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Titans (巨人 Kyojin?, lit. "Giant(s)") are a race of giant, man-eating humanoids that serve as the catalyst for the events in the Attack on Titan series. The people inside the Walls were taught that they first appeared 107 years prior to year 850 and rapidly exterminated humanity to the point of near-extinction. In reality, they are transformed humans known as Subjects of Ymir, and have existed for nearly 2,000 years.
Titans greatly resemble nude human beings. They are bipedal creatures (with a few exceptions) with the same number and arrangement of limbs and features one would expect in human beings. They are all deformed by human standards to a greater or lesser degree, ranging from minor abnormalities in proportions (enlarged head, small limbs, etc.) to apparently lacking skin and subcutaneous tissues, although they do not bleed from such deformities and will regenerate the same deformities if injured, indicating that they perhaps possess some other mechanism to compensate for this. The vast majority of Titans have a masculine body shape, although all of them lack reproductive organs. While most Titans have a masculine appearance, some Titans seen have had feminine facial features, although retained a masculine body shape.
Titans, almost universally, have exceptionally wide mouths with an enormous number of small, square teeth. Although some only possess canines, a majority of Titans lack them. In all likelihood, they have and use incisors for their primary activity: eating humans. Because Titans lack a complete or functioning digestive tract, and merely have an abdominopelvic cavity that eventually fills up with what they swallow. After consumption, they would be forced to regurgitate and empty the contents of the stomach before they can continue to eat more humans.
Unlike other species, Titans do not mate, nor interact with organisms other than humans; their sole purpose in life is to seek out and devour humans. They do not derive any real sustenance from humans either, as many of them did not taste human flesh for a century after the Walls were raised, but it did not affect their activity nor decrease their numbers.
Some Titans do not react to pain and all will move as long as there is sunlight. Titans do not possess a complete, functioning digestive tract; they merely have a stomach-like cavity that eventually fills up with what they swallow. After consuming a certain amount, they regurgitate the contents of the cavity before they continue eating more humans.
Most Titans show no signs of intelligence and act like mindless beasts; easy to trick, distract, and deceive. Due to this, it has even been noted that a single Titan poses minimal threat to soldiers equipped with ODM gear or a line of cannons, with the danger of Titans coming primarily from their numbers. The Nine Titans are the exception: They have human level intellect due to being piloted by a human. However, some Abnormals are also able to sustain some of their former intelligence, such as the Titan encountered by Ilse Langnar and Conny's mother. These Titans can form thoughts and even communicate with humans.
All Titans are originally humans of a race of people called the Subjects of Ymir. Ymir Fritz was the first Titan after awakening the power of the Titans. Some say she made a deal with the Devil. a few others claim she "touched the source of all living matter."
Subjects of Ymir become Titans after being injected with Titan spinal fluid, triggering a near-instantaneous transformation. This is exploited by Marley after the Great Titan War, who turn undesirable Subjects of Ymir into Titans to roam Paradis Island aimlessly beyond the Walls. Titans oftentimes bear strong resemblance to their original human bodies, though women who are turned into Titans lose most feminine body features.
Although the organic materials that make up the Titans' bodies appears to arise from nothing, they are said to be sent from invisible paths that transcend physical space. These paths connect all Subjects of Ymir to a single "Coordinate," the Founding Titan.
The Titans' body structure and power source are very mysterious and they apparently violate several known laws of science, seemingly capable of spontaneously generating both energy and mass. Their extremely high level of activity and body temperature indicates the need for a massive intake of energy to fuel them, yet they apparently never need to eat at all. They possess vocal organs and are able to emit simple sounds like roars and screams, yet they apparently do not need to breathe. They do seem to become less active at night or if deprived of sunlight, and so it may be possible they draw their primary source of energy from the sun. Individual Titans seem to possess varying levels of stamina once deprived of sunlight; the captured Titan "Sawney" became docile and nearly comatose after only an hour's deprivation, while fellow captive "Beane" maintained a high level of activity three hours after last seeing sunlight. However, this only applies for the Pure Titans; the Nine Titans do not need sunlight to move, and neither do Titans controlled by either Zeke Jaeger's Beast Titan or, presumably, the Founding Titan.
