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Levi (リヴァイ Rivai?), often formally referred to as Captain Levi (リヴァイ兵長 Rivai Heichō?), is the squad captain (兵士長 Heishichō?, lit. "leader of the soldiers") of the Special Operations Squad within the Scout Regiment, and is said to be humanity's strongest soldier.
Levi has short, straight black hair styled in an undercut, as well as narrow, intimidating dull blue eyes with dark circles under them and a deceptively youthful face. He is quite short, but his physique is well-developed in musculature from extensive omni-directional mobility gear usage. He is usually either frowning or expressionless; that, plus his extremely calm demeanor, often makes it difficult for others to guess what he is thinking.
He is most often seen in his Scout Regiment uniform, with a light gray button up shirt underneath along with his trademark white ascot. When embarking on expeditions outside the Walls, he also wears the Scout Regiment's green hooded cloak. When forced to take leave from his duties due to injury, Levi was seen in a black suit, plain white shirt, ascot, and dress shoes.
Levi is described as a "clean freak" by those who know him personally, as he prefers his environment and himself to be spotlessly clean. He is averse to having either himself or his equipment soiled, and he has been known to wipe down his blood-smeared blades while still on the battlefield. However, he will not hesitate to touch filth if he deems it necessary.
Despite his preoccupation with cleanliness, Levi is abrasive and not very approachable. He rarely shows emotion, giving a cold impression to others. His manner of speaking tends to be blunt and insulting, his comments are frequently coarse or otherwise inappropriate, and he is not above provoking or belittling those who oppose or irritate him. His sense of humor tends toward the vulgar, insulting, and dark. All of this makes him unsettling to a great number of people.
In his pre-Scout Regiment criminal life, when he lived in the Underground City, Levi refused to take orders from anyone (as Petra Rall tells Eren). However, after he joined the Scout Regiment, he came to greatly respect Commander Erwin Smith, whose orders he follows willingly because he believes in Erwin's vision for the scouts. He also places great trust in his subordinates.
However, Levi's obedience is strictly limited to individuals he respects, and he has no problem showing open disdain for authority from anyone outside of this circle. At Eren's tribunal, he insulted the merchants by calling them "pigs" and told the Military Police that they were not competent enough to handle Eren.
Although he rarely shows it, Levi does have a sense of morality and empathy. One of his most defining characteristics is the great value he places on preserving human life. He himself has stated that he hates unnecessary casualties, and he tells his subordinates to use their judgment so that they can avoid blunders that may cost them their lives.
Because of their hazardous profession and his personal values, he cares greatly for his subordinates' welfare. When ordered to retreat early to Wall Rose at the end of the disastrous 57th Expedition, Levi was visibly distressed that so many of his soldiers had died on a fruitless mission. As they re-entered the gate, Petra's father approached him, cheerfully talking about his daughter and her unwavering devotion to Levi. Unbeknownst to him, his daughter had just been killed; Levi remained silent, he was too overcome with grief to reply.
Though he bore no malice toward Eren, he was willing to resort to violence against him in order to save his life at his tribunal. Afterwards, he made a point of asking Eren whether he resented him for the beating. Levi also was seen to be visibly affected by the loss of his entire original Special Operations Squad at the hands of the Female Titan. He has also stated that he carries the will of his fallen comrades, and that their collective grudge against the Titans further strengthens his resolve to continue to fight. Levi risked his life against the Female Titan to retrieve Eren from her mouth and to protect Mikasa, who had gone after her recklessly looking for retribution. He sustained an injury to his leg by doing so.
While Levi shows loyalty and empathy for his comrades, he shows no mercy towards the Titans, slaughtering them indiscriminately with obvious indifference. When dealing with individuals he perceives to be enemies to mankind, Levi is capable of behaving sadistically, even vindictively. For example, when the Female Titan was captured, Levi told her he enjoyed watching her suffer and described in chilling detail how he intended to mutilate her human body.
Though Levi is aware that his battle skill is in a different league from that of almost any other human soldier alive, he is not particularly arrogant about it, as he knows from experience that no human soldier is invulnerable. Few will argue with his claims that only he can handle certain difficult tasks, because he has proven his ability to accomplish them.
Despite his obedience to Erwin, Levi operates rather independently. Many of his Titan kills are solo, accomplished with little direct cooperation from other soldiers (due to him usually assigning them to hunt other Titans in the vicinity). Although he is looked up to by many, and does not hesitate to give orders when necessary, he does not see himself as a leader in the way Erwin is. He does not seem to have much use for hierarchy in general, and he leaves decisions up to his subordinates as often as he can.
