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The Attack on Titan manga and anime series features an extensive cast of fictional characters created by Hajime Isayama. The story is set in a world where humanity lives in cities surrounded by enormous walls; a defense against the Titans, gigantic humanoids that eat humans seemingly without reason. The story initially centers on Eren Yeager with his childhood friends Mikasa Ackerman and Armin Arlert, who join the military to fight the Titans after their home town is invaded and Eren’s mother is eaten. They are part of the 104th Training Corps, whose graduates assume different positions in the Military, including the Garrison Regiment, the Survey Corps and the Military Police Brigade. It is later revealed that the area where the Walls are located is called Paradis (パラディ, Paradi) and that it is the last territory of Eldia (エルディア, Erudia). There are other nations outside the walls, namely Marley (マーレ, Māre) which has infiltrated Paradis with its Titan Shifters.
Paradis (パラディ, Paradi) is a massive island on which the three Walls are located. It became the last territory of the Empire of Eldia (エルディア, Erudia) after the Great Titan War and hosts refugees mainly consisting of ethnic Eldians. The island is modeled after Madagascar.
The military within the Walls is divided into three divisions: the Garrison Regiment, the Survey Corps, and the Military Police Brigade. It is commanded by Darius Zachary, the premier of the government. Applicants into the Military are first required to enter the Training Corps, after which they are allowed to join one of the three divisions.
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The Training Corps (訓練兵団, Kunren Heidan) is the branch of the military dedicated to training and educating new recruits to become members of the three military branches. Only the top ten graduates are permitted the privilege of applying to the Military Police Brigade and living within the Inner District. The other graduates can only choose between joining the Survey Corps or the Garrison Regiment. The Training Crops’ insignia is a crossing pair of swords.
The 104th Training Corps (第104期訓練兵団, Dai-hyakuyon-ki Kunren Heidan, alt. “104th Cadet Corps”) is the only graduating class introduced in the series and the southern division contains nearly all of the central characters. It was active during the years 847 through 850 when the remaining recruits graduated. In the manga, the top ten cadets were listed by their individual ranks[ch. 2] but in the anime, the top ten are recognized as a group, along with Armin and Ymir.[ep 4]
The Survey Corps (調査兵団, Chōsa Heidan, alt. “Scout Regiment”) is composed of expeditionary soldiers that venture outside the Walls. Their goal is to discover more about the origins and source of the Titans, their motives, and weaknesses; ultimately how to fight and defeat them. They are an integral component in the military’s campaign to recapture Wall Maria. Due to this, the division suffers from a much larger casualty rate than the Military police or the Garrison Regiment; those that survive are some of the most elite veterans in the entire military. The Survey Corps’ insignia is an overlapping pair of wings known as the “Wings of Freedom”.
The Survey Corps Special Operations Squad (調査兵団特別作戦班, Chōsa Heidan Tokubetsu Sakusen-han), also known as Squad Levi (リヴァイ班, Rivai-han), is a squad of four elite soldiers with impressive combat records hand-picked by Captain Levi. The squad takes Eren under their wing as both his bodyguards and potential executors if he goes berserk. All the original members of the squad, except for Levi and Eren, are killed by the Female Titan during the 57th expedition to Wall Maria. Later on, the squad is reformed with the six remaining recruits from the 104th Training Corps.
The Garrison Regiment (駐屯兵団, Chūton Heidan) are the soldiers that protect the towns and reinforce the Walls. They are the first line of defense against the Titans, maintaining a defensive stance. They are the largest force in the military due to the small exclusive number of members in the Military Police Brigade and the high death rate of the Survey Corps. The Garrison Regiment’s insignia is a pair of red roses.
The Military Police Brigade (憲兵団, Kenpeidan, alt. “Military Police Regiment”) is a gendarmerie assigned to maintain law enforcement, supervise the Training Corps, surveillance the Garrison Regiment, control the fire departments, and arrest and detain political criminals and dissidents. The top ten of each training class are eligible to join, although some experienced veterans from the Garrison can also transfer. As their tasks mainly involve urban patrols and administrative work, they do not experience front-line combat with Titans and often reside in the comfort and safety of the innermost wall.[vol. 8] The Military Police Brigade’s insignia is a white-haired green unicorn.
