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Titans (巨人 Kyojin?, lit. "Giant(s)") are the false primary antagonists and serve as the primary catalyst in the events of the Attack on Titan series. They are a race of giant humanoids that were thought to have first appeared 107 years ago and rapidly exterminated humanity to the point of near-extinction. In reality, the Titans are transformed Eldians that have roamed the earth for nearly 2,000 years since the days of Ymir Fritz.
Titans greatly resemble nude human beings. They are bipedal creatures with the same number and arrangement of limbs and features one would expect in human beings. They are all deformed by human standards to a greater or lesser degree, ranging from minor abnormalities in proportions (enlarged head, small limbs, etc.) to apparently lacking skin and subcutaneous tissues, although they do not bleed from such deformities. The vast majority of Titans have a masculine body shape, although all of them lack reproductive organs.
Many Titans have exceptionally wide mouths with an enormous number of small, square teeth. Although some only possess canines, a majority of Titans lack them. In all likelihood, they have and use incisors for their primary activity of eating humans. Titans do not possess a complete or functioning digestive tract, and merely have a stomach-like cavity that eventually fills up with what they swallow. After consuming a certain amount, they are forced to regurgitate and empty out the cavity before they can eat more humans.
Titans are subconsciously compelled to seek out and devour humans for a chance that they might possess the power of the Titans, who are able to change between human form and Titan form at will. If a Titan consumes a human with this power, said Titan will be able to return to human form with the power of the Titans. They do not derive any real sustenance from humans, as many of them did not taste human flesh for nearly a century after the Walls were raised. This did not affect their activity and it did not decrease their numbers. It should also be noted that once a Titan has filled up its stomach with dead humans, it regurgitates them in a giant ball and continues eating more as soon as possible.
Most Titans have no intelligence at all and are simply mindless beasts, easy to trick, distract, or deceive. However, some Titans, mostly humans with the power of the Titans, possess a vast level of intelligence comparable to or exceeding an experienced and cunning human. For example, the Female Titan and, to a lesser extent, the Colossus Titan display acute intelligence, a trait not found in an ordinary Titan. A Titan encountered by Ilse Langnar possessed enough intelligence to speak and bow before her, calling her "Lady Ymir". However, while most Titans show no visible or audible form of communication, they are apparently aware of - and able to deduce hostile intent from - other Titans. Titans do possess the ability to roar, but do not appear to possess the mental capacity necessary to speak human languages, with only rare exceptions.
Mindless Titans, also known as "Pure Titans" can be controlled and commanded by the power of the Founding Titan to be used as weapons of mass destruction as they had been in ancient times. However, without the Founding Titan, they wander aimlessly following no orders.
Titans are human in nature, though only humans of Eldian ethnicity are capable of turning into Titans. While it is unknown how the very first Titans came to be, in later years Eldians were able to turn into Titans after being injected with Titan spinal fluid, triggering a transformation from human form into Titan form. The time between the injection and transformation is very brief, though not instantaneous. Titans oftentimes bear strong resemblance to their original human bodies, though women who are turned into Titans lose any feminine body features. This method of transformation was exploited in recent history by the nation of Marley after the Great Titan War, who turned undesirable Eldian citizens and criminals into Titans at the borderline of Paradis Island where they would roam the lands beyond the Walls.
While it appears that the flesh and bones which create the body of a Titan materialize from nothing, these organic materials are said to derive from "paths" invisible to the eyes which transcend time and space. These "paths" are said to be the connecting force which links the minds of all Eldians to a single "Coordinate", the Founding Titan.
Recently, a new method of Titan transformation has been discovered by Zeke Yeager, son of Grisha Yeager and the royal-blooded Dina Fritz. Members of the royal family are the only individuals capable of making use of the Founding Titan, the greatest of all Titans which possesses the ability to control the actions of Titans. Given this fact, Zeke has discovered that by administering his spinal fluid into Eldian victims, these Eldians are then able to be transformed through a scream-based ability whenever necessary, delaying the transformation until Zeke desires it. Furthermore, these Titans are able to be controlled by Zeke's Beast Titan and can even operate in the absence of sunlight, though Zeke's abilities appear to be imperfect in comparison with the Founding Titan. This alternate method of Titan transformation was implemented during the Wall Rose invasion, in which Zeke transformed the entire population of the village of Ragako into Titans within Wall Rose's territory.
The Titans' body structure and power source are very mysterious and they apparently violate several known laws of science, seemingly capable of spontaneously generating both energy and mass. Their extremely high level of activity and body temperature indicates the need for a massive intake of energy to fuel them, yet they apparently never need to eat at all. They possess vocal organs and are able to emit simple sounds like moans, roars, and screams, yet they apparently do not need to breathe for survival. They do seem to become less active at night or if deprived of sunlight, and so it may be possible they draw their primary source of energy from the sun. Individual Titans seem to possess varying levels of stamina once deprived of sunlight; during experimentation, the captured Titan "Sonny" became docile and nearly comatose after only an hour's deprivation, while fellow captive "Bean" maintained a high level of activity three hours after last seeing sunlight.
