If there’s one thing we know about ‘Attack on Titan,’ it’s the fact that there are a lot of theories related to the storyline and how not everything about this fictional world was ever explained thoroughly. The Titans and their history were things that weren’t fully explained. In fact, the ending, which involved Eren’s death and the end of the Power of the Titans, was a little bit open-ended. So, did Eren really die at the end?
Theory 1: Eren could have been the bird
It goes without saying that the ending of the ‘Attack on Titan’ manga and anime allowed us to see Eren Yeager forcing his friends to go up against him and kill him, as this was part of his plan of eradicating the world of the Power of the Titans to hopefully bring peace to the world and keep his friends safe from those who would take their freedom away. Mikasa dealt the killing blow when she entered the mouth of Eren’s new Colossal Titan form and decapitated him, thus ending the Power of the Titans.
We know that Mikasa also took Eren’s decapitated head and brought it back with her to Paradis, where she buried the head under the tree where she and Eren used to spend time when they were still kids. Meanwhile, years later, Armin saw a bird passing by him and was headed in the direction of the tree, where Mikasa could be seen grieving over Eren’s loss.
The same bird arrives in front of her to wrap her scarf around her neck, similar to what Eren did years ago. Mikasa smiles and thanks Eren for doing so, as it is widely believed among fans that Eren did not die but simply took the form of a bird.
Hajime Isayama neither confirmed nor denied that this bird was Eren. After all, he had a habit of keeping things about ‘Attack on Titan’ open-ended. As such, fans are left to speculate about the possibility of Eren surviving in the form of this bird.
The first possibility we can think of about this is that either Ymir or Eren himself remade Eren into a bird before he died at the end and before the Power of the Titans could be wiped off. We know that the one who possesses the power of the Founding Titan has complete control over the bodies of the Subjects of Ymir. It is possible that she used her powers to grant Eren freedom by transforming him into a bird so that he could still watch over his friends even though he had already lost his body.
However, we aren’t really sure whether or not Ymir has the power to reshape the body of dead Subjects of Ymir into animalistic forms. We know that the Founding Titan can recreate the bodies of the fallen Titan Shifters. But we aren’t sure if the same power can be used to revive dead Subjects of Ymir and turn them into birds or any other animals.
The second and more likely possibility is that the bird isn’t Eren but is a representation of Eren. We know that Eren sought freedom above everything else but was unable to attain it for himself. As such, the bird that appeared at the end of the storyline could be a metaphorical way of saying that Eren had obtained freedom and was now as free as a bird.
We all know that birds are actually symbolic in Norse mythology, which is one of the inspirations for ‘Attack on Titan.’ Odin himself controlled ravens or birds that allowed him to watch over all of Midgard as he could simply send a bird out. So, if Isayama used the same inspiration, he might have used the bird as a symbol of Eren “sending” a bird from the afterlife to watch over his friends. The fact that the bird wrapped the scarf over Mikasa is his way of telling everyone that he is still watching over them from wherever he is.
Theory 2: The new tree
The second theory is that Eren did indeed die, but his essence remained in the world because his body still carried the Power of the Titans even though he had already died. And this is related to the very origins of the Power of the Titans.
Around 2,000 years before the events of ‘Attack on Titan,’ Ymir fell into the cavern of a gigantic tree while she was fleeing the hunters that King Fritz sent after her. She fell into a body of water inside the tree as she made contact with a centipede-like creature called the Source of All Living Mater. It was the fact that she made contact with the centipede that Ymir obtained the Power of the Titan.
After Eren’s death, countless years went by. But we saw another person encountering a tree that resembled the same one that Ymir saw thousands of years ago. And there’s an interesting theory behind this tree.
We know that Mikasa buried Eren’s head under the tree that she and Eren often spent time under when they were still children. The theory is that the power or the essence that remained inside Eren’s head enriched the tree and caused it to grow to a gigantic size. And this same tree could also have the same creature that gave Ymir the Power of the Titans.
If this theory holds up, there’s a good reason to believe that Eren’s essence continued to live inside his head and that he eventually turned into this gigantic tree years later. This is in line with the Law of Conservation of Mass, which states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed. As such, Eren’s very essence could have been conserved and transferred to his tree, causing it to grow to gigantic proportions and allowing it to carry the Power of the Titans.
This is possible because Eren or a higher power might have realized that the world was yet to reach true peace despite the fact that the Power of the Titans had been eradicated from the world. The tree may have appeared as Eren or the world’s way of telling that the world could still need the Power of the Titans to return to once again start a cycle of war, death, and destruction that could very well lead to true peace. And this is why the ending of ‘Attack on Titan’ was always open-ended.
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