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Foreshadowing / Attack on Titan

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Hajime Isayama is particularly fond of foreshadowing, being inspired by its usage in Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones.

WARNING: This page is meant to describe events as they related to much later, very significant ones. Thus this page will have no spoiler marks at all. So, please, READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.


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    Shifter Identities 
  • A particularly subtle and brilliant example occurs in Chapter 15. The recruits gather around Eren to ask him about the Titans, including the legendary Colossal Titan and the Armored Titan. As he is describing each, the panels focus on first Bertolt and then Reiner, as he describes their Titan forms. This is much more subtle in the anime; the camera barely catches Bertolt in the bottom of the screen during part of the description of the Colossal Titan, returns to Eren, then shifts to a shot of Reiner from behind during the description of the Armored Titan.
  • After dinner, Bertolt asks Eren and Armin about their motivations to gauge their reactions to the fall of wall Maria. Bertolt and Reiner also mention their goals of going to the interior and returning home respectively, which foreshadows Bertolt, Reiner, and Annie's goal of finding and retrieving the Coordinate.
  • When Annie spars with Eren in Episode 4, there's a split second where she covers her neck with her arm, like the Female Titan is shown doing later.
  • When Annie walks away after saying she's not stupid enough to like playing soldier, Reiner remarks that she doesn't seem suited to be a warrior either.
  • During the Battle of Trost, there are three instances of subtle foreshadowing regarding the Titan Shifter nature of Annie, Bertolt, and Reiner. First, while the others are discussing how the situation is hopeless, when Annie asks Reiner what to do he says "Not yet." with his hand near his mouth. The second is them being unusually interested in finding out more about the Rogue Titan and making use of it, instead of wanting to get away from it like everyone else. Lastly, they immediately rush toward the site of Eren's partial transformation instead of being stunned by the sudden sound like everyone else, hinting that they are familiar with the tell-tale signs of Titan-shifting.
  • After the Battle of Trost, when the recruits are retrieving the bodies of the fallen/eaten comrades, the usually stoic, detached Annie seemingly breaks and starts apologizing to the corpses. This becomes a lot less about survivor's guilt after you realize she's a Titan spy.
  • Also, in the anime, when the Colossal Titan appears there's a brief flash of lightning before The Reveal. It hints at its true nature of being a Titan Shifter.
  • The second opening of season one has a sequence briefly showing each of the surviving 104th cadets. During it, Reiner, Bertolt and Annie are shown turning to face the opposite direction than the others.
  • The second end credits of the anime shows the main characters standing on either side of a wall that separates them into groups of two. Considering that Reiner, Ymir, Annie and Bertolt are Titan Shifters, this can be seen as an intentional foreshadowing to their alliances. Krista, on the other hand, while not being a Titan Shifter, is also hiding her true identity, just as the other four. There's more: watch the fight sequence after Titan Eren breaks the Wall. None of them participates, rather tellingly.
  • During the ceremony where the recruits choose their military branch, several recruits agonize internally about the decision. We don't get to hear the inner monologues of Annie, Bertolt, Reiner, Ymir, or Krista since their thoughts would give too much away.
  • During the Female Titan's attack on the Recon Squad, Reiner, Armin, and Jean meet up and realize the Female Titan is hunting Eren. Each of them reveals that they were given differing information regarding Eren's position within the formation, but Reiner mentions that his map said Eren is in the rear of the right wing. Where did the Female Titan first attack? The rear of the right wing, hinting at who she got her intel from.
  • Armin asks Jean and Reiner to cover their heads with their hoods before fighting the Female Titan so she won't kill them (in case one of them is Eren), but Reiner removes his hood again right before engaging her, as he obviously needs her to recognize him.
  • When Reiner is grabbed by the Female Titan, pay close attention and he turns his head and winks at her, in addition to carving the words into her palm. Plus he somehow survived being squashed, and there's steam briefly coming from his head while carrying Armin. And throughout the scene we keep hearing inner monologues from Armin and Jean, but never from Reiner.
  • A brief chapter shows Ilse Langnar, a member of the Survey Corps writing her last moments in her diary as she finds a Titan who talks to her, calling her "Ymir-sama"("Lady Ymir" in the localization) before realizing its mistake and eating her. Her diary is later found by Levi and Hange. When Hange hears that name 20 chapters later, she is visibly shocked, hinting at Ymir's true nature.
  • When the Titans are first reported to be within Wall Rose, Reiner and Bertolt look at each other in a state of panic and confusion, with Reiner asking Bertolt if the wall really has been breached. Normally this is a perfectly normal reaction to a Titan invasion, but with The Reveal it gains a layer of "How?! We didn't break the wall!"
  • After the supposed fall of Wall Rose, Reiner tries to be even more supportive of Connie and the others even putting himself in extra danger, and Bertolt keeps giving him worried looks. We find out that not only are they the Armored and Colossal Titans but Reiner's sanity has been deteriorating and he has developed split personalities to cope and that Bertolt is pretty scared and upset by this.
  • During the siege of Castle Utgard, after Reiner saves Connie, Bertolt says that Reiner used to be more like a warrior before, to which Reiner reacts with confusion, foreshadowing both their true identities and Reiner's split personality.
  • When the Beast Titan appears, special emphasis is given to how Reiner and Bertolt are terrified, foreshadowing that they have seen it before.
  • During the battle at Utgard Tower, as the tower is about to collapse and all seems lost, when Ymir's Titan climbs up to the top and tells them to grab onto her, you can a fearful reaction shot of everyone. Bertolt in particular is recoiling in fear, but his hand is close to his open mouth, as if he were about to bite his hand to transform.
  • You'd have to be able to understand Japanese to catch it, but one of the verses of the second season opening is about traitors. The second half of the season is about Reiner and Bertholt's betrayal.

