Attack on Titan: Straight from the Old Testament
I’ve been totally floored by Attack on Titan, the new series this season about GIANTS. Although our own Goldy wrote about the series’ potential, I wasn’t prepared for how riveting, exciting, and frightening this show would be.
Among other things I missed? The connection to religion in the first two episodes (what do I do on this blog again?).
Justin, who has been comparing the manga to the anime, pointed out connections to religion in episode two, particularly. Noteworthy is the street preacher who is entirely absent from the manga and the frightened people who call out to God as they witness the horrible events happening to their village.
The connection that stands out most though (and why shouldn’t they?) is the giants themselves.
Giants are the stuff of legend. They are the enemies in fairytales (“Jack and the Beanstalk“) and stuff of children’s nightmares (BFG).
But further, the Old Testament speaks of them as real. The Pentateuch refers to the Nephilim, a race of giants in Canaan. Examples of individuals of gigantic structure abound in the Bible, Goliath most famous among them.
The gigantic inhabitants of Canaan also play a role in the Israelites march to the Promised Land. More specifically, reports of them scared the Israelites to death, leading to their rebellion against the leadership. Matt’s Bible Blog points out what happens because of the Israelites’ disobedience and disbelief:
And as a result, Israel spends another forty years in the desert. The generation that grew up on stories about the might and Egypt and giants pass away; a generation grows up whose formative memory is God saving his people. The only adult survivors of that first generation were Joshua and Caleb, two men who started telling that new story in the first place.
They needed to become a nation of survivors, not of victims.
Survivors instead of victims…fighting giants instead of running from them…what anime does that resemble?
Further comparing “Attack on Titan” with the biblical account, the villagers, including the guardsmen, largely play the role of the disobedient Israelites. Not that I can judge them as better than I. After all, wouldn’t complacency, especially after 100 years of giant-free living, be normal? And it’s certainly expected to be fearful, especially when seeing or hearing of such a foe. They have the typical reaction – one that ends up in a misjudgement of, well, biblical proportions.
But as with Caleb and Joshua, there are those living among the giants that have faith. While Caleb and Joshua have faith in God, Eren has a different type of faith – in his own abilities and, it seems, in justice and righteousness. I imagine that as he trains, we’ll see a more faithful generation raised up that accomplishes the goals that the previous were too afraid to, marching out into battle against an enemy that is beyond them.
Now, it’s just left to see if Eren and the others can lead the humans into their Promised Land.