The general feeling about Eren Jaeger is that, like countless leads before him in other anime series, critical viewers of Shingeki no Kyojin find this lead to be annoying and less-than-likeable. Me, on the other hand – I’ve liked Eren relatively well, though that could be because I’m deep down in love with SNK. And so, I’m willing to overlook his many negative qualities and chalk it up to “Well, if I was in that situation…”
That is, until this episode.
For the first time in the series, I’ve found myself feeling rage toward Eren, as he watched his comrades die and his remaining family fly toward certain death because he’s unwilling to fight a turncoat who he knows to be have betrayed and killed his friends and fellow soldiers.
Of course, I changed my tune a little when I thought about how much of myself and other Christians I saw in the Eren of episode 24.
While trapped under rebar and concrete (hmm…Armin’s quite strong to be lifting up those huge blocks), Eren remains unwilling to turn into a titan. Even as Mikasa and Armin run into battle, even as he undoubtedly remembers the special operations squad members’ deaths, and even as he perhaps hears Jean’s pleas and castigation, Eren doesn’t change. This entire episode, we fail to see the fire in Eren’s eyes which is such an important part of his personality and his very character design. His heart just isn’t in it.
Eren’s lack of determination is extremely annoying, but it’s also realistic. I’m reminded of own Christian walks and how we forget about salvation experience, practically if not literally. For many, we live lives that don’t reflect our experience meeting Christ, where by our daily deeds and words or in moments of testing and temptation, as with Eren. We may have slowly compromised our values and lost grip on that which we proclaimed to believe, or we might simply be in an inevitable valley (or both!).
If we are holding ourselves accountable to the body of Christ, knee deep in scripture, listening to the Holy Spirit, and focusing on our prayer lives, my guess is that we’ll more than likely surmount these obstacles in our way, even if it takes several attempts (and several failures). But even if we aren’t, I hope that we’ll remember that moment.
For Eren, that moment occurs when he sees his mom eaten alive by a titan. When that memory returns to him, he snaps out of malaise and once again becomes a titan himself. For Christians, that moment should be the time we broke down and confessed our sins and found grace and forgiveness at the cross.
Like Eren, the moment may be dulled by time, by the complexities and pain of life, and or by all sorts of other factors a fallen world throws at us. But a deep understanding of what has happened and why we’ve made our commitment will strengthen and guide us when we fall. And moving away from the Attack on Titan comparison, we will fail, but the question is this: will we have the faith to believe in the One whom we proclaimed in our everything?