This articles contains spoilers both for the manga and anime Attack on Titan. Please proceed with caution.
The second season of the anime series Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin), based on the popular manga series of the same name by Hajime Isayama, ended in June 2017.
The first volume of the manga caused a sensation when it was published. It was awarded first place in the men’s division of ‘Kono Manga ga Sugoi! (This Manga is Amazing! Prize)’ in 2011, as well as the first prize of ‘Zenkoku Shotenin ga Eranda Osusume Comic 2011’ (The Most Recommended Manga by Bookshop Clerks Prize). It became a hot topic and garnered immense praise in Japan.
I actually started reading the manga with the paperbacks, rather than in the magazine. I was hooked from the first chapter, and I read Attack on Titan everyday until I had caught up (there were 12 volumes out at the time).
The first season of the anime adaptation aired between April and September in 2013, and the second season aired from April to June 2017. The second season includes the kidnapping of protagonist Eren by the Armored Titan and Colossal Titan and ends after he is rescued. The identities of the Armored Titan and the Colossal Titan are also revealed in the second season.
Two of the major points of the story are Ymir’s past and Christa’s real name. Ymir is strongly attached to Christa in both the manga and the anime. However, the reason for this is explained much earlier in the anime than in the manga. I’m going to explore why Ymir’s past is depicted at different points of the story in the manga and the anime adaptation.
Attack on Titan (Season 2) Series Review
The Real Identity of Christa
The real identity of Christa is revealed at almost the same time in both the manga and anime. This is just after the turmoil caused by the sudden upsurge of Titans within the walls and the revelation that Wall Sina is made out of crystallized Titans.
Christa’s real name is Historia Reiss, and she is a surviving member of the royal family. Ymir knew Christa’s real identity much earlier than the main characters, and one of the reasons for her attachment to Christa seems to be Christa’s royal blood.
Reiner, who transforms into the Armored Titan, and Bertholdt, who transforms into the Colossal Titan, also mention the importance of the royal family, which tells us they are equally important to the Titans’ side. Although Ymir is a Titan herself, the reason for her attachment to Christa seems to be not only the fact that she is of royal blood.
The reason is explained clearly in a letter she wrote to Historia, which is depicted in Chapter 89 (volume 22) of the manga. However, the reason is revealed in Episode 10 of Season 2 (episode 35 overall). This episode is mostly based on Chapters 47 and 48 (volume 12) of the original manga. The revelation comes much sooner than in the original. I’ll explain the differences between them in detail below.
Ymir’s Monologue Reveals Her Past
There are several minor differences between the 10th episode of the anime’s second season and chapters 47 and 48 of the manga. First, the timing of Reiner and Bertholdt noticing the signal flares of the Survey Corps is different. The characters’ positions are also different when Reiner theorizes that the leader of the rescue party is Commander Erwin. In addition, there are scenes which were created only for the anime; the scene where Erwin gives directions to his corps was inserted just after Reiner and Bertholdt notice their signal flares. A scene with Sasha joining the rescue party is also added, something which doesn’t happen in the manga.
I’m not bothered by such minor differences. However, scenes which are distinctly different from the manga are inserted in the anime when Reiner and Bertholdt become aware of their pursuers and escape from them while taking Eren and Ymir with them. Ymir realizes the Survey Corps, including Historia, are pursuing them, so she demands to take Historia with them, to which Reiner and Bertholdt disagree.
In the manga, Ymir suggests her radical measure to Reiner and Bertholdt, and transforms into a titan to take on the corps. The anime follows the same scenes as the manga up to the moment when Ymir insists on taking Historia with them. However, to my surprise, she is persuaded by Reiner to do that some other time, and instead starts reminiscing on her past.
Her past depicted in the anime is exactly the same as her recollection of when she wrote in the letter which is sent to Historia in chapter 89. Ymir’s backstory came much sooner than it was given in the original manga.
Ymir’s backstory starts with the scene of two men calling to a girl among a group of street children and taking her with them. She was given hot food and a bed to sleep. In return, she had to call herself ‘Ymir’ and live with her new name. The girl lived as Ymir with the people who worshiped her for a while, until the day her home was raided and the worshipers were arrested. She continued as Ymir, but was made into a Titan. Ymir was left on an island and roamed the wild outside the walls as a Titan for many years. While roaming in the wild, she ends up catching a human and eating him. Her flashbacks blurred and when she became conscious again, she realized that she was in her human form again.
Ymir did whatever she could to survive, even stealing from others. In a church where she happened to be, she heard that an illegitimate child of the royal family survived under a false name. Her backstory ended when it was connected to the present after her encounter with Historia.
In the manga, Ymir writes about her experience of being a Titan up to the point when she was turned back into her human form by eating another human. Her recollection of hearing about Historia in a church isn’t included in the letter, and she talked about it at a different point in the story.
By inserting Ymir’s backstory at this point in the story, viewers can easily understand why she is so attached to Historia. Ymir had received divine punishment for telling lies to live a comfortable life but continued her wrongdoings to survive. She must have felt appreciation and gratitude towards blue-blooded Historia who treated her as a friend despite her pathetic past.
One reason the production staff of Attack on Titan placed Ymir’s back-story sooner was to explain her feelings towards Historia and her past for viewers, from which I feel their love for the anime fans.
Keep Going Forward!
The 3rd season of the anime has already been announced. I have high expectations for it, as I know how much the staff members love the anime. The new season will start with an episode of the royal government protected by Wall Sina. The story will involve not only members of the 104th Cadet Corps such as Erin, Mikasa, and Armin, but also the senior members of the Survey Corps including Erwin, Levi, and Hange. Together they will be creating the most exciting scenes of the season. I can’t wait to watch the new season which will definitely entertain us.