Jean Kirschtein (ジャン・キルシュタイン Jan Kirushutain?) is a graduate of the 104th Cadet Corps, among whom he ranked 6th best. Jean hails from Wall Rose's Trost District, and joined the military with hopes of obtaining a peaceful life as part of the Military Police Brigade, but would later find himself joining the Scout Regiment.
AppearanceIn the anime Jean has short, light ash-brown hair with his sides and back trimmed shorter and of a darker hue. In the manga, it is white on top and his undercut is black. After overthrowing the government, his hair appears slightly longer than before. He has small, intense light-brown eyes, and is said to have the same vicious look in them as Eren does. Jean is of average height and muscular build, and has a scowl similar to Eren's but is said to have a long face (a "horse face"). He is often seen wearing the typical uniform of the Scout Regiment worn with an olive gray button-up shirt.
His casual attire mostly consists of a white button-up shirt, dark pants, and a dark-brown vest.
Jean has a blunt personality. He holds no restraint when it comes to speaking his mind, even when he knows it would not be wise to do so or when it could spark conflict. Jean is also pragmatic: he has a strong aversion to exposing himself to dangerous situations, and has openly admitted his desire to join the Military Police is due to wanting an easy and safe life.
During his time as a trainee, Jean was extremely hot-headed, easily becoming frustrated and quick to resort to violence when pushed. Jean was also very cynical about defeating the Titans, believing that humanity has no chance against them. He openly mocked more idealistic individuals like Eren, and saw resisting the Titans as a hopeless cause.
Despite his shortcomings, Marco describes Jean as a natural leader, being able to understand others and assess situations well because of his flaws. Indeed, during the the battle for Trost, Jean proves capable of leading his fellow soldiers when they are left confused and leaderless, and rallies Armin and Reiner in an attack on the Female Titan, knowing that not fighting her would endanger the rest of the Scout Regiment.
Although he presents himself as self-centered, Jean places high value on the lives of his comrades, and is ashamed and horrified when he must leave helpless allies behind to save himself and others. He was also willing to risk his life even if just to slow down the Female Titan, as refusing to do so would have certainly resulted in countless more deaths. Jean later criticized Erwin's plan of withholding information from his subordinates out fear that there was a spy among them, feeling that the plan did not justify the lives lost because of it.
Jean's first instinct is to always see life through cautious and doubtful eyes. He was hesitant to accept Armin and Reiner's plan of having the Mysterious Titan fight for them.
Jean hails from Wall Rose's peaceful town of Trost. Though he lived a relatively normal childhood under the loving care of his mother, Jean had always wished to live the comfortable life of a proud Military Police soldier in the inner district of Wall Sina.
During year 847, Jean has a omni-directional mobility gear drill in his hometown, Trost District. He stirs up a fight with Sasha Braus and Conny Springer, and their commotion eventually catches the eye of Commander Pyxis. To settle things, Jean and Sasha are to compete in a cooking competition. Losing their boar meat supply to Sasha, Jean heads back to the mess hall where he finds his mother who cooked him an omelet. He disrespects her and orders her to leave. Jean soon uses his mother's omelet in the cooking contest, somehow beating Sasha's meat dish. Afterwards, Jean offers her his hand and the two reconcile.
In year 848, Jean goes on a wilderness exercise and is assigned to a group led by Marco Bodt. His group is ambushed by thieves who steal their omni-directional mobility gear and take Christa Lenz. Jean sees to it that they rescue her and reacquire their omni-directional mobility gear back.
After becoming of age, Jean enlisted into the military, joining what would be the 104th Cadet Corps. On the day of his enlistment, Jean admitted his desire of joining the Military Police, and received a headbutt from Keith Sadies for his troubles. That night, Jean would encounter Eren Jaeger for the first time. The two immediately took a disliking towards each other and their respective ideals.
Jean would perform well during his training, motivated by his ambitious dream of ranking amongst the top 10 to join the Police Brigade and his desire to outdo Eren.
As part of the 104th, Jean succeeded in ranking in the top 10 of its graduates, placing just under Eren and coming in at sixth. After the graduation ceremony, Jean, proud of his accomplishment and eager to join the Military Police, got into an altercation with Eren. Fancying himself a realist, Jean's ideals brought him to blows with the more idealistic Eren, who criticized Jean as a coward.
Following the second attack of the Colossal Titan, Jean, along with the rest of the 104th Training, were sent to the front lines to deal with the Titans that had begun entering the city. Only days away from joining the Military Police, Jean tries to take his frustrations out on Eren, but the latter commands him to pull himself together for the sake of their allies.Later, due to a shortage of maneuvering equipment fuel, Jean and his fellow soldiers are left unable to fight. Led by Mikasa, he and the rest of the group rush towards the HQ to resupply. When Mikasa runs out of gas, Jean takes the lead, but quickly loses faith in his ability to shoulder the lives of others. Soon after, a soldier runs out of fuel and the Titans swarm him. Seeing the opportunity, Jean commands everyone to take advantage of the distraction and make a break for the military HQ to refuel. Jean successfully leads the group to safety, but to his horror, several soldiers were left to die because of his command.
Finding the cowering resupply team, Jean strikes one in anger, telling them they are responsible for the soldiers who were killed. Soon after, Mikasa, Armin and Conny arrived with the help of the Mysterious Titan. Still having to deal with the Titans in the headquarters, Jean is made part of the second group in Armin's plan to clear the supply room. Jean manages to slay his assigned Titan, and the plan succeeds.
