping off the titans from the face of the earth while crippling the world in the process, assuring that his friends and the people of Paradis Island would be left untouched by the rest of the world for a long time.

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In a way, Eren was able to end the cycle of hatred between the Eldians and the rest of the world because it was the Power of the Titans that caused this cycle. Still, peace was never assured because of humankind’s very nature as people always in conflict with one another. And that was when things became interesting.

Near the end of the manga, the panel that struck many people the most was the giant tree a young child encountered long after Eren’s death. We don’t know how much time has passed between Eren’s defeat and this panel in the manga, but we can assume that decades went by, meaning there was enough time for this giant tree to grow. So, what was this giant tree at the end of Attack on Titan?

Back when Ymir’s backstory was shown, it was made clear that she was not a special girl but was merely a slave girl that stumbled upon the centipede-like creature that gave her the Power of the Titans. This happened when the Eldian tribe was rampaging across the land and enslaving different people. And when the Eldians were hunting Ymir for sport, she fell into the waters under a giant tree and made contact with a centipede-like creature called the Source of All Living Matter, which gave her the powers of the Founding Titan.

The same tree shown at the end of Attack on Titan resembles the one where Ymir encountered the centipede. While we don’t know what this giant tree is called and how it came about, we can develop a theory.

After Eren’s death, Mikasa buried his head under the tree where he was found napping during the first scenes of Attack on Titan when he was still just a child. This spot was special to them, so Mikasa buried his head there and constantly visited it long after his death.

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Of course, there’s a good chance that decades have gone by since Eren’s death and that the world has become a different place compared to what it used to be. That means there’s a good possibility that the place where Mikasa buried Eren’s head allowed the tree to grow into a gigantic tree similar to the one Ymir encountered more than 2,000 years ago. Of course, it is possible that Eren’s head still has remnants of the Power of the Titans that gave rise to this gigantic tree.

What Is the Meaning of the Giant Tree?

While we are merely speculating what this tree is and where it came from, we have no doubts about the meaning of the giant tree at the end of the Attack on Titan manga. And it all boils down to the storyline’s theme of endless cycles.

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The major theme of Attack on Titan is the cycle of hatred between different people, as this is a real-world theme that we often see in many countries and cultures worldwide. Eldians used the Power of the Titans to kill and enslave many people worldwide. These people fought back when they treated the Eldians like second-class citizens and devils that needed to be eradicated from the world. And Eren’s actions were supposed to be what ended this cycle of hatred.

Nevertheless, the fact that this giant tree existed and that there could be another Source of All Living Matter hiding under that tree could be Isayama’s way of telling us that a new cycle is about to start. After all, there was hardly anything optimistic about Attack on Titan, as it was almost always a sad storyline that reflected the reality of our world and how we’ve always gone through thousands of years of wars and endless cycles of hatred.

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But there’s still a good reason to believe that this giant tree represented a new beginning for the entire world. Because it is safe to assume that the world already knows what kind of terror the Power of the Titans could bring to humanity, especially after what Eren did, it is now up to humankind to decide whether or not to end this cycle.

Then again, because the end of the manga clearly said that the world was not yet at peace because different nations still went to war, it is possible that the Power of the Titans would once again be used for warfare. As such, a new cycle of hatred, war, death, and destruction would begin. 

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