If Reiner and Bertl ship is cannon (from that page in the last volume) then why Isayama made Reiner to have feelings for Historia/Christa and the same with Bertl to Annie Anyone who reads the manga would see both of them as childhood friends
But is that really the case?
The moment I started to suspect something between these two was because of this panel:
The Gay Discourse of 2013 - Ch. 38
That panel sparkled a lot of controversy due tot the undertones and the ambiguous nature of Reiner’s and Ymir’s sexuality. That’s why I brought up the context as an introduction because here, neither Ymir or Reiner are denying their lack of attraction to the opposite gender, which pretty much describes their conversation as “lol ur gay - yeah you 2 m8″. [Source]
Combine that with the hints I listed in the original post above and these two here are definitely gay. That’s what kicked me in the reibert zone as well as several others, which is why it’s the most popular Reiner ship.
There were other facts that could be interpreted as romantic but I listed them in a long meta post so if you have the courage to read it, click here.
Anyway, to answer your question more directly about Reiner’s feelings for Historia and the same with Bertolt for Annie, Isayama never really insisted with it. Speaking of that highschool AU page, you could spot Hitchlo and Springles, whose relationships were pretty much anchored.
About Reiner, you’ll notice in that panel he has no problems with Ymir hitting on Historia. The only time he expressed “attraction” was during the FT arc, when he joined the SC. This is also the time where he started to have intense mental issues because it follows Marco’s death. Not to mention he’s not the only one to find Historia cute: Armin and Jean did it as well.
The only time he made allusions to the possible romance between him and Historia was during this:
Reiner alluding a crush from Krista - Ch.46
And that was when he had an episode of dissociation: you’ll notice in this chapter he recalled Utgard while omitting certain portions of his memories: he started to ramble when Ymir asked for water, several hours after Eren woke up. He remembered titans popping up but not exactly why. He forgot his brief glimpse of Marcel which was the main reason why he found resolve in returning successfully to his home, he also omitted the parts where Historia was about to risk her life to save Ymir from a titan massacre whereas he previously had no problems with Ymir and Historia being together. That’s the contradiction. Oh and let’s not forget he’s directly addressing Marcel’s killer. That should tip him off.
When he’s brought back to reason, he straight out admit he needs Historia due to her being from the Reiss family. In his mind, he had to focus on her but by the time Marco was dead, he started to forget why. He knew she was important for his plans but his guilt shook him to the point of even forgetting his main goal.
Notice also during this arc where he worries more about Bertolt getting eaten than Historia, similar to how Ymir thought about Historia’s safety.
Ymir and Reiner thinking about Historia and Bertolt’s safety respectively - Ch.50
Because deep down in Reiner’s friend list, he’d rather privilege Bertolt, his fellow Marlean Eldians at war and the rest.
That being said, he was willing to deliver a letter… for Ymir’s sake. Not to mention Historia wasn’t the person he subconsciously remembered when his head was reformed:
Reiner remembering Bertolt - Ch.82
That’s all there is to Reiner’s “romantic” interest over Historia.
Moving on to Bertolt’s attraction towards Annie. When reading that part I couldn’t help but think it was just elaborated to make Armin smart, because it was never expanded further aside from that context.
Besides, it wasn’t even confirmed straight from the concerned’s mouth:
Bertolt denying Reiner’s sayings about Annie - Ch.47&77
During both times he straight up denies it, blushes out of embarrassment and gets interrupted by Reiner. His blushing while denying it could be interpreted as embarrassment, if Reiner’s spot-on, which would be coherent with his characters, at the same time weird considering all the facts available in the manga. On the other hand, the same reaction is engendered by hearing a ridiculous assumption. In that case, Bertolt denies it and blushes because he knows Reiner’s supposition is completely false.
And there’s the fact he gets interrupted by Reiner every time he tries to justify himself: now there’s often the “My good dude Reiner ships me with Annie and tries to support my love choice” meme (thanks Chuugakkou), but his reaction for a “supporting bro” is strange: if you truly supported your friend with his crush, you wouldn’t interrupt then speak over him. As a matter of fact, he never tried to encourage Annie and Bertolt to hook up together during their trainee days (mission aside, it was considered their most peaceful days).
Usually after one or two chapters after Reiner teases Bertolt about this, you have Armin using Annie as a bargain chip. Reiner evidenced that supposed crush about Bertolt staring at Annie. Now considering their uprising as Marley warriors and the fact they had to work together, wouldn’t that mean just concern for a fellow sister? Bertolt is someone who treasures and respects the friendships he made along the way, even with his enemies (and when you look at his death, it’s the worst irony).
Aside from their interactions as teammates, there’s nothing pointing out to a mutual attraction or desire to be around the other, not even the author’s encouraging. Compare other het ships like springles, eremika, petrauro, mikenana or hitchlo who have a mutual bond. Meanwhile, Bertolt spends his time alongside Reiner and Annie doesn’t show any interest in him.
I’ve mentioned the lack of concern about Historia from Reiner and the same can be said for Bertolt. Not that he doesn’t care but Annie isn’t the privileged one on his friend list:
Reiner urging Annie to remove Marco’s 3DMG - Ch.77
Well, if Bertolt put Annie on top of everything else, he’d rush in and switch places with her instead of guarding the roof. It was clearly shown in the page it was harsh for Annie, especially when she wasn’t responsible for the incident (she even suggested Bertolt to do it).
On top of that, Reiner’s the only one who fought Zeke to set the list of priorities about whether getting the coordinate back or saving Annie, as well as the only one who brought the topic about Annie in the forest of giant trees in chapter 47. So if Bertolt’s indeed in love with Annie, that’s pretty weak.
On the other hand, the only times Bertolt butted out of his passiveness was when Reiner’s life was at risk. Notable examples: the pitchfork incident and especially the barrel abortion in chapter 78.
Bertolt jumping out of the barrel - Ch.78
That put the whole mission in jeopardy, but Bertolt couldn’t afford risking Reiner’s life. Too bad the acceptance came a bit late into play.
“Everyone’s always wondering what’s up with Toffee (and I do, too) but I really want to know more about Miss Heinous. Who is she really? What is her master plan? Why does she want to Marco alive and Star dead, who would be a more valuable hostage? Miss Heinous could be just as dangerous as Toffee and we don’t even know it yet.”
Yes Marco, yes.
This ship will literally be the end of me. Why the fuck is Marco dead. THAT CINNAMON ROLL DID NOT DESERVE DEATH AND NOW MY BABY JEANICORN IS ALL ALONE WITH NO COWBOY, WTF ISAYAMA, WHY?????