In June 2014, Hajime Isayama posted a song on his blog that he thought would be fitting for Bertholdt. It was called “The Season I Want to Die”.
I caught the cherry blossoms while suicide bombing Holy voices playing a melody Find me right now
Hey, that’s right. If we give up Somehow life becomes easier
When @didanwhisperer first posted it, I remember wondering if Isayama was trolling us or giving us new insight. With chapter 78, I think I have that answer.
This chapter drew unmistakable parallels between Bertholdt and Mikasa. They were born into a cruel world. Acknowledging that cruelty made them strong. Mikasa stopped shaking; Bertholdt stopped sweating. Their fear was replaced with clarity and control.
But it’s the areas where Mikasa and Bert diverge that I find most interesting. When facing the cruelty of the world, Mikasa could look beyond it to see beauty and love. She chose to focus on those things and in doing so, she found the strength to live.
That hasn’t happened to Bertholdt. While his love for Annie and Reiner are undeniable, he’s drawn clear lines. Annie can be fed to the pigs and Reiner may not survive the blast. Bertholdt is ok with that. Friendships are of secondary importance to him.
I almost get the sense that Bertholdt views killing them all as merciful. The cruelty of the world is too much for him. He can’t fight it. He thinks back to Marco’s death and the betrayal of his friends as tests of his resolve.
Still, he’s no monster. I laughed at how quickly he tried to reassure Armin that he wasn’t evil. He didn’t want Armin to die thinking it was his fault. Essentially Bertholdt tells him, “You are my friends and you are good people. You’ve done nothing wrong but I have to kill you.” He says it with a calm and earnest expression like somehow it will make sense to us.
If I’m being honest, very little in this chapter made sense. I am once again left with more questions than answers and I find my frustration growing. Why does humanity have to die? Why did the peace within the walls come with an expiration date? Who really is the enemy?
Bertholdt’s character song ends on an ominous note:
I want to hurry up and die, I want to hurry up and die, It’s that kind of death wish season.
I wonder if Bertholdt is thinking along those same lines. Perhaps he’s able to accept the deaths of everyone he care for because he believes his own death won’t be far behind.
Have you seen the latest chapter??? Any commentary? I enjoy your analyzing posts
(my chapter posts are more like sarcastic and bitter remarks rather than actual analysis but sure have some thoughts):
once again I am boarding the fucking bertholdt train to hate town. bertl has once again solidified himself as the poster boy of my abject goddamn rage simply for the way he says and does shit.
at this point he seems incredibly suicidal as shown by him embracing the whole “life is cruel and unjust” dramatic voguing in the sky pre-explosion. this is not specifically why I hate him; holy god if anything I could understand why he’d feel that way in this situation. it’s not lost on me that he’s a teenager who is doing some heavy shit, and it makes sense that he seems to welcome death before he transforms - not to mention he’s weirdly chill about annie’s torture and disposal via hungry dogs (and the Award for World’s Best Boyfriend Goes to) and BFF reiner’s possible death. he’s “at peace” with everything or so it seems. (also momtaku wrote a great post about bertholdt’s state of mind).
but that’s what’s got me infuriated. he is TOO casual towards not only himself and his friends dying but the way he talked to armin and the 104th about their demise gave me chronic clint eastwood levels of eye twitch. look pal if you’re going to be a homicidal mass murderer for whatever motivation at least fucking commit to the part and be an asshole about it - or a huge remorseful crybaby who is obviously being forced to do something he doesn’t want. don’t be all easy breezy about it like “yeah sorry this is awkward and y’all have done absolutely nothing wrong and you’re not evil but you have to die and that’s just how it is” in the most calm, reasonable manner. not only does that come across as completely psychopathic with that whole lack of feeling and empathy but it disturbs me how much it felt like armin was talking to a brick wall who could not connect to him on any emotional level, who couldn’t even give him a reason or morsel of comfort considering what he was about to do.
