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|What are you? A man? Or a Titan?|
|— Kitz Woermann to Eren Jaeger|
The Power of the Titans (巨人の力 Kyojin no Chikara?, also translated as Titan powers) is the ability which allows for Subjects of Ymir to transform into intelligent Titans known as the Nine Titans. Unlike Pure Titans, those with the Power of the Titans are able to control their form and retain their human intelligence. If a Pure Titan gains the power of the Titans, that Titan will return to being a human. It is often noted that these Titans are far more powerful than regular Titans and oftentimes display appearances and abilities unique to only them.
In order to transform, a human with the Titan ability must suffer an injury that draws blood (often self-inflicted) while having a solid goal or belief in mind at the moment of injury. However, being injured by another person is also sufficient. Once the transformation is initiated, a burst of energy is released (usually a bolt of lightning or an explosion), followed by the generation of the Titan body and a release of hot steam. After transformation, the human body rests within the nape of the Titan's neck, the center of control. The human body is also merged with the Titan's flesh inside to varying extents, most frequently on the area of the cheeks below the eyes or behind the neck, rendering them immobile.
If an Intelligent Titan is pushed to its limit, the human will emerge from the nape of its neck, sometimes in a semi-conscious or entirely unconscious state. But if the Titan is not exhausted, then its human form can emerge from the Titan form in full consciousness. In some cases, a human is able to partially emerge from their Titan body without fully leaving the nape.
After the Power of the Titans is used, the area around the emerging human's eyes is temporarily marked by dark lines. The design of the marks appear to vary on some cases depending on which Titan the human is in possession of, as shown by humans who hold the power of the Colossal Titan having more striking marks on their face than the others, resembling the Titan in their possession, while in the case of the Cart Titan, lines would appear on the cheeks instead.The amount of time the human possesses these marks appears to depend on how long, skilled, or overworked they used their Titan forms, ranging from several minutes to several hours. It is also possible for an inheritor to become more skilled with their Titan transformation, allowing them to transform more than once in a short time span. This is best shown by Eren Jaeger, who initially had trouble transforming more than once without becoming exhausted and almost absorbed by his Titan form. By the time of the Raid on Liberio, and his battle with the War Hammer Titan, Eren's endurance with his transformations had increased to the point that he could transform three times in succession before he was exhausted, something that shocked Porco Galliard. Even after leaving his Titan for the third time, Eren showed no physical signs of his exhaustion, simply commenting that he couldn't transform again.
The ability to transform into a Titan is hindered by injuries inflicted on the human body. A human can transform into a Titan with injuries as severe as a missing limb, but only if a previous transformation has not occurred recently. If a human emerges from their Titan form and receives a severe injury, this person cannot transform into a Titan again until said injuries have fully healed.
Those with the power of the Titans appear to be resistant to the normal absorption that creates mindless Pure Titans. However, this does not mean that they are immune to it. In the case of Eren Jaeger, it has been shown that repeated transformations in a short period of time lead to decreased control over the Titan form, as well as diminished Titan size and power. As such, it seems that there is a limitation on how long a human can remain in a transformed Titan state before risking absorption. The length of time spent in a controllable transformed Titan depends on how skilled the human is, although even the most experienced can become incredibly fatigued for as long as several days after repetitive use. The exception to this appears to be the Cart Titan, which is known for its incredible endurance. Pieck is able to stay in her Titan form for at least two months.
A Titan's transformation usually causes the destruction of the area in which they have transformed in. However, the Colossal Titan is the only known Titan capable of increasing the blast radius to a larger scale, in which it usually resembles a nuclear explosion. This power was first seen being used by Bertholdt Hoover during the Battle of Shiganshina District, and later by Armin Arlelt to wipe out Marley's naval forces during the Raid on Liberio. The respective blasts were seen by the full district of Shiganshina and the city of Liberio, and sent massive waves of energy inland.
Physiology and Abilities
While not all of the Titan abilities have been identified, each inheritable Titan possesses a unique power. The Colossal Titan has been shown to possess significant control over its body, able to release devastating bursts of steam to ward off enemies or even completely evaporate in seconds. The Armored Titan possesses hardened, armor-like skin covering all but the key areas of movement. The Female Titan is able to call upon Pure Titans with a scream, luring dozens towards her position with little time.
It is also shown that these Titans are not safe from regular Titans, and will be attacked even while transformed. This excludes Titans controlled by a royal-blooded Intelligent Titan, a notable case being Zeke's Beast Titan, though they would occasionally disobey his orders.
Annie Leonhart's Female Titan has also been shown to possess the ability to harden her skin to the point of near-indestructibility. She is able to selectively harden regions of her Titan body and even create a hard crystal around her human body, putting her in an apparently-unconscious state with no need for nutrient intake. It seems, however, that not all transformed Titans possess this hardening ability.
Humans with the Power of the Titans also gain the Titan ability to regenerate and vastly improved healing abilities, even to the point of regaining lost limbs, as long as they have the will to live. However, regeneration from severe injuries, such as lost limbs, can strain their powers and prevent them from transforming for a period of time. It is evident that healing for a human takes much longer than that of their Titan form. The time it takes to regenerate appears to depend on the extent of the injury and how focused the individual is on healing that area. It is also possible to delay the healing, which Eren uses to infiltrate Marley as an injured soldier. The only surefire way to kill a human with the power of the Titans is through severing the brain's connection to the rest of the body, although it is possible to survive even this by transferring the mind to the rest of the nervous system.
