Exploring the Time Loop Theory in Attack on Titan

Exploring the Time Loop Theory in Attack on Titan

Imagine waking up every day knowing what’s going to happen. It would be pretty cool at first, right? This is what the time loop theory is all about. You could avoid all the bad stuff and just focus on the good. But after a while, it would start to get pretty boring. And what if there was something you really wanted to change, but you couldn’t? That’s what Eren Yeager was going through in Attack on Titan.

Attack on Titan is a dark fantasy anime and manga series that has captivated audiences with its complex characters, intricate plot, and stunning visuals. But what if there’s more to the story than meets the eye?

Time Loop Theory – A Mind-Bending Exploration

Exploring the Time Loop Theory in Attack on Titan
Attack on Titan manga panels | Image via VIZ

It’s essentially any theory based on the idea of AOT’s world existing in a loop, with Eren at the center of that time loop theory trying to break out. The theory became so popular that Isayama and his editors themselves knew of it, and the idea was discussed in an interview after the ending was released.

  • The root idea is that AOT’s world exists with a fixed timeline, as this is the only way the time mechanics work in the story.
  • Every act is predetermined, like a bootstrap paradox. It’s how chapter 1 and 38 are tied together.
  • Eren wakes up crying from a long dream while resting on the tree that would go on to hold the ‘source’ and sees memories from future Eren.
  • The time loop theory with Eren restarts as the moment of death flows back to the past.
Exploring the Time Loop Theory in Attack on Titan
Attack on Titan manga panels | Image via VIZ
To understand this better, we have to look at the nature of the ‘source’ that gave Ymir powers. It acts as a wish-granting genie for innate desires.
  • Everything Ymir creates is an extension of what she desires, as laid out by Zeke in chapter 137.
  • Ymir creates a parallel world when she ‘dies’ because she remains attached to the living world but also because her agony makes it impossible to regenerate in that same world.
  • Paths only exist due to Ymir, they transcend time and space but only in the context of her life.
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How Does this Tie to the Time Loop Theory?

Exploring the Time Loop Theory in Attack on Titan
Attack on Titan manga panels | Image via VIZ
Eren’s most intrinsic desire is to be free. He is free because he was born into this world, and that is what his character revolves around. So when he dies his essence returns to his younger self instead of creating another world.

Eren thinks back to 3 things when he asks where this all started. The time loop theory, the act that set the Attack on Titan in motion, and his birth. He is connected to each as the past, present, and future exist at once for Eren. 

 

Exploring the Time Loop Theory in Attack on Titan
Attack on Titan manga panels | Image via VIZ
Through this interpretation we see that Eren exists in a constant loop, his innate desire for freedom ironically trapping him for eternity, never able to achieve that same desire. Everyone is a slave to something and Eren in his godhood becomes the culmination of this theme.

The strongest point of this theory exists in meta-commentary. Meta is when a story refers to itself.
  • Eren is the protagonist of Attack on Titan, a manga that uses a timeline that is set in stone.
  • Eren is inherently trapped by the confines of his creation.

It adds a layer to the commentary of nature versus nurture. We can attribute our nature as real people to god or genetics and this works in the world for Eren, but he is also a character whose nature was created by Isayama. 

 

Exploring the Time Loop Theory in Attack on Titan
Attack on Titan manga panels | Image via VIZ

Implications of the Time Loop Theory

In this way, the time loop theory restarts every single time someone picks up the manga and Eren is forced to go through the same journey of achieving his freedom, but falling short every single time. The most tragic journey repeated eternally.

To further strengthen this we look at the contents of the long dream that are sent back to Eren. A false reality where Eren and Mikasa abandoned their roles in the story, something that could never happen in the actual timeline.

 

Exploring the Time Loop Theory in Attack on Titan
Attack on Titan manga panels | Image via VIZ
Despite his last-ditch attempt to escape fate by sending a timeline he chose to nurture, but this was only in vain. The time loop theory remains. This also ties to the idea of Sekiaikei explained by Isayama’s editor, where some part of the story is centered around the two main characters. Their dynamic starts the time loop known as Attack on Titan.

Conclusion

The time loop theory in Attack on Titan is a complex and fascinating one. It raises many questions about the nature of free will, determinism, and the possibility of changing the past.

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