“Eren Yeager’s decision to move forward with the Rumbling in Attack on Titan is a complex and multi-faceted one, rooted in his character development throughout the series. While it may seem like a sudden and shocking change for the character, the seeds for this evolution were sown from the very beginning of the show.
As we see in the latest anime episode of Attack on Titan, the Rumbling has devastating effects on the rest of the world, leading many to view Eren as a cold and detached monster. However, Eren’s character development and the tragic experiences he has faced all play a role in shaping his ultimate decision to go for the Rumbling.
One of the earliest moments where we see Eren face a difficult decision is during his encounter with the Female Titan outside the Walls in Season 1. He is closely guarded by Levi and his special squad members, all hand-picked for their abilities and quick decision-making. While under pursuit by the mysterious Female Titan, Eren is stopped by Levi from transforming into his Titan form. Levi tells Eren that there are no inherently right answers in the heat of the moment, and ultimately it’s up to him to make a choice he can live to regret the least: either he trusts in the experience of his superiors and in his comrades, or he can rely on his own strength.
Eren decides to believe in the Survey Corps, and is rewarded in the short-term by witnessing the Female Titan’s capture through Erwin’s masterful trap. However, after Annie escapes and once again goes after Eren — this time without Levi around — Eren is again given the same choice. Petra and Eld ask him if he has that little faith in their abilities, and Eren once again leaves the Female Titan to them. Unfortunately, this time, his inaction leads to devastating consequences. Eren is forced to watch as Petra, Eld, and Oulo are all brutally murdered, and he is captured regardless. Eren’s regret and suffering is clear on his face, and the viewer too realizes that if he had transformed and fought alongside the Levi Squad, they likely would’ve had better odds of apprehending the Female Titan with fewer if not no causalities.
This lesson leaves a massive imprint on Eren’s psyche that, although it’s rarely spoken of, is evident in his decision-making through the rest of the series. Eren’s key takeaway from his failure in the Forest of the Giant Trees is that if he leaves conflicts up to others and puts faith in his comrades, he is rewarded with suffering and regret.
This theme of trusting in others and being let down is repeated in several instances throughout the series, including Eren’s trust in Hannes’ ability to protect him and Mikasa from the Smiling Titan in Season 2, and his trust in Armin’s plan to defeat the Colossal Titan in Season 3. Over and over again, whenever Eren leaves fate in the hands of someone else and decides to believe in his friends and commanders, he is punished for it with more death and tragedy.
As Eren’s character evolves and he becomes more determined to take action himself, we see him go off on his own to Marley in the “War for Paradis” arc, a decision met with confusion and disapproval from his friends. Yet Eren’s reasoning for making this move is displayed when he speaks to Hange while in jail. He becomes angry and frustrated with her inaction, and violently grabs her and asks what she can do. This outburst shows Eren’s inner conflicts: he doesn’t want to murder innocent Marleyans, and he certainly doesn’t want to go through with the Rumbling and murder the millions who live outside the Walls. Yet no one else has a concrete plan to save Paradis
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