Mikasa meets the cruel world: Attack on Titan in a nutshell
More intelligent people than me have probably pointed this out long before me, but it still amazes me how much Mikasa’s upbringing truly is a metaphor for the entire series.
We start of with this carefree, peaceful family living in this isolated cabin in the woods, distanced from the outside. A comfortable existence, but their family is well aware that beyond their warm home lie problems: the Ackerman clan is still thought to be prosecuted, and Asians are sought by traffickers for their rare appearance and blood–they’re a different race, and this is useful to some.
And then one peace is interrupted: three men break in, destroying comfort and killing innocent people, and they’re there solemnly because of the physical aspects of the family, their rare appearance. Through this experience, Mikasa lost her hope and will to live, and also got to understand the cruel nature of the world she lived in.
And then, a sudden event that changed the course of that day. The young Eren Jaeger barges in, takes out the oppressive intruders, and most importantly, restores hope to her. Just like the kidnappers, Eren came from outside of her world…but instead of bringing her more cruelty, Eren brought Mikasa a way to go against said cruelty–to fight back. The world is cruel and brutal and it crushes the weak–thus, the only way to survive is to fight back against the oppression–and that’s what Mikasa proceeds to do.
This precise event can be translated with total accuracy into the entirety of the story–it’s the exact same thing the walled world went through. The walldians lived in peace and comfort (more or less), isolated from the rest of the world, because the outside meant danger for them. We’ve always known this danger to be the titans–the basement taught us the reality though. The entire outside world has a pre-determined relationship with the walldians–not because of who, but because of what they are. Some see them as danger and want them extinct for safety measures, some see them as useful tools for their own purposes.
Does this sound familiar? Ackermans are prosecuted because they’re a danger to the kings rule, and Asians are sought after because their origin makes them different. Mikasa’s family is a metaphor for all walldians, for all those wanted dead by the world or used as weapons in Marley’s titan army. Their situation is identical too: they live excluded from the outside world, in a pseudo-peace, which is one day interrupted by the arrival of three outsiders (kidnappers, RBA). Through their actions, those outsiders remind the inhabitants of the cruel, oppressive world they find themselves in (
a grim reminder). And then, another outsider appears, restoring hope and teaching the oppressed how to free themselves: to fight. This is Eren when he barges into the cabin, and Grisha, originally from beyond the walls. when he entrusts the founding and attack titans to Eren, who would later become humanities hope and, in some way, inspires them to fight back. Both of these stories are perfect parallels.
It’s also definitely not a coincidence that the Eren-saves-Mikasa flashback was included in Isayama’s first draft of chapter 1, in flashback format. All the dialogue about Mikasa being part of a nearly extinct, different race, and Eren telling her to fight back, were there from day one. In the present time she even says that she believes Eren has the strength to overcome the world’s issues and bring hope to mankind–an even stronger parallel between her situation and all of walldia.
Heck, it certainly isn’t a coincidence either that, during ch 14, primordial desire, aka humanities first ever victory against oppression and the first climax of the story, Eren flashes back to that very moment
On one hand it sets up other humans, aka Marley as antagonists, who’re oppressing Paradis due to the blood flowing through its inhabitants. At the same time, it redraws all the parallels mentioned beforehand by straight up comparing humanities struggle to that struggle in the woods.
These two panels really affirm everything I mentioned above–Mikasa’s “origin story” is it’s own microcosm that foretells the entire core struggle of the series: Eldians seeking freedom from oppression. And the fact that such an early scene remains a total metaphor to the story even 90 chapters and a ton of plot twists and revelations later, just goes to show how much of a thought out story attack on titan has been for the longest time.