WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers from chapter 138 of Attack on Titan manga. Read ahead at your own discretion!
AOT chapter 138 took my expectations and assumptions about what could have happened in the series and threw it straight out of the window. The spree of unexplained events continued as Isayama delivered some gut-wrenching moments in the latest chapter. It is hard to see how he will tie up all the loose ends in just 45 pages.
That said, the fandom has been trying its best to come up with assumptions and theories that answer all the questions raised about the recent events of the manga. One such question that is making the rounds is related to Mikasa and her vision/dream concerning Eren.
In chapter 138, it is shown that Eren survived the blast created by Armin’s transformation into Colossal Titan. He then proceeds to fight Armin, while the Hallucigenia plays the role of big bad converting Jean, Connie and the other Eldians on Fort Slava into Mindless Titans.
Realising that there is only one way to stop this nightmare, Mikasa decides to shed her inhibitions and proceeds to kill Eren. However, before she comes to that conclusion, Mikasa has another episode of her peculiar headaches that she has experienced throughout the Attack on Titan series. But this time, it is followed by a dream/vision, which has sent the fandom into a frenzy.
Was it just a random vision? Or could it have been a foreshadowing of the alternate reality/universe ending that is going to hit us in the next chapter?
Mikasa’s dream in chapter 138:
When Levi pulls Mikasa on to Falco’s Jaw (falcon?) Titan, he makes it clear that they are the only ones who can stop Eren. She is reluctant to accept this situation and wishes that she could get away from all of this.
This is when her headache sets in. Mikasa then has a dream/vision of her and Eren being in peaceful times. This dream essentially shows what would have happened if Mikasa had given a different answer on the night they spent with Ramzi’s family in Marley.
We see Mikasa waking up in this world in the same way as Eren woke up in the first chapter of AOT. She felt that she just had a long dream and then starts crying for no reason.
After spending some intimate (I will call them intimate by Attack on Titan standards) moments with Eren, the latter asks Mikasa to throw the scarf away and forget all about him when he dies. This is also when he starts developing the Titan marks on his face.
After this interaction, we switch to the real world. However, here Mikasa refuses to forget Eren, taking out the scarf that she has hidden away. But she also goes ahead with Levi’s plan of killing him and decides to take this task upon herself.
After she beheads Eren, she once again switches back to the dream, where she tells Eren that she will see him later (big sus right here). This leads us to the infamous last panel with Mikasa kissing Eren’s severed head while a smiling Ymir watches on.
What does Mikasa’s dream signify?
Depending on how we look at it, Mikasa’s dream could signify multiple things. It could be alluding to a time loop or an alternate universe. But, it could also be something as simple as Mikasa trying to deal with PTSD and her trauma of having to kill the person she loves the most.
Let’s take a look at each of those possibilities and try to come to a conclusion (if we can).
Mikasa’s trauma and her ideal world:
Mikasa’s childhood has been pretty traumatic. Witnessing the death of her parents at a young age changed her psyche totally. Her weird demeanor while interacting with others proves this beyond doubt. It won’t be a stretch to say that Miksasa suffers from PTSD. The headaches that she gets could be due to this and not because of some power that she has.
Chapter 130 debunked the Ackermann host theory. And we don’t see Levi getting headaches like Mikasa does (not even when Erwin dies). So it is safe to say that the headaches are something that are unique to Mikasa.
Moving on, this is not the first time that Mikasa has had a vision (or hallucinated) about a world where things were different. In the Lost Girls OVA, Mikasa has a similar dream/vision, where she and Eren live happily as children. This happens after Eren’s death in Trost. It is basically Mikasa’s refusal to accept Eren’s death and the trauma that accompanies it, that made her do so.
Something similar could be happening in chapter 138. Mikasa could subconsciously be refuting the situation at hand, where she has to kill the person she loves and depends on the most. Mikasa is not just attracted to Eren. Her attachment to him goes way deeper.
So, it won’t be wrong to assume that in order to escape this traumatic reality, she ended up creating a world where she lived happily with Eren.
The fact that this world Mikasa created in chapter 138 revolves around the decision that she made the night when Eren asked her what he was to her makes sense. Mikasa always wondered if the outcome would have been different if she had given a different answer to Eren. She regrets not telling Eren what she really felt.
This guilt might have made her create an alternate world where she ends up conveying her real feelings and spends a peaceful life alone with Eren. However, this is only AN IDEAL LIFE that Mikasa envisions, and not an alternate world that actually exists out there.
Well, think about it. That life doesn’t make much of a sense because Marley would have ended up attacking Paradis and destroying everyone within the walls. There’s no way they could have those four years in peace. But Mikasa doesn’t even consider these factors.
