It’s hard to believe that Attack on Titan is coming to an end after eight long years. It only seemed like yesterday when Eren cursed his existence within the walls and wished to be free like the birds flying overhead.
As Episode 80 made anime history with Eren officially starting the dreaded Rumbling, manga readers know it’s only the beginning of the wild ride ahead.
While the manga lived up to the hype after Eren declared war, its ending has the fandom locked in a never-ending debate about the fate of its main character.
So what about the ending caused a great divide in the fandom?
The last few panels of Chapter 139 see a bird wrapping Mikasa’s scarf around her the same way Eren did, hinting at the theory of our anti-hero’s rebirth as that bird.
But does the theory hold any merit? Was Eren reborn as a bird?
Eren’s reincarnation has yet to receive any confirmation. But since Isayama’s inspiration for the story was humanity’s irrepressible longing for freedom, the bird is meant to symbolize Eren finally being free after years of bondage.
What type of Bird is Eren Compared to?
The ever-popular ‘Bird Theory’ speculates that Eren is reincarnated as a Parasitic Jaeger, a bird that’s native to the tundra of Europe, Asia, and North America.
In addition to making frequent appearances throughout the anime and manga, the bird’s mannerisms can also be matched to Eren’s nature and drive for freedom.
The first and most obvious similarity is the name ‘Jaeger.’ While we could stop there, the German word it is derived from – Jäger, meaning hunter, further cements its ties to Eren since it can be linked to his lifelong hunt to be free.
Next comes the bird’s behavioral trait of Kleptoparasitism, a fancy word for its habitual feeding practice of robbing the surrounding bird species of their food.
They stop at nothing to get a meal, even if it means chasing the other birds to the point of exhaustion so that they drop their catch.
Notice how their fixed determination to steal mirrors Eren’s thirst for freedom and desire for retribution should it be infringed.
Although he saved his friends and his home in the end, he still used them as pawns in his grand plan. He even admitted that he never held back during their final battle.
Another juicy titbit of the Parasitic Jaeger, is that it often targets the Seagull. Now, where have we seen Seagulls in the AOT universe? Right next to Armin in Chapter 131. Coincidence? I think not!
Seagulls are associated with communication and community, which is also a glaring similarity to Armin’s peace-making nature and usual strategy of ‘talking it out.
While this doesn’t indicate a rivalry between the two, it shows Isayama’s ingenuity in representing the differences in their approach to reach their goals.
Can the Bird Theory fly?
While Isayama can bring anything to life in the Attack on Titan universe, some elements are always left open to the reader’s imagination or used metaphorically to establish a message.
1. 3 Ways it Does
I. Ymir’s Powers
Many fans have theorized that Eren’s reincarnation was Ymir’s gift to him for playing the role of the villain and ultimately bringing her savior, Mikasa.
Since she’s the Founder that controls everything about the Eldian populace, she could have pulled some strings at the last minute and allowed him to live in a new body.
Ymir could have also used this as an opportunity to let Mikasa bid Eren farewell one last time as she was indebted to Mikasa for setting her free.
II. Eren’s Memories in Chapter 130
While Chapter 130 fills in the holes of Eren’s journey to genocide, there’s one particular panel that had a collection of Eren’s memories from his point of view.
Some of them were ones that we’ve already seen – Eren with his friends after building the railway, Pieck pointing a gun at him, birds in the distance, Zeke extending his arm to him after he was shot, etc.
But it had one interesting tiny detail – Falco’s outstretched hand, reaching out for the bird in the sky. Although obscured with text (sneaky Isayama), it seems to prove Eren’s rebirth.
III. Season 4’s Ending
Season 4’s ending theme is a goldmine for pro bird theorists to prove their point. Not only are they backed up by the lyrics, but the visuals of a flaming bird blazing from Eren’s scarf can solidify their claims.
While some may argue that the species is hard to make it out, its outline seems similar to that of a Parasitic Jaeger – The recurring bird representing Eren’s freedom and his yearning for it.
Plus, it boasts a warm color palette of reds, yellows, and oranges, indicating Eren’s fiery and unwavering passion for attaining his freedom.
2. 3 Ways it Doesn’t
I. Limitations to Ymir’s Power
Even though Ymir is the all-powerful Founder, she still has limitations.
While she has absolute command over the Eldians, it still warrants her soul to be trapped in the Paths. So even if she succeeds in reincarnating Eren, she still needs to be alive to make sure he stays that way.
Additionally, reincarnation would involve a phenomenon outside the scope of the Paths. While Ymir’s shown to manipulate Titan Shifter’s souls, it’s unclear if she can give them a whole new body or life (besides Titans).
Although Ymir has created countless Beast Titan Shifters, there haven’t been any cases deterring from their humanoid hybrid look. So, it could be possible that controlling animals is beyond her.
II. Contradictions to Chapter 130’s Memory Panel
While the panel could briefly prove Eren’s rebirth, it fails to explain that Eren wasn’t dead when Falco reaches out for the bird.
Even if the time-altering powers of his Attack Titan were to be used as a reason, it still wouldn’t hold merit since the Power of the Titans dissipated the moment he died.
III. Dual Representations in the Song
Even though the ending theme is screaming rebirth with its lyrics, visuals, and color scheme, there are subtle differences and more than one way of interpreting it.
For starters, the scarf could represent Mikasa’s love for Eren, and hence the flaming bird could also represent her freedom from Eren after his death.
Secondly, the flames that engulf and materialize Eren in the end, have a different color scheme compared to that of the bird – a distinct blue tint.
Since the color blue is considered to be relaxing and serene, it could depict Eren’s death as the storm that raged for his freedom for years within him is finally calmed by the embrace of death.
Are there Bird Titans?
Falco Grice and the unknown flying Beast Titan Shifter were the only lucky ones to have wings in the series.
Falco was accidentally exposed to Zeke’s spinal fluid when he took a wine bottle to the head after Niccolo’s outburst. After Zeke’s scream turned him into a Pure Titan, he devoured Porco and inherited his Jaw Titan.
But since he had traces of Beast Titan DNA, he received wings, talons, and a beak as extra features. He also had access to Zeke’s memories and discovered the existence of a flying Beast Titan soaring through the clouds from the past.
While the Shifter could be a bird, there’s also a chance it was a pterodactyl, as seen in Season 2’s opening.
About Attack on Titan
Attack on Titan is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Hajime Isayama. Kodansha publishes it in the Bessatsu Shonen Magazine.
The manga began serialization on September 9th, 2009, and ended on April 9, 2021. It has been compiled into 34 volumes.
Attack on Titan follows humanity settled within three concentric walls to protect themselves from the terrifying titans that prey on them. Eren Yeager is a young boy that believes that a caged life is similar to that of cattle and aspires to go beyond the walls one day, just like his heroes, the Survey Corps. The emergence of a deadly Titan unleashes chaos.