Why There Was No Romance On Attack On Titan

"Attack on Titan" is not only one of the most popular Japanese franchises right now, but possibly the defining anime of its generation. And it's easy to see why. From the moment it premiered, the series captivated audiences around the world with its blend of action and horror, with its bleak and unpredictable world with high stakes, relatable characters, stunning action, a phenomenal soundtrack, and some of the best anime opening themes of the past decade. This is one of the best gateway anime, a perfect series to introduce to someone unfamiliar with the medium.

And from there, the show only grew bigger and bolder, introducing political intrigue, intricate lore, complex themes and characters, and even bigger action set pieces. Going into its last, definite, final season, it is both easy and hard to imagine the show about a young precocious kid who wanted to save the world from titans is the same as this morally complex tale of the cycle of vengeance, of war and hatred, a show where a young boy becomes a ruthless monster unleashing armageddon on the entire world with his friends and enemies teaming up to stop him.

"Attack on Titan" has been many things throughout the years, from a war drama, to a political thriller, a creature horror story, a mecha show, and more, but there's one thing it's never been: a romance.

No love in time of war

Speaking with Crunchyroll, manga creator Hajime Isayama talked about straying from having direct romance themes in the story. Granted, there were hints, from Mikasa all but confessing to Eren, to Ymir's goodbye letter to Historia expressing her dream of marrying her. And yet, we never got any actual, on-screen romance.

"Number one, it was embarrassing to me to write stories about love between characters," Isayama said. "The other reason is that if I continued to go into those kinds of tangent stories, we might lose focus on the immediate main plot of the story. So I wasn't really motivated to go in that direction."

First of all, it is cute and commendable that Isayama outright acknowledges he can't write a romance between the characters he creates, but also, this kind of makes sense. "Attack on Titan" is a dense enough story as it is, one with a very specific view of the world where the characters are desperately clinging onto slivers of hope while finding every reason to despair. Eren, Sasha, Levi, they don't have time to think about what they'd do in a world without war, let alone to think about a romantic future, for better or worse. 

But who knows? Maybe if Isayama ever returns to this world, perhaps in a spin-off about Levi, he can finally let his characters feel romantic feelings for each other.