But in the end, she realizes that it is all a dream, and she has to do what she has to. This acceptance is what is portrayed when Eren slowly starts developing the Titan marks on his face.
How did Eren see the same dream?
But, if what I explained above was really happening then how did Eren see the very same vision that Mikasa had from his POV? I’d like to say that he accessed Mikasa’s memories using the Founding Titan’s powers and then sent back those memories to himself using pathsmagic.
BUT, that’s kinda impossible. Eren saw the Mikasa of this world from his POV. In chapter one, before he wakes up, Eren sees Mikasa (who is clearly the Mikasa from the dream) telling him “See you later, Eren”.
If he were accessing Mikasa’s memories such a POV would not be possible. This brings us to the major assumption regarding Mikasa and her dream.
The time-loop theory:
In short, we are assuming that the life with Eren that Mikasa dreamt of in AOT chapter 138 was from a previous time-loop. In this loop, she expressed her true feelings for Eren and they ended up living together. But the outcome of the loop was something that was not satisfactory and the loop reset. This means that Mikasa and everyone else involved had to start over again.
So, if there really is such a loop, where does it start and what causes it to reset. Let’s take a look at this assumption in-depth and see if it holds true.
What is the start-point of the loop?
The start point of the time-loop concerning Eren Yeager involves a child Eren waking up from his dream in chapter 1. The reason why I said time-loop concerning Eren will soon be explained in the sections below.
If the events that Mikasa saw in her vision were from a previous time loop, then it would explain why Eren woke up dreaming about that particular scene where she promises to see him later.
There are a couple of other things that point to this particular event being the start point of the loop. In chapter 138, when Mikasa is getting a headache, she thinks about going back. And while she does so, it is followed by the panel of Eren sleeping under the tree. Was she subconsciously wishing to restart everything? (more on this later).
But this is not the only time she had thought about Eren sleeping under the tree and wished to go back to it. In chapter 7, when Mikasa learns that Eren is dead, she wonders if she has to start all over again.
And then when she actually decides to fight and survive, she oddly goes back to remembering Eren sleeping peacefully under the tree. Why did she remember this scene? Could it be one of those subconscious triggers?
There is no other logical explanation for why Eren could have seen the same memories as Mikasa; because he doesn’t have the power of Titans when he gets that vision. So it is safe to assume that Eren waking up from that dream could signify the start point of the time-loop concerning Eren.
This would be similar to how things work in the Muv Luv franchise, from which Isayama drew his inspiration for Attck on Titan. But instead of alternate endings, he chose to do the same with Time Loop.
What causes the loop to reset?
The next question obviously would be what causes the time-loop to reset? Since I am assuming that this time-loop concerns Eren, it goes without that saying that the loop is reset when Eren dies. But then, will the loop reset every time Eren dies?
For instance, lets say Eren really is dead at the end of AOT chapter 138. So will the loop reset again? It seems not. The loop would only reset if certain conditions are not met.
In the latest chapter, Ymir is smiling as she watches over Mikasa kissing Eren’s decapitated head. This leads me to believe that the conditions that were supposed to successfully complete this loop have been met.
The Hallucigenia has been separated from Eren’s body. Killing it could have been Ymir’s end goal. This would eventually set her free. This scenario would hold true if we assume that Ymir is the one who is in control of the time-loop. Well, this is the most plausible scenario.
Now, allow me to present very tinfoilery speculation:
What if Mikasa is the person who has subconsciously been resetting the time-loop every time that Eren died? Before you swear at the top of your voices, please hear me out!
In the Lost in the cruel world OVA, it is shown that when Mikasa learnt of Eren’s death she began envisioning a new reality similar to what is happening in chapter 138. However, the thing that caught my attention was the butterfly (which had the voice of an adult Mikasa).
It suggests that if Mikasa didn’t like this reality then she should start again from zero. Now, this exchange is not there in the Lost Girls manga. But the buttery does ask Mikasa to go away from the alternate world that she had entered because she won’t be able to save Eren there too.
Is Mikasa capable of resetting the loop everytime Eren dies? Is she desperately trying to save him?
Maybe in chapter 138, Mikasa realised that whatever route she chose, Eren ended up dying; and she finally came to accept that outcome.
Is this why Ymir was smiling? Because Mikasa would no longer try to reset the time-loop or create an alternate universe. She just accepted that she can’t save Eren.
It is highly possible that Mikasa was only having a hallucination in Lost Girls OVA and in chapter 138 as a coping mechanism. She was dreaming of an ideal situation. But then, can Mikasa have powers we have no idea about? Reality bender? (WandaVision vibes) That’s certainly food for thought!
