Attack on Titan creator Hajime Isayama shares why he couldn’t change the ending


After nearly a decade on the air, the anime Attack on Titan came to an end this past weekend, reigniting a debate among fans that first flared up when Hajime Isayama’s Attack on Titan manga ended in 2021. Many hailed the ending as a masterstroke while others were unsatisfied with the conclusion, which takes us many years into the future to show how cycles of war and violence repeat. Some even labeled the sacrifice of Eren Yeager, the lead character of the show, as “pointless.”

The debate over the fruitfulness of the ending has been going on since the manga wrapped up. Many who were unhappy with the extended flash-forward even expected the last act to be changed for the anime. However, that did not happen. In fact, the creator of the manga, Hajime Isayama, says that the ending was more or less set in stone from the start.

Speaking with The New York Times, Isayama touched on the story’s tragic ending and why he could not have changed it even if he wanted. “That is something I had in mind right from the get-go,” he said. “Along the way, certain aspects of the story didn’t go as expected, and I adapted and fleshed out certain aspects. But I would say the ending of the story didn’t change much.”

Isyama drew a poignant parallel between his obligation toward the ending he first envisioned and Eren’s fate in Attack on Titan. Once he had started writing the story with a concrete ending in mind, it continued to roll toward its inevitable conclusion:

"It would have been nice if I could have changed the ending. Writing manga is supposed to be freeing. But if I was completely free, then I should have been able to change the ending. I could have changed it and said I wanted to go in a different direction. But the fact is that I was tied down to what I had originally envisioned when I was young. And so, manga became a very restrictive art form for me, similar to how the massive powers that Eren acquired ended up restricting him."

Isyama also said that he had never expected his series to become as popular as it did, and that he wasn’t quite comfortable with the responsibility that came fame. Despite these struggle, he said he was glad the anime reached a worldwide audience.

Could Attack on Titan have a happy ending?

The story of Attack on Titan has always been about the cycle of hatred and how love briefly finds its way through the cracks. The manga and anime both end with Paradis enjoying years of peace before war comes to the island once again, continuing the cycle.

But does that mean Eren’s actions made no difference at all? Perhaps not. Isayama believes a happy ending, where “everything was fine and dandy” could’ve been written, but it wouldn’t have been believable.

“I guess that could have been possible,” he said. “At the same time, the end of fighting and the end of contention itself kind of seems hokey. It kind of seems like it’s not even believable. It’s just not plausible in the world we’re living in right now. And so, sadly, I had to give up on that kind of happy ending.”

Next. For All Mankind and 5 other great, under-watched genre shows you should see. dark

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