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|What are you? A man? Or a Titan?|
|— Kitz Weilman to Eren Yeager|
Titan shifters are humans in possession of the power of the Titans (巨人の力 Kyojin no Chikara?) which allows them to transform into Titans. Unlike regular mindless Titans, they are able to control their form and retain their human intelligence. It is often noted that these Titans are far more powerful than regular Titans and oftentimes display abilities unique to only them, though only nine humans can possess the power of the Titans at any point in time.
In order to transform, a human with the power of the Titans must suffer an injury that draws blood (often self-harm) while having a solid goal or belief in mind at the moment of injury. However, being injured by another person is also sufficient. Once the transformation is initiated, a burst of energy is released (in some cases as a bolt of lightning or an explosion), followed by the generation of the Titan body and a release of hot steam. After transformation, the human body rests within the nape of the Titan's neck, the center of control. The human body is also merged with the Titan's flesh inside to varying extents, most frequently on the area of the cheeks below the eyes, rendering them immobile.
If a Titan form is pushed to its limit, the human will emerge from the nape of its neck, sometimes in a semi-conscious or entirely unconscious state. But if a Titan form is not exhausted, then its human form can emerge from the Titan form in full consciousness. In some cases, a human is able to partially emerge from their Titan body without fully leaving the nape.
When the power of the Titans is used, oftentimes the area around the emerging human's eyes is marked by dark lines for a short time after. The amount of time the human possesses these marks appears to depend on how long, skilled, or overworked they used their Titan forms, ranging from several minutes to several hours.
In some cases, the ability to transform into a Titan is hindered by injuries inflicted on the human body. A human can transform into a Titan with injuries as severe as a missing limb, but only if a previous transformation has not occurred recently. If a human emerges from their Titan form and receives severe injury, this person cannot transform into a Titan again until said injuries have fully healed.
Humans with the power of the Titans appear to be resistant, but not immune to, the normal absorption that creates mindless Titans if they stay transformed for long or repetitive periods of time. In the case of Eren Yeager, it has been shown that repeated transformations in a short period of time lead to decreased control over the Titan form, as well as diminished Titan size and power. As such, it seems that there is a limitation on how long a human can remain in a transformed Titan state before risking absorption. The length of time spent in a controllable transformed Titan appears to depend on how skilled the human is at controlling their Titan form. However, even the most skilled humans with Titan power can become incredibly fatigued for as long as several days after repetitive use.
Physiology and abilities
The average height among the transforming Titans is 15 meters, but this can vary greatly, ranging from the 5 meters of Ymir's Titan form to the 60 meters of the Colossus Titan. It is notable that the female Titan forms have thus far been shown to be shorter than the male Titans, with the Female Titan standing at 14 meters and Frieda Reiss' Titan form being 13 meters tall.
Humans with the power of the Titans also gain the Titans' ability to regenerate and are capable of vastly improved healing abilities, even to the point of regaining lost limbs. However, regeneration from severe injuries such as lost limbs can strain their powers and prevent them from transforming for a period of time. It is evident that healing for a Titan's human form takes much longer than their Titan form. The time it takes to regenerate appears to depend on the extent of the injury and how focused the individual is on healing that area. The only surefire way to kill a human with the power of the Titans is through severing the brain's connection to the rest of the body, although on rare occasions the most skilled humans with the power of the Titans are able to transfer their minds to the rest of their nervous system and survive even this.
It is also shown that these Titans are not safe from regular Titans, and will be attacked even while transformed. This is because Titans are regular humans that have been transformed into uncontrollable Titans, and the only way for a Titan to regain its human form is by eating a human with the power of the Titans.
While not all Titan abilities have been identified, each inheritable Titan possesses a unique power. Bertolt Hoover has been shown to possess significant control over his Colossus Titan body, able to release devastating gusts of steam to ward off enemies or even completely evaporate his Titan form in seconds. Reiner Braun's Armored Titan possesses hardened armor-like skin covering all but the key areas of movement. Annie Leonhart's Female Titan is able to call upon mindless Titans with a scream, luring dozens towards her position with little time. Zeke Yeager's Beast Titan is able to control Titans to a small extent, and there is evidence to suggest that the Beast Titan is able to turn Eldians into Titans without the use of Titan serums and can store these Titan bodies in invisible paths at his discretion. The Founding Titan has historically been the greatest of all Titans, able to have complete control over the actions and memories of Eldians, both human and Titan.