tbh when mikasa swooped in and tried to cut him a new asshole I was like
“YASSS QUEEN FINISH HIM. FUCK HIM UP”
I understand bertl showed remorse and emotion at marco’s death and later during Eren Retrieval 2.0 and that he’s probably just mentally and emotionally exhausted at this point and can’t do it anymore BUT SO AM I. I’M EXHAUSTED. I’m tired of never hearing motivations or reasons from the Titan Trio, I’m tired of getting more questions than answers with every chapter and after bertholdt’s coy bullshit I’m getting more and more frustrated at this idea we have to feel sorry for them just because of Secret & Tragic Motivation. at this point I’m not sure any motivation will soften the fucking rage I have for that casual, mass murdering tall drink of sweat. at least reiner had the decency to get his face blown off.
as for hange’s fate, I actually feel very little - I’m almost completely apathetic. this could be either due to
1) my body and mind have shut down and gone into deny, survive and thrive mode or
2) I don’t really believe she’s dead. if I did, I’d probably be an anxious wreck with several liters of hard vodka in my system, I’d be in seclusion in the west wing and my interest in SNK would have plummeted by 85%. there’s been no real foreshadowing or indication that hange will die, and she’s already had a recent close call and survived - its not isayama’s usual pre-death style (re: erwin - now THAT is how you do deathflags for a main character).
Isayama has said that characters like sasha and reiner (there were others I can’t recall) are expendable and not vital to the plot. hange’s name was not included in that list which is not surprising because:
- hange is unique in that she is the only titan scientist/inventor of weapons. the only person who could replace her in that sense is moblit who is unfortunately caught in the explosion too.
- moblit is hange’s protector. as much as I love him, he is an expendable character and a point was made to show him lunging for hange and yelling her name just as the explosion goes off. I feel like perhaps moblit has died or been severely injured protecting hange. which is going to truly suck and will make me regret ever using the pun “mobliterated”.
- I know it’d be hard to believe that hange or moblit would survive an explosion that size but isayama has been known to kind of gloss over injuries before. I mean hange was fucking impaled with a grappling hook and then body slammed spine-first against a rock column and walked it off with nothing but an arm in a sling. levi’s been cut up from his fight with kenny squad and the next chapter, with no time skip, he’s completely injury-free. armin has been thrown off a horse and rolled like a bowling pin over hard terrain and sustained a head injury and survived. reiner currently has no FACE and is probably still alive, shifter Immortality Hacks not withstanding. we’ve seen these characters survive some pretty fucked up injuries because realism has no place in Suspension-of-Disbelief Shounen Battle Hell.
- isayama doesn’t seem finished with hange. he said that he would eventually show readers why Levi is such a clean freak - much later we got chapter 69. isayama has also said he’d eventually reveal hange’s actual gender in the manga. we haven’t had that yet. granted, he could reveal it via some other means like an interview or blog but he seemed to be referring to the manga at the time.
- hange was named successor of Command for the survey corps. yes, this could change but with everything already mentioned hange’s character arc and plans just don’t seem finished. there’s still a lot to happen for hange. I’d be very, VERY surprised if hange dies. and also incredibly disinterested in the series.
Mikasa was on edge because she knows that Bertholdt is dangerous.
Mikasa was on edge because Armin is her family.
Mikasa immediately lunged for Bertholdt because if she hadn’t, there was a high chance that Bertholdt could’ve hurt or killed Armin.
We already know from many chapters ago that Mikasa prioritizes Eren and Armin above everyone else, and with good reason: they are her family, and she doesn’t want to lose her family ever again. She’s already lost them twice and has nearly lost Eren and Armin multiple times. She’s completely justified in being simultaneously protective of them and heartless toward opponents she sees as threats to her family’s peace.
That being said, she still cares for her other comrades and friends. This is implicitly evident in Mikasa noticing the change in Bertholdt’s personality. She may not say much, but she’s observant and perceptive when it comes to people who matter to her, and at one point, even Bertholdt was her comrade.