Levi lived the life of a thug in the underground city below the capital, along with his friend Furlan Church. Later, they were joined by Isabel Magnolia. The three somehow stole and trained themselves to use ODM gear, using it to commit various crimes to make money and save up to get citizenship on the surface.
StoryErwin Smith, Miche Zacharius and several of their subordinates then Erwin blackmailed the "Thug Trio" into joining the Scout Regiment. This was actually part of a mission given by a nobleman named Lovof which consisted in stealing a document in Erwin's possession proving that Lovof stole money.
During his training days, Levi appeared to be an insolent yet skillful soldier. Many members of the Scout Regiment were not pleased that criminals joined them, however this feeling changed into admiration after Levi managed to kill an abnormal Titan with Furlan and Isabel's help on their first expedition. While Furlan and Isabel died on the next part of the expedition, Levi went on to become "Humanity's Strongest Soldier" and head of the Special Operations Squad.
Levi is seen leaving Trost District with the Scout Regiment in the year 850. He leads his squad in assisting Hange as she pursues an Abnormal Titan. He saves Oruo from being eaten by said Titan, after which Oruo declares that he will follow Levi all his life. They then find Ilse Langnar's beheaded corpse in the hollow of a tree and her battered notebook on the ground. Levi identifies the latter as "her report."
Levi is then seen leaving Trost District, along with the rest of the Scout Regiment, on the 56th Expedition Beyond the Walls—the same day the Colossal Titan attacks said District. He is seen rescuing a dying soldier from a Titan's grasp before killing other two Titans. As his subordinate dies, Erwin orders him to Trost, because it is possible that the gate has been breached. After Eren seals the Trost gate and Armin Arlelt retrieves him from his Titan body, the two of them plus Mikasa find themselves surrounded by Titans. Before it can attack, Levi swoops down to their rescue killing it. Three days later, after Eren awakes in the dungeon beneath the courthouse, Levi assures him that the higher-ups will let him join the Scout Regiment—and that he himself will make sure Eren does not get out of hand. Should that happen, Levi says, he will not hesitate to cut Eren down.
After Eren issues a verbal challenge to the spectators during his trial, Levi violently beats him on the spot, mainly by kicking him, and mockingly observes that while chained on his knees, Eren is perfectly placed for Levi's kicks. Armin has to restrain an infuriated Mikasa from coming to Eren's rescue and killing Levi. She glares at Levi after the trial, and Levi appears unsettled by her. The beating was an act of theater which Mikasa was not aware of, designed to convince all witnesses that Levi can keep Eren under control, while the Military Police Brigade cannot.
After the trial, Levi hands Eren over to his Special Squad for the next month. They move into the castle that is the old Scout Regiment HQ inside Wall Rose. Levi orders Eren to sleep in the castle dungeon, so that if he accidentally transforms, he will not cause problems. During this month, Hange conducts experiments to try to get Eren to transform. If Eren goes out of control in Titan form, Levi intends to cut him out of the nape in a manner that would sever his human limbs, which would grow back in any case. However, Eren fails to transform, and his hands do not heal from his bites. The Squad decides to postpone any further experiments—until, while having tea with them, Eren leans over to pick up a spoon and accidentally generates a partial Titan body. The alarmed Squad threatens him, and Levi has to defuse the situation. Levi tells Eren not to take their actions personally, and that they have good intentions. Later, after Hange explains why Eren triggered his Titan form, Levi's entire squad punishes themselves, and apologizes to Eren for acting on assumption.
During the 57th Exterior Scouting Mission, Levi and his team are ordered to ride in the safest area of Erwin's formation. When the formation is suddenly attacked by a horde of Titans coming at their right flank, they change course toward the Forest of Giant Trees, and Levi's squad takes the central route. Once the Female Titan appears, his squad begins to beg Levi to give them orders, but he continues to ride forward and look straight ahead. Eren badly wants to transform and fight the Female Titan, but Petra and her comrades urge him to trust them, and Eren hesitates. Levi tells Eren he is not wrong for wanting to transform—that nobody can know the correct choice until after they have made it and there are results. Whatever Eren chooses to do, Levi says, he should do it and believe he will not regret it. Eren declares that he trusts in his squad's victory, and they keep going through the Forest. This enables the Scout Regiment to capture the Female Titan.
