“Attack on Titan”: Did Eren Reincarnate as a ‘Bird’? The Meaning Behind the Story’s Conclusion About Freedom


*Note: This article contains spoilers for the anime “Attack on Titan: The Final Season Part 2”. Viewer discretion is advised.

With the broadcast of the final episode of the TV anime series “Attack on Titan: The Final Season Part 2”, there has been renewed interest in the conclusion of “Attack on Titan”. Particularly, the hypothesis that “Eren reincarnated as a bird” has garnered much attention.

This hypothesis is based on a scene depicted in both the manga and the anime’s final episode. Three years after the battle to stop the “Rumbling”, Mikasa visits a tree on a hill, close to Eren’s grave. Overwhelmed by memories and a sense of loss, she tearfully expresses her wish to meet Eren again.

At that moment, a bird pecks at Mikasa’s scarf, drapes it around her neck, and flies away. Mikasa, looking up at the bird, calls out Eren’s name and thanks it for wrapping the scarf around her.

This scarf is significant to Mikasa, given to her by Eren when he saved her life as a child, symbolizing their bond. It is memorable how Eren, during a Survey Corps mission where death loomed over them, strongly declared to Mikasa that he would wrap her scarf “again and again” and “forever.” Against this backdrop, the final scene where Mikasa addresses the bird as Eren is poignant.

However, this scene is open to interpretation. One possibility is that Mikasa, seeing a bird coincidentally wrapping the scarf, is reminded of Eren and expresses her gratitude anew. Another is that she genuinely perceives the bird as Eren.

Supporting the theory that Eren reincarnated as a bird, the species of bird that wrapped Mikasa’s scarf is speculated to be a Pomarine Jaeger, interestingly linking to Eren’s name.

Additionally, in the episode “Dawn of Humanity,” the scene seamlessly transitions from Eren’s flashback to a bird flying away, suggesting a parallel between Eren and the bird.

Eren’s Freedom from the ‘Cage’

Another point of discussion is the portrayal of Falco in his debut scene. During the war between Marley and the Middle Eastern Alliance, Falco, having briefly lost consciousness, reaches out to a bird in the sky, muttering about escaping from there.

Later, in “Dawn of Humanity,” snippets of Eren’s memories include Falco’s image, raising the interpretation that a bird with Eren’s consciousness was overlooking Falco on the battlefield.

Chronologically, this interpretation has inconsistencies as Eren was still alive at that time. However, some suggest that Eren’s consciousness resided in the bird retroactively, and this debate remains unresolved.

Nonetheless, it seems clear that Hajime Isayama, the author, intentionally crafted these scenes, possibly hinting to the readers that “Eren reincarnated as a bird.”

In “Attack on Titan,” birds are one of the most important motifs. The story begins with humanity, trapped within walls, recalling the “humiliation of being caged.” Subsequently, Eren joins the Survey Corps, symbolized by the “Wings of Freedom.” The bird, unbound and soaring in the sky, symbolized Eren’s ultimate goal of freedom.

In the end, this motif takes an ironic turn. As Eren initiates the “Rumbling” and transforms into the grotesque “Founding Titan”, his silhouette appears as if suspended in a giant birdcage, hinting at Eren’s loss of freedom and predetermined fate as a puppet.

Considering this, the final portrayal of Eren as a bird holds significant meaning. Driven by a fate of massacre, Eren loses his life due to Mikasa’s decision, but in doing so, gains true freedom… In a sense, Eren “becomes a bird,” escaping the cage.

Eren’s relentless pursuit of freedom in his life is almost mythic in scale, resembling characters from legends.

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