Mikasa did not fuck up the mission. Rather, she protected Armin and ensured that he didn’t do anything stupid. Armin did not call her a “stupid bitch” at all in the chapter, and I have no idea why anyone thought so. Armin was thankful that he saved her and thankful that she stayed safe.
If anyone dies as a result of this mission, it’ll be because Reiner and Bertholdt have lost and any all mercy they once had toward their former comrades, and it will not be because Mikasa couldn’t kill Bertholdt. And for fuck’s sake, if she did kill Bertholdt you all would be hurling misogynistic slurs and hating on her anyway. Stop with the cognitive dissonance.
Why is it that when Levi failed to kill Bertholdt, people rushed to his defense but when Mikasa fails to kill him people just criticize her? Why is that even though Levi and Mikasa are both referred to as humanity’s strongest and even though they’re most likely related and have very similar fighting stiles, people glorify Levi while calling Mikasa “overpowered” or “overrated”? Why is it that people simultaneously and erroneously say that Mikasa “only cares about Eren” but the minute she rushes to protect Armin you all call her a “bitch” for hurting Bertholdt? Why is that you’ll call Mikasa a “bitch” for attacking Bertholdt to protect Armin when you all railed against Reiner and Bertholdt for killing Marco when chapter 77 came out? Why is it that you’ll forgive Reiner and Bertholdt literally any other time but you’ll villainize Mikasa for doing the right thing and protecting the only family she has left?
I know why. I think the fandom’s reaction to chapter 78 is sufficient enough to shut up any claim that the fandom isn’t misogynistic toward Mikasa. :)
Some thoughts about the chapter…I don’t know why I have this sinking feeling in my gut after reading this.
At first I wasn’t sure why Armin would choose that moment to negotiate. Armin seemed certain that talking would work with Bertl, even after dark!Bertl’s coming out speech, when he tried to chase after him. This, coming from a boy who wasted no time at all to shoot an attacker in the face.
Lying about Annie worked once. Perhaps Armin thought that in his moment of vulnerability, after seeing Reiner cut down, the weak-willed Bertl would choose to cooperate with them. Or maybe Armin was really just being cunning, as Bertl observed, stalling for time so that the soldiers could gather.
Not sure if Armin thought the Annie lie would really work again. Armin would be smart enough to know that in the heat of the moment in ch49, Bertl would believe that lie, but anyone with a fundamental understanding of how shifters work would eventually figure out that it’s impossible to physically torture Annie.
Why did Bertl think of Marco when Armin asked him why he agreed to talk? I thought that was random. At that moment, was he thinking one thing but saying another? Was Bertl actually trying to give Armin a chance, a chance they never gave to poor Marco, but changed his mind when he realized Armin was still trying to manipulate him?
Bertl was really…unsettlingly calm, in that scene. According to him, he was really just taking his new and improved self out on a test run. He didn’t cry, didn’t break down or beg for forgiveness. It’s all just… ‘fine’. Man. Chills down my spine.
We don’t yet know the reasons why all of them MUST die, according to Bertl, but I’m glad he acknowledged that they’re not bad people. Why is it a ‘must’ for them to die, though. Are they all just literal ticking time bombs? Will they one day just spontaneously transform into mindless titans? Is it a ‘must’, or a ‘should’, or a ‘would be great if you could’?
There is part of me that craves character development for these awkward, “weak” characters that are just kind of…there. And I’m just like…you go Bert. Hell yes. Own it. Don’t let anyone make you feel like a puppet, even if it is my adoptive fictional son. Do what you want.
Look at this Bert, finding his own voice (even if it’s… empty), and owning it. I am properly impressed. Now, if only he was on the Survey Corps’ side. What a formidable soldier he could be, with this new outlook on life.
I knew this day would come for Bertl. It was only a matter of time. But I hoped that he would use that strength in him to fight against those who had pushed him into this shit job. He could’ve Neville Longbottomed the snake guts out of the Powers That Be.