Shortly afterwards, Levi separates from his squad. He reunites with Erwin and prepares to extract the human in control of the Female Titan from the nape of her neck. He and Mike attack her and try to cut her hands, only to discover her ability to harden her skin. After Erwin orders the cannons to be loaded with explosives and aimed at the Female Titan's wrists, Levi, standing on her head, taunts her with threats of violence, telling her he would like to face her in her human form over the deaths of countless of his soldiers. In response, the Female Titan begins to roar. Shortly after, Titans come at her from all directions seeking to devour her. On Erwin's order, Levi and the rest of the Scout Regiment elite try to protect her from them, but they fail. Erwin orders the Scouts to retreat back to the Calaneth District. However, Erwin notes that the steam from the Titan bodies will make it difficult for the rest of the Scout Regiment to see the signal flares. He then realizes that the human inside the Female Titan may have escaped, and he orders Levi to replenish his gas canisters and blades.
After the Female Titan returns and kills Levi's entire squad, he and Mikasa join forces to retrieve Eren from her. Levi tells Mikasa to distract the Titan but avoid trying to kill her. Levi then proceeds to attack the Female Titan, and after a series of successful attacks he incapacitates her. Seeing that the Female Titan is now helpless, Mikasa disobeys Levi's orders and attempts to assassinate her. In saving her from the Female Titan's hardened fist, Levi injures his left leg. Using the momentum gained from the last attack, he cuts through the Female Titan's facial muscles, causing her to open her mouth and reveal Eren inside. He grabs Eren and flees with him and Mikasa, whom he scolds for having risked the life of her "special friend" for the sake of vengeance.
During the Scout Regiment's retreat to Calaneth, the remainder of the scouts are attacked by several Titans after one of the soldiers went to retrieve back the body of his fallen comrade. As the Titans close in on one of the carts, Levi, who cannot fight because of his injury, orders that the dead be rolled out of the cart to lighten the load so that they can outrun the Titans. One of the corpses is that of Petra; her shroud blows off, and her body is trampled. However, the unloading of the dead enables the living to outrun the pursuing Titans.
As they enter the Calaneth gate after retreating, the Scout Regiment receives a hostile response from the public for their failed mission. Levi is approached by Petra's father, who reveals that she wrote to him frequently. He tells Levi that, as a father, he is worried about Petra's decision to dedicate her life to him, as she is still quite young and has her whole life ahead of her. Levi continues to walk silently ahead without responding.
A few days later, Eren is summoned to the Capitol for a trial to decide his fate. Beforehand, Levi, Erwin, Eren, and the other survivors reunite in the old Scout Regiment HQ. Armin tells them his theory about the Female Titan's true identity. Levi himself, still injured, does not participate in the subsequent operation in the Stohess District. However, in the final moments of Eren and Annie's battle, Levi, despite his injury, rescues Eren from his Titan form before Annie's crystallization of her own Titan can trap him.
Levi is excellent at using the omni-directional mobility gear, to a point that everyone says he is the best at it. He is also said to be as valuable as an entire brigade, far outweighing all of the other soldiers. Furthermore, he was considered extremely strong even before joining the Scout Regiment.
Aside from his extraordinary battle skill, Levi has shown a profound ability to quickly analyze situations, and make calculated decisions in the heat of battle. This has given him the ability to save himself and his comrades on many occasions such as when he realizes the Female Titan cannot be killed easily because of her skin hardening and regenerative abilities, and subsequently saves Mikasa when she tries to slay the Female Titan herself. However, Levi admits that he does not believe a person can be right all the time, and some scenarios are beyond a person's control.
Levi has formidable physical strength, which is no doubt evident by his mastery of the vertical maneuvering equipment.
Despite his small stature, his body is well built with heavy muscle, making him very strong, and easily able to defeat his opponents. At one point, Levi intercepts one of the Female Titan's attacks, by using her hand to launch himself towards her mouth before she could hit Mikasa. This does not stop him from injuring himself though.
When Levi first joined the Scout Regiment, he wielded one of his two swords in a reverse grip which his section commander noted was "wrong". However, this method has greatly helped in his ability to slay Titans. This method involves holding his right sword backhanded with the blade facing out and being behind him instead of in front of him. By doing this, the blades cut in a "circle" around him, and give him the ability to utilize spinning and other rotating attacks, allowing him to maintain incredible speed and agility while fighting. At the same time, this helps him keep his energy up without wasting stamina and strength needlessly, enabling him to fight for longer periods of time and take multiple targets out simultaneously.
- Eren Jaeger - As humanity's strongest soldier, Levi commands great respect from Eren. Upon encountering Eren personally, Levi treated him like an animal, wary of his Titan shifting power, though he was impressed by Eren's passion. Upon getting to know him, Levi began treating Eren as he does most others: dismissively and coldly. However, Levi also becomes a mentor of sorts to Eren, understanding the potential good the young recruit is capable of, and offering advice during Eren's moments of doubt. He later becomes more patient with Eren, forgiving his mistakes, and nurturing his growth as a soldier, and as a vanguard for humanity's hope.