    The Nature of the World 
  • The murals painted on the Wall that divides the two groups of recruits are full of visual cues about some of the subtler hints we've gotten on the world and spoilers from the manga, especially a paper-doll-like chain of humanoid figures that represents the Titans that serve as the foundation for the Wall.
  • There are a lot of subtle hints foreshadowing the situation outside the Walls.
    • During the Scouts' stay in castle Utgard, they find certain items that have labels on them. Unfortunately, nobody seems to understand the language. Aside from Ymir, who finds a can of herring and is able to identify it. Herring is a seawater fish.
    • The Scouts nickname the ape-looking titan 'Beast titan', since they have never seen an ape. Ymir, however, refers to him as 'a monkey'. Eren repeats: 'a monkey?' In the original Japanese text, Ymir says 'monkey' using kanji, but Eren says it using katakana, implying that he just repeated the word without understanding its meaning.
    • During return to Shiganshina, Armin finds a coffee grinder and three cups with residual 'black liquid' that he can't identify. A coffee grinder also has a cameo during Reiner's flashback to Marcel being eaten.
    • When fighting in Shiganshina, Reiner is wearing modern-looking military boots.
    • The Beast Titan likes using baseball terms. Baseball as a sport was only developed during 19th century.
  • Reiner refers to himself and his allies as short-lived mass murderers. Rather than referring to being killed for their actions, he's talking about Titan shifters only living thirteen years after gaining their power.
  • During the mission to recapture Eren after he's been kidnapped by Reiner and Bertholdt, Armin gets under their skin by claiming to them that Annie's being tortured. Enraged, Bertholdt calls the Survey Corps "Children of The Devil." At first, it just sounds like an insult, and a really lame one at that, but it refers to how the people of Marley, the Titan Shifters' home country, refer to the people living on Paradis, the setting of most of the story, as being descendants of The Devil.
  • In Chapter 54, Frieda Reiss reads a picture book to Historia on which she exemplifies the subject (a little girl receiving something from a cloaked figure) as a kind and gentle individual whose actions should be followed; later in Chapter 86, Grisha Yeager attests that he had read a similar book during his research into the subject of the Eldian Empire. The book is about Ymir Fritz (the Original/Progenitor Titan) receiving the Titan power from the Devil in a similar fashion as Frieda's book, though the book is material from the Kingdom of Marley, who hate Ymir Fritz and her people, the Eldians, explaining the biased connotations they give to this event (as the Marleyans argue that the Eldians conducted ethnic cleansing against them, and consider them descendants of the Devil)
  • One of the "Information Available For Public Disclosure" tidbits mentions how the territory surrounded by the Walls is rich in fossil fuels and other natural resources, which is the main reason the Kingdom of Marley is set on wiping out the people inside the Walls and claiming the entire Island of Paradis.
  • An anime only example, we learn Ymir's backstory much earlier in the anime than we do in the manga which foreshadows the existence of Marley and the conflict far beyond the walls of the setting. In the manga, we see Ymir's backstory after the existence of Marley has been revealed to the lead characters and the reader. In the anime, we see it long before that, during the arc where Reiner and Bertholt reveal their treachery and attempt to kidnap Eren and Ymir. In the process, it also heavily foreshadows where all the Titans came from.
  • The end credits of the second season of the anime show backstory events that would only be revealed years later in the manga, such as the fall of Lago and Ymir's daughters eating her corpse.