The First Interior Squad (中央第一憲兵団, Chūō daiichi Kenpeidan), also known as the Interior Police, is a secret police division that, despite being under the Military Police organization in name, operates completely independently from the main body of the Military Police Brigade. They have been shown to be far more skilled and disciplined than the rest of the Military Police, though their main specialties are in fighting other humans rather than Titans. No one is officially overseeing their activities and they operate as if above the law, even Nile Dok is often unaware of their actions until he was informed by someone else. That person turned out to be Rod Reiss. Shrouded in mystery, the Interior Squad is involved in numerous conspiracies involving torture and assassinations to maintain order within the Walls and is rarely seen outside the capitol. While most of the operatives are dead during the conflict with Rod Reiss, the rest of them are restrained by the soldiers on the side of Dot Pyxis and Dhalis Zachary.
The Royal Government (王政府, Ōseifu) is the ruling system of the Walls that work for the Royal Family and enforce their rules. Most of the Royal Government are loyal to Rod Reiss and his puppet ruler King Fritz. After a coup d’état that resulted in the arrest of King Fritz and those loyal to Rod Reiss as well as the death of Rod Reiss, the Royal Government was reorganized with them now working for Historia Reiss.
The Titans (巨人, Kyojin) are the primary antagonists of the series. They are giant human-shaped creatures that usually resemble nude male humans in form, although lacking reproductive organs.[ch. 4] They can range in height from 3 to 15 meters (9.8–49.2 ft). Despite their enormous strength and toughness, their bodies are unnaturally light for their size. Their primary instinct is to eat humans, as they show no interest in attacking other animals. However, they seem to operate on sunlight and do not require food or drink to survive, and would typically later vomit up the remains of those they devoured. The Titans have hard skin and regenerative abilities, and can only be killed by inflicting a deep incision at the nape of the neck. They have high body temperatures, causing them to emit steam.[ch. 4] Most Titans, known as Pure Titans (無垢の巨人, Muku no Kyojin), are slow and clumsy, show no signs of intelligence and act like mindless beasts with a compulsion to eat any human they come across. But some Pure Titans, referred to as “Abnormals” (奇行種, Kikō-shū), are fast moving and intelligent enough to ignore nearby humans for larger populations.
The Fritz royal family, who inherited the Founding Titan power from Ymir Fritz, have the ability to create and control Pure Titans using a special serum created from the spinal fluid of Titans.[ch. 86] It would later be revealed that the Titans originate from a special race of people known as Subjects of Ymir (ユミルの民, Yumiru no Tami, lit. “Ymir’s people”), who are the only humans known to be reactive to Titan serum. These people once used the Titan power to establish a glorious empire named Eldia (エルディア, Erudia), and are hence called the Eldians (エルディア人, Erudia-jin). The Eldians conquered the continent and subjugated the nation of Marley for 1,700 years, and have been addressed as the “spawn of the Devil” (悪魔の末裔, Akuma no Matsuei) by the Marleyans.
Some Eldian humans, known as Titan Shifters (巨人化能力者), can transform to-and-back between a consciously intelligent Titan and human form at will.[vol. 2] Their transformation is triggered by an inflicted injury, but also requires a clear, dedicated goal in mind.[ep 19] While in the Titan form, the human’s normal body rests in the nape of the neck, connected via masses of muscular tissue.[vol. 2] Ymir Fritz is generally considered the very first Titan Shifter.