After resupplying, he stays back with Reiner and Annie. After Reiner suggests helping the Mysterious Titan out, Jean is very hesitant, as they had just barely escaped with their lives, and he is unwilling to risk it again for a Titan. Fortunately, they do not have to because the Titan broke itself free in order to attack another Titan, collapsing soon after. Witnessing Eren emerge from the nape of the Mysterious Titan's neck, Jean ends up being one of the first people to learn about Eren's Titan shifting ability. In the aftermath of the Battle of Trost, Jean finds the body of his friend, Marco, whose unceremonious demise greatly disturbs Jean.
Later, he and the rest of the 104th Training burn the corpses of their fallen comrades in a bonfire. Watching the bones of his friends burn, Jean remembers Eren's speech and Marco's compliment about his strengths. Mourning Marco's death and internalizing his words of encouragement, Jean asks the other trainees which branch of the military they are planning to join. Against his own wishes and fears, Jean tearfully declares that he will join the Scout Regiment. During graduation, despite fearing what might happen to him in the future as he would inevitably encounter more Titans, Jean joins the Scout Regiment instead of the Military Police Brigade.
Not long into the expedition, Jean encounters the Female Titan. Cooperating with Armin and Reiner, Jean engages the Female Titan, believing that if he does not at least slow it down, it will continue to wipe out more and more soldiers. The three succeed in confronting the Titan, but are quickly overpowered and are nearly killed, though they all escape with their lives. Following the battle, Jean desperately tries to locate his lost horse. With only Reiner's horse present, someone would most certainly need to be left behind. Luckily, Christa arrives with Jean's horse in tow.
Making their way to Titan Forest, Jean and the others are ordered to perch among its tall branches to distract Titans from entering while Erwin and Eren handle the Female Titan. Jean is surprised to see how the Titans learn to climb the trees in order to reach them. While they wait, Armin confides to Jean his belief that their commander had suspected a spy amongst them but declined to reveal this knowledge. Jean questions the morality of such a decision, but Armin defends Erwin, stating that it was a necessary risk, and the lives it cost are justified if gambles are ever to succeed, though Jean has his doubts.
After the expedition fails, Jean returns safely to Wall Rose. Days later, due to both having similar eyes and demeanor, he is chosen to pose as Eren for his trial, leaving the real Eren free to help in the final attempt to capture the Female Titan.
Following the second appearance of the Female Titan, at Eren's bedside, Jean finally learns about Annie's true identity from Armin and how she encased herself in a crystal to avoid interrogation. He also finds out about the Titans similar to the Colossal Titan inside the Walls being used due to their hardening abilities. Jean and Armin head down to the meeting between Commander Erwin Smith and the head of the Military Police Brigade, Nile Dawk.
|Highly competent and skilled at the vertical equipment and good at assessing his situation at any given time, but is too prompt to unsheathe his sword and can spark conflict with his team members.|
|— Keith Sadies about Jean|
Jean is highly adept at using omni-directional mobility gear, being able to maneuver well even on open terrain, which is considered extremely difficult. He has also shown his capability in being able to attack and slay Titans efficiently even without his proper equipment and can successfully maneuver around them in order to directly attack their nape or simply avoid them. Jean is also an exceptionally level-headed individual, able to see the big picture and make tactically wise decisions when it counts. It was these traits that earned Jean his rank as 6th best among the 104th squad.
- Marco Bodt - Since their days as trainees, Marco has been Jean’s closest friend and confidant. Jean would occasionally mock Marco for his idealistic reasons for joining the Military Police, insisting that the only reason anyone would join would be for the safety and comfort. Despite this, it was Marco who encouraged him to accept his abilities as a leader, and his death at Trost had a life-altering impact on Jean.
- Eren Jaeger - Jean and Eren initially share a fierce rivalry which stems from their differing view points: while Jean sees Eren’s eagerness to join the Survey Corps as suicidal and foolish, Eren sees Jean’s desire of joining the Military Police as cowardly and selfish. It was actually Jean’s desire to outdo Eren that would push him to improve himself during training. Despite their bitter rivalry, which would occasionally turn violent, Jean also respects Eren to a certain degree, admitting that he lacks the latter’s courage. Upon realizing Eren’s potential as a Titan shifter and the hope he represents for mankind, Jean sets aside his enmity for Eren.
- Mikasa Ackermann - Jean has had a huge crush on Mikasa ever since he met her, and admires her beautiful black hair, although Mikasa has more or less remained indifferent to Jean. During casual conversation, Jean tends to blush and stutter around Mikasa and immediately jumped to her rescue when a Titan threatened her. Despite his crush, Jean does not sympathize with Mikasa’s devotion to Eren, stating that most people do not share her willingness to throw their lives away for him. It was this same devotion that partially fueled Jean’s resentment of Eren.
- Armin Arlelt - Although Jean was initially put off by Armin’s dedication to Eren, the two eventually manage to find common ground in their similarly rational natures. Jean and Armin often share complex conversations of morality, strategy, and the problems at hand. While Jean usually takes a more humanistic stand, Armin will often defend a more pragmatic point of view. Despite their differences, Jean and Armin gradually become friends.
- Hajime Isayama has said his favorite character is Jean.
- "Jean" is the French variant of "John", meaning "Blessed by God."
- When feeling great confliction, Jean has a habit of tightly clenching his fist and staring at it intently.
- In the first anime opening, a soldier can be seen doing a flip with their maneuvering equipment. However, many people were convinced that this was Jean, so much so, that the production staff acknowledged it to be true and even had him do the same maneuver when fighting the Female Titan.