Some Titans have been shown to possess the ability to harden their skin to the point of near indestructibility. The most notable Titan in possession of this ability is Annie's Female Titan, which is able to selectively harden regions of her Titan body and even create a hard crystal around her human body, putting her in an apparently unconscious state with no need for nutrient intake. In addition to the armored plates covering Reiner's Armored Titan, he too is able to control some hardening aspects of his Titan such as creating claws on his fingertips. Zeke Yeager's Beast Titan also possesses a hardening ability, though it has not been seen at use. It seems, however, that not all transformed Titans possess this hardening ability, as Eren was unable to cause his Titan to harden until he ingested an "armor" Titan serum.
A human's ability to transform into a Titan can be transferred to a new host, should they be devoured by a mindless Titan. This allows an ordinary Titan to become a new human with the power of the Titans. Furthermore, the abilities of each Titan are also inherited by the new Titan, as has been the case with the Founding Titan for over a thousand years. It is also known that humans with the power of the Titans can gain new powers by consuming a specialized Titan serum, as Eren consumed a bottle from Rod's bag labeled "Armor" which gave his Titan form the power of hardening its skin at will as other Titans are able to.
It must be noted that transformed Titans do not seem to adopt the Titan form of the Titans they consume, as both Ymir's and Frieda's Titan appearances remained relatively the same before and after eating Marcel and Mr. Reiss, respectively. Rod Reiss has claimed that humans can choose the serum that will give them a specific Titan form, meaning they are able to adopt the form given by the serum and not whatever form the Titan they eat possesses.
However, some Titan forms do seem to experience certain changes. Eren's original Titan form just after receiving the serum was much smaller and seemingly less mature than his current form, and both Ymir's Titan form and Frieda's Titan form were noticeably more emaciated than their Titan bodies after gaining the power of the Titans. Nevertheless, the most noticeable physical features of each Titan were present before and after the inheritance of the power. Whether this is correlated to the aging and training of the human form, or a side effect of eating a Titan, is unknown. It is also noteworthy that the Titan forms of Reiner and Bertolt did not experience any noticeable change in the 5 years that passed since the fall of Wall Maria and the next time their Titan forms were seen, despite the fact that their human forms did age during this time, which could indicate that the aging of the human form does not affect changes in the Titan form, or that notable changes could be a trait exclusive of their specific forms.
According to Rod Reiss, the power of the Titans rests within a human's spinal fluid, meaning that to gain the Titan's power, it is not necessary to eat the entire human, but rather a Titan can simply bite through the spine and ingest said fluid. Titans serums are, in fact, the spinal fluid of Titans, though study of the serums is difficult due to the serum's rapid rate of evaporation upon contact with air.
Curse of Ymir
Despite the immense power of the Titans, each human which inherits the power is fated with the "Curse of Ymir", which shortens their lifespan to another 13 years once they acquire the power of the Titans. During the last years of their life, the human will have their body weaken until they perish.
The first Titan shifter (and first Titan) to appear chronologically within the series, Bertolt Hoover's Titan is of 60 m class. This grants him incredible strength like no other, capable of causing monumental destruction with little effort or damage sustained on his body. Due to this size its body temperature is extremely high,to the point that it is constantly emitting steam. However, because this Titan is so large, Bertolt can only move slowly while in its form. Furthermore, Bertolt has the potential to, at need, release an explosive amount of energy during Titan transformation, with the potential to completely level buildings in a short radius of his transformation, killing everything in open area and generating a mushroom cloud of steam.
It is the tallest Titan shifter seen so far in the series, the second largest Titan of the series (coming second only to Rod Reiss' mindless Titan, which is twice his size but cannot stand), and four times the height of the regular Titans of the tallest class (15 m). This form has shown to be able to retain a degree of intelligence and tactical planning to go with its sheer size and strength, despite its slow movements. It is strong enough to break down the defensive Walls surrounding humankind with a single and very hard-focused kick to allow other Titans to move inside the Walls. It has a unique ability to "superheat" its body to produce incredibly hot steam as a defense. This ability has only been seen to be shared with Rod Reiss' Titan (except Rod Reiss' heat is even more intense). The heat of this steam is so intense that it is able to keep dozens of experienced soldiers at bay, lest they be cooked alive.