The Nine Titans (九つの巨人, Kokonotsu no Kyojin) are nine Titan Shifter lineages that have been passed down through the Eldian people for nearly 2,000 years after Ymir Fritz’s death, each of them having inherited a ninth of Ymir’s soul and possessing a unique set of Titan power (巨人の力, Kyojin no Chikara). These inheritors of her Shifter power are also subjected to what is known as the “curse of Ymir” (ユミルの呪い, Yumiru no Noroi) and doomed to die after 13 years with accelerated ageing and physical decline (since Ymir died 13 years after acquiring her power and nobody can exceed hers), and their Shifter power must be passed onto someone else. The succession of the Nine Titans’ power is tied to a form of cannibalism, with a successor being administered a Titan serum and transformed into a Pure Titan that acts on instinct to devour the current holder and consume the predecessor’s spinal fluid, inheriting the power and cumulative memories of all previous holders. If a Titan Shifter dies without being consumed, the Titan power can be passed to a random Eldian child born at the time of the current holder’s death by other interdimensional means, regardless of distance.[vol. 88]
During the reign of the ancient Eldian Empire, the Nine Titans normally resided within noble families, as family relations play a significant role in passing inheriting memories from the previous inheritors of the Titan power. Thes e houses were in a constant conflict with the Fritz family using the Founding Titan to maintain the peace. But the 145 th Eldian King Karl Fritz felt great shame for his people’s actions and carried sympathy for Marley, a former nation which the Eldians conquered and oppressed and collaborated the story of a Marleyan named Helos with the Tybur family to destroy their nation from the inside while rallying the Marleyans into inciting the Great Titan War. In the aftermath, Fritz took some of his subjects to Paradis and turn some into titans who formed the walls ‘ foundation while most of the rest had their memories altered. With only the Attack Titan unaccounted for, Marley seized control of the other Nine Titans while the Tybur family were allowed to keep the War Hammer Titan for supporting Marley. By the beginning of the series, the Reiss family and the Tybur family were the only remaining bloodlines of Eldian nobility as the other Titans were distributed to Marleyian loyalists that would be utilized as the Warriors .The powers of Nine Titans can be merged if one Titan Shifter devours another, as with the case of Grisha Yeager, an inheritor of the Attack Titan, devouring Frieda Reiss to steal Founding Titan from the Reiss family, reducing the number of Titan Shifters to eight. Eren would repeat this when he acquires the War Hammer Titan from the younger sister of Willy Tybur, bringing the number of Titan Shifters down to seven .Thousands of Pure Titans that resemble the Colossus Titan in appearance and abilities. They have been entombed within the three Walls of Paradis by King Fritz using their hardening abilities to deter an immediate attack from Marley. Except for the Founding Titan’s orders, these Titans are absolutely unstoppable. They are faster than horses and according to Hange, they can destroy the Marleyan mainland in about four days. Exasperated with Marley’s racial violence against the Subjects of Ymir, Eren unleashes the Wall Titans and commands them to destroy Marley. Two days later, the Wall Titans invade Marley and demolish its north eastern territories .
Marley (マーレ, Māre) is a large empire located beyond the Walls and across the ocean from Paradis. It consists of an enormous continental mainland as well as many overseas territories. Marley was originally conquered by the Subjects of Ymir who established the Empire of Eldia using the Nine Titans, but King Karl Fritz collaborated with the Tybur family to allow the Marleyans to overthrow his own empire during the Great Titan War. With Karl’s involvement in their uprising concealed, the Marleyans seized control of seven of the Titans and subjugated most of Eldia with the exception of Paradis. The Eldian population remained on the home continent that did not migrate with King Karl to Paradis Island have since been forced to be subjugated by the Marleyans, who despised Eldians as subhumans and treated them cruelly as second-class citizens confined to segregated lives within the gated Liberio Internment Zone (レベリオ収容区, Reberio Shūyō-ku), where the Eldians are forced to wear armbands with a 9-pointed star as a badge of shame and forbided to leave Liberio without permits. Any Eldian deemed disobedient to the Marleyan rule (not wearing armbands, leaving Liberio without permits, planning uprisings, or even just joining religious groups) will be punished by the Public Security Authority (治安当局, Chian Tōkyoku) via torture and murder, and even worse, exile as Pure Titans onto Paradis so they can mindlessly devour their compatriots on the island. Despite the hatred towards the Eldians, Marleyans still rely on Eldians as cheap cannon fodders to conquer other nations and expand Marley’s territory. In the modern era, it has become increasingly harder for Marley to still uses Eldian-transformed Titans as convenient weapons of mass destruction to maintain its status as a dominant world power, as other nations are all making technological progresses that can offset Marley’s Titan advantage.[volume & issue needed]
The Marleyan Military (マーレの軍事, Māre no Gunji) is the combined armed forces of Marley, consisting primarily of the Marley Army (マーレ陸軍, Māre Rikugun) (which includes the infamous Warrior Unit) and the Marley Navy (マーレ海軍, Māre Kaigun). Marley maintains its military dominance in the world stage by the use of five (formerly seven before the failure of the Paradis Island Operation) of the Nine Titans and a technologically moderate military force, which is not as developed as that of other powers around the world. The overall size of the Marleyan military stationed around Liberio exceeds 30,000 soldiers.
