At the suggestion of other posters I'm using this thread to present my analyses/theories on Reiner, Bertholdt and Annie so they don't get archived after chapt. 49 comes out.
But when I started thinking of them as a group a larger analogy/theory sprang to mind, so here it is.
Rock, paper, scissors is known in Japan as RoShamBo, and "the three who are afraid of one another." Each can defeat, and be defeated by, one of the others.
But there's a flip side to this structure, because as a team they should therefore be able to handle any kind of assault that's thrown at them. If you've ever played D&D, WoW or almost any RPG you're seen them as the basis for character abilities — tank, spellcaster and rogue. There's lots of variations of course, but these are the basics. These games boil down to a game of cooperative roshambo, where the player(s) must decide which to lead with in a given situation. Getting battered by an enemy tank? That's a job for the wizard. Is the wizard getting back-stabbed by a rogue? Have the tank pound him. And so on. This kind of team structure shows up in other anime too.
So that's what I think we've got in the "team" of shifters, Reiner (rock), Bertholdt (paper) and Annie (scissors).
Why I picked Reiner for rock should be obvious based on his titan powers. And Annie's lethality when facing large numbers of squishy humans (and muscle-boy Eren) was quite apparent.
So why paper for Bertholdt? At first he may seem even "rockier" than Reiner. But the first thing I noticed about him is his seeming immobility.
I first posted the following in the chapters 48/49 discussion/prediction thread.
a certain other 50m juggernaut. Hell, it sure looked like rookie Eren would have gotten him if he hadn't vanished in a cloud of smoke with a suddenness that would make even Batman jealous.
Personality-wise, the wikia says he's described as "a weak-willed and quiet person rarely seen without Reiner Braun, his childhood friend." Of course paper can also be amazingly strong when folded, so maybe he's got some hidden personal strength we've yet to see. Of the three he's still the one we know the least about, despite him being the default face of the whole series.
And I don't know if this is intentional or not, but his last name Fubar is a homonym for the Marine Corps slang acronym for "Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition." If Isayama was American I'd expect there to be a reason he picked that word (or at least that he'd be aware of its meaning) but I've seen lots of Japanese writers who just picked "western-sounding" words out of a hat to give the characters a foreign flavor. "Fullmetal Alchemist" was full of that sort of thing.
So if I'm right then he's pretty much a single-use shifter who's only good for busting down gates. Though considering the head of the wall titan seems to be in the colossal range, perhaps the walls are made up of shifter titans who — voluntarily or not — formed the walls and were sealed within.
Anyhow, next is my analysis of Annie.
Last edited by TitaNick; September 05, 2013 at 07:21 AM. Reason: Layout is funky
I'm rewording this a bit from my original post.
As a human Annie is cold, sharp-tongued (hah!), extremely focused, and often seen in the company of Braun and Fubar, or not too far away. It's neat to read back through the manga or rewatch the anime and see the times they were shown off to the side having seemingly innocuous conversations that now seem loaded with extra meaning.
But even among the three, Annie is distant and unapproachable.
As a titan, Annie seems largely skinless (temporary armor aside), and remains extremely active and energetic for a good long time while pursuing/murdering the recon squad.
After systematically hunting through the recon patrol's formation for Eren at a sustained jog for many minutes, she still has the energy to run full tilt into the forest where she: Does a lot of very athletic human killing, activates her partial-armor trick several times (though always temporarily), transforms again after being "rescued" by the regular titans, kills Team Levi, regenerates her eyes and arm muscles, rope-a-dopes Eren until he's exhausted, punches his head clean off, and runs away with our hero.
What we've seen of her apparent limitations so far (in my opinion):
- She apparently isn't able to use her crystal armor indefinitely while in titan form. She covered her nape with it against Auruo, and used it over her hands against Levi — but in each case she turned it back off. Therefore it
mustmay cost her energy to do so while maintaining her titan body, otherwise why not just armor her nape the whole time?
- Likewise, she doesn't seem to be able to cover most of her titan body with non-crystal armor like Reiner can. Although that may be a deliberate choice on her part to maximize agility? It fits thematically with the cliché of women being nimble while men are bruisers. To put it another way; she's a knife while Reiner's a hammer.
- She's not strong enough to bust out of an underground tunnel, but can cave one in from above.
- She's even more antisocial than the other were-titans, Eren and Ymir included (and that's saying something). I consider this a weakness because an undercover agent shouldn't be noticeably cold and distant to the group she's infiltrating. Reiner and Bertholdt did a better job of fitting in.
- Despite her generalized hostility she still has a soft spot for her classmates and "friends." Oh anime, don't ever lose your obsession with childhood friendships! Seriously though, one of the dumbest things she did was let Armin of all people go. I think that kid's the single biggest threat to the titans outside of people like Erwin and Pixis.
- She seemingly underestimates humans.
- She seems overconfident.
- Fast as fuck.
- Brutal as hell.
- Hand-to-hand combatant nearly on par with Mikasa and Levi.
- Knows how to play the fear and intimidation cards on the battlefield.
- Good at reading her opponent's emotional state and turning it against them.
- In addition to the strength and durability typical of titans her size, she can also sprout patches of crystal armor which are far harder than the military's swords.
- In human form, she can encase her body in a clear chrysalis of the same or similar material, which is harder than any substance available to the human population.
- Keen analytical mind, though not as keen as Armin's apparently.
- Devoted to her cause (whatever the fuck it is).
So while she's powerful, she's not unbeatable.
Why do I think she's the "scissors" of the three-person team? Unlike Fubar who smothered the wall, and Reiner who hammered another gate, she's been shown to be extremely lethal against "soft" and moving targets. She cut (pun intended) right through the Scouting Legion's formation while pursuing Eren, mowing down (pun!) nearly everyone that got in her way.