Then I realize that Bert’s just living in a world where a bunch of people from all sides are telling him what to do, how to do it, trying to trick him, push him, destroy him. It’s easy for us to identify the “right” side, but Bertl’s pushed into a corner where he just thinks, whatever, I’m done, the world is cruel and I’m just gonna do what I set out to do in the first place.
Mikasa looking out for Armin, yessss. I was worried when I read the fake spoilers, and I was still worried when I read the real spoilers. Waiting for this chapter has taught me that sometimes it’s really better to reserve judgment until the entire chapter is out. For the serious stuff, at least.
Mikasa was fantastic. She waited. She observed. She was right to attack when she did. She held Armin back when it was not worth pursuing Bertl. She didn’t attack out of anger, but because the situation called for it.
Bertl was standing toooo close to Armin, and Armin isn’t the best with a sword. Bert was not in any mood to negotiate further. Mikasa failed to kill him, but she succeeded in saving Armin, if Bertl had planned to take him out then, or worse, transformed right after he declared that all of them must die.
Ackermans have never been successful in taking down titan shifters. Levi came the closest, but still didn’t finish the job. I think a fully powered Ackerman is still weaker than, or on equal footing as a Titan shifter with advanced regenerative ability. Ackermans may slice up mindless titans by the dozen, but they are no match for titan shifters, even in human form. Can’t exactly carve out their brain and spinal column so neatly when it’s a smaller and quicker target. So we shouldn’t expect any titan shifters to die by the blade of an Ackerman anytime soon.
And now with Reiner’s new superpower, I’m wondering what exactly it takes to kill a titan shifter, other than complete ingestion of the entire central nervous system. Mikasa and Levi tried their best. Mikasa’s quick spinning thrown blade, just seconds after getting kicked off the roof, was amazing. But when you pit superhumans against each other, there’s no end to it.
I’m not so sure that Hange and Moblit are dead, because the bodies flying around in the last few panels seem intact, and they’ve survived a Bertl steam bath before, so maybe, just maybe, they survived this explosion. Levi still has the serum, which could be a last resort, though it’s going to be difficult to eat a shifter now that Reiner’s shielded by his armor after he rolled over, and Bertl’s the Colossal Titan.
Sigh. Is it absolutely necessary for people to die, Isayama? We’ve already explored everyone’s reactions to death, and other lesser horrors of war. We don’t need to revisit this, if death doesn’t bring any plot progression. Yeah, sure, I don’t want my favorite characters to die because I’m a big damn baby, but can’t we just let Bertbomb be Bert’s grand solo coming of age moment? Everyone else, just exit stage left, and tiptoe quietly to Eren’s house.
To end this off on a positive note: Jean has been so amazing in the past few chapters. I just need him to fully live out his potential. Just…live, Jean. I love his big brothering of the squad, the hints of outstanding leadership, his newfound discretion about when to be an annoying smartass, and how he’s just the world’s wisest, smartest giant hair scrunchie.
The moments where the kids are all just gathered together around titan Eren is too precious. That sad realization that they might be the only survivors of that blast in Shiganshina…ahh stay strong little ones.
My favorite moment:
…oh Connie. You is kind, you is important, you is…
Commander, please gather your ducklings and go forth on your basement hunt already. Thank youuu…
Hanji is alive Hanji is alive Hanji is alive Hanji is alive Hanji is alive Hanji is alive Hanji is alive Hanji is alive Hanji is alive Hanji is alive Hanji is alive Hanji is alive Hanji is alive Hanji is alive Hanji is alive Hanji is alive Hanji is alive Hanji is alive Hanji is alive Hanji is alive Hanji is alive Hanji is alive Hanji is alive Hanji is alive Hanji is alive Hanji is alive Hanji is alive Hanji is alive Hanji is alive Hanji is alive Hanji is alive Hanji is alive Hanji is alive