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Titans (巨人 Kyojin?, lit. "Giant") are the primary antagonists in the Attack on Titan series. They are a mysterious race of humanoid giants that appeared roughly 107 years ago and rapidly exterminated humanity to the point of near-extinction. If put into a calculable perspective, the Titans first appeared in year 743. Their origins, overall numbers, and their physiological workings remain a mystery to humanity at this point in the story.
AppearanceTitans 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, indicating that they perhaps possess some other mechanism to compensate for this. The vast majority of Titans have a masculine body shape, although all of them lack reproductive organs (they have no need to reproduce since they are humans transformed through unknown methods).
Titans, almost universally, 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: 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 would be forced to regurgitate and empty out the cavity before they can eat more humans.
Titans are compelled to seek out and devour humans for reasons currently unknown, as they do not derive any real sustenance from them; they did not taste human flesh for nearly a century after the Walls went up, but this did not affect their activity or numbers. It should also be noted that once a Titan has filled up its stomach-like organ with dead humans, it regurgitates them in a giant ball and continues eating more as soon as possible.
It should be noted, as mentioned above, that Titans eat humans for no other apparent purpose than killing them. They ignore all other animals and any non-human forms of life, so it is possible that the Titans are trying to (by chance) eat a Titan Shifter thereby becoming a Titan Shifter and be able to resume human form. As it is shown in Ragako, humans are transformed into Titans. When Eren is injected with something by his father, it is safe to assume it is a "Titan Serum" because one must eat a Titan Shifter as a Titan to become a Titan Shifter. It is shown that Titans try to eat Titan Shifters in Titan form.
Most Titans have no intelligence at all and are simply mindless beasts, easy to trick, distract, or deceive. However, some Titans, mostly Titan Shifters, 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, although most Titans show no visible or audible form of communication, they are apparently aware of - and able to deduce hostile intent from - other Titans and Titan Shifters, as demonstrated when Eren Yeager first transformed into his Titan form and was attacked almost immediately by other Titans who perceived him as a threat. Titans do possess the ability to roar, but do not appear to possess the vocal organs necessary to speak human languages.
The most dangerous aspect of the Titans is their unpredictability. They do not follow a strict set of guidelines and have seemed to increase in abilities and attributes as the series goes on. After the supposed breach 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.
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 roars and screams, yet they apparently do not need to breathe. 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; 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. Hange has theorized that new Titans may be able to use the small amount of sunlight reflected off of the moon as energy at night time. She reasons that this is why there were so many Titans storming Utgard Castle during the supposed breach of Wall Rose, as it is believed that many of those Titans had been freshly created from 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 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 sure-fire way to kill them (known to date) 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 (although, there are rare instances where the head will not regenerate if the nape is cut through or blown off). It should be noted that the vulnerable area is where the real human body would be for shape-shifting 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 utterly 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 (even if such injuries will soon regenerate). 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. Some actually do seem to react in pain and shout when they are injured. In Hange's experiments, Bean shrieked in pain when they gouged out its eyes with a heated metal spear, but Sonny seemed oblivious to the fact that Hange had impaled it through the heart region using a spear.
Types of Titans
Titans are classified according to their size and abilities. The following is a list of various known Titans so far in the series.
| Ranging from 3-15 meters in height, these Titans compose the vast majority and are very variable. 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.
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. Some Abnormal Titans possess noticeable physical deformations, such as lacking skin in certain areas or carrying less weight than others.
Notable Titans of this type:
First discovered inside Wall Sheena when the Female Titan tries to escape over it. These type of 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 Titan mentioned by Rod Reiss had the ability to harden its skin and create the giant Walls, similar to that of the Wall Titans. The relationship between these Titans and that undoubtedly important Titan is currently unknown.
Titan Shifters are 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 typical ones 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 Titan Shifter 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:
True nature and Creation
In the aftermath of the destruction of Ragako, the true nature of the Titans is discovered. The investigation performed by Hange Zoë reveals that the villagers had been transformed into Titans by some unknown means, as a captured Titan is discovered to have once been Connie Springer's mother. Examination of test subjects show that no human body remains within the nape, but Hange speculates that the spinal cord operates as an organ separate from the main Titan body. As such, it is concluded that most Titans have completely absorbed the human within, leaving only the central nervous system intact as the means of controlling the Titan body. The method used to slay Titans is revealed to sever the upper vertebrate of the human "pilot" (or what remains of them), killing them via decapitation.
It is stated by Ymir that the Beast Titan is the one responsible for transforming the villagers of Ragako, though the method employed remains a mystery. It is also unknown how Titan Shifters avoid being absorbed by their Titan forms, possibly a result of more advanced methods. It is theorized by Dot Pixis to be the only difference between Titan shifters like Eren Yeager and regular Titans.
Hange theorizes that Titans can absorb abilities from their victims, allowing an ordinary Titan to regain human form by devouring a Titan Shifter. This was discovered when Ymir, then a regular Titan, devoured the young Titan Shifter Marcel and regained human form. Hange theorizes that not only can Titan Shifting be transferred this way, but other unique traits such as Eren's Coordinate ability could be transferred in the same fashion. This is now confirmed as a fact by Rod Reiss and now it is known that memories will also be transferred to the one who ate the shifter, along with any powers they may possess. It is also possible that beliefs can be passed down if the person ate somebody of their bloodline, as the Reiss who possessed the Coordinate would be bound to the will of their ancestor, the First King, making them not want to exterminate the Titans, and never revealing to anybody the reasons why.
It is revealed that the injection that Grisha Yeager gave his son Eren was able to turn Eren into a normal Titan, allowing Eren to eat Grisha. Grisha, being a Titan Shifter, transformed Eren into a Titan Shifter and passed down the Coordinate and Frieda Reiss' memories at the cost of Grisha's life. The Reiss family has done this method for years, having one Reiss transform into a Titan via injection and eat the holder of the Coordinate, gaining Titan powers, memories of the lost world, and the Coordinate.
The serum in the injection is, most probably, the method through which most, if not all, Titans were created, though its way of administration can vary, as evidenced by the Beast Titan's inoculation of Ragako, implying that the agent can be spread through a multitude of mediums other than just a serum. Rod Reiss also gives insight into the vast multitude of physical structures and frames the Titans manifest, implying that it is actually possible for a serum to induce a certain kind of Titan, and in Rod's case, an immense Titan twice as big as the Colossus Titan. According to Hange, the serum is derived from human spinal fluid, but contains elements beyond the capability of their current science to analyse. The serum is also difficult to study because it begins to vaporize immediately upon contact with air.
- Some Titans are modeled after friends and acquaintances of Hajime Isayama. Sometimes, he will even take requests.
- In the August 2016 Issue of Bessatsu Shonen Magazine, Isayama was asked of what is it like to come out of a Titan's body. He stated, "Just think that it’s like coming out from a sauna."