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.