Except that is for her friends, specifically Armin, a choice which eventually lead to her capture. Armin even "accused" her of actually being nice once when she tried to dissuade him and Connie from joining the Scouting Legion. When asked why she wanted to become an MP she said it was because she wanted to survive.
Next up is Reiner, though I don't have much to say about him yet.
Last edited by TitaNick; September 04, 2013 at 08:55 PM.
I like your theory but you forget about Berik who was eaten by Ymir not long before the start of the story. Whether there was originally 4 of them or Annie came along to replace Berik I'm not sure, but I agree there are probably various 'Titan models' that can each fulfill a specific role. Maybe the Titan power was made this way so no Titan shifter is too powerful and they all have to rely on each other in order to succeed.
Also, I don't think it's as black and white as you say. Reiner might be a tank but he can still fight, and Berthold might be frail but he can still defend himself by releasing heat. Annie also seems to be mostly well-rounded.
Your theory also doesn't explain why Ymir and Eren function very differently from them (something which Ymir said herself). Maybe they're an older and less advanced or simply vastly different version of the Titan power. Ymir gave herself the power at least 60 years ago so in her case it would make sense that it's a less powerful version. And maybe an older version was all Eren's father could obtain for him, who knows.
None of this explains the beastly Titan though, that's a complete mystery at this point.
Anyway I'm sorry I wasn't clear about this, but I'm only talking about the three-person team of Reiner, Bertholdt and Annie. I'm not talking about all titans, all shifters, or any other individuals.
They entered the service together, they've been frequently seen in each other's company, they've shared a lot of subtext-laden dialog. I think they're pretty clearly a combo team on a mission, whose titan abilities were chosen to complement each other's.
In my opinion of course.
damn stealthy when he wants, but his healing factor also makes him one hell of a (messy) tank. Jayne Cobb is a lecherous pig who's still gallant and kind to women if you give him a chance (I can't find a link, but I'm thinking of the episode "Heart of Gold" when he was honest yet reassuring to the girl he was with right before a firefight).
So while I agree that R/B/A aren't black-and-white (or even red, blue and green), I see them as each having a distinct "shade."
I think Reiner is Rock, Bert is Paper and Annie is scissors too. But if we take in account their personalities, Reiner is Paper and Bert is Rock. Ber is the only one who accomplished is mission for so long without even showing signs of breaking down, you need to have a really strong mental while Reiner mentally the weakest of the three.
Sorry for the delay in updating this. After watching Ep. 22 and reading chap. 49 I had to go through some intensive psychotherapy. Man, if they're going to add filler to the anime at least they're doing it right and expanding and deepening the events of the canon story rather than adding random adventures and meaningless side stories (I'm looking at you "Naruto," as well as the other big series).
So anyhow here's Reiner, though there's not much more to say about him:
- Possibly the toughest titan we've seen so far, if not the strongest.
- The best undercover operator of the three in terms of ingratiating himself.
- Second-best grades out of the rookies.
- Charismatic, though regularly overshadowed by Jean when it comes to leading. Then again, Jean actually wants humanity to win.
- Everyone says he's a good leader, though I haven't seen him do more than issue a few orders to the other shifters.
- Fast thinker and good enough actor to convey the location of Eren to Titan!Annie in the midst of a "fight" right in front of Armin. Something Armin apparently didn't pick up on until it was too late.
- Like his co-conspirators he got a a bit too good at the undercover thing by getting attached to his human classmates.
- Apparently not as good at hand-to-hand techniques as Annie and Eren, though his armored titan form gives him an edge. At least he wasn't during training, unless he was holding back. Though looking at the rookie lineup where they're drawn to scale, it's hard for me to imagine him not snapping Annie or Eren in half if he just tried.
- Emotional and impulsive. I mean he lived in close quarters with Eren-IMMA-KILL-EM-ALL-Yeager for three years and thought he could recruit him cold? WTF was that?
From several scenes it's pretty apparent he's the leader of the trio, and even Annie either obeys his orders or respects his judgment.
He's also the only one to make me think their people would welcome Eren with open arms and are trying to recruit him rather than treat him like a threat and neutralize him.
Could this lead to some future reconciliation between the "Village of the Shifters" and the Wall People? I dunno, cuz when you think of it Reiner and Bert, and possibly Annie, are the equivalent of the 9/11 conspirators in that world. And Annie is a mass killer from her attack on the Survey Corps alone.
Still, Reiner seemed to hold out hope that if they got Eren to their village he'd come around — until Armin got inside his head that is.
Still, despite the disdain shown by Reiner and Annie for normal humans, they don't seem to be without conscience or a sense of right and wrong. Maybe they've been forced or tricked into these actions. Maybe the secrets being kept by the King and the Wall Cult are extremely damning against pre-wall humanity.
I'm not ruling anything out, but at the moment I see them as primary antagonists based on their actions.
Last edited by TitaNick; September 10, 2013 at 11:07 AM.
Nice thread, good job on summing up their roles as "Jan-ken-pon" XD
It could also be more - or less - to this of course; it has been implied that the trio originally thought Eren knew more than he really does...
Last edited by DarkLordOfKichiku; September 10, 2013 at 02:55 PM.
comic relief "villain" one doesn't generally invite protagonists to be kidnapped. To me it seemed like Reiner felt he was genuinely offering Eren an escape from a difficult situation and they expected him to welcome it. Like they expected Eren to say, "That was you guys? Oh thank god, I've been looking for you! Let's get away from these smelly humans!"