Titans' bodies also seem unusually light for such large creatures - a severed arm is described as weighing almost nothing, and they are able to move at high speeds despite their size. Due to their size, Titans possess enormous strength and when combined with this lightness, they can put on amazing bursts of speed and agility.
In addition to their size, speed, strength and large numbers, Titans also possess incredible regenerative abilities. The only sure-fire way to kill them (known to date) is by slicing out the nape of the back of the neck measuring 1 meter high and 10 cm across. They regenerate lost and damaged body parts within seconds to minutes, including severed heads (although, there are rare instances where the head will not regenerate if the nape is cut through or blown off). It should be noted that the vulnerable area is where the real human body would be for shape-shifting Titans, as proven by Eren Jaeger. When struck at this site, the human controlling the Titan (or rather, what remains of them) is decapitated, killing both. After death, Titan corpses rapidly evaporate to skeletal remains, then to nothing at all.
How Titans react to pain stimuli varies from one to another. Many Titans will utterly ignore injuries which would be agonizingly painful to a human, such as losing limbs, being impaled through the heart, or having their eyes gouged out (even if such injuries will soon regenerate). In combat, some Titans will completely ignore armed humans who are attacking them, and simply proceed to attempt to eat whichever human is closest to them. Others seem vaguely aware of humans who are attacking them, and if injured will have a reaction that might be pain but more accurately seems like simple annoyance. Some actually do seem to react in pain and shout when they are injured. In Hange's experiments, Beane shrieked in pain when Hange gouged out its eyes with a heated metal spear, but Sawney seemed oblivious to the fact that Hange had impaled it through the heart region using a spear. Humans with the power of the Titans seemingly do not feel pain if their Titan forms are damaged.
Types of Titans
Titans are classified according to their size and abilities. The following is a list of various known Titans so far in the series.
Pure Titans (無垢の巨人 Muku no Kyojin?)
|Ranging from 3-15 meters in height, these Titans compose the vast majority of observed Titans. They all resemble humans but with varying levels of deformity. Their only common feature is their mindless nature. They mindlessly attack nearby humans, making them easy to deceive. However, they are still dangerous due to their size, physical strength, and sheer numbers. They are often used as weapons of war, by Eldia in the past and currently in use by Marley since then.
Notable Titans of this type:
|Pure Titans that display abnormal behavior or intelligence are classed as Abnormal. Abnormals often ignore nearby humans and charge to more important locations where they can do more damage. The Colossal Titans found inside the Walls are unusually large, similar to the actual Colossal Titan, and have hardening abilities.
Notable Titans of this type:
|The Nine Titans are fragments of Ymir Fritz's soul. Humans who inherit them have the power of the Titans, which enables them to transform into their inherited Titan at will, gaining its special abilities while retaining their human body and intelligence. A human with the power of the Titans has access to advanced Titan abilities, such as focusing regeneration to specific parts of the body to increase the healing rate.
Notable Titans of this type:
- Despite their English name originating from the Titans of Greek mythology, the Titans of Attack on Titan are much more influenced by the jötnar of Norse mythology. Most notably, both the Titans and the jötnar originated from an ancient being by the name of "Ymir."
- Some Titans are modeled after friends and acquaintances of Hajime Isayama. Sometimes, he will even take requests.
- In the August 2016 Issue of Bessatsu Shonen Magazine, Isayama was asked of what is it like to come out of a Titan's body. He stated, "Just think that it’s like coming out from a sauna."
- Isayama revealed that his images of Titans were inspired by the "Man-eating Mona Lisa" from the Hell Teacher Nūbē manga and the dinosaurs from the Jurassic Park films.