Reiner Braun is capable of transforming himself into a 15 m class Titan with a slight resemblance to his human form. Unlike the other Titan shifters, his Titan form has very thick, hardened plates of skin all over his body which serves as his armor.
This type of Titan is well-built and has a hunched profile. Its only visible weaknesses are the small areas on the backs of its joints where there is no armor. Though not particularly fast, this form is strong and agile, capable of destroying a fortified Wall after a sufficient running start. While he is able to communicate through roars, it is unknown whether he shares Annie's ability to summon other Titans.
Eren Yeager is the first Titan shifter to be revealed in the series, his Titan being a 15 m class. Its most prominent characteristics are its elongated ears, fleshless jaws and highly muscular build.
Eren's Titan form has so far been shown to have fairly substantial physical strength, knowledge of martial arts techniques, and incredible endurance. Prolonged and repeated use of this Titan form has allowed Eren to gradually increase control over its initially unstable mental state. Its eyes are a piercing gray in the manga, and emerald-green in the anime; wherein they are often seen to be glowing bright green.
Eren eventually revealed the powers of the "Coordinate": A special ability which allows him to take control of other Titans. In his blind state of rage, he would subconsciously command them to relentlessly attack his chosen target until they are dead.
This Titan has also recently gained the ability to harden after Eren has consumed a jar labelled "Braun".
Due to the "Curse of Ymir", Eren only has four years left to live.
Annie Leonhart can transform into a 14 m class Titan with a distinctively feminine build and short, blonde hair. Her transformation endows her with immense strength and speed.
A Titan shifter of athletic appearance with lean muscle and minimal skin, the Female Titan is a Titan of unusual power and intellect. It has the stamina and focus to maintain a running pace capable of keeping up with horses over a long distance; as well as the intelligence to defend itself from multiple vertical maneuvering equipment attacks by prediction of the device's movements. This Titan form also has the unique ability to harden its body parts by generating a crystalline substance across chosen areas of its body; allowing it to simultaneously protect its nape and fight. Combined with refined martial arts techniques, it can perform incredibly deadly and destructive attacks. When cornered, the Female Titan's call has the ability to draw other Titans to it and drive them into a feeding frenzy.
Having a distinct, ape-like appearance, his Titan's body structure and facial features are like that of a human's, he walks upright like one also. He stands at a previously unseen 17 m in height. Dark fur covers the large majority of his body, with the exception of his face, hands, feet, and torso. His arms are also elongated, with long fingers and fully-functional thumbs. The proportions of his upper body are similar to that of the Colossus Titan, possessing a massive chest and small head, as well as unusually slim arms.
It is suggested that the Beast Titan contains massive strength, for it was able to hurl chunks of the Wall from very far and was able to accurately hit members of the Survey Corps. He was also able to defeat the Armored Titan without seemingly any sustained damage. It has been noted that the Beast Titan is the "strongest" Titan.
Ymir's Titan is a 5 m class Titan with long, black hair, very large irises and an agile, chimpanzee-like body. This form grants Ymir rather long arms and sharp claws. It provides her with such great agility that her Titan appears to be "dancing".
The smallest Titan shifter known yet, this Titan form has a mouth with all pointed teeth, as well as sharp claws that can either be used to grasp on to things or for combat. Its long arms and small, muscular body enable it to maneuver itself around with great speed and agility in the same environments as those with vertical maneuvering equipment, making it a formidable foe in battle.
Unlike the other shifters who apparently gained their powers under a somewhat controlled process, Ymir wandered as a mindless Titan for 60 years, and only after eating Marcel did she regain her humanity and become a Titan shifter.
Due to the "Curse of Ymir", Ymir has four years left to live.
Frieda was able to transform herself into a 13 m female-looking Titan with white hair. She was said to have an "invincible power", but she died before she could learn how to use it. She devoured her uncle below the Reiss chapel when she was fifteen in order to receive his Titan abilities and secrets of the world. The "invincible power" is now known as the "Coordinate" or "Founding Titan", which allows the user to control Titans and potentially, humans. This however, was stolen from her by Grisha Yeager, and is now in the possession of Eren Yeager.
