Why Are There No Black Characters in Attack on Titan?

Why Are There No Black Characters in Attack on Titan?
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Hajime Isayama’s Attack on Titan is a global hit and one of those modern anime series that (re)defined the genre and made it more popular worldwide. The dystopian setting, the great fights, and the overall idea of the whole story all make Attack on Titan somewhat of a modern masterpiece. The story follows¬†Eren Yeager, who vows to retake the world after Titan brings about the destruction of his hometown and the death of his mother.¬†Due to the series’ popularity, in this article, we have decided to talk about its characters or, to be more precise, an apparent lack of certain characters in the series. In this article, we will explain why no black characters exist in Attack on Titan.

No official explanation has been provided for the lack of black characters in Attack on Titan, although a prominent black character, Onyankopon, was introduced later in the series. An African-inspired nation has been mentioned in the series but has not been explored, and since the series does focus on Germanic people, it makes sense that there are no black characters in the series.

The rest of this article will elaborate further on the answer we have given above. We will briefly introduce you to the world of Attack on Titan and then explain why there are so few black characters in the series, i.e., why there is only one. There won’t be too many spoilers in this article, but if you’re not fully up-to-date with the story, you should still be careful how you approach some parts of the story.

Where is Attack on Titan set?

In an alternate world, the human race has been decimated by the advent of Titans, large creatures physically similar to man, between three and fifteen meters tall, and who do not have a reproductive system. They are primitive beings of limited intelligence who do not appear to need food to live but attack humans and swallow their bodies. What remains of humanity has survived by taking refuge within imposing concentric walls: Wall Maria, the outermost; the Wall Rose, the central one; and the Wall Sheena, the innermost, which protects the capital and the king’s court.

Marley territory

To ensure that the giants cannot attack the territory of men, the walls are fifty meters high, with the only weak point being the doors that allow them to pass through. In order not to waste their strength in protecting the entire extension of the walls, men concentrated on living in cities that rose adjacent to the walls, thus attracting the attention of the giants and massing their defenses in those points. The walls have allowed humanity to enjoy more than a century of peace, safe from the attacks of the giants.

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Are there any black characters in Attack on Titan?

Many fans have noticed that there are basically no black characters in Attack on Titan. Sure, some have darker skin, but the number of black characters is small. And while many fans think that there are no black characters in the series, there is one, and we will tell you who he is. It is Onyankopon, who is an Anti-Marleyan Volunteer and part of Zeke Yeager’s units. He was introduced as a secondary character later in the series, which is why not many fans know about him.

Onyankopon is a soldier of a nation defeated and subjugated by Marley, forced to serve in the ranks of the victorious power. For this reason, he joins the Anti-Marley Volunteers, a secret group in the Marleyan armed forces, led by Yelena and formed by foreign soldiers who make up part of the armed forces of the continental power, whose aim is to overthrow Marley’s power and restore freedom both to their countries of origin and to Eldia.

Onyankopon 29 character image

He is a black man, one of the few who appeared in history, and has a mild, tolerant, religious, and sometimes ironic character, like when he replies to Sasha about the origin of his dark skin. He possesses numerous engineering and mechanical knowledge and is an expert aircraft pilot. In fact, Onyankopon drives the airship used by the Survey Corps to return to Paradis after the raid against Marley. His name comes from an Ashanti language word (an African ethnic group from Ghana) which means “creator of all things,” to highlight his religiosity and tolerance.

As far as Onyankopon is concerned, we know that he comes from a pseudo-African country located in the world of Attack on Titan, but we do not know anything about it. Based on the little we know, Onyankopon is more or less a typical representative of his people, and we have seen the country once during the Rumbling event. Still, it was only briefly, and nothing was revealed about it.

Why are there so few black characters in Attack on Titan?

Well, initially, we were wondering whether there were any black characters in Attack on Titan at all. Still, we have now established that there is one important black character in the series, and we have told you who he is and why he is important in the plot. You have also found out where he comes from, i.e., that there really is a pseudo-African nation somewhere in Attack on Titan, but we don’t actually know where it is or whether it plays any role in the story.

Namely, the nation was seen only briefly during the Rumbling, and we have absolutely no clue how it is related to the other nations and how big of a role it plays in the world politics of Attack on Titan. This was just a brief introduction to the nation, but sadly, it doesn’t seem like we’ll be getting more information since the series is over. No additional information has been provided after the manga’s conclusion. This is what we know about the nation and its people.

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This raises the question of why the series has so few black characters. Obviously, a whole nation exists in the universe of Attack on Titan, but why was it not featured more in the story? Well, that is a question for Hajime Isayama to answer and for us to wait out; since Isayama has not provided us with an answer so far, we don’t know anything officially. But, we might have a theory, a theory that is related to the overall tone of the series, the undertone of the series, as well as the fact that there are many parallels between Attack on Titan and World War II.

Namely, the focus on caucasian characters might lie in the fact that the world of Attack on Titan is somewhat based on Germany and the Germanic peoples, who are – of course – caucasian. Other nations are present, as it is not a self-sustaining system. Still, with the focus being on Germanic lore, history, and mythology (especially the idea of an Aryan race, as embodied in Fritz’s lineage), it makes sense that the focus is on such characters and not the other ones. That is probably why there are so few black characters in the story, but we’ll have to wait and see whether Isayama provides us with an official explanation.

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