The popular shonen manga Attack on Titan (aka Shingeki No Kyojin) recently saw the release of the series’ 114th chapter on February 8th, 2019. In this latest chapter, author Hajime Isayama explores further the tragic backstory of Zeke Yeager, half-brother to the series’ protagonist Eren Yeager. Upon release, some fans took issue with what they perceived as a blatant depiction of anti-semitism.
The chapter, titled Sole Salvation, is told from the perspective of Zeke Yeager as he recounts his childhood spent in oppression, as well as the circumstances which led to Yeager’s inheritance of the Beast Titan. Yeager recalls how his race of people, the Eldians, were routinely oppressed and discriminated against by the fearful Marleyan government and its citizens. This could be seen in the actions of the Marley Government as they segregate the Eldians into internment zones, prevent them from holding any positions of political power within the government, and forcing the Eldians to wear an identifying armband depicting the Eldian emblem. At one point, a janitor throws water on the Yeager family and screams “You should have been exterminated, all of you!”
Some fans took offense to this imagery, citing the chapter as evidence for their claims that the Eldians are a Jewish analogue and that the entire series and its author are promoting fascism and racism:
For those who didn’t know, Hajime Isayama, the creator of AoT/SnK, is a far-right, Japanese imperialist. Attack on Titan’s current plot is about how Jews are oppressing white Germans and the secret masterminds behind everything. https://t.co/b0vqBru7ll
— Luffy Vores Law Whole (@thedreamcreek) February 11, 2019
Yeah, Attack on Titan’s whole “Jews used to rule and brutally oppress the world and fled after losing a war and are the only people who can turn into Titans and literally eat people” thing is, y’know, pretty gross and maybe a reason not to buy/read/watch it, just FYI. https://t.co/i27vBXItje
— Jessica Price (@Delafina777) February 11, 2019
Oh FUCK NO. This makes so much sense in retrospect. Giant evil mindless Jews that want to do nothing but consume and destroy? Thanks, I despise it.
I am so done with Attack on Titan and thank you for the warning. https://t.co/A0ZqaPdgn9
— Everpeach 1.0, A Collision of Miracles (@fangirlsmash) February 11, 2019
Attack on Titan is fascist propaganda but everyone has a name like “Levi Ackerman” or “Rod Reiss” because the author didn’t bother to meet a single Jew before deciding Jews controlled the world.
— Seymour Martin Dipset (@butleriano) February 12, 2019
While the Eldians do in fact face constant bigotry due to their heritage and it is apparent that the dynamic between the Eldians and the Marley government draws many parallels with the fascistic treatment of the Jewish people in Nazi Germany, to call the series anti-semitic speaks to a grossly misinterpreted and binary view of the story.
The Eldians are not treated like second-class citizens simply for existing, but rather due to the fact that their people possess the ability to turn into Titans, as well as the nation of Eldian’s history as an imperialistic, destructive force prior to the Great Titan War. These historical dangers provoked fear within the Marley government, which was disgustingly weaponized against the Eldians. Isayama does not condone the oppression faced by Eldians, but depicts their harsh reality in order to fully realize his story. In fact, one element of dramatic irony throughout the series is that the reader knows that every justification, stereotype, or attack against the Eldians are anti-Eldian fabrications created and spread by the Marleyan government.
It is also curious to paint the series as anti-semitic as the very race some fans believe represent the Jewish people are portrayed sympathetically and heroically as the heroes. The actions of the Marleyans are depicted as terrifying and a violation of human rights, while the Eldians constantly fight to regain respect, standing, and equality. Eren himself has previously directly declared war on the Marleyans, and there exists an entire faction known as Yeagerists who wish to create a new Eldian empire. If the series were truly anti-semitic, it would be odd for the race being discriminated against by the author to be sympathetic protagonists the audience is intended to cheer on and support.
Conversely, some fans took issue with the anti-semitic interpretation of the series and took to Twitter to express their frustrations and inform people shocked by the claim as to the reality of the content within Attack on Titan:
Attack on titan is written in a way where you empathize with the Eldians, if people see the Eldians as ‘jews’ it’s contradictory to call Isayama a Nazi Sympathizer. It simply goes against logic, and people should not spew nonsense and infect thousands of other people with lies
— killian (@killthegrief) February 13, 2019
What these people fail to realize is that Attack On Titan series explores a dystopian reality of the world. It’s the result of what happens when a deplorable outcome of history actually happens. People need to understand this from an unbiased and clear conceptual standpoint.
— Drunkendonutholes (@Drunkendonutho1) February 14, 2019
If you actually read the manga that you are al talking about (WAAT?!!), It is clear as day that attack on titan manga is anti war, anti racism, and espesially anti nationalist. The main fucking heroes ARE THE jews who are being opressed.
— Parasat Utebay (@Parasat_Utebay) February 12, 2019
Love how the Eldians in Attack on Titan are getting called Jews and Nazis at the same time
— Jeb ☦️🥦🗿 (@AutistJeb) February 12, 2019