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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, 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. 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.
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.
Annie'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.
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. This hardened material is shown to be so strong that not even the Colossus Titan could kick through it, instead having to kick through a man-made gate. 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, or the power of the Founding Titan, with things such as Thunder Spears merely bouncing off of the titan crystals. This skill has shown to be easier to learn based on the Titan, such as Eren's Attack Titan not having the skill to harden until a special serum allowed him to harden almost instantly after ingesting it.
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 and Uri Reiss were sick and appeared to have aged considerably during their final year.
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.
- 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."