Attack On Titan: Why Do Titans Eat Humans?

Titans, or Kyojin, are giant humanoids who act as the catalysts and the antagonists in Attack on Titan series. At the start of the events, Titans are shown to exist outside the walls of the last remaining human settlement.

Ever since the Titans appeared, they have been exclusively hunting down and devouring humans. These monstrous giants are least bothered by the other living creatures. But it’s not as if human meat is the only thing that could sustain their lives. In fact the Titans could survive even without eating anything. 

Thanks to Hange Zoe’s experiments on Sonny and Bean (the pure Titans that were captured by the Survey Corps) we know that the Titans don’t have a fully functional digestive tract. They just have a cavity in their stomach which gets filled by the consumed humans, and once their limit is reached, the partially eaten bodies are regurgitated by them. The regurgitated remains can be seen when the 104th Training Corps are asked to clean up Trost after the Colossal Titan breached the city. Apparently the Titans derive their source of energy from the sun, and human meat is not essential to it. And if that is the case, then why do Titans seek out and eat humans? What is the reason behind this?

The following part of the post has major spoilers for Attack on Titan Season 3. If you are not up to date with the anime, you should refrain from reading any further!

Why do Titans eat humas?

Dina Fritz eats Eren's mother in Attack on Titan
Eren’s mom about to be Titan food!

So far, we have encountered two types of Titans in the Attack on Titan universe, the shifters or the intelligent Titans and the pure Titans. It is revealed in Season 3 that when people of Eldian race (also known as subjects of Ymir) are injected with the spinal fluid of a Titan, they transform into a pure Titan. The pure Titans that have been roaming on the island of Paradis for the past century or so are actually Eldians who were once living in the internment zone in Marley. They were forcefully converted into Titans for their undesirable actions against the Marley empire. 

The only way these Titans can go back to being humans again is by consuming a Titan Shifter and turning into an intelligent Titan. This is the underlying reason behind the Titans attacking and eating the humans. The Titans subconsciously hope that one of their human victims might turn out to be a Titan shifter, which in turn will help them regain their human forms. The will to change themselves back into humans is what drives them. 

Looking back at the series, the answer has always been in front of us. In Season 1, we see Eren consuming Grisha Jaeger to regain his human form. However, the biggest foreshadowing to this answer was done during Ymir’s backstory in Attack on Titan Season 2. 

Ymir was an Eldian subject living in the internment zone in Marley. She was forcefully converted into a pure Titan and left to roam the island of Paradis. Without encountering any humans to consume, she goes into hibernation till Reiner and the others come across her. She wakes up from her slumber to consume Marcel, who possessed the powers of the Jaw Titan, and regains her human form. According to Ymir, though she was partly conscious (describing the whole experience of being a Titan as a long nightmare), she states that her actions were purely instinctive.

After knowing the answer, we can only view the titans as some sort of tragic creatures that are looking for a way out of the dire situation they have been forced into. Even though they remain to be grim human eating monsters, they end up earning our sympathy.

Can titans distinguish Titan shifters from normal humans?

While it has not been confirmed yet, the Titans apparently can’t distinguish between the Titan Shifters and the normal humans. From what we saw in Season 3 Part 1 of Attack on Titan, from a Titan’s perspective, the humans are visible only as a glowing light. When Rod Reiss turned into a Titan and proceeded to attack a large city to consume humans, the only thing the Titan can see is a large congregation of glowing lights, coming from the direction of the city.

This proves how Titans are able to pinpoint the location of humans, however, it doesn’t reveal if the Titan can differentiate between a normal human and a Titan shifter. Well, these details might get revealed when Season 4 of Attack on Titan airs!!

What are your thoughts about the reason behind Titans eating humans? Can you sympathise with the Titans actions after knowing why they do it? Let us know in the comments section!

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