WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for Attack on Titan manga. Read ahead at your own discretion!
Ymir Fritz’s role in Attack on Titan became more important as the story got complex and started to delve deeper into the Titan lore. Subsequently, her character sheds its omnipotent cover and we are exposed to the tumultuous life she was subjected to. It’s when she died trying to save the King that the curse was born.
A quick rundown on Ymir’s past
Ymir was a young girl who suddenly came at odds with the King due to her setting some pigs free. When trying to escape the archers who were trying to strike her down, she falls into the pit of a big tree. There, a mysterious creature (no, we don’t know what that is) attaches itself to her back and she becomes the first titan- The Founding Titan.
Ymir is turned into the king’s concubine while she keeps destroying nations in the name of the kingdom. However, she ends up dying due to something, dare I say, human. As an assassin tried to aim at King Fritz, she came to the front. The arrow struck her heart and fatally wounded her. This happened 13 years after she had inherited the power of the titans.
The aftermath of the curse
Due to her dying 13 years after inheriting her power, each intelligent titan there on would have a term of the same duration. Usually, as the term nears its end, the inheritor’s body becomes weak. If the inheritor died a natural death, the power of the titan the said inheritor had will be passed on a newborn through the phenomena of the paths. Let’s now discuss how this curse has effected the concept of “passing down” of the 9 titan powers.
Before the Great Titan War, eight noble families held the other intelligent titans while the Founding Titan remained with the royal family. During this time, the families would carry out the action of choosing an inheritor from the family itself. However, after the Great Titan War and the noble families barring the Tyburs squashed, a more complicated method came up. This was the “Warrior Program.”
The possibility of a power being lost if the shifter died a natural death posed as a big problem. Out of the 9 intelligent titans, 7 remained with Marley. Out of those, the Warhammer Titan was with the Tybur family. For the remaining intelligent titans, the military came up with a plan to make sure that the power of the titans remains in their hands forever. The solution was to make sure the shifter never dies a natural death (yikes). They were fed to trained cadets who would succeed them by becoming the new shifters. For example, Zeke ate Tom Ksaver to inherit the Beast Titan.
Therefore, the power of the titans remain consistently with Marley’s best soldiers. However, this is not always a guarantee. Many shifters have been eaten before their term is up, mainly due to a fight (Eren eating the Warhammer Titan), for a cause (Grisha eating Freida to gain the Founding Titan), or because they stole the power (Porco Galliard eating 104th Cadet Corps Ymir).
Can the curse break?
No. There is no shifter in the history of the story that has managed to outlive the 13 year curse.
The only way to for curse to break is in a situation where Ymir destroys the power of the titans. In simpler words, it can only happen if Ymir chooses to “die” and take the titan powers with her. In chapter 139, this is exactly what happened. We see Reiner, Annie, and Pieck, who only had two years remaining in their term, live on in the time skip that happens 3 years after the current events.
This means that this curse is quite strong and has never been tampered. Therefore, the only known way to break the curse is by Ymir freeing herself from the powers of titans and taking it away from everyone. This allowed the shifters to live past their team peacefully.
The curse of Ymir makes it impossible for a titan shifter to live past 13 years after inheriting one of the nine titans. This is because Ymir herself died 13 years after transforming. The death of a shifter naturally would lead to a newborn becoming a titan shifter. Consequently, it was made sure that no shifter dies a natural death. They are fed to another person who will then become the new titan shifter. In the 2000 year long history of titans, no one was able to outlive the curse. However, at the end of the story, Ymir sets herself free from the power of the titans, taking the curse with her.
The curse definitely makes for an interesting topic. Was there no king who wanted this curse gone? Was it impossible to make Ymir alter this? Let us know what you think in the comments below!