The Warrior Unit (戦士隊, Senshi-tai) is a subdivision of the Marleyan military’s Eldian Unit, which consists of younger ethnic Eldian conscripted children. Most Warrior cadets are recruited and trained from childhood, expected to carry out the needs of their superiors without question or objection, and serve as expendable shock troops on the battlefield, performing the riskiest and most dangerous tasks and strategies while the other Marleyan soldiers remain out of harm’s way. When the need arises, the Warrior who demonstrates the most exceptional performance on the battlefield is given the privilege of inheriting one of the six Shifter Titans (Beast, Cartman, Armored, Colossus, Female and Jaws) which Marley obtained during the Great Titan War. Due to the rarity of these individuals, efforts are taken to ensure that, if possible, these Warriors are not put into situations which could lead to the loss of one of Marley’s Titans. The Titan Shifter inheritors along with their families are granted privileges of “honorary Marleyans” (名誉マーレ人) and can have basic human rights almost equal to ordinary Marleyans, though these rights can be revoked any time by the Marleyan authority.
The Tybur family (タイバー家, Taibā-ke) is a house of elite and influential Eldian nobles living in Marley as honorary Marleyans, although they are actually Marley’s true rulers. Even though they are Eldian, they are highly respected throughout the world for being the first Eldian family to fight against their own king during the Great Titan War. They gave Marley freedom and power as an act of atonement for their ancestors’ crimes against the Marleyans. They held the power of the 15-meter (49 ft) War Hammer Titan (戦槌の巨人, Sentsui no Kyojin) for generations, but only a select few knew of the inheritor’s identity.
The Eldian Restorationists (エルディア復権派, Erudia Fukken-ha) were a radical group of rebellious Eldians in Liberio who were deeply resentful of Marley’s cruel treatments and pledged to overthrow Marley and restore Eldia as a world power. The initial Restorationist movement were organized by remnants of the Fritz royal family that stayed in Marley. A revolutionary army was formed, but the uprising was unsuccessful and crushed. All members of this original organization were hunted down by the Marleyan Public Security Authority and brutally executed for treason. The latest organization was formed by an anonymous sleeper agent hidden inside the Marleyan Public Security Authority nicknamed “the Owl” (フクロウ, Fukurou), who supplied weapons, funds and historical documents to the Restorationists. The members identified their allegiance with a self-inflicted cross-shaped scar on the body. By looking at illustrations written in an ancient language nobody can read, they rejected Marley’s vilified version of Eldian history and believed it to be lying propagandas, and concluded that Ymir Fritz was a goddess who used the power of the Titans to cultivate lands, build roads, bridging mountains and bring prosperity to mankind.
Grisha Yeager joined the Restorationists in year 824 at the age of 18, after being informed of the truth of his sister’s murder. He quickly raised in rank within the organization, and later married Dina Fritz, the last surviving royal descendant in Marley. When the Marley government proclaimed the Warrior program, Grisha planned to make his son Zeke enlist as a Warrior cadet and serve as a sleeper agent so the Restorationists can acquire the Founding Titan from Paradis. However, Zeke snitched his parents to the Marleyan authorities and all the Restorationists members were arrested, tortured and exile to Paradis as Pure Titans .
The Anti-Marleyan Volunteers (反マーレ義勇兵, Han Māre Giyū-hei) are a group of underground rebel soldiers serving within the Marleyan Army, membership is largely composed of people from countries that Marley conquered in its aggressive territorial expansion. Holding a severe grudge after being conscripted to fight for the country that oppressed them, the Volunteers aspire to throw overthrow the Marleyan government for their freein. They initially had very little success before they morale was renewed when they allied themselves with Zeke Yeager. During the early stages of the Marley Mid-East War, the Volunteers betray Marley’s first survey fleet sent to Paradis Island to set up Zeke’s covert alliance with the Eldians in providing the country with technology and intel in return to receive amnesty for Zeke and his followers. The Volunteers would continue aiding the Survey Corps, playing a crucial role in the Battle of Liberio, including infiltrating the Marleyan ranks to incapacitate Marleyan Warriors and piloting an airship to ensure the Survey Corps’ safe retreat. After returning to Paradis, the Volunteers turn over to the Garrison Corps a stock of Titan serums they managed to steal from Marley, but Dot Pixis has them arrested as he explained that Paradis is not yet to fully trust Zeke and his followers.
Attack on Titan manga volumes by Hajime Isayama. Original Japanese version published by Kodansha. English version by Kodansha USA.