If an anime is as popular and beloved as as Attack on Titan, haters and conspiracy theorists cannot be far behind. But unlike other anime that haters just nitpick on, the tale of Eren and the Survey Corps has attracted both legitimate criticism and troubling controversy. After some readers gave the manga and anime a deeper look, many have come to the unshakable conclusion that Attack on Titan is a propaganda story that promotes controversial suggestions at best and harmful ideologies at worst.
Some fan theories sound extremely plausible, while others sound too outlandish to be taken seriously. It’s up to the readers to decide if they’ll believe these or otherwise. From being labelled as Far Right propaganda to it being a thinly veiled anti-Semitic work, here 10 of the most popular Attack on Titan fan theories (that may or may not be related to one another) that claim that it has a hidden agenda of its own.
10 Dot Pixis Was Inspired By Akiyama Yoshifuru
Not counting historians, nobody outside of Japan knows much about Yoshifuru, which is perhaps a good thing. For those who may not know, Yoshifuru was a general of the Japanese Imperial Army was responsible for extremely cruel and inhumane crimes against Korean and Chinese prisoners of war. The war crimes that have been associated with the general are still being refuted by the Japanese government.
But in the manga’s case, mangaka Hajime Isayama revealed that Dot Pixis’ creation was inspired by Yoshifuru. This caused an online uproar, as Isayama has yet to acknowledge the general’s real life atrocities and the accusations that he portrayed the controversial figure in a benevolent and even heroic light.
9 Blind Pro-Japanese Nationalism
Many fans have alleged the anime pushes Japanese Prime Minister Abe’s nationalistic ideologies, like the fact that the nation, its citizens and their needs are supreme. Other people (races, ethnicities) take a backseat to said priorities.
The tenno philosophy – where Japan’s World War crimes are whitewashed and every criticism of the military’s action is taken as a criticism of the country and its citizens – takes a front seat here. To say that this raised a few eyebrows would be an understatement.
8 The Titans Are Basically Jews
Or specifically, the history of the Jews is what inspired the mangaka to come up with Titans. The manga explores the deep hatred between two races of people – Eldians and Marleyans – with both sides blaming the other for the wars they’re facing.
The Marleyans eventually round up all the Eldians, have them branded, perform scientific and inhumane experiments on them, and eventually have them killed off (or turned into Titans). Needless to say, this is reminiscent of how the Jews were treated under the Nazi regime.
7 Marley & Eldia Represent China & Japan, Respectively
In other conspiracy theory that does a complete 180 to the one stated above, it’s believed that Marley and Eldia actually symbolize China and Japan, respectively.
Since the manga is from the point of view of a Japanese author and artist, it stands to reason that the persecuted Eldians are the Japanese, while the evil Marleyans (who want to annihilate the Eldians) are the Chinese.
6 Pro-Government Propaganda
In the manga, it is revealed that while the Marleyans committed atrocities on the Eldians, they were also busy re-writing history for their own children. Marleyan school books taught children that the Eldians were corrupt and ruthless people who subjugated the Marleyans, and even carried out genocide against them! Basically, the Eldians (apparently) deserved their grim fate.
With the previous theories in mind, is this Isayama’s way of telling the Chinese and Koreans that they shouldn’t blindly believe what their governments told them about Yoshifuru?
5 There’s Ideological Inspiration From Carl Schmitt, A Nazi
It is alleged that Schmitt’s book, The Concept of the Political, was partly responsible for the portrayal of the hostile dynamic between Eldians and Marleyans. Schmitt claimed that an enemy was not an enemy simply because they looked different or came from a different class of society.
Rather, “the enemy” should be considered enemies only when they threaten one’s “way of life,” which would make coexistence impossible and even detestable.
4 Zeke & Gandhi’s Messed Up Notion Of Resistance
Zeke seems to have gone the Gandhi Way in the manga. Despite being an Eldian royal, his idea of ending the war was genocide – he wanted to sterilize his people so that their race would eventually die out on its own. Believe it or not, Gandhi himself was quoted as saying something similar.
To wit: “Hitler killed five million Jews. It is the greatest crime of our time. But the Jews should have offered themselves to the butcher’s knife. They should have thrown themselves into the sea from cliffs. As it is, they succumbed anyway in their millions.” The similarities are impossible to deny.
3 Japan’s Inherent Racism Via The Absence Of Black Characters
There’s no denying that Japan is a largely homogenous society that (for lack of better words) looks down on intermingling of the races. There’s a reason one doesn’t hear much of immigrants in Japan. This is why speaking up for Jews or showing their plights is extremely ironic coming from a mangaka who has showed a total of zero black characters in his depiction of a European town (from an alternate reality).
No one’s asking for a black majority class, but how is it possible that in a continent as vast as this fictionalized Europe, there was not a single black survivor when the Titans attacked humanity? Even when Eldians and Marleyans are shown in the manga, they’re all white. The only other nation of note is Hizuru, which was obviously based on historical Japan. The fact that these are the only races (so far) in the story raises more questions than answers.
2 The Disenchantment Of The Japanese Youth
Some theorists suggest the walls in the anime are a symbol for the corporate walls that the Japanese youth face. Like the very strict Japanese corporate lifestyle, these walls are indestructible, insurmountable and the only way one can get through them is if the Titans (who are clearly the corporate bosses) break through the walls.
Nobody questions what’s outside the walls because they believe they’re safe on the inside, despite living the lives of caged birds and believing a bunch of hollow lies.
1 The Story Is A Metaphor For World War II
Corruption, genocide, military and sacrifices are big themes in the anime and they’re as are clear the Germanic aesthetic influences. This is why some fans believe that the Titans are meant to represent Americans, and the series portrays that time in World War II when Japanese soldiers were in full retreat following America’s entry into the global conflict.
Obviously, things don’t go as planned and a lot of humans (aka the Japanese) are slaughtered by the titans (aka the Americans). Could Attack on Titan be a fantastical retelling of Japan’s eventual defeat in World War II, or will it be wish fulfillment that sees them winning? Only time will tell.
Attack On Titan has attracted some controversy, to say the least, with many accusing it of being propaganda