P.S. I'd love to hear your headcanons about Hanji's backstory! :D
First off, this is all guesswork on my part (and it’s probably not even close to canon) but if I were to write Hanji’s backstory, it would go something like this:
Hanji’s Backstory Headcanons:
- Hanji comes from a “middle class” family. They didn’t have a lot, but they were never in want of basic necessities.
- Hanji’s parents were of average intelligence. They were impressed and somewhat daunted by their daughter’s early signs of brilliance (she collected small reptiles and created a mini ecosystem by housing them in large jars)
- Hanji was as just passionate in her childhood as she is as an adult. She was absolutely undaunted by anything or anyone (bigger and stronger children included), and as a result, ended up with more than her fair share of cuts and bruises.
- Because of her intelligence, Hanji had to have something on which to focus – whether it was her reptiles, reading all of the books in the small local library, studying the stars, or building mini-catapults to throw slugs at her siblings. As soon as she had reasonably mastered one thing, she was always quick to move on to the next.
- At one point in her youth, Hanji wanted to be a doctor. She was fascinated by disease and how it perpetuated its own existence using human hosts.
- She had younger siblings: Seriously though. Remember how naturally she interacted with Farlan and Isabel? I’d bet money she had younger brothers or sisters.
I said in another post that Isayama has a thing about tragic backstories. I can’t imagine Hanji’s past would be the exception.
Here’s where things get sad.
- Hanji’s family died when she was in her early to mid teens.
Hear me out:
Remember in chapter 71, in Shadis’ flashback, where we see some kind of disease spreading within the walls? We don’t really get an idea of the scope of it, but it is clear that until Grisha developed a cure, it was a serious diagnosis.
In the indeterminable amount of time before Grisha developed the cure, any number of people could have succumbed to the disease – Hanji’s family included.
Can you imagine the state that would leave her in? Horrified, lost, but most of all angry. What does Hanji do when she is faced with a perceived injustice? She gets mad. And then she gets down to business.
I’d always wondered: when Hanji first joined the Survey Corps, why was she so mad at the Titans? It wasn’t like she could have encountered them before. And unless she had family or friends in the Survey Corps, she couldn’t have lost anyone to them.
My theory is this: with her family gone and no one to blame but a rampant disease, on whom does Hanji focus her ire? Titans. If not for them, humanity wouldn’t be forced to reside, cramped, behind the walls, vulnerable to easily spread epidemics.
And so Hanji joins the Survey Corps, all of her anger, passion, and drive focused on one thing: destroying Titans. And as we know, it’s not until she kicks off a Titan’s empty head, and she realizes that Titans aren’t the source of the problem - and that the source must go much, much deeper – that she refocuses her energy. And from that moment, she is the Hanji Zoe who we first met: passionate – but focused. No longer motivated by anger to destroy Titans, but driven by an unwavering desire to know the truth.