Most importantly though, I feel like Mikasa’s backstory is at least somewhat justified based on just how well it makes clear the thematic message coursing beneath the skin of Attack on Titan. This is a story about the food chain, about impossible predators who prey upon humankind. The only way to survive, Titan says, is to fight back and become a predator yourself. It’s this realization which gives Mikasa the resolve to kill the last of her captors and win back her freedom. But at what cost? As this episode made very clear, Eren and Mikasa murdered three people at the age of eight. This seems weirdly implausible until you realize that Eren and Mikasa, two of our central three characters, aren’t normal at all. If their friend Armin is vulnerable, a human being despite everything, than Eren and Mikasa are monsters wearing human skin. Circumstances and their own inner drive have transformed them from living, breathing people into something other. Is Eren a determined shonen lead or is he a psychopath? Does Mikasa’s nature as a so-called perfect soldier rob her of proper empathy? Humankind stands no chance as prey, but the sacrifice to become a predator may be just as dangerous. Continuing the super robot/real robot analogy, Attack on Titan is just as over-the-top as stuff like Gurren Lagann and Shin Mazinger, but what separates it from much of its shonen ilk is the creeping sensation that human resolve and the desire to exceed limitations can be dangerous. That the only ones who will survive the slow march of the Titans are those who leave their humanity behind. At what cost do you bring down the wall?