WARNING: This article contains spoilers for the Attack on Titan manga. Read ahead at your own discretion!
If you’ve been using the terms “Subjects of Ymir” and “Eldians” interchangeably-STOP! The complexity of the Attack on Titan universe only deepens as we aim to discuss what even it is to be an “Eldian”. Indeed, a Subject of Ymir is an Eldian, but an Eldian isn’t necessarily a Subject of Ymir. Confusing? Let’s look at it in detail then, shall we?
The origins of titans
Ymir Fritz is known as the “progenitor” of the titans. This is because it is only after her turning into the first Founding Titan that this ability became known to the world of Attack on Titan. The king took her in as his concubine and they had three daughters. On his deathbed, the king told his daughters told to bear as many children as they could.
The nine intelligent titans were probably borne directly from the lineage of the three daughters as they split Ymir’s powers. Subsequently, it can be assumed that any one who transformed into a titan hereon was mindless. While this is just a basic summary of their origins, the take away is that only those who have Ymir’s blood can turn into titans. As millennia pass, it is most of Eldia.
Who are the remaining Eldians?
Simple. Those who did not reproduce with anyone containing the blood of Ymir in them. While most of Eldia now had Ymir’s blood in it, there are also some who did not. This means that not everyone who is Eldian can turn into a titan. Some examples of that are the noble families that left with Karl Fritz to Paradis.
In the Royal Government Arc (Season 3, part 1) we are introduced to a few noble families who seem to know the truth about the creation of Paradis. They are not “subjects of Ymir”, but mere “Eldians”. This is because when Karl unleashed the Founding Titan’s powers onto the people to erase their memories, these groups were not affected.
The concept of paths in this context-
The paths is basically a medium of communication for the Founding Titan and all Subjects of Ymir. For analogy’s sake, the Founding Titan is the tree and Subjects of Ymirs are fruits on each branch. This “branch” is the vessel that carries on any input from the Founding Titan and converts it into output by affecting the Subject.
So, the act of wiping out memory reached the people through this “branch”, who then forgot everything. The paths is the entity that connects all Subjects of Ymir to each other.
Therefore, its obvious that those who did not have their memory wiped are those who are not connected to the Founding Titan in the paths. Those who have access to the paths in any form (more on the discrepancy later) is a Subject of Ymir.
So, who are these “Subjects of Ymir”?
Simply put- the majority characters of this story. From the Eldians on Marley, to the non noble Eldians on Paradis; they are all subjects of Ymir as on multiple occasions these people have been turned into titans. This obviously also includes our beloved titan shifters. The only noble family we know currently is a Subject of Ymir is the Tybur Family as they had the Warhammer Titan until Eren stole it.
These people with the ability of transforming into titans are just an ethnic group belonging to the Eldian Empire. They do not constitute to making the complete demography of the empire, but the majority.
The Ackermans: mere Eldians or Subjects of Ymir?
The Ackermans have been a topic of debate for the longest time. From their abilities to their connection to Ymir, this clan’s full information is still in the dark. However, we can be sure of one thing- the Ackermans are Subjects of Ymir.
They are the byproduct of titan science; they do indeed contain Ymir’s blood in them. But, as they are the result of multiple experiments, they have abilities that are different from those of an average Subject of Ymir. One is their super strength, and the other is in regards to their relationship with the Founding Titan. Basically, while the Ackermans have access to the paths, the Founding Titan doesn’t possess the ability to influence them.
Another thing to note is that the Ackermans can use the paths the same way other Subjects of Ymir can. The members are connected to each other through paths, which is how they gain the skills of ancestors when their powers are awoken. This whole phenomena is nothing but an anomaly that happened due to the artificial nature of their existence.
The difference between “royal blood” and “subjects of Ymir”
Another question that may cross your mind would be why all subjects of Ymir are not royal if they all have Ymir’s blood. Well, its all thanks to the concept of monarchy.
Out of the three daughters, Maria Fritz was the eldest. As normal monarchies work, she would be the heiress presumptive of the Eldian Empire, and later, Queen. The royal blooded characters in the story are therefore all descendants of specifically Maria Fritz. Just like how our world works, the direct descendants have more power and authority compared to second borns and so on.
Therefore, the Founding Titan along with some royal blood perks was passed on to Maria’s family. Only titans of this line have the ability to activate the Founding Titan if it isn’t in a royal member already (as seen with Eren’s interaction with Zeke and Dina’s titans). As we also know, intelligent titans that are royal are more powerful than non royal counterparts.
About the other two branches of the first Fritz king, we can make two assumptions. One, the eight noble families who controlled the other intelligent titans are descendants of either Sina or Rose. Secondly, these lines did not have special royal abilities. Hence, these descendants are probably what formed the big demography of Subjects of Ymir.
In conclusion, Subjects of Ymir and Eldians are not the same. Here are a few points to keep in mind-
- Subjects of Ymir are those who can turn into titans because they have Ymir’s blood passed on through generations.
- There are Eldians who do not have her blood, for example, the nobles of Paradis.
- The Ackermans are the only Subjects of Ymir who do not get influenced by the Founding Titan’s will.
- Subjects of Ymir is a subgroup of people.
- Eldians as a whole are those who belong to the Eldian Empire; it is not a representative of race.
- The royal blood is restricted to Maria Fritz’ descendants only.