Attack on Titan fans are still mulling over the manga’s recent conclusion, one that has been met with varying reactions. It’s surprising that it being a series so far removed from romance, eternal love turns out to be the theme of the final chapter.
The existence of Titans continued because of one woman’s eternal love: Ymir Fritz‘s complicated devotion to her husband, King Karl Fritz. Ymir was first a slave to the King, and later became his wife when she was given a second life by acquiring Titan powers from a mysterious, primordial lifeform.
The King used her as both an heir-maker and as a human weapon to conquer the world, establishing the Eldian Empire and Titans as an oppressive evil. Ymir “died” for a second time when she protected her husband from an assassination attempt.
After this, he ordered their children to consume her remains so that her Titan powers would be passed down to generations of people with the genetic potential to become Titans.
Eren tells Armin in the final chapter that Karl physically abused Ymir and also hunted her to death for a small mistake. When he reveals that Ymir truly loved Karl and that that love was what chained her soul and her Titan ‘children’ to this world, Armin’s shock mirrors ours’.
This idea of an abused young woman being so unconditionally devoted to her abuser is not sitting well with some readers. But the fact that Karl’s abuse of Ymir is revealed in the same breath as the revelation of Ymir’s eternal love confirms that Hajime Isayama is not portraying Ymir’s love as romance.
It’s the exact opposite, even Eren characterizes her love as “agonizing.” The curse of Ymir is a love story, but it’s not about romance. Rather, Eren and Mikasa’s long standing ‘will they, won’t they’ dynamic serves as the series’ romantic angle. In the final chapter, Eren confirms that his intentions were always backed by his romantic love for Mikasa, and his familial love for his friends.
Thus, in regards to why Mikasa turned out to be Ymir’s chosen champion, love is again the answer. Similar to the Founder, Mikasa was a woman who loved a man who executed horrifying atrocities – the key difference is that Mikasa was willing to sacrifice her love to save the world. Lastly, saying that Attack on Titan is a twisted love story doesn’t make it any less of a horror series.