Short answer: Yes.
If you don’t know, “Attack on Titan” is the Japanese anime series based on the Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Hajime Isayama. It is currently streaming on Hulu, Funimation, and Crunchyroll. If you haven’t watched up to the most recently released episode of its final season, please leave this article now. This article contains spoilers; you are forewarned.
Chapter #130, titled “Dawn For Humanity,” has just revealed Eren Jaeger as the ultimate villain of the series. But can we blame him? To say that Eren has gone through a lot throughout his journey is an understatement. However, even if you haven’t read the manga series, the promotional posters of each season of the anime paint Eren’s rise to villainy from the oppressed to the oppressor.
In the season one poster, Eren is alone on the ground, looking up at the season one villain—the Titans, more specifically the Colossal Titan.
Since the first attack on his home, Shiganshina District, and witnessing his mother’s brutal death, Eren vowed to destroy every single Titan. That started with joining the Cadet Corps, as you can see from the symbol on his uniform. However, despite taking this first step at revenge, Eren is unprepared and by no means equipped to fight back. In the Battle of Trost, the Cadets are devastated by the unexpected-second attack (not to mention Eren was literally eaten). It is later revealed that Annie, Bertholdt, and Reiner are spies from outside the wall who were behind the attacks and are responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of people. Since Eren is physically lower than Titans, this signifies his inferiority to them and his inevitable shortcomings throughout season one.
There is a twist in season one that aids Eren and his friends in season two: Eren is the Attack Titan. Still on the ground, oppressed and inferior to the other Titans, Eren now has the means to fight back. He is definitely much stronger, faster, and better (since he got eaten in the previous season) than he was before. Annie’s Female Titan is no longer a problem, but we see that Reiner’s Armored Titan and Zeke’s Beast Titan (not shown) are slowly becoming forces to be reckoned with. This time, however, Eren is not alone. His best friends, Armin and Mikasa, are with him. They have been part of the Scouts Regiment for some time now and are no strangers to fighting. Season two, although action packed, also focuses on investigating the origin of Titans and reclaiming land lost during the attack on Shiganshina District. Their lack of knowledge about the outside world continues to make them small and weak.
In season three, we finally see that Eren and the Scouts are now on level with the Titans. The Scouts still have to look up because they don’t have the same advantages Eres has as a Titan. This poster is specifically for season three part two, where one of the most devastating moments happens for one of the main characters. Armin, who has up to this point believed himself to be weak, sacrifices himself so that Eren can finally defeat the Colossal Titan. Luckily, Armin is saved but at the cost of Commander Erwin and new Scouts recruits.
Season four is where we finally see the Scouts above their enemy and Eren has fully embraced becoming the ultimate villain of “Attack on Titan.” Eren has seen his mother get eaten, friends killed, been betrayed, and (on top of all of that trauma) scarred from being eaten in season one. The revelations in season three and the events up until episode thirteen of season four, “Children of the Forest,” sprinkle easter eggs for Eren’s downturn and uprise. Training Armin as the new Colossal Titan, the alliance with the Anti-Marleyan Volunteers, and Sasha’s death (I told you not to read this unless you’ve seen the series) have finally given the Scouts reason and power to be superior to their previous oppressors.
There has been discourse within the “Attack on Titan” community about Eren’s actions not matching his intentions and that he is no longer the boy we started with, especially when he laughed when Sasha died. In his defense, Sasha’s last thoughts while drowning in her own blood was about eating meat. Even I laughed because Sasha died in a way that only Sasha could. To Sasha, Rest in Meat.
However, “Attack on Titan” does an amazing job with character development and exploring major political and social themes of our modern world. It’s not just about good versus evil. It recognizes that in war, those lines are blurred. In war, there are only those who survive and those who don’t. Only two questions remain: What are you willing to do to survive? Are you willing to pay the consequences? In Eren’s case, he has grown and reached the end of his character arc. He is willing to do anything and everything he originally set out to do: attack on Titans.