However, after the invasion of Wall Rose, Titans were seen moving in the dead of night when they should be inactive, traits they normally do not express. It has been theorized by Hange Zoë that since Titans receive sustenance from sunlight, moonlight would also be sufficient enough, due to the moon being reflected sunlight. It has been reasoned that this is why there were so many Titans storming Utgard Castle during said invasion, as it is believed that many of those Titans had been freshly created from the citizens of Ragako.
Titans' bodies also seem unusually light for such large creatures - a severed arm is described as weighing almost nothing, and they are able to move at high speeds and maintain a steady bipedal stance despite their size. Due to their size, Titans possess enormous strength and when combined with this lightness, they can put on amazing bursts of speed and agility.
In addition to their size, speed, strength, and large numbers, Titans also possess incredible regenerative abilities - the only known sure-fire way to kill them is by slicing out the nape of the back of the neck. They regenerate lost and damaged body parts within seconds to minutes, including severed heads (unless the nape is severed with the head). It should be noted that the vulnerable area is where the real human body would be for transformed Titans, as proven by Eren Yeager. When struck at this site, the human controlling the Titan (or rather, what remains of them) is decapitated, killing both. After death, Titan corpses rapidly evaporate to skeletal remains, then to nothing at all.
How Titans react to pain stimuli varies from one to another. Many Titans will completely ignore injuries which would be agonizingly painful to a human, such as losing limbs, being impaled through the heart, or having their eyes gouged out. In combat, some Titans will completely ignore armed humans who are attacking them, and simply proceed to attempt to eat whichever human is closest to them. Others seem vaguely aware of humans who are attacking them, and if injured will have a reaction that might be pain but more accurately seems like simple annoyance. On the other hand, some seem to react in pain and shout when they are injured.
While the true nature of the Titans remains a mystery, their origins have been documented in the legends of the Eldian people. Over 1,800 years ago, it is said that Ymir Fritz, an ancient monarch of the royal Fritz family, discovered the "source of all organic material" and gained the power of the Titans. Ymir became the first known Titan, and when she died thirteen years later, her "soul" was split, being passed down unto nine Titan inheritors.
After the death of Ymir, the nine Titans made use of the Titans and their own powers to conquer the peoples of the world, including the nation of Marley. Upon conquering the world, the nine Titans established the empire of Eldia, led by the Fritz family who held Ymir's Founding Titan. Afterwards, the other eight Titan clans began to fight amongst each other, though throughout the generations the Fritz family maintained order with the Founding Titan.
However, after 1,700 years, the 145th Fritz King inherited the Founding Titan and chose to abandon the conflicts of the mainland. In his absence, the Marleyans stole seven of the nine Titans and waged war against the Eldians, and the Great Titan War began in which the Titans were used by the Marleyans to wipe out the nation of Eldia. The King and his family fled to the island of Paradis, where he used Colossus Titans to construct three Walls around his territory. In years after, Marley would send undesirable citizens to Paradis as mindless Titans, doomed to wander the island in search of food.
Types of Titans
Titans are classified according to their size and abilities. The following is a list of various known Titans so far.
| Ranging from 3 - 15 meters in height, these Titans compose the vast majority and have wide variation. They all resemble humans but with lesser to greater deformities, some of them walk on two feet while others walk on all fours. They are also variable in regards of their level of activity and response to pain. Their only common feature is their mindless nature. They would always head towards the first human on sight, without further planning or reasoning, making them easy to deceive and lure into traps. However, they are still dangerous due to their sizes, physical strength and numbers. In the past, they were used by humans with the power of the Titans as cheap killing machines against the other nations of the world.
Notable Titans of this type:
|Any Titan that displays abnormal behavior or intelligence is classed as an Abnormal. Unlike most Titans which mindlessly attack and devour humans on sight, Abnormals often ignore nearby humans and charge to more important locations where they can do more damage.
Notable Titans of this type:
First discovered inside Wall Sheena when the Female Titan tries to escape over it, these Titans have a similar appearance to the Colossus Titan and can be found inside the Walls. Although they appear to be alive, they are weakened and immobile due to lack of sunlight. A century ago, these Titans were guided by the First King's Founding Titan to create the three Walls through the hardening of their skin.
There are some humans capable of transforming into Titans who have various unusual traits and skills that can be honed and directed with purpose. These Titans are usually stronger and/or faster than pure Titans and retain their intelligence during a controlled transformation. They generally do not have any deformations that hinder their skills, and often resemble their human "pilot." A skilled human with the power of the Titans can move more quickly and regenerate parts of their body just by focusing, and even discard their body entirely and regain a new Titan form within minutes.
Notable Titans of this type:
- Despite their English name originating from the Titans of Greek mythology, the Titans of Attack on Titan are much more influenced by the jötnar of Norse mythology. Most notably, both the Titans and the jötnar originated from an ancient being by the name of "Ymir".
- Some Titans are modeled after friends and acquaintances of Hajime Isayama. Sometimes, he will even take requests.
- While many Titans have a masculine appearance, some Titans seen have had feminine facial features although retained a masculine body shape.