    Other 
  • In episode one of the anime only, Mikasa is seen hauling twice as much wood compared to Eren, hinting at her vastly superior strength.
  • A subtle one is during training, Eren injures his head during 3DMG training. He recovers quickly (in one night!) and can be seen with small amounts of steam leaving his head. It's easily mistaken as a visual indication of his embarrassment and frustration rather than his Titan healing abilities manifesting.
  • When the new trainees are being questioned on their goals, Marco earnestly voices his desire to serve under the king. Shadis tells him that's a fine goal, but he doubts the king will like someone like Marco. As we later learn, the Military Police are by and large highly corrupt.
  • At the end of the same episode, Shadis mentally tells Grisha that he should be proud of Eren. Shadis and Grisha's prior relationship becomes important in season 3.
  • Throughout Willy's speech about the true history of Eldia and Paradis Island, he is profusely sweating. One might think it is simply stage fright. Then we learn that he knew that agents from Paradis (specifically Eren) would try to assassinate him during the event. He was willingly setting himself up as a martyr to turn Marley against Paradis, so he was sweating because he knew he was about to be killed soon.
  • There is a lot of clues with regards to Zeke and Eren's ultimate goals that were only revealed by symbolism or clever use of paneling:
    • During chapter 100, Willy' proclamation that "he wished for the extinction of all Eldians" is followed by a panel of Zeke, but his retort that "he does not wish to die... because he was born into this world" is followed by a panel showing Eren.
    • In one page of chapter 113, Zeke thinks that Eren is the only one who understands his plans. This panel shows Zeke and Eren looking into different directions; the panel directly below it shows the edge of a forest, with barren land directly under Zeke, and a forest full of trees under Eren.
    • A bit more subtle one, in chapter 115: during a flashback to Eren and Zeke's conversation in Liberio, Zeke's panels are leaning to the left. When Eren is saying how Grisha killing the Reiss family was necessary to ensure Paradis' survival, his panels also lean to the left. When Eren then claims Grisha to be wrong and agrees with Zeke's sterilization plan, his panels immediately start leaning to the right, implying that he is lying at the moment.
  • Xaver was first shown in the Eldian ghetto during Grisha's childhood, and then hugging young Zeke when he sold out his parents to Marley. While he was implied to be important figure to Zeke by the fact that the latter wears his glasses, his full involvement was only revealed in chapter 114.
  • When Eren kisses Historia's hand and has a flashback to his father killing the Reiss family, he freezes in place and made a rather... bizarre face. Which was rather strange, considering he had already seen the scene once before when Historia touched him under the Reiss chapel. During his dialogue with Zeke in Liberio, as he is recounting his 'disappointment' with Grisha due to the latter's murder of the Reiss children, he also refers to this particular insident, and not the one before. This was explained thirty chapters later, when we realized that Grisha has actually hesitated before killing the royal family and was persuaded into it by future!Eren via the use of Paths, and that past!Eren saw that moment, as well the future memories of the Rumbling that his father received via Attack titan powers. Basically Eren just realized he himself has to end the war for good by committing genocide, and was appropriately terrified.
  • There is a scene in the first ending of Season 3 where Ymir and Historia try to touch each other, but Ymir fades out. Turns out Ymir volunteered to return her Titan to Marley, and was subsequently killed by Porco Galliard.
  • In the same ending, we see young Historia falling into the water, with blood on it. It foreshadows how Ymir Fritz, the woman Frieda wanted Historia to emulate, got her Titan powers, by falling into a pond with the latent Titan organism 2000 years ago, this accident being the root cause of the violence in this series. Historia at this point also foreshadows Ymir Fritz's true nature.
  • All of the Survey Corps are shocked, but understanding about Grisha massacring the Reiss family, with Armin stating that Grisha thought this through. As a doctor, Grisha could never kill children and innocent people, and had actually ceased his plan to assimilate the Founding Titan. Grisha had to be 'roused' by Eren to carry out the deed.
    • Furthermore, as Connie laments who can do such a thing to children, the camera pauses on Eren for a brief while.
  • Kruger mentions Mikasa and Armin while urging Grisha to take his Titan and fulfill his mission, when none of them were even born by then. We find out in Chapter 121 that the Attack Titan's true power is to peer into the past and present wielders of its Titan.

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