However, for the rest of the article, I am going to stick to the assumption that Ymir is the one who controls the time-loop. And so we get to the next part.
Is it only Eren?
This is where I take a seemingly simple time-loop theory and make it extremely complex, kind of. I mentioned multiple times earlier that the current time-loop was concerning Eren. But then, is Eren the only person who is stuck in a time-loop? Seems not.
According to me, it is highly possible that each shifter of Attack Titan has a target to achieve. And unless that target is achieved, the inheritor can’t exit the time-loop!
Wait! Wait! Wait! Why only the inheritors of Attack Titan?
Because, like Grisha said, the Attack Titan never obeyed the others. It resisted the self righteousness of King Fritz and kept moving forward. It keeps marching towards to the future, towards a set goal. That’s why it has the powers of the future memories.
The Attack Titan probably inherits Ymir Fritz’s will to be free. She could have been manipulating the situations to eradicate the powers of Titans eventually. If that is achieved, then she would be free from the Paths.
Ymir’s freedom is being achieved in bits and pieces. There are certain save points that you need to reach. You can take any route to reach there. However, if you fail to reach there, you ultimately have to start from the last checkpoint.
But, I don’t say this without proof. Want to know the possibility of a Time-loop existing outside Eren? Look no further than this dialogue between Grisha and Eren Kruger.
Kruger asks Grisha to love someone inside the walls, to start a family. If he fails, they will be doomed to repeat the same things again and again. What does this point to? A TIME LOOP!
What if this particular time-loop would only end if Grisha manages to have a family, a child, to whom he can then pass on the Attack Titan. And once that happened, the loop involving Eren Yeager began.
Maybe the goal of Eren’s loop was to bring the Hallucigenia out in the open. If Reiner and the others manage to defeat it, Ymir would be set free ultimately. Was this all her masterplan?
I know this has been a lengthy read; but there has been one more possibility that we need to consider in light of Mikasa’s vision in chapter 138!
The Alternate Universe/Reality:
I have seen the Alternate universe or alternate reality theory making rounds on Reddit and 4chan since AOT chapter 138 dropped. This theory is based around the panel in chapter 120 where we see a goth Eren and Mikasa in the top left memory shard.
This was brushed aside as an easter egg when people with an eye for detail (am I included in that list?) pointed it out. However, when combined with Mikasa’s vision in chapter 138 and Isayama saying that Muv Luv was his inspiration for Attack on Titan, this panel has managed to give rise to the Alternate Universe theory which has since then gained a lot of traction.
For those who are unaware, Muv Luv franchises are based around the concept of alternate universes and have many similarities to the AOT universe inclusing mindless giants and 3D maneuvering gears.
In short, this theory states that Eren has created an alternate universe on his own to escape from his boring and real world. This is similar to the events that take place in the Attack on School Castes spinoff manga that included at the end of each volume starting from 21.
What provides credibility to this theory is the number of times Eren has vowed to destroy ‘THIS WORLD’, a term that is also seen when Mikasa created an alternate reality (or a vision) in Lost Girls.
Since we have listed out all the possibilities, it is time to come to a conclusion.
The alternate universe theory is a very plausible theory. There is a lot of circumstantial evidence that points to it and Isayama very well may use it as the ending of Attack on Titan. But, for me, it would ruin the world building and the complex storyline that he had done for the past decade.
Was all of this just an elaborate and thought-up reality of a 15-year-old boy? While the alternate universe theory has a lot of people onboard, it is one of the endings that I dread to see as an Attack on Titan fan. So I would definitely not want Mikasa’s dream from chapter 138 to allude to that.
The Time Loop theory is something I cooked up to justify the discrepancy of Eren having seen the same dream as Mikasa. It goes without saying that one might find several glaring holes in it. Also, multiple versions of the time-loop theory are already there in the fandom.
Discarding the above two possibilities, the only option remaining is the one which states that Mikasa’s vision in chapter 138 is just her way of coping with the seemingly unimaginable situation at hand. The headaches and hallucinations could be a part of her PTSD too. But then again, the question about how Eren was able to see the same memories that she saw remains a huge doubt.
I tried my best to objectively lay out all possibilites that Mikasa’s vision from chapter 138 could point to. I’d be happy if Isayama manages to pull off a perfect time-loop. I’d also be satisfied with Mikasa’s vision just being her dream of an ideal life. Well, it seems we’ll have to wait another month before we get any concrete answers.
What are your thoughts about Mikasa and her visions and headache in the latest chapter? Let us know your opinion in the comments section!