Grisha's 15 m Titan form shares similarities with Eren's, such as their elongated ears and long hair, except Grisha's Titan jaws have flesh and a beard. He has a bulkier body built. Unlike most Titan shifters shown so far in the series, his body is very heavy-built. He used his Titan form to kill and devour Frieda Reiss along with her family, excluding Rod and Historia Reiss.
Pieck's Titan form is 4 m tall and has always been seen moving on his four limbs. His head, canine-like mouth, and nose are notably oversized in contrast with his eyes and ears.
Armin Arlert is the latest Titan shifter, having become one after Levi injected him with a Titan serum obtained from Kenny Ackerman. After being injected, Armin transformed into a mindless Titan, and ate Bertolt Hoover in order to regain his human form. His Titan has blond shoulder length hair, a relatively small body with a lipless mouth and black eyes as well as a skeletal nose.
Due to the "Curse of Ymir", Armin only has nine years left to live.
Little is known about the Founding Titan's physical appearance beyond what is depicted in romanticized illustrations. In all pieces of artwork depicting Ymir Fritz's Founding Titan, she appeared to possess a very tall female Titan form with long blonde hair.
Ymir Fritz was the first individual to receive the power of the Titans after making a deal with the "Devil of the Earth", making her the true Founding of all Titans. With her powers as the Founding Titan, she used the Titans to make great advancements for her subjects, such as cultivating barren lands, building roads across the world, and building bridges between the mountains. After some time, she died, and her powers were split between nine Titans, the first of all Titan shifters, and her power as the Founding Titan would be passed down through the Fritz family (and later the Reiss family) over the next two millennia.
Krueger's Titan face is very similar to his human form and has long dark hair, like Grisha and Eren. He appears to have great strength, as he is able to crush a boat. His Titan form is also quite muscular.
Galliard's Titan possesses long, light hair and a thick beard at the chin. However, the face above the jawline is hairless, and his Titan's mouth takes a cog-like appearance in place of lips or cheeks. The fingers of Galliard's Titan apparently possess segments of hardened skin.
After Ymir Fritz died after using her powers for thirteen years, her powers passed over to nine inheritors. By transferring the power of Titans, those nine Titan lines continued. Through this, there can be a maximum of nine humans with the power of the Titans at any given time. However, after Grisha Yeager ate Frieda Reiss, the line of Founding Titan mixed with the line of Attack Titan. It is unknown that after mixing two lines if is it possible to separate them. Currently, the number of possible existing Titans has been reduced to eight.
List of Lines and Shifters
- Ymir Fritz
- The First King
- Mr. Reiss
- Uri Reiss
- Frieda Reiss - Last descendant of this line. Later mixed with Attack Titan line.
- Eren Krueger
- Grisha Yeager - Mixed with Founding Titan line.
- Eren Yeager - Current holder. Mixed with Founding Titan line.
- Annie Leonhart - Current holder.
- Reiner Braun - Current holder.
- Zeke Yeager - Current holder.
- Galliard - Current holder.
- Pieck - Current holder.
- Many transformed Titan forms are modeled after mixed martial artists. For instance, the Armored Titan is modeled after Brock Lesnar and the Attack Titan is modeled after Yūshin Okami.
- Zeke Yeager appears to be the most skilled living Titan, as he possesses the power to mimic human speech in Titan form, climb over the Walls, and create Titans that function at night. Annie Leonhart appears to be the second most skilled living Titan, sporting a variety of learned powers and moves, including selective regeneration, skin hardening, and Titan summoning. However, the holder of the Founding Titan would often be the strongest of all Titans, as noted by Rod Reiss. The least skilled appears to be Eren Yeager, who is still learning how to use his powers, and Armin Arlert, who has yet to experiment with his new Titan form inherited from Bertolt Hoover.
- While the ability to turn into a Titan is commonly referred to as the "power of the Titans" (巨人の力 Kyojin no Chikara?), this term is also used by the Reiss family to refer to the Coordinate as well.
- Grisha Yeager consuming Frieda Reiss is the only known case of a Titan shifter eating another Titan shifter. In all other known cases of inheritance of the power of the Titans, the receiver was always a mindless Titan.