- Erwin Smith - Levi and Erwin's relationship was not initially an amicable one. After being captured and blackmailed by Erwin into joining the Scout Regiment, Levi at first wanted to kill him, but he later chose to set aside his revenge. Erwin eventually became one of the few people Levi places full trust in, obeying his every command and judgment. However, this did not stop Levi from speaking in his usual rude manner around him.
- Hange Zoë - Levi and Hange did not interact when he joined the Scout Regiment, although he amazed her with his skills. By the events of the story, Levi and Hange are on good terms, though Levi is annoyed by her obsession with capturing Titans, and dislikes her recklessness. Levi has gradually become more familiar with Hange, able to comfortably reach out and reprimand her when she gets too carried away.
- Mikasa Ackermann - Mikasa quickly took a disliking to Levi, one of the first actions she witnesses is of him beating Eren at his military trial. Since then, Mikasa held a grudge against Levi, swearing to one day make him pay for his actions. She would later lash out at Levi, blaming him for Eren's capture by the Female Titan, and her carelessness would later result in Levi needing to rescue her at the cost of injuring his leg.
- Petra Rall - Petra served under Levi in the Scout Regiment and was later hand picked by him to be in his first Special Operations Squad. She harbored a deep respect for him and was proud to be a part of his team. Levi seemed to trust her and her capabilities as a soldier, as she held one of the highest records for killing Titans (48 assist kills and 10 solo kills). After Petra was killed by the Female Titan Levi guarded her body until the Scouts had to retreat back to the Wall and was horrified after her father informed him of her intentions to dedicate her life to serving him and the squad, possibly because her father assumed that she had feelings for him.
- Isabel Magnolia - They were close friends when they lived below the capital. She used to name him as her big brother. Her death was one of the reasons why Levi became a part so important of the Scout Regiment.
- Furlan Church - They were close friends when they lived below the capital. He was Levi's confidante when they lived in the Underground City.
- Levi has ranked first place in two Character Popularity Polls.
- He is attributed with the literal title of "leader of the soldiers" (兵士長 Heishichō?) (usually translated as "Captain") among the Survey Corps. However, his comrades and subordinates usually call him by the shortened title of "Lance Corporal" (兵長 Heichō?). This has led to the wrong idea that he is actually a Lance Corporal, a somewhat low rank.
- His name is Hebrew in origin, and means "attached" or "joining".
- His romanized name means "revival" in Japanese.
- "Levi" is also a diminutive of the Hungarian given name "Levente", which means "existing/small being" and is Slavic in origin. The Slavic version of the word "Lovanta" means "hunter".
- His name was inspired by a person from the American documentary 'Jesus Camp'.
- Levi's age is one of several mysteries Isayama has hinted about in interviews. He once stated that Levi is "surprisingly old", but declined to give an exact answer beyond stating that he is "older than 30".
- In Levi, Erwin, and Hange's character interview, it was said that Levi forcefully bathes Hange by knocking her unconscious.
- Levi seems to have a fondness for black tea or enjoys collecting tea leaves.
- At a recent convention, Isayama has said that Levi had once wanted to open a tea shop.
- His liquor tolerance is not bad. More specifically, he does not get drunk.
- Levi takes three-minute combat showers.
- He only sleeps an average of 2–3 hours.
- Isayama has said that if he could say one thing to Levi, it would be, "Go quickly to sleep," as Levi suffers from slight bouts of insomnia. Also, Levi does not change clothes before going to sleep, as it is such a non-event for him. Rather than sleeping in a bed, Levi just sleeps in his chair.
- It was also confirmed that due to living in the Underground in an unsanitary state in his younger years, he longed for a clean home. That may be the reason for his obsession with cleaning.
- Isayama has revealed that Levi sometimes wishes he was a bit taller.
- Levi's short height was inspired in part by Might Adam's Astro Boy, and in part by Kyuzo from the film "The Seven Samurai."
- In Isayama's interview he was asked about Levi's preferred type of woman and answered "A type of woman he likes? Since he’s short, small people tends to like tall people… I guess he might like tall people.”
- Levi currently finds Eren to be the best at cleaning.
- In a Q and A session, Levi was asked from a fan, what is his type. He responded by saying "It must meet my cleaning standards."
- Levi's blood type is A.
- After Levi was injured when fighting with the Female Titan, he wore a black jacket. According to Isayama, the jacket was usually worn by someone else but it was left near Levi who grabbed it and put it on. Isayama wanted to convey the feeling that Levi was taking time off.
- Levi is known to cut his own hair, using clippers.
- Levi was aware that Oruo Bozad was imitating him and thought it to be annoying.