Due to the Paths, those who inherit the Nine Titans are able to see the memories of previous inheritors to some extent. Both the Reiss and Tybur families kept their Titans—the Founding Titan and the War Hammer Titan, respectively—within the family, and because of that, they were able to access memories going back by several generations, up to at least the Great Titan War. Other inheritors are shown to be able to see the memories of the previous inheritor at the very least. This process appears to fail occasionally: Ymir and Armin did not receive any memories upon inheriting their Titans, in contrast to the Reiss family who seemingly gained their memories right away. Porco Galliard is unable to see the memories of his brother Marcel possibly due to Ymir being between them in the inheritance line, although Porco could see Ymir's memories. Sometimes, the new inheritor will have dreams of a previous one, such as the case of Armin dreaming of Bertholdt Hoover's final moments.
The Attack Titan is unique in that its inheritors can receive memories from the future as well as the past. The user of the Attack Titan is able to see events that their future self will experience, and even peer into a future inheritor's memories to some degree. Eren Kruger mentioned the names Armin and Mikasa to Grisha Jaeger many years before the two were born, although he admitted that he did not recognize where those two names came from. Grisha would have some insight on the Fall of Wall Maria hours before its occurrence through Eren's memories. Eren had also glimpsed future events multiple times throughout the years.
Like regular memory inheritance, bloodlines enhance the strength of the inheritance, but a person of royal blood can further enhance its abilities. Eren Jaeger was able to glimpse a cataclysmic event as he kissed Historia Reiss' hand. Years later, he was able to enter his father's memories and influence Grisha; although he had to do this within the Paths and with Zeke's - who possesses royal blood - assistance. Using this opportunity, Eren was able to set many things into motion, the most notable being Grisha's theft of the Founding Titan. In these moments in time, Grisha was able to sense Eren and Zeke's presence, and was even able to hug and talk to Zeke.
While it has not been performed by every Titan that has been shown, it is noted in the series that all Titans can harden with enough practice and training. Hardened materials on Titans are shown to be penetrated by Thunder Spears, sheer strength (presumably by another Titan), or the power of the Founding Titan. Titan hardening performed around humans, has only been shown to be broken by the Jaw Titan's jaws, with things such as Thunder Spears merely bouncing off of the crystal. It has been shown that even if the user no longer sustains their Titan form, the hardened fragments from that Titan will not disappear. Moreover, there is a faster method to achieve the hardening skill, which is by ingesting a special serum, like how Eren's Attack Titan did and therefore allowed him to harden almost instantly afterward.
There are three levels of hardening that have been showed. The least durable is the Armored Titan's armor-like skin, mostly because of how it spreads across the whole body. The blue-colored hardening, which can be learnt by all Nine Titans theoretically as mentioned above, is stronger and can be applied onto different body parts like hands, feet, or nape at will. Although having a different appearance and color, Wall Titans' hardened "wall" skin is likely at this level, for the Colossal Titan could not kick through it. It is also shown that by focusing the hardening on fewer areas will make those parts even stronger. The most strongest is the crystal-like level, which has only seen being used by Female Titan and War Hammer Titan, and it is used to contain its own user inside, for protecting purpose only. Currently, only the Jaw Titan's jaws and claws are seen to be able to penetrate through this crystal-like hardening.
Curse of Ymir
The first Titan, Ymir Fritz, died thirteen years after acquiring the power of the Titans. Because it is impossible for anyone to surpass the Founder, each person who gains the power of the Titans is fated with the "Curse of Ymir" (ユミルの呪い Yumiru no Noroi?), which limits their remaining lifespan to only 13 years after first acquiring it. During the last years of their life, their body will weaken until they perish. Both Eren Kruger, Uri Reiss, and Tom Xaver were sick and appeared to have aged considerably during their final year, with symptoms including advanced aging, nosebleeds, and coughing.
The Power of the Titans can be transferred to a new host, should the current host be devoured by a Titan. This allows an ordinary Titan to become human again and possess the Power of the Titans, and inherit one or more of the Nine Titans' abilities as well as the memories of the previous inheritors.
However, according to Rod Reiss, the power of the Titans resides within a human's spinal fluid, meaning that to gain the Titan's power, it is not necessary to eat the entire human, but rather a Titan can simply bite through the spine and ingest said fluid. Titan serums are, in fact, the spinal fluid of Titans, though study of the serums is difficult due to the serum's rapid rate of evaporation upon contact with air.
If an individual with the power of the Titans dies before it can be transferred, the power will be passed on to a baby among the Subjects of Ymir, who is born after the said inheritor's death, regardless of distance or relation to the previous inheritor.
Royal blood allows the "full use of the power of the Titans." This is common knowledge in Marley. Only descendants of the royal family can fully utilize the Founding Titan's powers. If someone with the royal blood inherits one of the Nine Titans, excluding the Founding Titan, they can mimic some of the Founder's abilities, such as creating and controlling Pure Titans and even making them move at night using only moonlight. However, unlike the Founding Titan, the control over Titans is not perfect, as they may not follow orders completely. If someone with the royal blood inherits the Founding Titan, they will be able to access to they Founder's true power, but will be chained by the vow renouncing war.
In case if the Founding Titan is inherited by someone outside of the royal family, the power can still be used temporarily if the inheritor is in physical contact with a Titan, either Pure or Intelligent, with royal blood. Therefore, the Founding Titan can still be used for war if it is inherited by someone outside of the royal family, and then that person touches a Titan of royal blood, since the vow only applies to the royal family members. If the inheritor touches a human of royal blood who has no Titan power, although the full power of the Founding Titan is still locked, some snippets of the previous inheritors' memories can be realized. However, these memories are erratic and do not always come.
- In Episode 52, the official subs translated 「巨人化能力者たち」 (Kyojin-ka nōryokusha-tachi, lit. "people who possess the ability to transform into giants") as "Titan shifters." That term was a popular fan-made name for humans who have the Power of the Titans before the official subs adopted it.
- Before Episode 52, the official subs translated it as "human(s) possessing the ability to transform into a Titan."