Eren Jaeger and the Wings of True Freedom

Shonen heroes usually get a lot of flack, and perhaps rightfully so, for being one-dimensional, rough around the edges, and often annoying.  Eren Jaeger, the primary lead of Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin), fits the bill perfectly.  He’s frustratingly childish in his worldview, but moves ahead and becomes heroic because of sheer determination (that and his ability to TURN INTO A TITAN).

Unlike Armin or Erwin or even Levi, Eren has not a shred of eloquence in his speech.  He’s not particularly bright, and his lack of speaking ability matches his age – he is only a teenager after all.  And yet, smooth words and even leadership skills don’t matter much when it comes to Eren.  What matters most about him is literally what’s inside.

eren mikasa eren's mom and dad

In this way, Eren reminds me of Moses, the great prophet who brought the Israelites out of Egyptian bondage.  Do you remember that when God commands him to go free His people, Moses replies that he can’t because of his poor speaking skills?  God even assigns Moses’ brother, Aaron, to him as a spokesperson.  And yet, it’s through Moses, despite all the mumbles he must’ve uttered, that the millions of Israelites became free.  God used a most imperfect man to do a miracle (dozens of miracles, actually).

Eren, too, seems to be on the path to becoming the savior of his people – indeed, of all people in the world of Attack on Titan.  Even though he has no physical talents setting him apart, as Mikasa does; no leadership ability, like Jean; and no great intellect, like Armin, it’s still Eren who becomes the focus of the plan to save humanity, because of that something special hidden within him – the power to shift into a titan.

But there’s something even more than that within Eren – not only is the ability to become a titan within him, so is the very truth of the civilization in which they live.  We don’t know all the details yet, but we do know that the key and explanation to everything has something to do with what’s inside of Eren, and it seems that by this truth, if all goes according to plan, humankind will be set free.

We’re no different.  In the plain, fragile, earthly vessels of our existence lies the truth.  The Bible states that Christ followers are greater than John the Baptist (Luke 7:28).  It can’t be because we’re great with words or preaching – how few of us can do such things! – but because we have what he didn’t.  The final story has been revealed to us, and we are born again because we know Christ in his redeeming grace.

We only need to be brave and courageous, like Eren, and show the world what’s inside of us already – true wings of freedom.

5 thoughts on “Eren Jaeger and the Wings of True Freedom

  1. In this vein, you could also read Eren as a very loose Christ figure. After all, he “died” (in blood, lots of it), was presumed dead for an amount of time (long enough to make viewers believe it), and “defeated death” via superhuman abilities (using “superhuman” as in literally above-human).

  2. Pretty much all shonen heroes are very loose Christ figures at one point or another, and that is because the “Journey of the Hero” present in most mythologies has close parallels to Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. It’s also because the New Testament has influenced nearly every piece of media that came out of it, directly or indirectly.

    ….something troubles me about the way they are portrayed, however….and that IS the everyman portrayal of most heroes. Basically most heroes are designed in such a way so that the average person viewing whatever-it-is can put themselves in the hero’s shoes. But in the real world, in “practice”— That’s not at all what happens. The smartest, most persistent, most hardworking human is the one who wins. Modern media doesn’t teach us the value of hard work—- It teaches us that if you’re “good” enough or “special” enough, “even you” could be a hero. Which is both true and…untrue. And the less you identify with the mindset of the prototypical hero (Because you are female, or African American, or an old man…) the more obvious this becomes.

    Moses wasn’t just a poor speaker thrown into a fantastical situation. He was a man who got his marching orders and fought tooth and nail desperately to do what God asked him to do. No matter what the personal consequences and what his actual ability was.

    “And yet, it’s through Moses, despite all the mumbles he must’ve uttered, that the millions of Israelites became free. God used a most imperfect man to do a miracle (dozens of miracles, actually).”

    It’s true yet, though, that not one of us is perfect. Not one of us believes, unless we’re very arrogant, that we have the ability to work miracles. Still, the miracles come through us nonetheless— If we come when we are called. 🙂

    1. That’s an interesting reaction, about the “everyman” portrayal of heroes, especially in anime. I like both that kind of portrayal and that of a more perfect individual (Superman comes to mind), each for their own reasons. But most of all, what I want to see is the hero stumbling, bumbling, and generally messing up in his/her way toward becoming “the hero.” I can root for them more in this case because here I really would identify myself with them.

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