All season, I’ve been looking forward to a key death in this series (SPOILERS obviously ahead). For all the deaths that occur, mostly to young people that I think we’re supposed to connect with (no matter how little screen time many of them received), the one I most connected to, and perhaps the most tragic death to me, is one that I didn’t think got it’s due in the manga, or really even in episode 37 of the anime: the death of Hannes.
As chaos abounds during the battle to regain Eren, Hannes comes to the aid of an injured Mikasa and still-reforming Eren, and with his typical bombast, decides that he’s been given a perfect opportunity. He case save the kids and gain revenge for them by killing Dina, the titan that ate Carla Jaeger.
A sober, clean-up Hannes is a good soldier. He flies through the air with ease and confidence, and delivers a good blow or two among the cascade that don’t hit. But ultimately, he succumbs to the same fate as Carla.
The moment doesn’t have the tinge of sadness that I hoped it would. There’s a very quick flashback to an earlier flashback in this season of Hannes, and Eren breaks down crying (though it seems more at his own inability rather than at Hannes’ death), but there’s no time to spend on remembrance. The series moves forward and instead uses Hannes’ death as a plot device to bring out a new ability within Eren; he is the “Coordinate,” who can direct titans to do his will.
I think Hannes – the man he became after he cleaned up – would have thought it worth it to die to help Eren and thus all of humanity. I wish I could be the same when things go wrong. No titan-eating for me, but there are times when I give my all, and literally receive nothing in return. In the sliding scale of sacrifice, I’ll usually get a “thanks” or a hug or some other sign of thankfulness for giving, but there are occasions when I get nothing at all. Like Hannes, I receive all the pain and others get all the goodness.
It’s hard for me to accept that, because I often retreat to selfishness. What about me? I did this for you…can’t I even get a thanks? Often, it comes at the hands of those most intimate to me; I’ll give of my time, energy, effort, money and they take it for granted. In fact, it’s harder when that happens than when I give to a stranger or acquaintance – I almost hope they don’t thank me to feel more altruistic.
I can’t say that I’ve learned to accept this fuller sacrifice, or that I’m growing in it. But I know in my head, and sometimes in my heart, that it’s how I carry my cross sometimes. That it’s how I can really love, in all it’s pain and glory. And that I’m reflecting one who gave all for those who hated him and gained nothing from then in return. So I’ll press forward toward that, and try to suppress my selfishness. An alcoholic, smart-mouthed and now-deceased character reminds me of that. If he can do it…so can I. So should I.