Attack on Titan, Episode 37: Fail Like Hannes

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.

hannes atatck on titan

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.

hannes death

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.

eren coordinate
The results of Hannes’ sacrifice

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.

9 thoughts on “Attack on Titan, Episode 37: Fail Like Hannes

        1. I’m pretty sure I have a free preview for CR (weeklong) to give to a guest? Let me know if you’d like it! I think Crunchyroll’s service is defiantly worth it! Sooooo many series!

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  1. I can definitely relate, I’ve helped people so much and have received nothing in return a lot of times as well. It’s not why I help people anyway, I just do that because I like helping people, but a simple thank you can at times go a long way right?
    As for this episode, it was a good ending, and I was still pretty shocked about the death of Hannes, but that’s probably because I haven’t read the Manga. It’s sad to see such a great character go. All in all, I loved this season, even though it also had it’s flaws. Luckily we don’t have to wait long for season 2 😊 (Well…as long as it isn’t delayed like season 2 that is 😊).

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    1. You’re right – I think that’s how most of us are, I assume so, at least, that we give just because we want to help. I think some of us are better at letting a lack of gratefulness slide off, though. In other words, some of us are more selfless than others! It’s something I’m working toward, and a flaw I realize more and more in myself.

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  2. “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.”

    About Hannes being used as a plot point….I think I feel sympathy for him, even though he was probably fine with it.

    ….the nice thing about gods, for us jealous humans, is that there isn’t one on Earth anymore. Jesus Christ is a figure elsewhere, in “Heaven” (wherever that might be) who can be looked up to with abandon because we know we probably won’t see Him in person in our lifetimes. Because He is more than human, because we fundamentally can’t *ever* be Him.

    But I always wondered about how a person like Hannes puts up with having an entity like Eren in his life. So much more important, so much grander, so much more infused with meaning than you are. Jealousy and selfishness don’t tend to arise in contexts where there’s just no fathomable way you can equal the person you’re jealous of. They tend to arise when you feel somehow inadequate, when you’re facing a person who seems literally better than you at everything and almost because you didn’t try hard enough. I wonder how you could ever stomach sacrificing your life for an anime protagonist, especially when you’re just a secondary character, knowing just how worthless your life is in comparison to theirs. I wonder if that is why Judas turned against his master. It doesn’t justify it, but maybe it explains it. To know your own irrelevance is a curse.

    That’s why it’s almost a good thing that God is huge and unknowable. That way we don’t, and can’t, turn into the Devil ourselves. I could probably sacrifice anything for the people I love, because it’s not really about reward. It’s about knowing that they live on, knowing that there was a point to your actions. But sacrificing something for Eren seems so fruitless and sad to me, because of course he’ll live anyway. He doesn’t need you.

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    1. Basically, I can’t help but think of, perhaps, of Wakaba from Utena, and her Black Rose duel. The only one for which Utena has no real response or solution.

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    2. Oh man, the melancholy! I feel doubly sad about Hannes now! 😦

      But your point makes me think about a discussion I heard on a podcast (Infinity +1) recently, where the group talked about being a secondary character in your own life. We live as if we’re the main character, but we’re so often the secondary character in so many aspects, and almost certainly in the big of things (especially in relation to God). I think it’s perhaps more difficult to accept that role when we think of who we are and our meaning in life and the universe than in relation to being part of someone else’s story. In that way, it’s kind of like Iron Man playing a supporting role in the new Spider-Man movie; he can serve in that capacity, but he’ll also be able to return to his own franchise. If we’re honest with ourselves, I”m not sure we have our own “franchise.”

      Except that Christ is with us. Part of the power of faith in Christ is that we’re given self-worth by being shown value by the one who is worthy. The Holy Spirit is imbued within us and gives us value. So to use that Marvel comparison again – Iron Man is the star of the MCU, the one started it all, and yet he plays a supporting (though I’m sure vital role) in Spider-Man Homecoming. Peter Parker is the star of the movie, but the franchise revolves largely around Iron Man’s actions. We have that value – our lives are meaningful and important and we are the MC’s (Spider-Man) of our movies, which are worthy as seen by how God reaches out to us and when we accept him, fills us with his Spirit (Iron Man), and we play a meaningful role in God’s story of redemption (MCU) for all mankind, the story of his glory.

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